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Wintering Chipping Sparrows

One of my favorite winter birds is the chipping sparrow. These petite sparrows are easily identified by a rusty-brown cap on an otherwise dull underbelly with brown striped wings and back. A black stripe through the eye is another identifying feature of this bird. Chipping sparrows migrate south for the winter and each year they visit our backyard feeders.

If you look closely at its bill, you will see it is not as pointed as a warbler’s bill; its beak is broader (see “Florida’s Winter Warbler”). This is typical of seed eating birds. In the wild, these sparrows seek out seeds from grasses, sedges and other herbaceous plants.

Towards the end of the winter, chipping sparrows will head north to their breeding grounds where they will build a small flimsy nest to lay their eggs and raise their young. When I lived in New York, the chipping sparrows seemed to gravitate around the evergreen trees where I occasionally found a nest in branches that were under ten feet off the ground.

Although the chipping sparrow population has declined in recent years, it is still healthy. It would not feel like winter in Florida if I did not see these pretty birds at my feeder.

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