How to Identify a White Throated Sparrow

Learn all about the white throated sparrow. Our birding experts reveal what these sparrows look like, sound like and what they eat.

white throated sparrowCourtesy Olivia Gallagher

What Does a White Throated Sparrow Look Like?

Clues to this bird’s identity include the small white throat patch, the yellow in front of the eye, and the rich reddish-brown on the shoulder and wing. Some white throated sparrows have bold stripes of white and black on the head. Others have stripes of tan and dark brown. People used to think that the tan-striped birds were young ones. But that’s not necessarily true. About half of all adult white throated sparrows, both males and females, are tan-striped for life.

White throated sparrows measure 6-3/4 inches with a wingspan of 9 inches. When identifying sparrows, take note of face pattern, any streaking on the belly, and habitat.

Next, learn how to identify and attract chipping sparrows.

White Throated SparrowCourtesy Nancy Tully
White-Throated Sparrow

White Throated Sparrow Song

While some birders hear the white throated sparrow calling Oh sweet Canada Canada Canada, others think it sounds more like Old Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody.

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Learn what a cardinal’s call sounds like.

Nest and Eggs

This species builds a nest from fine materials on or near the ground; the female lays up to six blue to green eggs with reddish-brown specks.

Roland Jordahl

What Do Sparrows Eat?

Attract these birds by offering nyjer thistle seed, cracked corn, white proso millet, black oil sunflower seed and hulled sunflower seed in your bird feeders. They also eat weed seeds, fruits, buds and insects.

Learn how to feed and attract native sparrows.

White Throated Sparrow Range Map and Habitat

These birds are common in gardens, residential areas, woodlands and clearings. White-throated sparrows are commonly seen in the East, but are much less common in the West. Learn about western birds and their eastern counterparts.

White-throated Sparrow Bird Species

Range maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Next, discover 8 cool facts about dark-eyed juncos.

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Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.