Swamp Sparrow

Melospiza georgiana


Early Spring Date: March 21
Late Spring Date: May 23
Most Frequently Seen April 12-19

Swamp Sparrows are winter residents in the Washington metro area, and some stick around to breed. Most head north to breeding areas in the northern United States and Canada. Each year, a small number pass through Monticello Park. You are most likely to see one during the third week in April.

Where to See Them in the Park

Swamp Sparrows prefer marshes and other areas near water. When they are at Monticello, they spend most of their time in or near the stream.

Physical Description


Swamp Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow - Photo by Ashley Bradford

Adult Swamp Sparrows have a gray face, a rufous crown, and a rufous triangle on their cheek. The underparts are grayish with faint markings.

Swamp Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow - Photo by Ashley Bradford

They have rufous in their wings and tail, and their back is streaked. The sexes are similar.

Swamp Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow - Photo by William Young

Vocalizations

Swamp Sparrows sound a lot like Chipping Sparrows. Their song is a trill that can be delivered either slowly or quickly, depending on the individual bird.

Hear the vocalizations of the Swamp Sparrow.

Notes

Swamp Sparrows are not usually found in swamps. Marshes are wetlands with grasses, while swamps are wetlands with trees. A more accurate name would be Marsh Sparrow.

Origin of Names

Common Names: Swamp from their wetlands habitat. Sparrow from the Anglo-Saxon spearwa, which means "flutterer".
Genus Name: Melospiza means "song finch".
Species Name: Georgiana means "of Georgia", where the first specimen was collected.

Swamp Sparrow video footage

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