Bird Database

Chipping Sparrow

(Spizella passerina)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Short distance




Predation, Collisions

Conservation Actions

Maintain a bird-friendly yard

Chipping Sparrow

(Spizella passerina)

Chipping Sparrows are common in residential areas throughout New Hampshire and are the most likely native sparrow in places like city parks with scattered trees. Away from people they also use open areas like pine barrens and strips of forest, but unlike many other sparrows are rarely found nesting in shrublands and never in grasslands. The nest is typically low in a shrub or sapling, and this is the species most likely to build a nest in the evergreen shrubs and hedges in your front yard.

They are an attractive little bird, easily recognized (but see below) by their rusty cap bordered by a bold white eyebrow and thin black line through the eye. In the fall Chipping Sparrows lose their distinctive rusty cap and eye-lines and replace them with a similar pattern in shades of brown. They also migrate south of New Hampshire, so if you see a sparrow with a rusty cap in winter it is instead an American Tree Sparrow visiting from its breeding grounds on the Canadian tundra. The two species overlap in late fall, but by this point Chippies already have a brown cap and shouldn’t be a source of confusion.

The Chipping Sparrow’s song can be another identification challenge. It is one of three common species which sing a variation of a monotonous trill, the others being Dark-eyed Junco and Pine Warbler. Of the three the Chipping Sparrow’s is the longest and most insect-like, and is sometimes described as “dry.” It typically lasts around three seconds but in extreme cases may go on for six or seven. Most of the time they sing from a high perch, but at dawn males will also sing a slightly different version while perched on the ground. This song resembles the typical one but is broken up into short staccato bursts.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Chipping Sparrow
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count