Chipping Sparrows are passerines in the family Emberizidae which groups them together with other New World Sparrows.
Chipping Sparrows have a bright chestnut crown, black eye-line with a white eyebrow. They have a gray nape, breast and ear, face and underparts. Their back is
tan with dark streaks. Chipping Sparrows have brown wings with brown wing bars. Chipping Sparrows are monochromatic which means that the males and females look alike.
They are about 14cm in size.
Photo: Nick Glabicky
In the eastern United States, Chipping Sparrows tend to be found in both suburban and urban districts, preferring wooded areas if possible.
In the western United States, Chipping Sparrows prefer conifer forests. In western New York, the Chipping Sparrow can be seen during the summer but then migrates
south for the winter. You can often see Chipping Sparrows in flocks and will often see them foraging on the ground. The Chipping Sparrow, like most American sparrows,
eats mostly seeds, particularly in the fall and winter. Chipping Sparrows can also be seen eating small insects and any bits of food that are left on the ground by
humans. They tend to forage on the ground and in low shrubs and will often do so in groups.
Photo: M. Noonan
As mentioned, Chipping Sparrows feed on the ground and will create flocks. If scared, Chipping Sparrows will generally fly to nearby shrubs to take cover.
Males will arrive at breeding areas about a week prior to females to establish a territory. They are generally monogamous but social monogamy does occur. The nest is built by the female
and is made up of grass, weeds, and rootlets, lined with hair and fine grass. Females generally have 4 eggs per nest and are incubated for 11-14 days. When hatched, the young are altricial,
meaning they are immobile, blind and helpless. Both sexes will care for the young which are ready to fledge in about 10 days after hatching.
Photo: M. Noonan
WHERE TO FIND THEM
One really good place to see the Chipping Sparrow is at
Tifft Nature Preserve and also in
Forest Lawn Cemetery. Walking along the paths, you should have no trouble
spotting one within a few minutes during the summer.