Lark SparrowChondestes grammacus

adult
Rolf Nussbaumer/VIREO
juvenile
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult
Rolf Nussbaumer/VIREO
Lark Sparrow
Lark Sparrow

Description

5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Head boldly patterned with black, chestnut, and white; streaked above; white below, with black spot in center of breast; tail black with white edges.

Voice

Alternating buzzes and melodious trills.

Listen

songs #2
calls #1
songs #3
calls #2
songs #1
songs #4

Habitat

Grasslands with scattered bushes and trees; open country generally in winter.

Range

Breeds from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and northern Minnesota, south to California, northern Mexico, Louisiana, and Alabama. Winters from southern California to Florida and southward.

Discussion

The easiest way to find Lark Sparrows is to drive through grasslands and watch for the birds to fly up into trees along the road. The nests of Northern Mockingbirds have been found with both their own and Lark Sparrow eggs in them, but it is not clear whether the sparrows have taken over an abandoned nest or have driven away the original occupants; since mockingbirds are very aggressive, the latter seems unlikely. A male Lark Sparrow may be monogamous or may have two females with nests close together. He defends his nests but not a large territory. Lark Sparrows are very social, crowding together for feeding even during the nesting season.

Nesting

3-5 white eggs, heavily spotted with dark brown and black, in a well-made cup of grass and plant stems on the ground or in a bush.

Similar Species

adult, Interior

Sage Sparrow

5-6" (13-15 cm). Gray above; white belly with small black midbreast spot. Back and sides striped, wings lighter with buff-colored feather edges that also form 2 wing bars. Pronounced white eye ring.

adult male, breeding

Lark Bunting

6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm). Breeding male black, with large white wing patch.

adult male, breeding

Smith's Longspur

5 3/4-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Sparrow-sized. Breeding male streaked dark brown and buff above, clear warm buff below; bold black and white head pattern.

Vireo

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