Golden-crowned  Sparrow

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Zonotrichia atricapilla

Golden-crowned  Sparrow

The Golden-crowned Sparrow is a large, long-tailed sparrow with a small head and short but stout, seed-eating bill. It often looks scruffy and not as crisp as the White-crowned Sparrow. It is found in the western part of North America.

Adults have brownish back, mantle and scapulars with conspicuous darker streaks, whereas rump and uppertail-coverts are unstreaked and mostly brownish-gray.

The fairly long tail is brown and slightly notched. On the upperwing, two white wingbars are formed by the pale tips of both median and greater coverts. The underparts, including chin and throat, are gray with a paler belly and buffy flanks.

Males and females are similar, with the males slightly larger than the females.

Juveniles have a brownish crown, sometimes tinged with yellow and faintly streaked brown. Breast and body sides are streaked blackish-brown.

CALL: Includes a loud “chink” and a high-pitched “tseet” in flight.

SONG: A series of three (or more) descending, plaintive, whistled notes sounding like “oh dear me”. However, a series of five notes can be heard too “oh dear me-me-me”.

Diet, particularly in the winter, consists primarily of plant material; items include seeds, berries, flowers and buds, as well as the occasional crawling insect.

Breeds in shrubby habitats and high mountains, up to 2700 meters of elevation.

Winters in a variety of brushy habitats and frequents wild chaparral, parks and gardens.

Breeds in the Aleutian Islands and Western and North-central Alaska, Western Canada and adjacent USA (extreme Northwest Washington).

Winters from Southern Alaska and Southern British Columbia, South to Southwestern USA (South to Western California and Eastern Nevada), and Northwestern Mexico (North and Central Baja California, rarely South to Sonora).

The female builds a thick cup-shaped nest with grasses, twigs, moss, leaves and ferns. It is lined with finer grass and some animal hair and bird feathers.

She lays 4 creamy-white to pale greenish eggs with reddish-brown spots and incubates alone during 11 - 12 days. She is fed by the male during this period.


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