Hanover, Massachusetts

Pam & Steve French

Pam & Steve French

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Hanover, Massachusetts

386 Columbia Rd., Rte.#53
Hanover, MA 02339

Phone: (781) 826-1640
Fax: (781) 829-6864
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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Song Sparrow Fun Facts About Song Sparrows

  • Song Sparrows are found in every state of the Union and Canadian province. They are the most common and widespread sparrow native to North America.
  • There are 31 recognized subspecies of the Song Sparrow, more than any other bird species found in North America.
  • The Song Sparrow in different parts of the country can look amazingly different. Some are lightly marked and pale while others are dark and heavily streaked.
  • Song Sparrows on the Aleutian Islands of Alaska are one-third longer and weigh twice as much as the ones in the eastern U.S.
  • In the northern part of their range, Song Sparrows are partially or completely migratory depending on snow cover and winter temperatures. This is due to their ground feeding habits and their almost total dependence on weed seeds for food in the winter.
  • When migrating, female Song Sparrows travel farther south than do their male counterparts.
  • Over 750,000 Song Sparrows have been banded since 1955. Of these, 16,675 have been recovered, a recovery rate of 2.2%.
  • The oldest known banded Song Sparrow to be recaptured in the wild was over 11 years old.
  • Adult male Song Sparrows perform about six to twenty different melodies; each one is a slight variation on the basic Song-Sparrow song.
  • Some Song Sparrow songs may be very short, consisting of only four notes and lasting less than two seconds, while others may consist of twenty or more notes, lasting over five seconds.
  • Studies have shown that female Song Sparrows are attracted to males that learn and sing a larger repertoire of songs and that these males are much more successful in holding their territories and reproducing.
  • During the dawn twilight on a spring morning, male Song Sparrows will sing a song every eight seconds and may average over 2,300 songs during an entire day.
  • Song Sparrows sing throughout the year and hearing them at dawn on a cold January or February morning is not uncommon.
  • The nest of the song sparrow is usually found under grassy tufts on the ground or low in a bush or shrubbery.
  • The female Song Sparrow does most of the nest construction alone, while the male devotes himself to defending his territory, mostly through song.
  • A pair of Song Sparrows will live and nest in 1-1/2 acres or less and may raise up to four broods a year.
  • Like most birds, Song Sparrows depend on the increasing day length as their major signal to initiate breeding behavior, but studies have shown that warmer temperatures and an abundant food supply can trigger breeding to start many weeks earlier than normal.
  • A research study showed that Song Sparrows with access to millet feeders started nesting and produced eggs up to 14 days earlier than those without access to feeders.
  • A Song Sparrow's natural diet consists of weed and grass seeds, a few berries, and insects.
  • Song Sparrows prefer to forage on the ground and readily visit backyard feeders where seeds, especially millet, are offered.
  • Song Sparrow’s forage for food on the ground by using a double-scratch technique of kicking away debris by hopping forward while sweeping both feet quickly back along the ground. This “Song Sparrow Samba” is typically performed in, or near, dense undergrowth.
  • Song Sparrows select their seeds based on what is the most abundant and easiest (fastest) to open – such as millet. Harder to open seeds, even those with a higher fat and protein content – such as oil sunflower -  are much less likely to be eaten.
  • It takes a Song Sparrow an average of three seconds to husk a millet seed and 4.5 seconds to husk a Nyjer® (thistle) seed.
  • On average, Song Sparrows digest and absorb between 80 - 90% of the food they eat. Their highly efficient digestive system takes about two hours to process the food from start to finish.
  • The average weight of a Song Sparrow is around 24 grams (.85 ounces), but studies have shown that their weight can fluctuate up to 20 percent in 24 hours, and that birds with access to high-quality food from birdfeeders have been shown to weigh significantly more than those without it.
  • Plant seeds accounted for 86% of a Song Sparrow’s normal diet in winter. Some of the most utilized seeds come from common lawn and garden weeds such as smartweed, ragweed, foxtail, pigweed and knotweed.
  • Song Sparrows are very aggressive around feeders and can even dominate over larger sparrows and other birds.
  • Song Sparrows rarely feed in flocks and usually search for their food alone in the company of one or two other birds. This behavior makes them vulnerable to hawks and other predators, thus the presence of nearby shrubbery and cover is very important to them.
  • The Song Sparrow usually has a walking gait, but it hops on rough or uneven surfaces.
  • The flight speed of Song Sparrows has been measured at 16 to 21 miles per hour.
  • The average heart rate for a Song Sparrow is 450 beats per minute.
  • Song Sparrows often seem secretive in their behavior, but birds living close to people can become very tame. One scientist was able to condition the Song Sparrows at his feeders to come when called and to associate the sound of a bell with the filling of birdfeeders.
  • The Song Sparrow is probably parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird more often and over a greater area of North America than any other bird. Urban and rural habitat studies have shown that 44% of the Song Sparrow nests in Ohio and 85% of the nests in Ontario were victims of cowbirds.