Adults are 18 cm (7 in) long and have black and white stripes on their head, a grey face, brown streaked upper parts and a long tail. The wings are brown with bars and the underparts are grey. Their bill is pink or yellow. They are similar in appearance to the White-throated Sparrow but do not have the white throat markings.

Habitat and Distribution

Their breeding habitat is brushy areas across northern Canada and the western United States. White-crowned Sparrow is a very rare vagrant to western Europe. It has been recorded from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Norway.


These birds forage on the ground or in low vegetation, but sometimes make short flights to catch flying insects. They mainly eat seeds, other plant parts and insects. In winter, they often forage in flocks.


White-crowned Sparrows nest either low in bushes or on the ground under shrubs and lay 3 to 5 brown-marked grey or greenish-blue eggs.