Bird of the Week – The Chipping Sparrow

By Bob Walker

The Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) is a medium-sized sparrow that we see in the summertime. Now that fall is approaching, these personable little birds will soon to be returning to Mexico for the winter. While superficially resembling a House Sparrow, the adult birds are easily recognized by the orange cap on their head and the black stripe across their eye. They have no streaking on the breast and have light brown, almost pinkish feet. These sparrows breed readily in the mountains in Los Alamos County. At this time of year, you will frequently see small groups of them patrolling the grasses and lawns, in the company of juveniles.

The juvenile Chipping Sparrows are more indistinct than the adults. Juveniles have have streaking on the breast and striped heads instead of the solid orange cap. The image below shows a juvenile hopping around in the wildlife observation area at the Los Alamos Nature Center.

Juvenile Chipping Sparrow photo by Bob Walker.
Juvenile Chipping Sparrow photo by Bob Walker.

The Chipping Sparrow gets its name from its distinctive song, which you will hear frequently as you take hikes in the forests:

You can also find more detailed articles about the Chipping Sparrow on the web pages at and Enjoy more beautiful photos of Chipping Sparrows at the Brian Small and Jacob Spendelow web sites.

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