Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the chipping sparrow.

The song of the chipping sparrow is a commonly heard refrain in our summer forests. Don’t expect a pleasant melody from this bird. His song is a rapid, mechanical sounding trill composed of one note repeated rapidly on the same pitch. He often chooses to sing his presence and announce his territory from the top of a small tree.

Although it favors lots of shrubs and undergrowth, this adaptable sparrow is equally at home in wooded forests and city parks, wherever trees meet grassy openings. To maintain their high metabolic rates and temperatures, birds spend much of the day looking for food. These sparrows mainly eat the seeds of grasses and herbs, but, like most other songbirds, they rely on the added protein of insects to fuel their developing young.

Birds like the chipping sparrow that forage in the open on the ground are constantly on the alert for predators. Sometimes they delay feeding until evening to stay lighter and more agile during the day, when they are most vulnerable.

Adult chipping sparrows that we see here during breeding season are identified by a bright, rusty crown, black line through the eye and unstreaked gray colored belly. In summer, they are common across North America, moving to southern extremes of the United States, Baja California and Mexico for the winter.

After the breeding season, chipping sparrows can be found foraging for seed under bird feeders. The American Bird Conservancy has several tips for leading a bird-friendly life, including keeping cats indoors, treating windows to prevent bird strikes, purchasing coffee certified as bird-friendly, avoiding pesticide use, landscaping with native plants, providing water, and supporting legislation and organizations that prioritize birds and their habitats.

For information on events, visit and