Backyard Birds

Le Conte’s Sparrows

The Le Conte’s Sparrows, Ammodramus leconteii, is a small sparrow.

John James Audubon named this bird after a friend, Doctor Le Conte. It is generally believed that he meant John Lawrence Le Conte, although some feel that he was referring to another John Le Conte, also a doctor, and John Lawrence’s cousin.

Members of the Emberizidae Family (Please also see: Juncos and Towhees)


Adults have streaked dark and light brown upperparts with a light brown breast and white belly with fine streaks on the side. They have a large flat head with a light crown stripe on a dark crown, an orange face with a grey cheek patch. The large bill is dark and they have a short tail.

Distribution / Breeding:

Their breeding habitat is moist grassland across central Canada to Quebec and central northern United States. The nest is an open cup attached to dead grass, sometimes on the ground.

These birds migrate to the southeastern United States.

Diet / Feeding:

They forage on the ground usually in dense grass, mainly eating insects and seeds.

Call / Vocalization:

The Le Conte’s Sparrows male sings from a concealed location.

The song is a sharp tik followed by a hiss similar to the song of Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow.


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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