Several species of sparrows abound in Maine’s collection of birds. They include the Chipping, Song, and White-throated sparrows. All are between 5 and 7 inches long. In an unusual twist, the female and male sparrows noted here have the same color schemes.
The distinctive mark is the rust-colored crown atop their heads. The Chipper is found throughout Maine in the summer, but they leave for the southern states, Mexico and Central America in the fall.
The Song Sparrow, male and female, is described by the Birds of Maine Field Guide as a “Common brown sparrow with heavy dark streaks on breast coalescing into a central dark spot.” As does the Cardinal, the male takes over feeding the young while the female builds a nest for the second brood of the season.
This bird covers the state in the summer, but, for those that do not migrate south, some remain in winter along the southern- and mid-coast. Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and the Song Sparrow is often one of these hosts who raise Cowbird young.
Just passing through in early may, this sparrow spends the summer in northern Canada and winters in the southern two-thirds of the United States. Some spend the year-round in the western states.
When young the head stripes are reddish. Adults have a very clear black and white striped “crown.” The one in the photos below was probably migrating north through Maine to Canada for the summer.
This bird is larger than the other two sparrows mentioned here at nearly 7 inches. It is distinguished by the small yellow spot between its eyes and by the white or tan patch on its throat.
As does the Song Sparrow, the White-throated likes northern Maine in the summer, but many stay in the state along the coast in winter. Others migrate further south.
Unlike many birds, it nests on the ground or in thickets near the ground.