Clay-colored Sparrow

These small, plain birds of the northern prairies and Great Plains have distinctive head markings which set them apart from other sparrows. They have a gray collar around their necks and long notched tails.

  • Spizella pallida
  • Length: 5.1 – 6 in (13 – 15 cm)
  • Weight: 0.42 oz (12 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5 in (19 cm)


Clay-colored Sparrows are the most common sparrow you can spot in summer in the northern prairies. They breed in Canada and the northern Great Plains before migrating south to Texas and Mexico.

Habitat And Diet

In summer, you can find Clay-colored Sparrows in shrubland, looking for seeds, leaf buds, or the occasional insect.

Clay-colored Sparrow Sounds:

Their song is a two-note buzzing sound.


Nests of Clay-colored Sparrows are usually close to the ground and well hidden in vegetation. The female makes them from twigs and grass, and they are lined with softer grasses and animal hair.

They lay up to five eggs which take around two weeks to hatch and a further week for the young to leave the nest.

Fun Fact:

Young Clay-colored Sparrows leave the nest before they can fly, and they have to run for cover when there is danger.