Backyard Birds

Henslow’s Sparrow

The Henslow’s Sparrow, Ammodramus henslowii, is a small American sparrow.


Adults have streaked brown upperparts with a light brown breast with streaks, a white belly and a white throat. They have a pale stripe on the crown with a dark stripe on each side, an olive face and neck, rust-colored wings and a short dark forked tail.

Distribution / Range:

Their breeding habitat is shrubby fields, often wet, in southern Canada and the northeastern United States. The nest is a well-concealed open cup on or close to the ground in grassy location; these birds often nest in small colonies. They migrate to marshes and open pine woods in the southeastern United States.

The range and numbers of this bird are decreasing, probably due to habitat loss.

The Texas population was solely known from a 105-acre brushfield near Houston, Texas and disappeared after devegetation due to industrial development in the 1980s. It was considered a distinct subspecies (A. h. houstonensis: Arnold, 1983) but is today considered to fall into the range of variation of the nominate subspecies (Browning, 1990).

Likewise, the South Dakotan population formerly known as P. h. occidentalis has been synonymized with the nominate.

The only remaining subspecies generally (but not universally) accepted are the Eastern Henslow’s Sparrow and the Western Henslow’s Sparrow, whose ranges are for the most part separated by the Appalachians

Diet / Feeding:

These birds forage on the ground, mainly eating insects and seeds.

Calls / Vocalization:

Their song is a quick se-lick.


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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