MELOSPIZA

(Passerellidae; Ϯ Song Sparrow M. melodia) Gr. μελος melos  song, tune; σπιζα spiza  finch  < σπιζω spizō  to chirp; "SONG SPARROW. FRINGILLA MELODIA ... of all our Sparrows, this is the most numerous, the most generally diffused over the United States, and by far the earliest, sweetest, and most lasting songster ... It is the first singing bird in spring, taking precedence even of the Pewee and Bluebird" (A. Wilson 1810); "MELOSPIZA, Baird.   CH..-- Body stout. Bill conical, very obsoletely notched, or smooth; somewhat compressed. Lower mandible not so deep as the upper. Commissure nearly straight. Gonys a little curved. Feet stout, not stretching beyond the tail; tarsus a little longer than the middle toe; outer toe a little longer than the inner; its claw not quite reaching to the base of the middle one. Hind toe appreciably longer than the middle one. Wings quite short and rounded, scarcely reaching beyond the base of the tail; the tertials considerably longer than the secondaries; the quills considerably graduated; the fourth longest; the first not longer than the tertials, and almost the shortest of the primaries. Tail moderately long, and considerably graduated; the feathers oval at the tips. Crown and back similar in color and streaked; beneath thickly streaked. Tail immaculate.   This genus differs from Zonotrichia in shorter, more graduated tail, rather longer hind toe, much more rounded wing, which is shorter; the tertiaries longer; the first quill almost the shortest, and not longer than the tertials. The under parts are spotted; the crown streaked and like the back.  I have placed in this section, which has the Fringilla melodia as its type, the Fringilla palustris of Wilson." (Baird 1858).
Synon. Helospiza.

Search for more names on the Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology by James A. Jobling.
Recommended citation
Jobling, J. A. (2018). Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology. In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2018). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from www.hbw.com on 13 December 2018).