Common Name

Scientific Name

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

The song sparrow, Melospiza melodia, ranges from Alaska and Canada to central Mexico. It occurs throughout Utah, where it is common during all seasons. It occupies a variety of habitats, breeding mainly in streamside thickets and marshes, but it is found also in wet meadows, bogs, forest edges, clearings, and residential areas. The diet of the song sparrow is mostly terrestrial arthropods (especially insects), small seeds, some berries, and, in coastal areas, some crustaceans and mollusks.

The nest is usually on the ground, often under a tuft of grass or small shrub, or sometimes above the ground a few feet up in a shrub, particularly among later broods. The clutch, usually consisting of three or four eggs, is incubated by the female for twelve to fourteen days. The nestlings, fed by both parents, fledge after about nine to twelve days. This species is multiple-brooded, producing two or three, sometimes even four, clutches each nesting season.

Over thirty subspecies are recognized in this species, six (two breeding, four migrant or wintering) being known from Utah.


  • 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.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 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.