Common Name

Scientific Name

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

The chipping sparrow, Spizella passerina, is a common, widely distributed North American songbird. Unlike other sparrows that prefer grasslands, the chipping sparrow prefers open forests, forest edges, and stream side habitats. It breeds throughout most of the continental United States and the Canadian provinces south of the Arctic, as well as in parts of Mexico. Individuals in the northern part of the species' breeding range migrate south to Florida, Texas, and Mexico during the winters months. Individuals breeding in the southern United States and Mexico do not migrate, rather they stay in their breeding location year-round. The chipping sparrow is a common summer resident throughout the state of Utah, and one race (arizonae) of the species breeds in the state.

Chipping sparrows forage either on the ground or in low vegetation, and their diets consist primarily of insects and grass seeds. Although they prefer to drink daily, they are capable of persisting without water for up to three weeks, as long as a supply of dry seeds is available. Most pairs are monogamous. The female builds a small, deep nest in a deciduous tree, and incubates four eggs for approximately two weeks. During this time, the female will periodically leave the nest for food, but sometimes the male will bring food to her in the nest. The male will help feed the young after they hatch, but the female still provides the majority of parental care. The young leave the nest after about ten days, but are still dependent on their parents for approximately three more weeks.


  • 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., Sorensen, E. D. and C. M. White. 1985. Utah birds: a revised checklist. Utah Museum of Natural History, Occasional Publication No. 4. Salt Lake City, UT.

  • Middleton, A. L. 1998. Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina). Birds of North America 334.