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  ScienceZoologyBirdsOrder Passeriformes
Lincoln's sparrowLincoln's Sparrow

Melospiza lincolnii


This little sparrow is most easily identified by a streaked brown back, gray breast, white throat, and reddish-brown cap. Adults are 5-6 inches long and weigh just under an ounce. Both sexes are similar in coloration and size, and juveniles look like small versions of adults.

Distribution and Habitat

Lincoln's Sparrow breeds across southern Canada and the extreme northern area of the United States, south through the Rocky Mountains; it winters from the southern United States into Central America. From spring through fall it is most commonly seen in bogs, wet meadows, and riparian thickets. Its winter habitat tends to be drier and ranges from brushy or scrubby areas to open woodlands and forest clearings.


Breeding pairs appear to be monogamous during the breeding season, but it is not known whether those pairs are formed for life. The female builds a cup-shaped nest out of dried grass either on the ground or in a low bush or tussock. Three to six pale green, blue, pink or white eggs spotted with brown are laid per clutch, and both parents participate in incubation until they hatch after 14 days. The chicks are born naked and helpless but mature rapidly and are able to leave the nest at about 20 days. Due to the relatively short maturation period many pairs will breed twice in one season.


Lincoln's Sparrows feed primarily on spiders, millipedes, and other small arthropods. They will supplement their diet with seeds, berries, and fruits when insects are less plentiful, and will occasionally visit feeders. Birds tend to forage on the ground alone or in very small numbers.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
family Fringillidae
genus & species Melospiza lincolnii

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This page was last updated on February 09, 2015.

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