19 Sparrows in Michigan (With Pictures)

19 Sparrows in Michigan (With Pictures)

Sparrows, the unassuming avian residents of Michigan, hold a captivating presence within the state’s diverse ecosystems. From urban landscapes to serene countryside, these small yet resilient creatures have woven themselves into the fabric of Michigan’s natural tapestry.

In this article, we delve into the intriguing world of Michigan’s sparrows, exploring their unique adaptations, migratory patterns, and pivotal roles in maintaining ecological balance.

As we uncover the tales of these feathered inhabitants, we gain a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of Michigan’s wilderness and the intricate beauty that these unheralded birds bring to the Great Lakes region.

1. Song Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Melospiza melodia
  • Life span: 2-7 years
  • Size: 5.5-7 in / 14-18 cm
  • Weight: 0.8-1.4 oz / 22-40 g
  • Wingspan: 9.1-9.8 in / 23-25 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

Across North America, the Song Sparrow casts a spell with its melodious serenades resonating through meadows, woodlands, and gardens alike. Cloaked in a harmonious fusion of earthy hues, its plumage showcases traces of warm brown and opulent chestnut.

Possessing an endearing demeanour, this petite troubadour effortlessly captures affection while perched upon swaying branches, showcasing its dashing rufous crown and delicate streaks.

A fun fact: every Song Sparrow boasts a distinctive song, nuanced variations inherited across generations, composing an airborne symphony that infuses the atmosphere with pure delight.

A Song Sparrow singing its song on a branch

Crafting intricate abodes either on the ground or nestled within shrubs, Song Sparrows meticulously intertwine grasses, leaves, and assorted materials into a snug haven. Concealed amid the verdure, this refuge ensures a secure haven for their fledglings.

Exhibiting a versatile palate, Song Sparrows partake in a diverse cuisine encompassing insects, seeds, berries, and even petite crustaceans. Their foraging repertoire entails sifting through leaf litter and probing the earth to unearth concealed delights.

Despite their widespread prevalence, urbanization and agricultural practices have encroached upon Song Sparrows’ habitats, sparking conservation endeavours geared towards safeguarding and revitalizing wetlands and grasslands – pivotal sanctuaries for these captivating avians.

2. House Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Passer domesticus
  • Life span: 3-5 years
  • Size: 5.5-6.3 in / 14-16 cm
  • Weight: 1.1-1.4 oz / 30-40 g
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.1 in / 20-23 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

Originating in Europe and introduced to North America, the House Sparrow has seamlessly integrated itself into urban landscapes, finding haven in eaves and gracefully navigating bustling streets.

Their resplendent attire boasts an amalgamation of chestnut, grey, and black hues, elegantly accented by touches of white adorning their wings and cheeks. Exhibiting remarkable sociability, these adept sparrows readily embrace human proximity, fostering vibrant communities that resound with lively chirps and animated conversations.

Fun fact: House Sparrows indulge in the peculiar pleasure of dust baths, delighting in modest dirt patches, where they engage in exuberant flutters and invigorating shakes.

A House Sparrow getting ready for flight

Displaying a remarkable aptitude for adaptation, House Sparrows exhibit versatile nesting habits. Their untidy abodes can be found in diverse spots, ranging from tree hollows and birdhouses to even man-made structures, a testament to their opportunistic tendencies.

As opportunistic feeders, they boast a diverse palate. While seeds and grains constitute their primary sustenance, their culinary exploits encompass scavenging for food remnants, insects, and even petite vertebrates.

Originally introduced from Europe, House Sparrows have triumphed in both urban and agricultural settings. Yet, their abundance is paralleled by concerns regarding their aggressive interactions with native birds and competition for nesting sites, raising alarms for the conservation of indigenous species.

3. Swamp Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Melospiza georgiana
  • Life span: 2-4 years
  • Size: 5.5-6.3 in / 14-16 cm
  • Weight: 0.7-1.2 oz / 20-35 g
  • Wingspan: 8.7-9.1 in / 22-23 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

The Swamp Sparrow, an alluring dweller of watery sanctuaries, graces marshes and reedy fringes throughout North America, cloaked in an intricate array of deep browns. Distinguished reddish wings and a delicate cream adornment embellish its form.

Shrouded in an air of enigma, these sparrows nimbly traverse thick foliage, their dainty hops and agile motions concealed amidst the cattails.

A fun fact: The Swamp Sparrow employs a distinctive method to announce its presence—an understated “tic” call akin to pebbles gently meeting water’s embrace, bestowing a captivating allure upon wetland soundscapes.

A Swamp Sparrow sitting in a tree in the fall

Within the lush embrace of wetlands and marshes, Swamp Sparrows meticulously construct cup-shaped nests amidst dense vegetation. With adept artistry, they interweave grasses, sedges, and plant elements, harmoniously blending their homes into the tapestry of their surroundings.

Swamp Sparrows boast a diverse culinary repertoire, encompassing insects, seeds, and aquatic invertebrates. As adept foragers, they gracefully hop along water’s edges and deftly probe into vegetation, diligently seeking sustenance.

Their dependence on wetland habitats has been profoundly influenced by human activities. Conservation endeavors are diligently directed towards safeguarding and revitalizing these precious ecosystems. The focus encompasses preserving and rejuvenating wetlands, along with championing sustainable land-use practices to ensure the safeguarding of their essential breeding and wintering sanctuaries.

4. Dark-eyed Junco

  • Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
  • Life span: 3-7 years
  • Size: 5.5-6.3 in / 14-16 cm
  • Weight: 0.7-1.1 oz / 20-30 g
  • Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in / 19-25 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

Gracefully gracing North America, the Dark-eyed Junco emerges as a captivating guest, characterized by its unique allure and playful disposition. From snow-dusted mountain slopes to humble backyard gardens, these beguiling sparrows bestow an aura of refinement upon every landscape.

Sporting a suave ensemble of charcoal grey and pristine white, accented by vividly pink bills, they emanate an enchanting charm. Their melodious “tinkling” calls are emblematic of their cheerful nature as they flit about in spirited flocks, casting ripples of delight in their wake.

Fun fact: Dark-eyed Juncos possess an unassuming knack for excavating the forest floor with their nimble feet, unveiling delectable seeds hidden beneath the foliage’s embrace.

A Dark-Eyed Junco looking for food

Employing a ground-level strategy, they establish their nests, often concealed beneath shrubs or sheltered by fallen logs. With finesse, they craft cup-shaped sanctuaries, intricately woven from grasses, leaves, and other natural elements, providing a secure retreat for their offspring.

Dark-eyed Juncos boast a versatile menu, embracing seeds, insects, and diminutive invertebrates. Exhibiting agility in foraging, they gracefully hop and diligently scratch through leaf litter, unveiling concealed treasures.

A species of abundant distribution, Dark-eyed Juncos thrive across varied landscapes. With steadfast populations, conservation initiatives prioritize the preservation of their preferred habitats—forests and woodlands—ensuring their enduring presence within Michigan’s vibrant avian mosaic.

5. White-throated Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Zonotrichia albicollis
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 6.3-7.5 in / 16-19 cm
  • Weight: 0.9-1.3 oz / 25-38 g
  • Wingspan: 8.7-9.8 in / 22-25 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

The North American White-throated Sparrow captivates with its elegance and melodious song. Found in woodlands, brushy areas, and suburban gardens, they wear black and white plumage, adorned by a bright yellow accent between the eyes and a white throat patch.

Their hauntingly sweet whistle announces their presence with grace. Notably, they exhibit regional song dialects, infusing their melodic repertoire with regional charm.

Close-up of a White-Throated Sparrow in the morning light

Nestled on or near the ground, often concealed beneath shrubs or within thick vegetation, their nests are skillfully crafted havens. Utilizing grasses, twigs, and leaves, they intricately weave a robust and discreet structure.

This species maintains an omnivorous diet, embracing seeds, berries, insects, and even petite snails. Foraging tactics encompass ground-scratching, leaf-pecking, and occasional berry plucking while hopping.

Adaptable and abundant, White-throated Sparrows flourish across diverse habitats, from forests and woodlands to suburban realms. Their populations remain steadfast, and conservation endeavors prioritize the protection and management of suitable habitats, ensuring their sustained presence.

6. American Tree Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Spizelloides arborea
  • Life span: 2-6 years
  • Size: 5.9 in / 15 cm
  • Weight: 0.6-1.0 oz / 18-28 g
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.1 in / 20-23 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

The American Tree Sparrow, a winter voyager in North America, defies cold terrains with its resilience and striking look. Traveling from the Arctic tundra to woodlands and shrub zones, these chic sparrows exhibit a reddish-brown cap and contrasting grey breast, harmonizing with snowy scenes.

Their gentle trills enliven winter vistas. Surprisingly, they predominantly forage on the ground, hopping amid grasses and snow to find sustenance, showcasing their adaptability.

An American Tree Sparrow sitting in the snow

While American Tree Sparrows breed in northern regions, they do not nest in Michigan. Employing grasses, moss, and twigs, they craft cup-shaped nests, often concealed in low shrubs or on the ground.

During winter, American Tree Sparrows mainly sustain themselves with seeds, especially from grasses and weeds. They supplement their diet with insects and berries when accessible.

Migratory in nature, these birds grace Michigan in winter. With generally stable populations, conservation concentrates on upholding fitting winter habitats, like open fields and brushy zones, where they locate nourishment and refuge throughout their sojourn.

7. Chipping Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Spizella passerina
  • Life span: 4-5 years
  • Size: 4.7-5.9 in / 12-15 cm
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz / 12-18 g
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.1 in / 20-23 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

The Chipping Sparrow, a joyful North American resident, enchants with its vivacious presence and buoyant character. In woodlands, parks, and gardens, these spirited sparrows infuse environments with vibrant dynamism. Their crisp, clear trills fill the air, resonating through trees with melodious allure. Earth-toned in warm brown, they sport a playful touch—a distinctive rusty cap. Intriguingly, Chipping Sparrows showcase resourcefulness in nest construction, adeptly fusing grass, twigs, and even cellophane fragments.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows create tidy cup nests, often nestled in tree or shrub branches, intricately woven with grass, twigs, and rootlets for their young’s comfort.

Their diet is diverse, encompassing insects, spiders, seeds, and berries. They nimbly hop along branches and ground, adeptly using their sharp beaks to secure prey and seeds.

Common and widespread, their stable populations thrive across woodlands, gardens, and urban parks. Conservation prioritizes preserving nest sites and nurturing ecosystems to sustain their nourishment.

8. Eastern Towhee

  • Scientific name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus
  • Life span: 6-9 years
  • Size: 7.1-9.1 in / 18-23 cm
  • Weight: 1.1-1.8 oz / 31-52 g
  • Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in / 25-30 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

The Eastern Towhee, an alluring denizen of the eastern US, captivates with its vivid charm. In shrubby haunts and forest edges, their bold “drink-your-tea” call resonates, making their presence undeniable.

A dramatic contrast unfolds in their plumage: black back and head against rufous sides and a snowy white belly. Energetic scratching and hopping reveal their treasure-seeking under fallen leaves.

Notably, they exhibit intriguing “anting” behavior—selectively using ants to possibly ward off parasites.

An Eastern Towhee sitting on a stick

Eastern Towhees construct their nests near the ground, skillfully concealed amidst thick vegetation or shrubs. A secure retreat for their eggs and fledglings, these well-hidden structures are assembled from twigs, leaves, and rootlets.

Their diet encompasses insects, spiders, seeds, fruits, and occasionally small reptiles or amphibians. Employing robust beaks, they adeptly scratch and probe the ground for sustenance.

Abundant and widespread across Michigan, their populations have remained stable. Yet, habitat loss and fragmentation looms. Conservation endeavours are channelled into safeguarding and rejuvenating suitable shrubby habitats, vital for their nesting and foraging endeavours.

9. Field Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Spizella pusilla
  • Life span: 4-6 years
  • Size: 4.7-5.5 in / 12-14 cm
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz / 12-18 g
  • Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in / 19-22 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

The Field Sparrow, a grassland dweller in North America, captivates with its dainty allure and melodic song. Its plumage, adorned in gentle earth tones—warm brown back, buff breast, and a white eye ring—lends elegance to its graceful hops and watchful demeanour.

In open spaces, their enchanting symphony of trills and melodious notes weaves a musical tapestry. Intriguingly, they employ an innovative nest-building approach, crafting a “parasol” of grasses to shield their nest from heat.

A singing Field Sparrow on top of a branch

Creating cup-shaped nests within low shrubs or grasses, Field Sparrows adeptly hide them amidst thick vegetation. Skillfully crafting nests from grasses, rootlets, and delicate plant materials, they ensure additional comfort through soft linings.

Their diet centers on seeds, encompassing grasses, weeds, and wildflowers, while insects and spiders become crucial during the breeding season, ensuring protein-rich nourishment for their fledglings.

Habitat loss and agricultural shifts have led to Field Sparrow population declines. Conservation endeavours concentrate on fostering appropriate grassland environments, adopting sustainable land management, and advocating native plant diversity.

10. Savannah Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Passerculus sandwichensis
  • Life span: 3-7 years
  • Size: 5.5-6.7 in / 14-17 cm
  • Weight: 0.5-0.9 oz / 14-26 g
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.4 in / 20-24 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

Residing in North American fields and grasslands, the Savannah Sparrow exudes subtle allure and captivating charm. Their brown and grey plumage harmonizes with the prairie’s gentle hues, while their melodic songs, a blend of trills and buzzes, grace the grassy expanses.

Fun fact: Savannah Sparrows exhibit a nomadic disposition, embarking on remarkable journeys spanning thousands of miles during migration.

Savannah Sparrow

Found on the ground, often tucked amidst grassy or shrubby surroundings, this species crafts shallow cup-shaped nests using grasses and plant stems, adroitly blending them into the neighbouring flora.

Savannah Sparrows exhibit a diverse palate, consuming seeds, insects, spiders, and petite invertebrates. Their pointed bills adeptly navigate low vegetation and the ground, uncovering concealed prey and seeds.

While prevalent in Michigan, habitat loss, particularly the transformation of grasslands and coastal regions, can impact their populations. Conservation initiatives prioritize the preservation and rejuvenation of vital grassland and marsh habitats, essential for their nesting and foraging requirements.

11. Grasshopper Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Ammodramus savannarum
  • Life span: 2-4 years
  • Size: 4.7-5.5 in / 12-14 cm
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz / 12-18 g
  • Wingspan: 6.3-7.9 in / 16-20 cm
  • Status: Near Threatened

Residing within grasslands and prairies, the Grasshopper Sparrow captivates through its distinct appearance and insect-like serenades. Cloaked in hues of buff and brown, their plumage blends seamlessly with their grassy abode.

Unique vocalizations, resembling the hum of grasshoppers, form a symphony in harmony with the winds that sweep through the fields.

Fun fact: Grasshopper Sparrows employ a singular camouflage technique, often pressing flat against the ground when approached, melding effortlessly with their surroundings and eluding potential predators.

A Grasshopper Sparrow sitting in a bush

Hidden within thick grasses and shrubs, Grasshopper Sparrows meticulously construct ground-level nests. These nests are adeptly woven from fine grasses and gently lined, creating a snug haven for their eggs and nestlings.

Their primarily insect-based diet centers on grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles. Agile predators, they deftly seize their prey mid-air or launch swift strikes from the ground.

Confronting habitat loss and grassland degradation, Grasshopper Sparrows face challenges. Conservation endeavours prioritize safeguarding and revitalizing appropriate grassland habitats, adopting sound land management techniques, and championing native grasses to cater to their nesting and foraging necessities.

12. Henslow’s Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Ammodramus henslowii
  • Life span: 1-3 years
  • Size: 4.7-5.5 in / 12-14 cm
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz / 12-18 g
  • Wingspan: 6.7-7.9 in / 17-20 cm
  • Status: Near Threatened

In North American grasslands and meadows, the enigmatic Henslow’s Sparrow emanates an aura of mystique and charm. Concealed within tall grasses, its soft, insect-like song gracefully drifts through the prairie, revealing its presence.

Delicate olive and brown plumage intricately harmonizes with the surroundings, showcasing an artful blend. Notably, Henslow’s Sparrow exhibits distinct nesting habits, crafting concealed ground-level nests within dense vegetation—an ingenious shelter for its young.

Henslow’s Sparrow seems to be holding on for dear life in the wind.

Nestled within grassy realms, Henslow’s Sparrows construct their shelters, often hidden beneath dense low-level vegetation. They adeptly weave shallow cup-shaped nests from grasses and delicate plant materials, ensuring a secure sanctuary for their eggs and hatchlings.

Their diet centers around insects like grasshoppers, beetles, and spiders, while also embracing seeds and small fruits, diversifying their nourishment.

Population declines due to vanishing grassland habitats concern Henslow’s Sparrows. Conservation endeavours target the safeguarding and rejuvenation of fitting grasslands, employing strategies like controlled grazing and meticulous mowing to uphold open habitats.

Raising awareness about the significance of these birds and their ecosystems adds further momentum to preservation efforts.

13. Vesper Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Pooecetes gramineus
  • Life span: 2-5 years
  • Size: 5.9 in / 15 cm
  • Weight: 5.9 in / 15 cm
  • Wingspan: 8.7-9.8 in / 22-25 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

A captivating North American visitor, the Vesper Sparrow casts a spell with its twilight melodies. In grasslands, open fields, and meadows, these charming sparrows grace the evening air with their enchanting tunes.

Cloaked in sandy brown and subtle grey, they boast a striking white eye ring. Their serene disposition and poised hops bestow tranquillity upon the golden hour.

Fun fact: Vesper Sparrows employ a distinctive foraging technique, sprinting briefly before halting suddenly to scrutinize the ground for prey—a playful twist to their hunting strategy.

Vesper Sparrow

Creating their homes at ground level, Vesper Sparrows prefer open grassy spaces or field borders. Employing grasses and occasionally finer materials, they adeptly construct hidden nests to protect their precious eggs.

With a varied palate, this species feasts on seeds, insects, and small invertebrates. Employing ground-level hops, they scour the vegetation for seeds and insects.

Regrettably, Vesper Sparrows are dwindling due to habitat loss and degradation. Conservation initiatives prioritize the preservation and renewal of suitable grasslands, incorporating land management practices conducive to their nesting and foraging. Furthermore, promoting sustainable agricultural approaches bolsters their cause.

14. White-crowned Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Zonotrichia leucophrys
  • Life span: 6-13 years
  • Size: 6.7-7.9 in / 17-20 cm
  • Weight: 0.9-1.4 oz / 26-40 g
  • Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in / 25-30 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

The North American White-crowned Sparrow, a captivating wanderer, beguiles with its majestic visage and beguiling melodies gracing woodlands, shrubby domains, and urban oases. Its plumage presents a striking contrast—a sleek black and white crown atop a warm brown back.

The vibrant chorus of their songs, a harmonious blend of whistles and trills, heralds the shifting seasons. Exuding both dignity and curiosity, they infuse their surroundings with an air of elegance.

Fascinatingly, White-crowned Sparrows partake in “singing competitions,” wherein males engage in spirited vocal duels, asserting dominance and attracting mates—an intriguing glimpse into their competitive nature.

A White-Crowned Sparrow sitting in a tree showing off its namesake crowned head

The White-crowned Sparrow crafts its nest within shrubs or low trees, intricately weaving twigs, grasses, and plant materials into snug abodes where they rear their eggs and nurture fledglings.

With a varied palate, these sparrows savour seeds, insects, berries, and small fruits. Ground and shrub explorations unfold as they seek delectable morsels.

While typically abundant and widespread, the impacts of habitat loss and climate shifts affect White-crowned Sparrow populations. Conservation endeavours center on safeguarding and stewarding their favored habitats, guaranteeing ample food and nesting provisions.

15. Lincoln’s Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Melospiza lincolnii
  • Life span: 3-5 years
  • Size: 4.7-5.9 in / 12-15 cm
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz / 12-18 g
  • Wingspan: 7.1-7.9 in / 18-20 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

The alluring Lincoln’s Sparrow, a fleeting guest in North America, enchants with delicate grace and captivating melodies that grace wetlands and brushy terrain. Its plumage weaves a spell, blending warm brown hues with intricate streaks, crowned by a touch of grey upon its countenance.

With gentle demeanour and understated elegance, these sparrows deftly traverse dense vegetation. Intriguingly, Lincoln’s Sparrows are renowned for their arduous migrations, with some venturing up to 3,000 miles from their Arctic breeding grounds to winter havens in Central and South America—an extraordinary testament to their endurance and resolve.

Lincoln’s Sparrow

Nestled amid thick vegetation near wetlands or marshes, their ground-level nests are meticulously crafted cup-shaped structures, woven from grasses and moss to cradle their precious eggs.

Embracing a diverse diet, these sparrows partake in insects, spiders, seeds, and berries. Agile foragers, they skillfully explore the undergrowth, sifting through foliage and soil for delectable sustenance.

Lincoln’s Sparrows confront threats stemming from habitat loss and degradation, particularly within their wetland breeding grounds. Conservation endeavours are channelled into safeguarding and revitalizing wetland ecosystems, integrating sustainable land management practices, and heightening awareness about the pivotal role of wetlands in their survival.

16. Fox Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Passerella iliaca
  • Life span: 3-6 years
  • Size: 6.7-7.9 in / 17-20 cm
  • Weight: 1.4-1.8 oz / 40-52 g
  • Wingspan: 10.2-11.8 in / 26-30 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

A captivating voyager in North America, the Fox Sparrow enthralls with its inviting aura and resonating, melodic woodland and shrubland songs. Its plumage showcases a mesmerizing blend of rusty brown and vibrant reddish hues, adorned with intricate patterns of streaks and spots.

With a bold and self-assured demeanour, these sparrows engage in ground-level foraging, skillfully wielding their precise beaks to uncover concealed treasures.

Interestingly, Fox Sparrows are famed for their distinctive scratching behavior, vigorously kicking up leaf litter and soil to unveil delightful morsels beneath—a testament to their ingenuity and unwavering determination.

Fox Sparrow

Their nests find a home on or near the ground, often tucked beneath shrubs or within dense foliage. Crafted from grasses, leaves, and twigs, these nests become snug sanctuaries, safeguarding their young.

The Fox Sparrow’s menu features insects, seeds, berries, and even small amphibians or reptiles. Their gastronomic escapades lead them on forest floor culinary expeditions.

While Fox Sparrow populations remain stable, their wooded habitats confront the challenges of habitat fragmentation and climate shifts. Conservation initiatives encompass the safeguarding and management of their woodland abodes, fostering forest connectivity, and guaranteeing ample sustenance and nesting provisions.

17. Clay-coloured Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Spizella pallida
  • Life span: 4-7 years
  • Size: 4.7-5.9 in / 12-15 cm
  • Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz / 12-20 g
  • Wingspan: 7.1-7.9 in / 18-20 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

A captivating traveler in North America, the Clay-coloured Sparrow enchants with its subtle allure and melodious, trilling songs that grace grasslands and prairies. Dressed in earthy hues of buff and brown, its plumage is elevated by a distinct pale crown contrasting with its olive countenance.

Exuding a blend of modesty and self-assuredness, these sparrows bestow an air of elegance upon their surroundings. Intriguingly, Clay-coloured Sparrows possess a captivating nesting practice, often crafting their homes within low shrubs and grasses, intricately weaving a spherical shape that offers a snug and secure haven for their offspring.

Clay-coloured Sparrow

In shrubs or low trees, Clay-coloured Sparrows intricately construct cup-shaped nests from grasses, leaves, and assorted plant materials, ensuring a sheltered sanctuary for their eggs and nestlings.

Feasting primarily on seeds, notably grass seeds, and supplementing their diet with insects during the breeding season, these sparrows flutter through grassy landscapes, leveraging their acute vision to identify and gather their preferred seeds.

While adaptable to diverse habitats, Clay-coloured Sparrows confront threats from habitat loss and degradation. Conservation initiatives prioritize the preservation and rejuvenation of fitting grassland and shrubland habitats, embracing sustainable land management techniques, and enhancing awareness of their conservation necessities.

18. LeConte’s Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Ammospiza leconteii
  • Life span: 2-3 years
  • Size: 4.3-5.1 in / 11-13 cm
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz / 12-18 g
  • Wingspan: 5.9-6.7 in / 15-17 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

Residing within North American marshes and wetlands, the alluring LeConte’s Sparrow captivates through its delicate allure and veiled demeanor. Its plumage blends soft greys and warm browns, adorned with intricate streaks and subtle motifs.

With a svelte physique and a distinctive pale eye ring, these sparrows elegantly maneuver through dense vegetation. Intriguingly, LeConte’s Sparrows are known for their “bouncing flight“, a behavior where they skim over marshes, rhythmically alternating between wing flaps and gliding—a captivating spectacle as they traverse their watery abodes.

This fellow seems to be doing its morning gymnastics.

Nestled either directly on the ground or in close proximity, their nests remain concealed amidst dense wetland vegetation or grasses. Using their adept skills, they intricately weave these nests from grasses, creating a hidden sanctuary for their precious eggs and nestlings.

Their diet encompasses a variety of insects, seeds, and small invertebrates. With a hopping and walking approach, they traverse wetlands and grasslands, meticulously exploring the flora for their favored sustenance.

LeConte’s Sparrows merit conservation concern due to dwindling populations and their reliance on specific wetland habitats. Conservation endeavors revolve around the preservation and rejuvenation of wetlands, incorporating sound land management techniques, and elevating awareness about their ecological significance.

19. Harris’s Sparrow

  • Scientific name: Ammospiza leconteii
  • Life span: 9-10 years
  • Size: 6.7-7.1 inches / 17-18 cm
  • Weight: 1.4-1.5 ounces / 40-43 g
  • Wingspan: 8.7-9.4 inches / 22-24 cm
  • Status: Least Concern

The enigmatic Harris’s Sparrow is a captivating traveler, primarily found in North America’s boreal forests and brushy areas. Its appearance is striking, featuring dark streaks over a grayish head and rich chestnut flanks, complemented by a dark central crown.

An intriguing fact about them is their long migration journey, stretching from their Arctic breeding grounds to winter havens in the central United States, showcasing their remarkable endurance and navigational prowess.

A Harris’s Sparrow sitting amongst berries

Harris’s Sparrows in Michigan tend to build their nests in the shelter of the state’s woodlands. They weave together twigs and leaves to create secure structures, often nestled within the undergrowth.

Michigan’s Harris’s Sparrows have a varied diet, including seeds and insects. They forage in grassy areas and among vegetation, seeking out nourishment that supports their energy needs.

Conservation initiatives in Michigan focus on preserving suitable habitats for Harris’s Sparrows. These efforts aim to maintain the woodlands and grassy areas that these sparrows depend on for nesting and foraging.

Where to find Sparrows in Michigan

Michigan’s diverse landscapes provide ample opportunities for bird enthusiasts to observe various sparrow species. To locate these charming birds, consider exploring a range of habitats and employing specific techniques for successful sightings.

  • Woodland Edges: Song Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows are often found along the edges of woodlands. Wander through state parks such as Proud Lake State Recreation Area or Maybury State Park, keeping an ear out for their distinctive songs amid the trees and shrubs.
  • Grassy Meadows: Seek out open fields and grassy meadows for encounters with Savannah Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows. Kensington Metropark and Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge offer expansive grasslands where you can spot these birds as they forage among the vegetation.
  • Wetland Habitats: Marshes and wetlands are home to Swamp Sparrows and others. Visit Pointe Mouillee State Game Area or Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge to observe these species in their natural habitats. Be patient and use binoculars to scan through the cattails and reeds.
  • Shrubbery and Shrubby Areas: Look for Harris’s Sparrows and LeConte’s Sparrows in shrubby habitats near wetlands or along rivers. Warren Dunes State Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore feature coastal shrubbery where you can spot these elusive birds. Approach quietly and use foliage as cover.

When observing sparrows, maintain a respectful distance and avoid disturbing their habitats. Bring along a field guide or birding app to help with identification. Patience is key, as sparrows can be discreet and may require attentive observation to locate.

By exploring these four nature areas and using effective birding techniques, you’ll increase your chances of encountering these delightful sparrows and enjoying Michigan’s rich avian diversity.


In the vast tapestry of Michigan’s landscapes, sparrows weave their own intricate stories. From woodlands to wetlands, these charming birds enrich our natural heritage. As we venture into their habitats with curiosity and respect, we uncover the hidden melodies and behaviors that make each sparrow unique.

By preserving their diverse environments and supporting conservation efforts, we ensure that the enchanting presence of sparrows continues to grace Michigan’s skies, offering moments of connection and wonder for generations to come.

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