Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)


French: Bruant à couronne dorée German: Kronenammer Spanish: Chingolo coronidorado

Emberiza atricapilla

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

“in Sinu Natka, et insulis Sandwich” = Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA


Perhaps most closely related to Z. leucophrys, with which it sometimes hybridizes; hybridizes less frequently with Z. albicollis. Monotypic.


Aleutian Is (E from Unimak I and Shumagin Is) and W & NC Alaska, W Canada (C Yukon, SW Northwest Territories S to S British Columbia and SW Alberta). Non-breeding from S Alaska and S British Columbia S to SW USA (S to W California and E Nevada) and NW Mexico (N & C Baja California, rarely S to Sonora).

Descriptive notes

15–18 cm; 21·2–36·5 g. A fairly large, long-tailed sparrow. In breeding plumage, crown is blackish-brown, becoming brownish toward nape, with broad... read more


Song characteristically consists of 3 plaintive, clearly whistled descending notes in minor key,... read more


Breeds in forest–tundra ecotone and shrubby tundra with scattered birch (Betula) and dwarf... read more

Food and feeding

Little information on diet. Outside breeding season principally vegetable matter (seeds and fruits), and takes small insects and spiders (... read more


Season Jun–Jul; single brooded, rarely second broods attempted. Monogamous. Pair formation occurs within two weeks of arrival on breeding... read more


Migratory. Passage largely along coastal slope, interior breeding populations likely using river... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common to locally common; often common in appropriate habitat. Some indications that populations increasing in size. Breeds in... read more

Recommended citation

Rising, J. (2020). Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla). 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 28 February 2020).