|Description: About 6 inches long, it has
a gray breast with a black dot in the center, a chestnut crown, brown upper
parts and two white wing bars. The bill is dark on top and yellow below. The
female lays 3 - 5 pale blue or green eggs that hatch in 12 - 13 days. The
young leave the nest in 9 - 10 days.
Habitat: American tree sparrows are found in winter in open woodlands, gardens and brushy fields. They build cup like nests or grass, bark and root lets lined with feathers or fur, on or near the ground in a scrub.
Foods: They eat seeds from weeds, scrubs or trees.
Facts: World wide there are nearly 300 species of sparrows, of which 52 have been recorded in North America north of Mexico. Towhees, juncos, and some less well known birds such as grass quits and long spurs are included in these totals. The only ones discussed here are birds that occur over much of the continent and are likely to be found by beginners.
Sparrows are small to medium sized birds with stout conical bills adapted for crushing seeds, which are their main diet. Seed eaters have a better chance for winter survival in the North that do insect eaters, so sparrows are conspicuous winter residents in areas where daytime winter temperatures are likely to remain below freezing for several consecutive days.
Most sparrows have streaked backs. Head and breast patterns can be used to identify most species. Each species has its own particular nesting habitat in summer, but during migration and in winter several species often flock together. Sparrows are short distant migrates, wintering largely with the United States and southern Canada. They thrive on their breeding grounds early in spring. Most species prefer fields rather than woodlands.
The bright reddish cap together with the single dark breast spot identifies the American Tree Sparrow. Note also that the bill is dark above, yellowish below. The sweet song is rarely heard in its winter range. This bird is not related to the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (5 ins.) which ha been introduced into southern Illinois and which looks like a HOuse Sparrow with a small black cheek patch and brown crown.
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