Sparrows are small, seed-eating birds that are found throughout the world.
Colorado is home to a diverse array of sparrow species, ranging from the common house sparrow to the rare lark sparrow.
In this article, I will introduce 18 different types of sparrows that can be found in Colorado, including their key characteristics, habitat preferences, and conservation status.
Whether you are a seasoned birder or a novice looking to learn more about these fascinating birds, this article will provide you with a wealth of information about the sparrows of Colorado.
Types of Sparrows in Colorado
1. Song Sparrow
The Song Sparrow is the state’s second-most-common summer sparrow and its third-most-common winter sparrow.
They may be seen here year-round; observers have included them on 18% of summer and 15% of winter checklists.
Song sparrows aren’t the most visually striking backyard birds, but their near-constant singing throughout the summer and spring helps them attract mates.
It is true that in the northern states of the United States, Song Sparrows may be seen all year round.
During the winter, those that breed across Canada go south to the United States.
The Song Sparrow is a common sight in open, grassland, and moist regions, where it may frequently be seen sitting on a low shrub and heard singing.
They frequently visit bird feeders in residential yards.
Beetles, earthworms, midges, caterpillars, spiders, and even spiders are among the many plants and insects that the Song Sparrow enjoys.
They also consume wheat, rice, wild cherries, buckwheat, raspberries, and blackberries.
They don’t sing a beautiful tune but rather a sequence of trills, buzzes, and notes that don’t seem to go together.
When in a flock, they will emit loud warning chirping cries sounds.
Song Sparrow nests are intricately woven constructions of grass and other plant material, with linings of hair and soft grass.
Depending on the species, they may lay anywhere from 2 to 6 eggs, and after about 2 weeks, the young will emerge from the nest.
Put out nyjer, black oil sunflower seeds, and cracked corn on platform feeders in your garden to entice Song Sparrows.
According to research, Song Sparrows change up their song repertoire to avoid boring potential mates with the same old tunes.
2. Black-throated Sparrow
Although Black-throated Sparrows are infrequent visitors to Colorado, they may be observed here from April through July, when it is breeding season.
One of the most readily identifiable sparrows is the Black-throated Sparrow, thanks to its prominent black neck and two vivid white stripes on every side of its gray head.
They are grayish-brown on the back and pale below the rest of them.
Southwest US states are home to black-throated sparrows. In contrast to those in the south and Mexico, those that breed farther north in their range migrate.
Black-throated Sparrows may be seen on the ground in desert scrub, canyons, and open spaces.
They consume fallen seeds in the winter and insects in the summer.
The males sing in a combination of low notes, a trill, and a buzz.
Once you’ve heard it a few times, the tune becomes pretty recognizable.
Black-throated Sparrow nests are built from desert plant material shaped into cups and coated using animal hair and soft grass.
They are located low down in bushes.
They may lay a maximum of five eggs, and it can take the eggs approximately two weeks to hatch before the young can leave the nest.
Black oil sunflower seeds are a great way to attract Black-throated Sparrows to your property.
In the sweltering desert summer, Black-throated Sparrows do not drink any water; rather, they get all of their hydration from the bugs they consume.
3. House Sparrow
The house sparrow is a non-native bird that has successfully established itself in Colorado.
They are found in the same percentage (17% in summer and 17% in winter) of the state’s checklists regardless of the season.
Another successful introduction, the house sparrow has become one of North America’s most prevalent bird species.
They have black bibs and brown and gray heads with white cheeks.
Their bodies are various shades of black and brown, while their undersides are gray.
Male House sparrows have a black bib, while females’ plumage is uniformly brown.
The United States and southern Canada are year-round homes to house sparrows.
House sparrows are often seen around human habitations and may get so tame that they will feed right out of your fingers.
However, since they don’t move, they often snag prime breeding locations before native species return.
House sparrows subsist mostly on scraps, grain, and seed.
Even if you don’t feed them, these non-native animals may be a nuisance in your yard.
House sparrows often construct their nests in discreet locations, such as niches in buildings, areas of thick foliage, or nesting boxes.
Soft materials, like feathers, are used to line the nests that are constructed from dried grass and plant materials.
They may produce four to eight chicks every year. The chicks hatch in less than two weeks and then require another two weeks to learn to fly.
Feeders filled with maize, millet, or sunflower seeds can entice House Sparrows to your garden.
House sparrows have been successfully introduced to Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand, in addition to their native North America.
4. White-Crowned Sparrow
In Colorado, white-crowned sparrows are year-round residents, appearing on around 10% of summer and winter checklists.
The White-crowned Sparrow is a big, drab gray bird with a short beak, a long tail, and a striking white crown.
After breeding in northern Canada and Alaska, white-crowned sparrows migrate to Mexico and the southern United States for the winter.
Some, though, may spend the whole year in the mountains and along the Pacific coast.
White-crowned Sparrows may be seen searching for food in gardens, weedy fields, and yards, where they can obtain seeds of weeds and grasses as well as fruit like blackberries and elderberries.
Calls of a White-crowned Sparrow: The males’ song begins with a distinct whistle and continues with a succession of more disorganized whistles and ends with a buzz.
The majority of calls are quick and to the point. Males often do the singing and calling, whereas females do neither.
White-crowned Sparrows build their nests low to the ground in bushes or on the ground in the tundra, using a variety of materials, including grass, twigs, pine needles, and moss.
Up to seven eggs are laid, and after about two weeks, the chicks are ready to fledge.
White-crowned Sparrows may be attracted to your garden with sunflower seeds, and they will eat both the seeds you provide and those that are dropped by other birds.
When young White-crowned Sparrows leave the nest, it takes them another week or two to master flight.
5. Canyon Towhee
Because of their lack of migratory behavior, Canyon Towhees may be seen across Colorado throughout the whole year.
The southeast of the state is where you’re most likely to see one.
The Canyon Towhee is a simple, sparrow-like bird that is a drab grayish brown overall and has a long, thick tail.
California Towhees and this species are often confused; however, their ranges do not overlap at all.
For the most part, Canyon Towhees spend their whole lives in Mexico and the southern United States.
Canyon Towhees forage for food by walking on the ground in the desert, where they locate a variety of berries and seeds.
Nonetheless, they also like munching on grasshoppers and other insects.
Canyon Towhees build their nests close to the trunks of trees and big plants for concealment and protection.
The female constructs the nest form of grass and other plant material and then lines it with animal hair and finer grass.
Milo, black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and oats strewn on the ground can entice Canyon Towhees to your garden.
On the downside, they are notoriously difficult to entice due to their timid nature.
When the twice-yearly desert rains are expected, Canyon Towhees will begin to set their nests because of the rapid increase in available food sources.
6. Spotted Towhees
Although Spotted Towhees may be seen in Colorado at any time of the year, the months of April through October are peak breeding months.
Only 18% of summer lists include them, whereas only 8% of winter ones do.
Male Spotted Towhees have a completely black neck, head, and back, while females have a more subdued brown.
Each sex has the same characteristics, including a long, white stomach, bushy tail, and red-brown backs and flanks.
Spotted Towhees are native to the western states of the United States, although those that breed in the interior north sometimes go to Texas.
Spotted Towhees forage on insects, including crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, wasps, caterpillars, and bees, on the ground in thickets of plants.
Acorns, seeds, and berries are also part of their diet.
Spotted Towhees build their nests low to the ground, out of plant branches and stems, and line them with softer materials like bark or grass.
A clutch of up to 6 eggs may take around 2 weeks to incubate and another week or so to hatch, with the young birds needing another week or so to develop their flight feathers.
Spotted Towhees might be drawn to your yard if you leave your borders unmanicured; once there, they will like eating hulled sunflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, milo, and millet from ground feeders or platform feeders.
Male Spotted Towhees will sing for most of the morning in an effort to win over a female.
7. Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Although rufous-crowned sparrows are pretty difficult to observe in Colorado, they don’t really migrate and are present there all year.
Large rufous-crowned sparrows have gray underparts and brown streaks on their backs.
They have faced dark and white bands and reddish-brown crowns.
In the southwestern US states, rufous-crowned sparrows spend the entire year there.
On the ground, you can discover Rufous-crowned Sparrows in rocky, dry hillsides with vegetation where they can hide.
The ideal time to see them is during the spring once the males are singing.
During the summer and spring, they eat insects, while during the winter, they consume fallen seeds and other plant matter.
The females of Rufous-crowned Sparrows construct ground-based, inconspicuous nests out of dried grass and a few twigs.
They can lay a maximum of five eggs, each of which takes about two weeks to incubate before the young are ready to leave the nest after another nine days.
Predators are kept away from nests by Rufous-crowned Sparrows by acting as though they have broken a wing or have fallen from a tree.
8. Chipping Sparrow
The fourth most common sparrow species throughout Colorado during the summer is the Chipping Sparrow.
They stay here during the mating season and are more visible from April to October.
15% of summer checklists include them.
Chipping Sparrows are long-tailed, slender birds with a black eye line and rusty crown.
They have a grayish stomach and a brown and black-streaked back.
The hues are more muted throughout the winter.
Chipping Sparrows breed in Canada and the United States during the summer, then migrate to Florida and Mexico during the winter.
Some stay in the southern US states most of the year.
Chipping Sparrows are often seen in wooded areas and parks in tiny groups on the ground.
Their distinctive “chip” call gives them their name. They have a stuttering trill in their signature tune.
Female Chipping Sparrows construct off-the-ground, covert nests that are found in trees or bushes.
The nests are quite simple and not particularly thick; they are formed of dried grass and tiny roots.
Chipping Sparrows may have up to three broods and a maximum of seven eggs every year.
The youngsters fledge in less than two weeks from the time the eggs hatch.
Use cracked corn or seeds on open feeders like hoppers or platforms to entice Chipping Sparrows toward your garden.
9. Vesper Sparrow
In Colorado, Vesper Sparrows are seen during the mating season and are included on 7% of summer checklists.
Although some do remain throughout the year, they are most usually spotted from April to October.
Vesper Sparrows are fairly big sparrows that have white stomachs and stripes on their generally dark backs.
Vesper Sparrows spend their mating season in southern Canada, the northern US, and even certain states in the US southwest.
Then, during the winter, they go to southern US states and Mexico.
Vesper Sparrows are often found on the ground across weedy fields, open grasses, and meadows.
They consume various spiders, insects, and the seeds of grasses and weeds.
Males begin by making a few low whistles, which are followed by many falling and rising trills.
Vesper Sparrows build their nests on the ground from moss, grass, and bark.
They may deposit up to six eggs, which can take up to two weeks to incubate before the young can leave the nest after another one to two weeks.
Male Vesper Sparrows chase after ladies while flapping their wings and singing to get their attention.
10. Lark Sparrow
Lark Sparrows are seen on 8% of summer checklists and spend the mating season across Colorado.
Although some stay until January and others begin coming as early as March, the ideal months to see them are May through September.
The diminutive Lark Sparrow has many distinctive characteristics.
Its tail is brown with white edges and has a brown and white striped crown, a white stomach, and a brown-streaked back.
Except for in the east, Lark Sparrows breed in the majority of the US states.
They also reproduce in a few provinces in the south of Canada. Although birds around the Pacific Coast, particularly in California and certain southern states, stay all year, winter is spent in Mexico.
Lark Sparrows may be found on bare, open areas of land, such as meadows, but they also like woods and pastures with a few scatted plants.
During the summer, lark sparrows eat a wide variety of insects, including beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars, but in the winter, they mostly eat weeds, seeds, and grasses.
Both male and female Lark Sparrows build their own nests.
The ladies will really do the building while the male will lay out the twigs.
The nests could be found on the ground, in low-hanging trees, or even in rocky cliff crevices.
The female fashions an open cup from twigs, grass, weeds, and animal hair.
A nest may contain up to six eggs, and it takes around twelve days for the eggs to hatch and another ten days for the youngsters to depart the nest.
Seeds, a preferred meal of lark sparrows, may be used to entice them to your garden.
11. Lincoln’s Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrows are noted in 5% of summer checklists in Colorado and are more often seen there from March through November. Some do, though, remain all year.
Medium-sized sparrows, Lincoln’s Sparrows are mostly gray in color with brown streaks running over their wings and breast and white stomachs.
When they lift their crown plumage, their heads can seem pointed.
Its eyering is buffy, and it has a black eye line and a gray region over the brow.
Lincoln’s Sparrows travel to the Pacific Coast, Mexico, and southern US states during the winter after breeding in Canada and several western US states.
The rest of the US witnesses them throughout the migration.
Lincoln’s Sparrow is mostly found in thickly-planted bushes and thickets, especially those that are close to streams and other moist or damp environments.
In the winter, they go to humid, tropical woods.
During the winter, Lincoln’s Sparrows mostly consume weeds and grasses.
During the mating season, they will devour insects like spiders, caterpillars, and ants, but they still feed plants to their young.
Their song is a quick trill of notes as well as some beeps that are among the most melodic of all of the sparrows.
The females of Lincoln’s Sparrows construct the ground-based nest, which is sheltered and concealed by tall bushes.
They typically deposit four eggs in the moss- or grass-lined nests.
The eggs take several weeks to develop, and the youngsters depart the nest in under two weeks after hatching.
By the sixth day, they can soar more than 10 meters because of their rapid improvement in flying abilities.
Lincoln’s Sparrows are quite reclusive and seldom seen, but they may be identified by their charming song.
12. Green-tailed Towhee
In Colorado, green-tailed towhee sightings are more common during the breeding season and are noted in 6% of summer checklists, though some individuals can be observed throughout the year.
Although they are small for towhees, green-tailed towhees are big sparrows.
They have a red crown and are gray with olive-green backs, wings, and tails.
Breeding in western US states, green-tailed towhees winter in Mexico and southwestern US states.
During the summer, they are prevalent in the western mountains.
During the summer, you can discover Green-tailed Towhees mostly on the ground in dense shrubbery, and in the winter, you can locate them in desert thickets and grasslands, frequently close to streams.
They consume insects, berries, and seeds.
The females of the species build the low-lying nests of Green-tailed Towhees from bark, twigs, and other plant materials.
The nests are lined with animal hair and soft grass.
They can lay a maximum of five eggs, each of which takes about 2 weeks to hatch before the young are ready to leave the nest.
Female Green-tailed Towhees move around together, their tails raised close to the nest predator to deter potential predators after quietly leaving the nest.
13. Brewer’s Sparrows
Brewer’s Sparrows can be found in 3% of summer checklists and are more commonly seen in Colorado from mid-April to October.
Nevertheless, a few can still be seen all year long. Typically, they can only be seen during migration in the east.
Brewer’s Sparrows have brown streaks on their backs and a gray underside.
They have short bills and long tails, having a notch just at the end.
The tiniest Sparrow throughout North America is a Brewer’s Sparrow.
Brewer’s Sparrows travel south to spend the winter across Mexico and southwestern US states after breeding in western Canada and western US states.
In their region, they are a common species of Sparrow.
Brewer’s Sparrows may be seen in the dry sagebrush hunting for insects, including their melody is a buzzing noise that often slows down and lowers.
Female Brewer’s Sparrows construct their nests in bushes using dried grass.
They may lay a total of five eggs, each of which takes around 11 days to hatch before the young are ready to leave the nest.
Small yet strong, Brewer’s sparrows will swarm and drive away predators from their nests.
14. Lark Bunting
Eastern Colorado is a good place to see lark buntings throughout the summer, especially from May to September.
They are listed in 3% of the state’s summer checklists, but some persist all year.
Male One of the simplest members of the sparrow family to identify is the lark bunting.
Males have a white wing patch and are all black.
Females and non-breeding males, on the other hand, are brown with white streaks on their wings.
Lark Buntings travel to the southern Great Plains and northern Mexico for the winter after breeding in the central United States and southern Canada.
Some birds do, however, stay in southern US states throughout the entire year.
Open meadows and prairies with sagebrush are where you may locate Lark Buntings on the ground.
They consume seeds, fruit, and insects.
Both males and females of the Lark Bunting build nests, which are lined using animal hair and soft grass and constructed of leaves and grass.
They may lay up to five eggs, each of which takes approximately eleven days to hatch until the young are ready to leave the nest after another week.
15. Savannah Sparrow
In Colorado, Savannah Sparrows spend the mating season; from April and October, sightings are more common.
2% of summer checklists have them. Although they reproduce across much of the state, eastern migration is when they are most commonly seen.
You may spot a Savannah Sparrow’s characteristic yellow patch near its eye if you approach it closely enough.
They also have short tails and a brownish hue with streaks.
Before making their winter migration to Mexico and southern US states, Savannah Sparrows breed across the US and Canada.
Savannah Sparrows may be seen feeding on the ground in open spaces like grassland for spiders and insects during the mating season and for seeds during the winter.
A tune with a few quick notes followed by a buzzing trill that nearly sounds hurried.
Savannah Sparrows build their grass-based nests on the ground or close to it.
They may lay as many as six eggs, and it takes the eggs about two weeks to hatch before the young can fly.
These birds don’t often use feeders, but if you preserve brush piles, have tall grass, and live near fields, they could come to your yard.
Even though they are among the most widespread songbirds across North America, the ICUN classifies them as a threatened species.
16. Grasshopper Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrows breed mostly in the eastern part of Colorado, where they can be seen from May through August.
They can arrive as early as March and have several stays until December.
Little grasshopper sparrows have distinct orange or yellow stripes above their eyes and are streaked with light and dark brown.
They have long bills, pale stomachs, and short tails.
Breeding grounds for Grasshopper Sparrows can be found throughout California’s coast, eastern and central US states, and some northwest US states.
They spend the winter mostly in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Southeast US states.
Grasshopper Sparrows can be seen swooping down on grasshoppers, spiders, and insects in prairies, grasslands, and other open spaces.
They mainly consume fallen seeds in the winter.
Grasshopper Sparrow nests are found in vegetation on the ground.
They are made of grasses and other plant material, and by weaving the surrounding stalks and making an entrance just on the side, they make a roof.
Throughout the breeding season, they lay approximately seven eggs four times.
About two weeks are needed for the eggs to hatch, and another week or so is needed for the young to depart the nest.
To get the big legs off of their grasshopper prey in order to feed the flesh to their young, Grasshopper Sparrows shake their prey violently.
17. Fox Sparrows
Although they are uncommon, fox sparrows spend their breeding season in Colorado.
From April until the middle of August, the west of the state is where they’re most likely to be seen.
The Fox Sparrow is aptly named due to its fox-red coloring, despite the fact that some species are much more gray or dark brown.
The region of its chest is where the crimson stripes are most noticeable. When compared to other sparrows, it is a large bird.
Fox Sparrows come in four distinct colors and physical variant forms.
Eastern regions are home to red fox sparrows, whereas the Pacific Coast is home to darker, “sooty” sparrows.
California is home to thick-billed fox sparrows, whereas the western US states are home to slate-colored fox sparrows.
Throughout the north and west of Alaska, Canada, and as far south as California in the western US, fox sparrows breed and migrate.
Along the Pacific coast and in southeasterly US states, they spend the winter.
Some stay on the Pacific coast of Canada all year, and others are seen migrating through the northeastern and central US states.
Fox Sparrows can be seen in the undergrowth, brush, and wooded areas.
Even in densely forested suburbs and parks, they migrate to similar locations during the winter.
They may be seen searching the ground for food by kicking leaf litter into the air.
Fox Sparrows typically eat seeds and insects. When they’re close to the beach, they occasionally eat grasses, berries, crustaceans, and marine life.
Fox Sparrow nests are tucked away beneath low, dense vegetation. In low trees but no higher than eight feet off the ground, they may also erect them.
Although the nest is lined with dried grass, it is filled with moss, grass, and weeds.
For those living above ground, the walls of the nest are strengthened with twigs.
They produce 2 to 5 eggs, which hatch after approximately two weeks.
After hatching, the young might depart the nest after only eleven days.
Berries, small seeds, and low native bushes will draw fox sparrows to your garden.
A Fox Sparrow female can quickly construct a nest.
They may begin building a nest at dawn and complete it by sunset.
18. Cassin’s Sparrows
Although Cassin’s Sparrows are uncommon in Colorado, they may be seen here from March through October during the nesting season, mostly in the eastern part of the state.
The head and neck of Cassin’s Sparrows are finely streaked brown and gray.
A dark brown line emanates from the white outline of their eyes.
Brown lines may be seen on their chests and bellies.
Reddish hues may be seen in several birds.
States in Mexico and the central United States are home to Cassin’s Sparrows.
For the winter, those in the range farther north go just a short distance south.
In semi-arid regions like grasslands and deserts containing mesquite, yucca, acacia, and oak trees and shrubs, Cassin’s Sparrows may be found.
They require suitable places on which to rise for flight and to exhibit their wonderful song, and they prefer thick, thick grass for nesting and shelter for their fledglings.
Grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and other tiny insects are consumed by Cassin’s Sparrows throughout the summer.
They mostly consume grass seeds and weeds in the winter.
The nests of Cassin’s Sparrows are frequently hidden by high grass.
The tunnel-like nests are built from flower petals, grass, rootlets, and animal fur and are either deposited on the ground or at the base of the cactus.
A nest that hatches in around two weeks may contain three to five eggs.
The eggs are incubated by both parents.
The breeding season is when the male Cassin’s Sparrows do their “skylarking,” which involves flying through the air and gliding back down while singing.
This is an in-depth article on the several species of Sparrows that can be found in the state of Colorado.
I have high hopes that you will find this article helpful in identifying the many species of sparrows that are seen in your area.
How to differentiate between a House Sparrow and a Sparrow?
The House Sparrow has a short neck, legs, and tail, and it often crouches and travels more slowly than other birds. It also has a very stocky appearance. When compared, New World Sparrows are longer, leaner, and more elongated than their Old World counterparts. Additionally, their motions are more lively and nimble, and they often flick either their wings or their tails.
Which species of Sparrow is the most common?
The house sparrow is a wild bird species that can be found on every continent other than Antarctica, making it the most widely dispersed species on the planet. In addition, it is perhaps the species that is most often connected with human homes, whether urban or rural.
Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin