Throughout the year, adults are gray below and an orangish-rust color above. Adults in alternate (breeding) plumage have a persimmon-red cap, a nearly white supercilium, and a black trans-ocular line (running through the eye). Adults in basic (nonbreeding) plumage are less prominently marked, with a brownish cap, a dusky eyebrow, and a dark eye-line. The bird is wide spread and fairly tame.

Habitat and Distribution

In eastern North America, Chipping Sparrows breed in woodlands, farmlands, and suburban and urban districts. In western North America, it prefers conifer forests for breeding. This bird is partially migratory, moving in winter to the southern United States and Mexico. In early spring, the first migrants return from their wintering grounds in March, but the bulk of migrants arrives throughout April.


They eat seeds and crumbs of mostly any food fallen on the ground. Chipping Sparrows forage directly from forbs and grasses , and on fresh buds, they also glean for arboreal arthropods.


Breeding begins in April, but most nesting activity occurs from late April to early May onwards.

Calls and Songs

The song is a trill, either fast or slow. The fast trill sounds like a buzz or like someone snoring whereas the slow trill sounds like rapid finger tapping. They have a flight call, heard year round. It is a piercing, pure tone.