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Clay Colored Sparrow

Interesting Information About The Clay Colored Sparrow

Native primarily to North America, the clay colored sparrow prefers prairies and brush grasslands such as those that are found around the Great Lakes region and up through central parts of Canada.  This species is closely related to the Brewer’s sparrow, field sparrow and chipping sparrow and often join their family members in Texas for the winter.


These are quite petite birds, averaging a length of 5.5 inches and weighing less than one half pound.  Their upper parts are brown with traces of black streaking with buff and dull white on their breast and belly.  The clay colored sparrow is solid on their underparts with a striped or streaked pattern starting at their head and traveling down their back.

Their eyes are a unique dark reddish-brown that have a striped brown and white pattern around them.  Their beak is shaped like a cone and their forehead is streaked in shades of brown, black and gray.  Their throat is the same as their breast, either buff or pure white.

The wingspan of the clay colored sparrow averages a mere eight inches across that is beaten rapidly for very short flights.  Their tail is fan-shaped, wings are round and their legs are a soft pinkish-gray.


The vocalization of the clay colored sparrow sounds like insect buzzes and they are often mistaken for them.  They feed on peanut kernels, safflower, millet, fruit, suet and they especially love apple slices.  Of course, like most other sparrows they will also feed on insects and various seeds that they find either in low trees or scattered on the ground.

Breeding And Nesting

These are monogamous birds with solitary nesting habits.  They typically breed in grassland that is lightly scattered with trees, shrubs, thickets, bushes and on the very edge of forests.  The clay colored sparrow makes its nest out of grass, sticks, rootlets and any type of animal hair that they can find laying around.

Three to five tiny eggs are laid that are bluish-green and covered in brown and black markings.  Both parents take an active role in the incubation process that takes anywhere between 10 to 12 days.  Young sparrows typically are fledged from the nest and their parents approximately 15 days after being hatched

Conservation Status

The clay colored sparrow is widely found through the United States, Canada and Mexico.  They also find their homes in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Belize, Guatemala, Cuba and the Turks and Caicos Islands.  The global population is estimated to be under 23 million.

It is not currently believed that their population will approach minimum levels anytime in the near future that would suggest the potential for a decline in their population.  Because of these trends, they are labeled a level of Least Concern.

Interesting Facts

  • Due to the abundance of plowing in the prairies, their native habitat was reduced but with the forest clearing, their range has been extended.  They are one of the few species that have not been hurt due to the development of mankind.
  • Unlike most other songbirds, these sparrows will actually forage well past the perimeter of their nesting territory.  This results in them having a substantially smaller territory that they need to defend from other sparrows and predators.
  • A group of sparrows can be referred to as a crew, flutter, quarrel and ubiquity.
  • These birds most often make very short flights at a time rather long ones.
  • Both sexes are very similar in appearance however juveniles are quite distinct with buff on their face, wings and flanks and then they are streaked pretty much everywhere else.