Birds – Grasshopper Sparrow

(Ammodramus savannarum passerinus) Finch family


Length—5 to 5.4 inches. About an inch smaller than the English sparrow.

Male and Female—A cream-yellow line over the eye; centre of crown, shoulders, and lesser wing coverts yellowish. Head blackish; rust-colored feathers, with small black spots on back of the neck; an orange mark before the eye. All other upper parts varied red, brown, cream, and black, with a drab wash. Underneath brownish drab on breast, shading to soiled white, and without streaks. Dusky, even, pointed tail feathers have grayish-white outer margins.

Range—Eastern North America, from British provinces to Cuba. Winters south of the Carolinas.

Migrations—April. October. Common summer resident.

It is safe to say that no other common bird is so frequently overlooked as this little sparrow, that keeps persistently to the grass and low bushes, and only faintly lifts up a weak, wiry voice that is usually attributed to some insect. At the bend of the wings only are the feathers really yellow, and even this bright shade often goes unnoticed as the bird runs shyly through an old dairy field or grassy pasture. You may all but step upon it before it takes wing and exhibits itself on the fence-rail, which is usually as far from the ground as it cares to go. If you are near enough to this perch you may overhear the zee-e-e-e that has earned it the name of grasshopper sparrow. If you persistently follow it too closely, away it flies, then suddenly drops to the ground where a scrubby bush affords protection. A curious fact about this bird is that after you have once become acquainted with it, you find that instead of being a rare discovery, as you had supposed, it is apt to be a common resident of almost every field you walk through.