Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Scott Root
Photo Copyright Scott Root

The white-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys, breeds in Alaska, Canada, and the western United States, and winters in extreme southwestern Canada, much of the United States, and Mexico. In Utah, this species is common in all seasons. The breeding habitats of this sparrow include boreal forest, tundra, alpine meadows, and in some places even farmland and other disturbed habitats. During migration and on its winter range, this bird utilizes brushy and weedy situations and roadsides, grain fields, chaparral, gardens, and parks. During the breeding season its foods are mainly arthropods (especially insects) and seeds, and in winter it eats seeds, buds, fruits, grasses, and arthropods.

The nest is usually low in a shrub or on the ground but rarely may be in a tree and as high as thirty-five feet. Two to six (usually three to five) eggs are incubated by the female parent alone for eleven to fifteen (usually twelve) days. The nestlings are tended by both parents and leave the nest after nine to eleven (usually ten) days. This species is only infrequently the victim of brood parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird.


  • Chilton, G., M. C. Baker, C. D. Barrentine, and M. A. Cunningham. 1995. White-crowned sparrow. Birds of North America 183: 127.

  • 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.