Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)


French: Bruant vespéral German: Abendammer Spanish: Chingolo coliblanco

Fringilla graminea

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

New York, USA


Geographical variation largely clinal. Proposed race altus (described from Kendrick Park, in NC Arizona), treated as a synonym of confinis. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. g. confinis S. F. Baird, 1858 – SW Canada (C British Columbia and SW Mackenzie E through C Saskatchewan and S Manitoba to W Ontario) and S in USA to CE California, C Nevada, C Arizona, C New Mexico, E Colorado and W Nebraska; non-breeding from S edge of breeding range (California E to New Mexico) and from S Texas S in Mexican highlands (to Oaxaca), occasionally to Guatemala.
  • P. g. affinis G. S. Miller, 1888 – W Washington and W Oregon (W USA); non-breeding from C California (W of Sierra Nevada) S to NW Mexico (NW Baja California, possibly also Chihuahua).
  • P. g. gramineus (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – SE Canada (NE Ontario and S Quebec E to Prince Edward I and N Nova Scotia) and E USA from N Minnesota E to Maine and S to C Missouri, C Kentucky, NE Tennessee, C North Carolina and S Virginia; non-breeding from S part of breeding range S to C Texas and Gulf Coast.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–18 cm; 19·5–28·3 g. A medium-sized sparrow with fairly large, conical bill, much white in outer tail feathers. ­Nominate race breeding has... read more


    Song, from tree or exposed perch, sweet and musical, generally 2–4 long clear notes, often... read more


    Dry open grasslands with sparse and patchy herbaceous vegetation, fields, and brushy second growth... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly small invertebrates and seeds. Invertebrates taken include beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), caterpillars (... read more


    Season Apr–Aug; generally one or two broods, occasionally triple-brooded. Monogamous; occasionally polygynous. Males arriving late on... read more


    Mostly migratory. Spring migration from mid-Feb to early May; in Colorado Valley passage through to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Race affinis listed as a “California Bird Species of Special Concern” (wintering population). Locally common in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus). 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).