Bird Database

Swamp Sparrow

(Melospiza georgiana)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Short distance




Habitat loss and maturation

Conservation Actions

Protect wetlands

Swamp Sparrow

(Melospiza georgiana)

As its name implies, the Swamp Sparrow is a bird of wetlands, including cattail marshes, bogs, and shrub swamps. It is an inobtrusive sparrow compared to many of its relatives, especially the similar Song Sparrow, and is often first detected by its song. This is best described as a slow trill with the notes distinctly separated and with more emphasis than in other slow trills like the junco. The two species rarely overlap in habitat, although they can be adjacent in the North Country when conifer forests abut wetlands.

Like most sparrows, the nest is built on or near the ground in a clump of vegetation or in a shrub. Given the nature of the habitat they are also frequently located over standing water, which likely provides a little extra protection from mammalian predators. They frequently attempt to raise two broods, with the first clutch containing 3-5 eggs and the second only 2-4. Both the incubation and nestling periods are 10-12 days. Fledglings spend most of their time on the ground after leaving the nest but can make sustained flights within a week. Because Swamp Sparrows regularly lay a second clutch, females might only continuing their first brood for a couple of weeks.

Although wetland loss and degradation have been proposed as threats to Swamp Sparrows in the southern part of its range, it appears secure in the core – and may even be slowly increasing. A far greater threat may be collisions with buildings; Swamp Sparrow are one of the species most frequently killed in this manner. Overall, however, the species remains common and is not a conservation priority, with the exception of a specialized subspecies that inhabits tidal brackish marshes in the mid-Atlantic states.

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.

Swamp 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