Vesper Sparrow

(Pooecetes gramineus)

Conservation Status
Vesper Sparrow
Photo by Laurie Wachholz
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

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.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

6in length

10 wingspan

 
     
 

Voice

 
   
 

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.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

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

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Migration

 
 

Late March to mid-October

 
     
 

Nesting

 
 

 

 
     
 

Food

 
 

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

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common migrant and breeder

 
         
 

Maps

 
 

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Aves (birds)  
 

Order

Passeriformes (perching birds)  
 

Family

Passerellidae (New World sparrows)  
 

Genus

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)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
Visitor Photos
   

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Laurie Wachholz
       
  Vesper Sparrow    
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   
       
       
       

 

Camera

 

     
Slideshows
   
  Vesper Sparrow
Allen Chartier
 
  Vesper Sparrow  
     
  Vesper Sparrow
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
 
  Vesper Sparrow  
     
  Vesper Sparrow
JMC Nature Photos
 
  Vesper Sparrow  

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
   

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Other Videos
 
  Vesper Sparrow
WIld Bird Video Productions
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 26, 2011

Vesper Sparrow in Wyoming in July. ©JimZipp.com 2011

   
       
  Vesper Sparrow
eBirdr Channel
 
   
 
About

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
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 18, 2014

Vesper Sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus foraging.

   
       
  Prairie Life: Chestnut Shoulder...
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

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
 
   
 
About

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!

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
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