Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) 5.5 inches

Chipping sparrow at nest

Seen in northern parts of the country only during the breeding season, some Chipping Sparrows are year-round residents of southern Arizona. Their numbers are probably augmented by migrants during the winter. Adults have streaked brown wings and back with an unstreaked gray breast and belly. A dark line through the eye sets off a crown which is rusty-colored April through August and streaked brown during the non-breeding season.

Chipping sparrow, closeupChipping Sparrows are ground foragers feeding on insects, spiders, and seeds. They form small flocks and may join mixed-species groups in the winter. In winter Chipping Sparrows may be confused with Brewer's Sparrows that winter in southern Arizona, Texas, and Mexico; the facial pattern is the main distinguishing feature to look for, with the brown crown and black eyestripe marking the Chipping Sparrow.

References:

Alderfer, Jonathan (ed.). Field Guide to Birds: Arizona and New Mexico. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2006. This handy, pocket-size (4x6) guide includes most of the birds you're likely to see in Arizona. In addition to a photo, it includes information about behavior, habitat and specific local sites where you are likely to find the bird.

Corman, Troy E. and Cathryn Wise-Gervais (eds.) Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.

Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.