New York Natural Heritage Program
Clay-colored Sparrow
Spizella pallida (Swainson, 1832)
Birds

Identifying Characteristics [-]
The Clay-colored Sparrow is a small sparrow with a notched tail. Underparts are buff to gray with a brown rump. Wings are streaked with 2 white wing bars. There is a gray band across the nape of the neck splitting the streaked head and neck. Sexes are similar. During the breeding season, plumage differs in that there is a white eye stripe, a dark cheek line that includes a distinctive moustache, and a white throat patch with dark bars dividing the patch into three segments in males. Nests are fairly compact and cup-shaped. Typically, nests are woven grasses that are lined with finer grasses, rootlets, and animal hair that are usually in a low shrub or tree. Vocalizations are a series of two to eight low, flat buzzes that can be easily mistaken for an insect.
Clay-colored Sparrow Images
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The Best Time to See
The best time to observe Clay-colored Sparrows is during the breeding season when the males are maintaining territories from late May to early July. They may be observed migrating until the end of November.
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Present Breeding
The time of year you would expect to find Clay-colored Sparrow present (blue shading) and breeding (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)
    Chipping Sparrows have a darker face pattern and no moustache. Clay-colored Sparrows have a brown rump.Typically, Clay-colored Sparrows are smaller and have smaller bills than Chipping Sparrows.