|Species: Lincoln's Sparrow
Sparrow is often considered among the more elusive of North American
birds often overlooked in migration because of its skulking habits
and similarity to the Song Sparrow. It has a sweet, bubbling song
that suggests a House Wren or Purple Finch.
J.J. Audubon first described the Lincoln Sparrow in Labrador on an
expedition in 1883. “We found more wilderness in this species than
in any other inhabiting the same country.” He named the bird after
his travel companion Thomas Lincoln.
Melospiza lincolnii summers in south Alaska, B.C., across Canada to
the Atlantic, in parts of north USA and the mountains of the west.
Winters in Central America, Baja California, Florida and the Gulf
Lincoln Sparrow is a medium-sized sparrow with a rather short tail,
a broad gray streak over the eye (supercilium). Length 11.5-14.5 cm.
14.8-24. g weight.
Adult sexes are alike. Buffy wash and fine streaks on breast and
sides, contrasting with whitish, unstreaked belly. Note broad gray
eyebrow (supercilium), whitish chin and buffy eye ring.
Resembles adults but crown brown or grayish brown streaked, and
supercilium brownish; edges of coverts and tertials may be somewhat
Song Sparrow is similar but lacks buffy chest colouring and has
broader chest streaks and is larger. The adult Swamp Sparrow totally
lacks chest streaks and the rusty colour of crown is brighter.
Secretive, this sparrow skulks through underbrush. Singing males are
inconspicuous as they sing from dense thickets advertising their 1
acre territory. Feeding habits are scratching leaves on ground
by kicking back with feet; eats insects, grain, seeds of weeds,
They breed in and occupy boggy areas with stunted tamarack, black
spruce and low willows and alders. Willow thickets and tangles, and
cut-over areas where there is dense vegetation.
In migration and
winter the Lincoln Sparrow occurs in dense low cover and rarely far
from cover and do not seem to flock. They are generally said to be
skulkers, but respond well to ‘pishing’ and are not hard to see.
Lincoln Sparrows often raise the crown feathers to form a short
crest. This together with the eye-ring and the tail slightly cocked
create a curious ‘wide-awake’ look.
The nest is placed on the ground in a well concealed shallow
depression. The nest is a fragile cup of sedges and grasses and dead
leaves, lined with finer grasses and sometimes hair. 3-6 eggs are
greenish white, spotted with redish brown.
increased slightly in both east and west, with highest breeding
densities recorded in Quebec and Nova Scotia. However, only
populations in Quebec and the northern spruce-hardwoods forests have
shown significant declines (1982-1991).
Not a breeder at Colony Farm, Lincoln's Sparrow is seen
passing through in great numbers during Spring and Fall
Migration. This is indicated by the peak of capture rates
(2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per 100 net
hours) in April/May and then again in August-October. The
park seems to be especially important for these sparrows
during Fall Migration as seen by the huge spike in