Nelson’s Sparrow

Credit: Becky Matsubara

Nelson’s Sparrows are more orangy in color across the head and chest. Their backs are gray and brown-streaked, and their bellies are gray. Coastal birds are less bright in color than interior birds.

  • Ammospiza nelsoni
  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.7 oz (17-21 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.5-7.9 in (16.5-20 cm)


Nelson’s Sparrows breed mainly in central Canadian provinces, and then they migrate to the Gulf and Atlantic Coast for winter. They can be seen during migration across the Great Plains.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Nelson’s Sparrows on the ground in wetlands in summer, foraging for seeds and insects. In winter, you can find them in saltwater and brackish marshes.

Nelson’s Sparrow Sounds:


Nests of Nelson’s Sparrows are usually close to the ground and made from grass by the female. They lay up to six eggs which take under two weeks to hatch.

Fun Fact:

Nelson’s Sparrow males fly fast and far just above the marsh vegetation in a courtship display.