Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus
Family: Emberizidae, New World Sparrows view all from this family
Description 5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Head boldly patterned with black, chestnut, and white; streaked above; white below, with black spot in center of breast; tail black with white edges.
Habitat Grasslands with scattered bushes and trees; open country generally in winter.
Nesting 3-5 white eggs, heavily spotted with dark brown and black, in a well-made cup of grass and plant stems on the ground or in a bush.
Range Breeds from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and northern Minnesota, south to California, northern Mexico, Louisiana, and Alabama. Winters from southern California to Florida and southward.
Voice Alternating buzzes and melodious trills.
Discussion The easiest way to find Lark Sparrows is to drive through grasslands and watch for the birds to fly up into trees along the road. The nests of Northern Mockingbirds have been found with both their own and Lark Sparrow eggs in them, but it is not clear whether the sparrows have taken over an abandoned nest or have driven away the original occupants; since mockingbirds are very aggressive, the latter seems unlikely. A male Lark Sparrow may be monogamous or may have two females with nests close together. He defends his nests but not a large territory. Lark Sparrows are very social, crowding together for feeding even during the nesting season.