The chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina) is a small sparrow with a slightly notched tail and a distinctive russet cap during the breeding season. It is a species of American sparrow in the family Passerellidae, a passerine bird. Across most of its North American range, it is widespread, fairly tame, and common. A slender, fairly long-tailed sparrow with a medium-sized bill that is a little thin for a sparrow is the Chipping Sparrow. In mastering sparrow identification, understanding the shape of this classic Spizella sparrow is a crucial step. Gray underparts and a gray rump contrast with two white wing bars on streaked wings. Around the nape of his neck, a transparent, gray bandpass, separating the brown and black-striped head and back. The Chipping Sparrow has a white stripe over its eye in breeding plumage with a dark stripe below it, a gray cheek, and a lighter patch of the throat. Juveniles are striped and most Washington birds retain their juvenile plumage during the fall migration, though some molt earlier. The Eastern Chipping Sparrow and the Western Chipping Sparrow are two subspecies. This bird is a partial migrant in Mexico and the southern United States, with northern populations migrating southward in the fall to overwinter, and migrating northward again in the spring. The closely related Clay-colored Sparrow is similar in appearance in non-breeding plumage. A brown, rather than gray, rump, a darker face pattern, and the absence of a mustache can be distinguished from the Clay-colored from the Chipping. The two species often use different habitats but are frequently present in the non-breeding season in mixed flocks.
Chipping Sparrows feed on the grass; take shelter in bushes, and sing (often evergreens) from the tops of small trees. People would also see loose clusters of them from the open ground floating up. They stick to elevated outer limbs while singing. They hop or sprint around lawns looking for seeds on the ground. Chipping sparrows in the winter are gregarious and form flocks, often grouped with other species of birds. The chipping sparrow’s flight call is heard year-round. Its flight call, lasting about 50 milliseconds, is piercing and pure-tone. It begins at about 9 kHz, then falls to 7 kHz, then rises to 9 kHz again. The Chipping Sparrow, a dry, open forest sparrow, is well suited to suburban settings, although it is less common in Washington’s suburbs than in other areas of the world. They are found in open forest edges and clearings in Washington (especially Ponderosa pine), wooded parks, orchards, gardens, and in steppe zones in Ponderosa pine patches. They are also prevalent in trees near agricultural fields, although their productivity is diminished by Brown-headed Cowbird parasitism in these areas. Chipping sparrows can be heard at a rate of 15 flight calls per hour on typical nights in August in this area. Chipping sparrows occur at a rate of 60 flight calls per hour on better-than-average nights, and flight calls from chipping sparrows are heard more than 200 times per hour on exceptional nights. The Chipping Sparrow, particularly in the fall and winter, eats mostly seeds. They eat a variety of crawling insects during the breeding season as well. In grassy, open forest clearings and shrubby grass areas, the chipping sparrow breeds. The nest is typically above ground, but below the height of 6 meters (20 ft) and on average around 1 meter (3.3 ft) in a tree (typically a conifer, particularly a young, short, and thick one) or bush. The nest itself is built in about four days by the female. It consists of an open inner cup of plant fiber and animal hair and a loose platform of grass and rootlets. The female for 10 to 12 days, incubates 4 eggs. As she incubates, the male feeds the female. Both parents feed young people who, 9 to 12 days after hatching, leave the nest. Within three days of leaving the nest, the young will make sustained flights, while the parents continue feeding them for about three more weeks. It is not unusual to have second broods, but most pairs only raise one brood per season.
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