How to Identify a White-Throated Sparrow

Updated: Jan. 29, 2024

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

What Does a White-Throated Sparrow Look Like?

white throated sparrowCourtesy Olivia Gallagher

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 Sparrow Song

White Throated SparrowCourtesy Nancy Tully
The white-throated sparrow has a distinctive 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.

Royal bird: Meet the white-crowned sparrow.

Nest and Eggs

This sparrow 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.

Discover fascinating sparrow facts you should know.

Food and Diet

Roland Jordahl

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

White throated sparrow rests on branch.Courtesy Susan Prewitt

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.

White-throated Sparrow Bird Species

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

Next, discover cool facts about dark-eyed juncos.