Backyard Birds

Clay-colored Sparrows



The Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida) are small sparrows.that breed in shrubby open areas and Jack Pine woods across central Canada and central northern United States east to the Great Lakes. They migrate in flocks to southern Texas and Mexico.



Adults have light brown upper plumages with darker streaks on the back and are pale below. They have a pale crown stripe on a dark brown crown, a white line over the eyes, a dark line through the eyes, a light brown cheek patch and brown wings with wing bars. The short bill is pale with a dark tip and the back of the neck is grey; they have a long tail.

Non-breeding adults and immatures resemble Chipping Sparrows and Brewer’s Sparrows; they often form flocks with these birds outside of the nesting season.


Nesting / Breeding:

The nest is an open cup on the ground or low in a shrub.


Diet / Feeding:

They forage on the ground, mainly eating seeds and insects. Outside of the nesting season, they often feed in small flocks. While nesting, these birds may feed far from the nest; feeding areas are not defended.


Song / Vocalization:

The male sings from an open perch to indicate his ownership of the nesting territory. The song is two to four insect-like buzzes on a single pitch. The call is described as a high tsip.

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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