The Adult Swamp Sparrows have streaked rusty, buff and black upperparts with an unstreaked gray breast, light belly ,a white throat and very rusty wings. Most have a rust colored cap. Their face is gray with a dark line through the eye. They have a short bill and fairly long legs. Immature birds and winter adults usually have two brown crown stripes and much of the gray is replaced with buff.
Habitat and Distribution
Swamp Sparrows' breeding habitat is marshes, including brackish marshes, across eastern North America and central Canada. While Swamp Sparrows can be found year-round in small numbers on the southern edge of their breeding range, individuals are probably all migratory, primarily migrating to the southeastern United States.
Swamp Sparrows forage on the ground near water edges, in shallow water or in marsh vegetation. In winter, their diet is principally fruit and seeds, while during the breeding season their diet is mainly arthropods.
The bulky nest is attached to marsh vegetation, often just above the ground or surface of the water with leaves or grass arching over the top. The female builds a new nest each year and lays an average of 4 eggs per clutch.
Calls and Songs
The song of the Swamp Sparrow is a slow monotone trill, slower than that of the Chipping Sparrow. A male can have a repertoire of several different trills. The common call note is a loud chip reminiscent of a phoebe.