Lincoln's Sparrow

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Common Name: Lincoln’s Sparrow
Scientific Name: Melospiza lincolnii

Size: 5.1-5.9 inches (13-15 cm)

Habitat: North America; their breeding habitat is wet thickets or shrubby bogs across Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern and western United States; this bird is less common in the eastern parts of its range. They migrate to the southern United States, Mexico, and northern Central America; they are passage migrants over much of the United States, except in the west.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: Unknown amount of mature individuals. Lincoln's Sparrow populations seem to be stable or increasing except for declines in Quebec in the late twentieth century. This species seems vulnerable to livestock grazing or human disturbance in their subalpine wetland breeding habitat. Like virtually all migrant songbirds, Lincoln's Sparrows are vulnerable to collisions with structures such as TV towers and buildings. They have also shown sensitivity to herbicide application. Breeding populations are of particular concern in Massachusetts.

Diet: Seeds and some insects. They prefer foraging in dense vegetation and are very secretive. Lincoln’s Sparrows spend most of their time on the ground walking and hopping as they search for food. They tend to forage by themselves or in very small numbers.

Nesting: Sexes are alike. Adults have dark-streaked olive-brown upper parts with a light brown breast with fine streaks, a white belly, and a white throat. They have a brown cap with a grey stripe in the middle, olive-brown wings, and a narrow tail. Their face is grey with brown cheeks, a brown line through the eye, and an eye ring. They are somewhat similar in appearance to the Song Sparrow.

Nests are solely constructed by the female over 2–3 days. The nest is a cup of woven, dried sedges and grasses with a substantial inner lining of soft vegetation. When placed among a cluster of branches, the branches are not incorporated into the woven outer layer; the nest is instead sandwiched among the branches. If disturbed during nest construction, the female is quite likely to abandon her nest. Pairs are usually monogamous and defend their nests by giving a series of alarm calls or engage is various displays to distract intruders. 3 to 5 eggs are laid and can be blue, green, pink, or white, variably spotted with brown in color. Incubation time is approximately 10 days, followed by 10-13 to fledge.

Cool Facts: This bird was named by John James Audubon after his friend, Thomas Lincoln, of Dennysville, Maine. Lincoln shot the bird on a trip with Audubon to Nova Scotia in 1834, and Audubon named it "Tom's Finch" in his honor.

The Lincoln's Sparrow shows less geographical variation in song than any other species in its genus, perhaps a result of high dispersal rates among juveniles.

Found in Songbird Remix Sparrows of the World

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