Sorting Sparrows: Swamp Sparrow

Photo of Swamp Sparrow (April)

Freshwater and tidal wetland specialists, Swamp Sparrows are at home in dense stands of Cat-tails and other wetland vegetation, like Sedges (family Cyperaceae), Alders (genus Alnus), and Willows (genus Salix). In winter and during migration, they may also spend time in weedy fields and thickets in association with Song, Savannah, and White-throated Sparrows. To spot one, look for a sparrow with gray and rusty-brown head stripes, a blurry gray chest, and rusty wings.

By May, males audibly announce their arrival on their breeding grounds. Their song is a monotone trill, delivered at a slower speed than the mechanical trill of the Chipping Sparrow. In the following springtime audio sample, you'll hear a Swamp Sparrow along with other breeding birds of a Massachusetts wetland.

Can you name any of the back-up singers? Leave a comment below.

To learn more about Swamp Sparrows, visit All About Birds. To view the following images in full-size, click here.

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