Chipping Sparrow

Photography by Fyn Kynd

Photography by Fyn Kynd

This sparrow has a crisp plumage, with a black streak across its eye, a rufous crown, and gray underparts. If you don't recognize its plumage you might recognize its fast paced call, a pulsing chirp lasting 3-4 seconds.

Chipping sparrows nest throughout Wisconsin in a variety of habitats but seem most at home near human dwellings. Naturally a species of open woodlands, the chipping sparrow will readily nest in a yard with enough trees and shrubs. The bird was more abundant in urban areas before the introduction of the house sparrow, but competition from the aggressive house sparrow has excluded the chipping sparrow from these areas. Brown-headed cowbird brood parasitism can also be a problem, but chipping sparrow numbers have increased steadily over the last 50 years.

Photography by Roland Fortier

Photography by Roland Fortier

The male will construct an airy nest of grasses. Inside the nest, a clutch of 3-4 is common. Chippies can fledge within 8 days and will be fed an insect-rich diet because the extremely high caloric content per unit of mass of insects will allow the young birds to develop quickly. During winter, early spring, and late fall, chipping sparrows will eat a majority of plant-based foods including seeds, grasses, herbs, and fruits. 

You can find chipping sparrows at Faville Grove at the top of Prairie Lane and along the edge of Faville Woods. First listen for their distinctive call, then look for their crisp markings and black streaked eye.

By Drew Harry, Faville Grove Land Steward