Lincoln's SparrowMelospiza lincolnii

Glenn Bartley/VIREO
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
Lincoln's Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow


5-6" (13-15 cm). Crown has 2 rusty stripes; gray eyebrow. Buff band, finely streaked with black, across upper breast. Similar to Song Sparrow, but more finely streaked and shyer.


A rich, gurgling, wren-like song rising in the middle and dropping abruptly at the end.


two call types
songs #3
songs #4
song #1
calls & song
songs #2


Brushy bogs, willow or alder thickets; winters in woodland thickets and brushy pastures.


Breeds from Alaska, northern Quebec, Labrador, and Newfoundland south to California, northern New Mexico, and northern New England. Winters across the southern tier of United States.


When not singing, Lincoln's Sparrow is wary and secretive. This unobtrusive bird of the northern bogs was first described by Audubon in 1834 from a specimen he collected in Quebec, and he named the bird for Robert Lincoln, a companion on his trip to Labrador. Although not uncommon during migration, Lincoln's Sparrow is seldom noticed because of its shyness and its resemblance to the Song Sparrow.


4 or 5 pale green eggs, heavily spotted with brown, in a cup of grass well concealed in forest undergrowth.

Similar Species


Henslow's Sparrow

5" (13 cm). Dull olive green head, reddish-brown wings, and streaked breast and flanks.

adult, Atlantic

Seaside Sparrow

6" (15 cm). A dark, gray-streaked salt-marsh sparrow with dull yellow "mustache" and dull yellow spot in front of the eye.

adult male, breeding

Swamp Sparrow

5" (13 cm). A chunky dark sparrow with unstreaked underparts, bright rufous cap, and rusty wings; dark brown back and tail; gray face and breast; white throat.

adult, California

Song Sparrow

5-7" (13-18 cm). Heavy brown streaking on white underparts, with prominent central breast spot (sometimes lacking in juveniles).

adult (Ipswich Sparrow)

Savannah Sparrow

4 1/2-6" (11-15 cm). Pale and streaked, yellowish eyebrow and pinkish legs. Tail notched; other grassland sparrows have shorter, more pointed tails.

adult Sooty (Pacific)

Fox Sparrow

6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm). A chubby, large sparrow, either dusky brown, or slate-colored in the West, or rich rufous in the East, often so dark that no back pattern can be discerned.


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