Have You Seen One Yet?

American tree sparrow (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
American tree sparrow (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In the past few weeks winter sparrows have arrived in western Pennsylvania.  We’ve seen dark-eyed juncos, white-throated, white-crowned, and fox sparrows … but I haven’t heard of American tree sparrows yet.

American tree sparrows (Spizella arborea) breed in Canada and Alaska and spend the winter in weedy snow-covered fields and backyards in the Lower 48 states, though not as far south as Florida.

When they do show up they can be confusing.  They resemble chipping sparrows except for a black dot in the center of their chests and a two-tone bill.  (Notice the yellow lower mandible and the dull brown upper mandible.) The two don’t mix though. Chipping sparrows are usually gone by the time the tree sparrows get here.

Watch for the arrival of this same-but-different bird.

Have you seen an American tree sparrow yet?


(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)

3 thoughts on “Have You Seen One Yet?

  1. I think one of these guys got into the VA parking garage on Thursday! He was hopping around between the ceiling supports, and I got a pretty good look at him, thinking “Well, that’s a different-looking sparrow!”

    Fortunately, he was near the exit, and I didn’t worry about him being trapped. Probably just seeking shelter from that wind!

  2. Not yet here….usually show up around Thanksgiving or deer season….these guys are the last of the winter visitors…..very feisty at the feeders too….I did have a Fox Sparrow here last week….heard it singing and finally saw it…got ONE photo…

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