|Species: Savannah Sparrow
4 ½ -5 ¼” (11 –
15cm) Small song bird brownish to greyish-brown overall. Streaked
brownish above, heavily striped below. Tone varies greatly in
different populations from dark brown with heavy ventral streaks to
pale brown with paler ventral streaks. 17 subspecies have been
Measurements Both Sexes:
Length 4.3–5.9 in 11–15 cm
Wingspan 7.9–8.7 in 20–22 cm
Weight 0.5–1 oz 15–28 g
heavily striped on
breast and flanks, eyebrow stripe light to yellow wash on lores,
short notched tail, pale median crown stripe, underparts whiter than
most sparrows, legs usually pinkish
Adult Male: very little differential marking between adult male and
similar to adult male.
Similar to adult, but buffier and with crown stripe indistinct.
Many birds of open country, including other sparrow species, are
also brown and streaked.
• Vesper Sparrow has a bold white eye ring and white outer tail
• Song Sparrow is larger, with a longer tail, a rounded tail tip,
and a thick mustache stripe. Shows large chest spot, but Savannah
can show one too.
• Species of the genus Ammodramus, such as Grasshopper Sparrow and
Baird's Sparrow, show buff tones in the face and breast, and have
unnotched, often spiky tails.
Habits: Hops, rarely walks, if flushed makes short zigzag,
undulating flight revealing notched tail then drops down into
meadow, sings from low perch.
Feeds mostly on the ground, generally alone or, during the
nonbreeding season, in small flocks.
Voice: Song is a weak buzzy tsip tsip tsip see say or tsip, tsip
tsip saay seee last note lower.
Common and widespread in open grassy or weedy habitats, including
marshes, fields and dunes, less numerous in brushy habitats. Often
form loose flocks in winter. Range from northern Alaska and Canada
south to Mexico and Guatemala with Northern populations being
In many parts of
the species' range, especially in coastal areas and islands,
Savannah Sparrows tend very strongly to return each year to the area
where they hatched. This tendency, called natal philopatry, is the
driving force for differentiation of numerous Savannah Sparrow
In general, the
Savannah Sparrow has probably expanded its range and thrived because
of human-induced changes to the landscape. Coastal subspecies and
other populations with narrow ranges may warrant special management
priority because of their genetic distinctiveness and their limited
The open habitat of Colony Farm provides breeding habitat
for the Savannah Sparrow.
Capture rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per
100 net hours) begin as individuals arrive from their
wintering grounds. Numbers peak in September as young
disperse and prepare to return to their wintering areas in
the southern USA and Central America.