Q: This bird has been in my feeders for a few weeks now and I cannot identify it. Is this some type of wren? If so, what kind? Thanks. -Deb (Shawano, Wisconsin)
A: This is an adult chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina) in summer breeding plumage.
In winter plumage, the rusty cap turns dull brown and the white eye stripe is duller.
Juvenile chipping sparrows lack the rusty cap and have vertical black streaks on the upper breast and down the flanks (watch 2nd video below).
They are found in open deciduous woods, farms, suburban neighborhoods, conifer forests and orchards.
The song of a chipping sparrow is a dry trill that remains on one pitch. Here is a video of one singing:
You will often find chipping sparrows on the ground searching for insects and seeds, but they will also glean insects from shrub and tree foliage as well as hawk insects from the air.
The chipping sparrow, unfortunately, is a frequent Brown Cowbird host.
Once interesting note is that the males sometimes sing after sunset and throughout the night.
Chipping Sparrow - Life history information, photos, and song recordings.
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