Backyard BirdsUncategorized

Brewer’s Sparrows


The Brewer’s Sparrows (Spizella breweri) is a small, slim sparrow that was named after the ornithologist Thomas Mayo Brewer.



The plumage of adults is mostly grey-brown on the back and pale grey below. The crowns is brown both with dark streaks. They have pale eye-rings.

Their wings are brown with light wing bars.

Their bill is pale with a dark tip and they have a long notched tail.

Similar Species: The look similar to the Clay-colored Sparrow but lack the pale stripe on the crown or its grey neck patch.


Distribution / Range

The Brower’s Sparrows migrate to the southwestern United States south to central Mexico.

Their populations have decreased in some parts of their range due to destruction of sagebrush habitat.


There are two distinct populations

    • Spizella breweri breweri – nominate species
      • Found in brushy areas, especially with sagebrush, in southern parts of western Canada and in the western United States.


    • Spizella breweri taverneri
      • Found in thicketed areas around the tree-line in the Rockies of northern British Columbia, the southern Yukon and southeastern Alaska.Some consider this to be a separate species, the Timberline Sparrow.
      • ID: somewhat darker and larger than the southern nominate species.


Nesting / Breeding

The Brewer’s Sparrows female lays 3 to 4 eggs in a cup nest in low shrubs.


Song / Vocalization

The Brewer’s Sparrows male sings to defend a nesting territory. The song is a long varied mix of notes and trills.


Diet / Feeding

During the summers, Brewer’s Sparrows mainly eat insects. In the winter time, when insects are not as readily available, their main diet consists of seeds.

These sparrows forage on the ground or in low vegetation.

Outside the breeding season, they are usually seen in flocks – sometimes with other sparrows.


Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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