How to Identify White-Throated Sparrows

Learn how to identify white-throated sparrows. Our birding experts reveal what the sparrows look like, sound like and what they eat.

White-throated sparrow rests on branch.photo credit: Susan Prewitt (B&B reader)

“What kind of sparrow is this?” asks Susan Prewitt of Mount Pleasant, Texas.

This is a white-throated sparrow, evidently puffed up against the cold. Clues to its 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 (like this one) 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.

When identifying sparrows, take note of face pattern, any streaking on the belly, and habitat. 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 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. Learn what a cardinal’s call sounds like.

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. Learn how to feed and attract native sparrows.

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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.