The chipping sparrow is a species of American sparrow.
It is found throughout most of North America.
Chipping sparrows live in a wide variety of open woodland habitats. They are found in open forests or forest edges, especially coniferous forests. They prefer forests with shrubby undergrowth. Chipping sparrows are common in suburban areas, urban parks, orchards, and other human-modified landscapes.
There are two subspecies, the eastern chipping sparrow and the western chipping sparrow.
The lifespan of the chipping sparrow is from 4 to 7 years in the wild.
The chipping sparrow ranges from 13 to 15 cm (5 to 6 in) in lenght and weigh an average of 12 g (0.42 oz).
It molts twice a year. In its breeding plumage it has orangish-rust upper parts, gray head and underparts and a distinctive reddish cap. In non-breeding plumage, the cap is brown and the facial markings are less distinct.
They are active during the day, but especially in the morning and early evening, when they spend much of their time foraging.
Chipping sparrows eat mainly grass seeds and the seeds and fruits of annual plants. They supplement their diet with insects during the breeding season, when up to 38% of the diet may be animal prey. Animal prey includes moths and butterflies, beetles, and grasshoppers and crickets.
Chipping sparrows get their common name from the sharp “chip” call that they make frequently as they forage and interact with others. Variations on this “chip” call are used for contact calls, threats, or begging.
Chipping sparrows can hop and run on the ground and use short, rapid, undulating flights of 22 to 32 km/h (14 to 20 mph).
In the winter, chipping sparrows are gregarious and form flocks, sometimes associating with other bird species.
Breeding starts in late April and May and the nest is often built in a tree.
Chipping sparrows form mated pairs during the breeding season, but males and females may also seek other mates. Males attract females with their songs and chase them or perform displays on the ground. Males and females display to each other by collecting nest materials while together.
The chipping sparrow lays a clutch of 2 to 7 pale blue to white eggs with black, brown, or purple markings. Incubation period lasts from 10 to 15 days. Females incubate the eggs and brood the young and males feed females on the nest. Young can fly at 8 to 12 days old and become fully independent several weeks after that.
Chipping sparrows are preyed on by many kinds of birds, mammals, and snakes.
The chipping sparrow is part of the family Emberizidae, and is not closely related to the Old World sparrows of the family Passeridae.
Edward Forbush (1858 – 1929) a noted Massachusetts ornithologist and a prolific writer called the chipping sparrow “the little brown-capped pensioner of the dooryard and lawn, that comes about farmhouse doors to glean crumbs shaken from the tablecloth by thrifty housewives.”