Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)


French: Bruant des plaines German: Fahlammer Spanish: Chingolo pálido

Emberiza pallida


, 1832,

Carlton House, Saskatchewan, Canada




W & S Canada from WC Mackenzie, E British Columbia, Alberta, NW & C Saskatchewan and Manitoba (local and irregular in N) E to S Ontario (small numbers in Hudson and James Bays) and extreme S Quebec (rarely E to Gaspé Peninsula), S in USA to E Washington and Montana E to N & W New York and W Pennsylvania (perhaps rarely S to SE South Dakota, NW Iowa, Illinois and N Indiana); non-breeding in S USA (S New Mexico and S Texas) and Mexico (S to Veracruz and Oaxaca, rarely Chiapas).

Descriptive notes

12–13·5 cm; 9–15 g. A small, slim sparrow with long, notched tail. Has streaked crown with distinct cream-coloured median crownstripe and dark brown... read more


Song, occasionally at night, a series of 2–8 (usually 2–3) short, low-pitched, loud... read more


Breeds in open, uncultivated brushy areas where shrubs interspersed in grasslands. In prairies... read more

Food and feeding

Arthropods and seeds. Young fed mostly with Lepidoptera larvae, leafhoppers (Homoptera), adults and nymphs of grasshoppers (Orthoptera),... read more


Season late May to early Aug; sometimes double-brooded. Monogamous. Pair formation relatively quick after arrival of females on breeding... read more


Migratory. Migration routes largely through Great Plains, E of Rocky Mts and W of Mississippi;... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common to very common in appropriate habitat. In USA, rare but increasing in New York, rare in S Michigan, and apparently irregular at S... read more

Recommended citation

Rising, J. (2020). Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida). 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 26 February 2020).