Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Brewer's Sparrow (Spizella breweri)


French: Bruant de Brewer German: Blassammer Spanish: Chingolo de Brewer

Spizella breweri


, 1856,

western North America, California, and New Mexico = Black Hills, South Dakota, USA


Apparently sister to S. wortheni#R#R. Race taverneri differs in its greyer overall coloration (1); bolder, coarser streaking above (1); marginally larger size, but evidence somewhat contradictory (hence ns), with no clear support for statement in HBW that the bill is smaller#R; different habitat (upland vs lowland shrubbery) (1); typically less buzzy song, with a narrower frequency range (potentially 2)#R, but songsters in Colorado difficult to assign to taxon#R (hence ns). Two subspecies currently recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. b. taverneri Swarth & A. C. Brooks, 1925 – Timberline Sparrow – SE Alaska and W Canada (SW Yukon and NW & SE British Columbia and W Alberta) and N USA (W Montana); non-breeding range SW USA (Arizona E to W Texas) and probably N Mexico.
  • S. b. breweri Cassin, 1856 – Brewer's Sparrow – S Canada (extreme S British Columbia, S Alberta and SW Saskatchewan) and W USA from E Montana, SW North Dakota and NE Colorado S to E & S California, S Nevada, C Arizona and NW New Mexico; non-breeding from S edge of breeding range S to NW & W Mexico (Baja California E to Coahuila, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato and Jalisco).
  • Breeds also in mountains from W Montana S to Colorado; race uncertain.

    Descriptive notes

    12·5–15 cm; 8·9–14 g, taverneri larger (average 12·3 g), nominate 8·9–11·8 g. A small, slim sparrow with long,... read more


    Difficult to describe. Short song a “bzzzzzzz chip-chip-chip-chip-chip”, second part... read more


    Throughout most of range found in shrubland dominated by big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata... read more

    Food and feeding

    Few data on diet. Arthropods and seeds. Young fed mostly with Lepidoptera larvae, spiders (Araneae), bugs (Hemiptera) and leafhoppers (... read more


    Season mid-May through Jul; sometimes double-brooded. Monogamous. Occasional co-operative nesting recorded. Pairing within a few days of... read more


    Migratory; good evidence that populations farthest N leap-frog over S ones, and winter farthest S.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Classified as “Declining” in the USA (Yellow WatchList priority species for conservation). Often common or very common in appropriate... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. (2020). Brewer's Sparrow (Spizella breweri). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 29 February 2020).