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The Sparrow Story

Dec 12, 2016

Even in the dead of winter, things can get pretty lively around a bird feeder. It's a meeting place for cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches and those "little brown birds"... the sparrow.

Sparrows are basically brown, but different kinds of sparrows have rather colorful markings. For instance, the white-throated sparrow sports yellow eyebrows. A close relative, the white-crowned sparrow, shows off what appears to be a white mohawk haircut. A reddish cap with a small black spot adorns the breast of the American tree sparrow.

The bird we most often refer to as a sparrow is the house, or English sparrow. House sparrows came from Europe more than 100 years ago, and have thrived on farms and in urban areas.

Sparrows are easily attracted to your backyard. And they even eat cheap! Sparrows actually prefer the lower-priced bird seed. White millet spread on the ground, close to a shrub or bush, is perfect! It's sure to welcome in those "little brown birds," bringing activity to your bird feeder and life to the dead of winter!

The Life of a Fox Sparrow

  • The fox sparrow is an uncommon migrant in weedy fields, brushy edges and woodland thickets. Look for these birds under shrubs around your backyard or at the edge of the woods. Fox sparrows are not the most common sparrows in Missouri, yet a few can usually be seen each winter, especially in southern Missouri.
  • Fox sparrows are entertaining to watch as they rustle through the leaves and seeds underneath bird feeders. This style of feeding may remind you of chickens, but fox sparrows kick with both feet at the same time.
  • They can be found throughout Missouri, though populations are highest in the southeastern part of the state.
  • They are one of our most musical sparrows, with a loud, beautiful song.
  • The fox sparrow is the largest of our sparrows. The name is derived from the bird's foxlike color.

Learn more about the fox sparrow species in the MDC Field Guide.

Chipping Sparrow Singing

Hear a sparrow sing in this video courtesy of Wild Bird Video Productions.
Hear a sparrow sing in this video courtesy of Wild Bird Video Productions.

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