Sparrows, Towhees, and Juncos (Emberizidae)

Olive Sparrow

Arremonops rufivirgatus

Song is a simple trill with an accelerating rhythmic pattern that has been likened to the sound of a bouncing ball. Here are two songs each from two singing bouts; it was unclear if this was one or two birds. (Starr County, Texas).
Habitat: Thick spiny brush, weedy thickets, thick understory in tropical woodlands.

Green-tailed Towhee

Pipilo chlorurus

A male Green-tailed Towhee typically has several songs and shares some of them with neighboring males. This recording includes small variations of two song types sung alternately. The bird was singing from a partially hidden perch in a large area of dense low shrubs on a sunny, blustery day. The rising mew call is given by males and females during foraging and in a variety of other situations; males sometimes include it in a singing bout. (One bird, Utah County, Utah)
Habitat: Thick low brush often with isolated trees; shrubby woodland edges.

Eastern Towhee

Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Male sings 'drink your tea' loudly from exposed perches during the nesting season. Most common call is a loud 'chewink' given when disturbed. (Songs of two males, Albany County; calls, Schoharie County, New York.)
Habitat: Brushy edges and open woods with shrubs.

American Tree Sparrow

Spizella arborea

Each male has only one song which he shares with some of the other males in the region. This bird was singing from a perch in a shrubby willow thicket on the edge of the tundra. (Denali Highway, Alaska)
Habitat: Breeds in stunted trees and shrubby vegetation near or above treeline.

Chipping Sparrow

Spizella passerina

Male's song is a dry, usually rapid trill that differs somewhat among birds. Similar to Dark-eyed Junco, Swamp Sparrow, and Pine Warbler. Not as musical as Junco. Swamp Sparrow has a looser trill. Chip calls are given by males and females when alarmed. (Songs of two birds, Albany County, New York.)
Habitat: Common in suburbs, towns, open woods, conifers.

Clay-colored Sparrow

Spizella pallida

Male's song is a series of 1 to 8 (usually 2 or 3) colorless, low pitched, insect-like buzzes. (Songs of three birds, Becker and Clay Counties, Minnesota; Burnett County, Wisconsin.)
Habitat: Breeds in brushy fields away from trees.

Field Sparrow

Spizella pusilla

Male's song is a series of clear, sweet downslurred whistles which increase in speed and end in a trill. (Two birds, Saratoga and Schoharie Counties, New York.)
Habitat: Brushy fields and pastures.

Vesper Sparrow

Pooectes gramineus

Sweet-sounding song starts with 2 to 4 clear, steady or downslurred whistles followed by a series of notes and trills that vary among birds. Generally sings from a high perch; this bird was on a telephone wire. (One bird, Ramsey County, North Dakota.)
Habitat: Breeds in dry fields with patchy vegetation and song perches.

Lark Bunting

Calamospiza melanocorys

The male's primary song may be sung during flight display or from a perch and consists of several motifs sung one after the other. Here is a flight display song consisting of eight motifs, six of which are repeated once. Perched birds generally sing shortened versions of the primary song. Here is one song by the same bird when perched (four motifs), and here are six songs sung by a second perched bird (two to five motifs). (Valley County, Montana and Weston County, Wyoming.)
Habitat: Short grass prairie sometimes with shrubs, pastures, stubble, alfalfa fields.

Savannah Sparrow

Passerculus sandwichensis

Song is a rapid series of notes followed by two buzzy trills; the second trill is lower pitched. (Two birds, Albany County, New York.)
Habitat: A variety of tall grass habitats.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Ammodramus savannarum

Song is thin, high and insect like. Commonly sings two notes and a trill or a more musical twitter. May sing at night during breeding season. All notes are very high (> 6000 Hz) and may be difficult to hear, even though they are reasonably loud. (Saratoga County, New York.)
Habitat: Breeds in grassy pastures and fields with shrubs or weeds. May be found with Savannah Sparrow.

Baird's Sparrow

Ammodramus bairdii

Male's song usually consists of a few notes followed by a clear, musical trill, but some birds may not sing a trill. Each male has only one song type in his repertoire. Here are two songs each of three birds; the third song type has no trill. These birds were singing in June from exposed perches on low shrubs or sprigs of vegetation (Valley County, Montana).
Habitat: Breeds in lightly grazed or ungrazed grasslands with occasional low shrubs or tussocks; also in grassy dried sloughs or ponds.

Henslow's Sparrow

Ammodramus henslowii

Song is a very short, simple tselick, and because of this the bird is often described as a weak singer. While its song can be heard easily from 200-300 feet away, it may go unnoticed. (Saratoga County, New York.)
Habitat: Grasslands, wet meadows and neglected fields with standing dead vegetation

Nelson's Sparrow

Ammodramus nelsoni

Male's primary song is an odd, hissy sound enclosed by opening and closing notes, p-tsssshhhh-ert. This bird was singing from an exposed perch on a low shrub in a salt marsh. (Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick).
Habitat: A bird of fresh- and saltwater marshes and wet meadows.

Fox Sparrow

Passerella iliaca

The Fox Sparrow is highly variable across its range with several subspecies. Eastern birds are noted for their sweet, melodic song, but these Alaskan birds had songs with buzzy notes. All of the birds were singing from exposed perches. (Two songs of one bird from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and two songs each of two birds recorded in the Denali Area and Nome, Alaska.)
Habitat: Breeds in deciduous thickets near water, bogs, dwarf conifers.

Song Sparrow

Melospiza melodia

Song is variable but has a distinctive pattern and tonal quality. It usually consists of a couple of introductory notes followed by a slightly husky trill or warble. Here are twelve songs by eight birds. An individual may sing six or more songs and may share one to several songs with the bird in the neighboring territory. (New York.)
Habitat: Open brushy areas, brushy edges along roads, streams, pastures, woods.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Melospiza lincolnii

Song is a jumble of trills and notes on varied pitches, sometimes with a House Wren-like quality. (Two songs of one bird singing from an exposed perch; interval between songs was 16 - 48 sec. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.)
Habitat: Breeds in bogs with black spruce, tamarack, shrubby willow; thickets near water.

Swamp Sparrow

Melospiza georgiana

Song is a trill on a single pitch, more musical, less dry and usually slower than the chipping sparrow's song. A single bird will sing at different tempos. Sings before dawn and into the night. (Two birds, Albany County, New York.)
Habitat: Nest in marshes, bogs, edges of ponds.

White-throated Sparrow

Zonotrichia albicollis

Song is sweet, clear, loud, whistle commonly written as 'poor sam peabody peabody peabody' or 'sweet sweet Canada Canada Canada'. The peabody phrases can be higher or lower than the introductory notes. Chip calls are variable. (Lewis County, New York.)
Habitat: Brushy mixed open woodlands.

White-crowned Sparrow

Zonotrichia leucophrys

Song varies geographically, but often starts with clear whistled notes and ends with buzzes or trilled phrases. Each male sings one primary song, but those living on the border between dialects often have both songs. Here are the songs of six birds from Alaska; the first five are from the Denali region and the last from Nome. Each bird was singing from an exposed perch. Studies have shown that males's songs are effective in attracting mates and defending territory.
Habitat: Varies widely; breeds in boreal forest and tundra with stunted trees; also deciduous thickets, parks and gardens.

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Zonotrichia atricapilla

Song is sweet, clear whistle descending through three or more notes. During the breeding season males sing throughout the day from exposed perches. This bird's song is more complex than the 'oh, dear me' commonly described in field guides. Other birds in the Nome, Alaska area also sang this song. (Nome, Alaska)
Habitat: Breeds in shrubby tundra, in willow and alder thickets along stream beds, or near timberline in small conifers.

Dark-eyed Junco

Junco hyemalis

Song is a simple trill on one pitch that is reminiscent of the Chipping Sparrow but more musical (not as dry) and often somewhat slower. Chip call has a distinctive smacking quality. The Junco making the chip call was foraging; it stopped and preened and then continued to forage, chipping all the while. (Song, Lewis County; chip calls, Albany County, New York.)
Habitat: Breeds in conifers and mixed woods, bogs.