White-throated Sparrows are
passerines in the family Emberizidae which consists of
New World Sparrows and Buntings. They are a large
Sparrow at 6.75 inches (17cm).
White-throated Sparrows are monochromatic which means
that males and females look alike. They have a white
throat with gray cheeks and a dark crown with a white or buffy central stripe. They have yellow dots in front of
their eyes and a white eyebrow. They have brown wings
with 2 white wing bars. White-throated Sparrows have a
dark conical bill and pink legs.
Photo: Ivan Andrijevic
White-throated Sparrows live
in coniferous and mixed forests. They prefer forests
that have openings with low dense vegetation such as
areas of second growth, around beaver ponds or open
bogs. They will also live in parks, gardens, shrubby
patches and cattail marshes. White-throated Sparrows are
found breeding in most of Canada and parts of the
northeast. Their wintering grounds are on the western
coast of California and most of south east and central
They can be found year round in New York
state, Connecticut and parts of New Hampshire. Immature
White-throated Sparrows and females tend to migrate
further south than adults. In the summer,
White-throated Sparrows primarily eat insects
supplemented with greens and fruit. In the winter, they
will eat mostly small seeds, fruit and insects when
available. In the fall, they will start eating mostly
fruits and seeds.
Photo: Kyle Horton
There are two morphs of
White-throated Sparrow, white-striped and tan-striped.
Typically adults will mate with the opposite colored
morph. It has been shown that white-striped adults are
more aggressive than tan-striped birds. It has also been shown that white-striped
females sing which makes white-striped males more
aggressive and drive off the white-striped females. In
turn, the white-striped males will mate with the
tan-striped females who do not sing. White-throated Sparrows are
thought to be monogamous and have 1 brood, occasionally
2 broods per year.
During courtship behavior females
will flutter wings. Males tend to return to the same
territory every year if they will successful in the
previous year. The female will select the nest site and
continue in its construction. Nests are usually located
at the edge of a clearing and is well-concealed. The
female will lay 4-5 greenish-white eggs and is
responsible for incubating them for the 11-14 day
period. The development of the young is altricial which
means they are blind, immobile and helpless. Both males
and females will care for the young until they are ready
to fledge which is about 8-9 days after hatching.
These birds are found in WNY
all year but is most commonly found during the migratory
season when large populations of these birds are migrate
in the area. Find these birds in shrubby areas or open
areas in forests where they may be seen foraging.