Vesper Sparrow

(Pooecetes gramineus)

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding


not listed

Vesper Sparrow
Photo by Laurie Wachholz

This sparrow has a small, chestnut-colored shoulder patch, streaked breast, white eye ring, and dark tail with white outer tail feathers visible in flight.



6in length

10 wingspan



Two to four long notes of the same pitch followed by several slurred, shorter notes that are varied but lower in pitch than the long notes.


Similar Species

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) also has white outer tail feathers. The breast is unmarked except for a large dark spot in the center.

Grassy areas with a shrubby border or scattered shrubs, and shrubby areas with grassy openings.



Late March to mid-October






Grasshoppers, beetles, cutworms, and other invertebrates; and seeds



Common migrant and breeder



The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map



Aves (birds)


Passeriformes (perching birds)


Passerellidae (New World sparrows)


Pooecetes (vesper sparrows)


New World sparrows were traditionally combined with buntings into the family Emberizidae. Recent phylogenetic analysis (Barker et al. 2013) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis (Klicka et al. 2014) found that the Old World buntings should be separated as a sister to New World sparrows. New World sparrows have been separated into a new family, Passerellidae.


Subordinate Taxa

Eastern Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus gramineus)

Oregon Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus affinis )

Western Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus confinis)













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Laurie Wachholz

Vesper Sparrow Photos








Vesper Sparrow
Allen Chartier

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow
JMC Nature Photos

Vesper Sparrow



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Other Videos

Vesper Sparrow
WIld Bird Video Productions


Uploaded on Jul 26, 2011

Vesper Sparrow in Wyoming in July. © 2011

Vesper Sparrow
eBirdr Channel


Published on Aug 28, 2013

The Vesper Sparrow is fairly common throughout North America. It may be found in dry meadows, pastures, hay and grain fields, prairies, sagebrush, and along roadsides. It has a white eye ring and a dark ear patch. The streaked breast sometimes forms a central spot like the Song Sparrow's. It has a distinctive chestnut shoulder. In flight the white at the edge of short, slightly notched tail is conspicuous. The song may be heard as "here, here, where, where" followed by a downward trill; similar to Song Sparrow's with 2 longer slurred introductory notes. Also it has been described as "come, come, where, where, all together down the hill".

Vesper Sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus
Rob Curtis


Published on Jul 18, 2014

Vesper Sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus foraging.

Prairie Life: Chestnut Shoulder...
Carl Barrentine


Published on Apr 26, 2014

A migrant Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus) poses prettily, exhibiting most of the visible phenotypic features of its species. Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (26 April 2014).

Vesper Sparrow at Max Patch, NC
Carl Miller


Published on Jun 23, 2013

This vesper sparrow had precious few perching options on top of the Max Patch bald in North Carolina. Just my luck, he chose the trail marker only a few feet from me and sang his heart out!

Editing note: There was some horrible wind noise on the source video from my Canon 7D that made it pretty hard to hear the bird song. I managed to use an audio equalizer in my video editor to mostly eliminate all of the low frequency wind noise (everything below 1700 Hz). The result is surprisingly clear!



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