Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)


French: Bruant des champs German: Klapperammer Spanish: Chingolo campestre

Fringilla pusilla

A. Wilson

, 1810,

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


Sometimes considered sister to S. wortheni; has been considered conspecific, but more closely resembles S. atrogularis (which see) in song and ecology as well as bill colour. Races intergrade broadly in Great Plains; intermediate populations have been described as separate races, perissura (described from Valentine, Nebraska) and vernonia (Japonica, Texas), but great variability of these intergrading populations makes taxonomic separation both inappropriate and unhelpful; both herein included in arenacea. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. p. arenacea Chadbourne, 1886 – C USA from SE Montana and North Dakota S through Great Plains to NE Colorado, W Oklahoma and C Texas; non-breeding from Kansas, C Oklahoma, N Arkansas and NW Mississippi S to NE Mexico (to N Coahuila, C Nuevo León and N Tamaulipas).
  • S. p. pusilla (A. Wilson, 1810) – SE Canada (S Manitoba, S Ontario and S Quebec) and E USA from C Minnesota and C Michigan E to S Maine, S to E Texas, SE Louisiana, S Mississippi, SE Alabama and SW Georgia, rarely to NC Florida; non-breeding from E Kansas, C Missouri, C Ohio, N West Virginia, Maryland and S Massachusetts S to S Texas, Gulf Coast and C Florida.
  • Descriptive notes

    13·5–14·5 cm; 11–15·7 g. A small, slim sparrow with long, notched tail. Nominate race has rusty-pink crown with faint grey median crownstripe... read more


    Song, sometimes at night, a series of 2 or more clear, plaintive, run-on whistles that accelerate... read more


    Breeds in oldfields, and occasionally new plantations (Christmas-tree farms), in E parts of range... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes seeds of broomsedge, horseweed, and crabgrass and other grasses; in summer insects comprise more than 50% of diet. Arthropods... read more


    Season late Apr/early May to early Aug, in South Dakota late May through Aug; may rear several broods in a season. Usually monogamous; 2%... read more


    Partially migratory; individuals breeding N of Massachusetts, N Kansas, and many in Ohio migrate... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Often common or very common in appropriate habitat. Rare as a breeder in S Manitoba (Canada). Has benefited from clearance of forest. In Midwest... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. (2020). Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla). 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 18 February 2020).