Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Lincoln's sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii, occurs, during breeding, in Alaska and across northern Canada south through the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific coastal ranges to southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. During winter, it is found in the south-central and southwestern United States south to Honduras. In Utah, it is common as a breeding species during summer in the high mountains and plateaus, especially in the north-central and northeastern parts of the state, as well as in areas of high-elevation the southwestern part of Utah. It is a common migrant throughout Utah at lower elevations, and in winter it is rare to uncommon in the southwestern corner of the state. Habitats utilized by Lincoln's sparrow during the breeding season include wet meadows, bogs, and riparian thickets, especially where these habitats include willows and where shrub cover is dense; during migration and in winter, this species uses a much broader array of habitats, ranging from weedy pastures to tropical forests. This species feeds mainly on terrestrial invertebrates (arthropods) and small seeds.

The nest is typically on the ground, rarely elevated in a shrub. Clutch size is usually three to five eggs, most commonly four. The eggs are incubated by the female alone for ten to thirteen days. The nestlings are fed by both parents and fledge after an additional ten to eleven days.

This species was named by John James Audubon in honor of Thomas Lincoln, who accompanied Audubon on an expedition to Labrador in1833, on which trip this sparrow was discovered.


  • Ammon, E. M. 1995. Lincolnís sparrow. Birds of North America 191: 1Ė19.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Behle, W. H., E. D. Sorensen, and C. M. White. 1985. Utah birds: a revised checklist. Utah Museum of Natural History, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. vi + 108 pp.