White-Crowned Sparrow

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White-Crowned Sparrow

White-crowned sparrow photo
Zonotrichia leucophrys
Emberizidae (sparrows, longspurs, buntings) in the order Passeriformes

The white-crowned sparrow is a large sparrow with a bold black-and-white striped crown, a clear gray breast and a pink beak.

Adult upperparts are reddish brown with dark streaks, with whitish wing bars. The head is gray with a striking black-and-white striped crown with two black crown stripes, and a black eye line. The bill is light yellow to pink, with a dusky tip, and with no yellow spot next to the bill. Underparts are clear gray with a whitish throat.

Immatures have gray and rusty crown stripes, the crown often appearing a solid reddish brown. Immatures lack the prominent eye ring of the field sparrow, and lack the central breast spot of the American tree sparrow.

Adults and immatures have a short crest that gives the rear of the crown a square look (not rounded as in the white-throated sparrow).

The song is variable and usually consists of whistles and trills. The call is a "tseet" or a sharp, alarmed "pink" or "chink."

Length: 7 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).
Habitat and conservation: 
White-crowned sparrows forage on the ground for insects and seeds in brushy hedgerows, woodland edges, weedy fields and fallow agricultural fields. They are more commonly found in tangles along field edges than around bird feeders. Thick brush is important in attracting white-crowned sparrows to your backyard. They are usually in the company of the closely related white-throated sparrows.
Insects and seeds.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Uncommon winter resident; common transient (spring and fall migrant). The white-crowned is one of our most common and widespread winter sparrows.
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