Nelson’s Sparrow

Basic Description

The Nelson’s Sparrow is a small bird that measures only 13-15 cm in length. It has a distinctive appearance, with a grayish-brown back and wings, streaked with black and buff-colored feathers on its head and neck. The underparts are whitish-gray, with thin black bars on the sides of its body. Its bill is thin and pointed.

Where To Find This Bird

The Nelson’s Sparrow breeds in freshwater marshes along the Great Lakes region of North America as well as in parts of Canada. During migration season, they can be found along the eastern coast from Florida to Massachusetts.


As previously stated, this sparrow species thrives best in freshwater marshes when breeding but also resides near saltmarshes during wintering months. They usually prefer areas where vegetation like cattails or bulrush grow tall enough for them to hide or live inside.


Nelson’s Sparrows are omnivorous birds that feed on insects such as mosquitoes, beetles and flies during summer seasons while adding seeds into their diet through fall until winter periods wherein they tend to eat more plant matter than anything else.

Cool Facts

1) These sparrows have an unusual way of defending themselves against predators – instead of trying to fly away when threatened by potential danger; they will drop down into the water below.

3) Their name commemorates Edward William Nelson who was an American Ornithologist popularly known for his contributions towards the advancement of ornithology sciences.

4) As migratory patterns go., some populations appear not to migrate very far southward at all; while others make journeys down as far south as southern Mexico!