Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Erin Guinn
Photo Copyright Erin Guinn

The golden-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla, breeds in Canada and western Canada, and winters in southwestern Canada, the western coastal United States, and northern Baja California. In Utah this species is rare in winter, mostly in the southwestern corner of the state. The breeding habitat of this species is the forest-tundra edge, but in migration and on its wintering grounds this bird frequents a variety of brushy habitats including chaparral and riparian thickets. This species is omnivorous, consuming seeds, buds, flowers, fruits, and terrestrial arthropods.

This species usually nests on the ground but sometimes constructs its nest as much as three feet above the ground in shrubs or small trees. Three to five (typically four) eggs are incubated by the female parent alone for eleven to thirteen days. Both parents tend the nestlings, which leave the nest after nine to ten days.


  • Norment, C. J., P. Hendricks, and R. Santonocito. Golden-crowned sparrow. Birds of North America 352: 119.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American birds. 2nd ed. Academic, San Diego. 347 pp.