New York Natural Heritage Program
Henslow's Sparrow
Ammodramus henslowii (Audubon, 1829)

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Henslow's Sparrows can be identified by the large, flat head, large gray bill, and short tail. Wings are reddish. The head, nape, and most of the central crown are olive-colored. Sexes are similar, but can be determined in hand during the breeding season by the cloacal protuberance in males and brood patch in females. Henslow's Sparrows fly low and jerkily with a twisting motion of the tail. Juveniles are clay-colored above and their head and back are streaked with black. They are a faint yellow below with traces of buff on the throat and chin. Typically, the sides of the throat are unstreaked, but streaking can be found on some individuals. Nests are found on or near the ground and can be either open or dome-shaped. When nests are built off the ground, they are attached to grasses or forbs. Nests are loosely woven with dead grass and lined with finer grasses and hair. Vocalizations are described as a short, quiet "see-lick" or a hiccupping "tsi-lick." Calls can sometimes be heard on quiet summer nights. Henslow's sparrows are shy and secretive. Typically, they are heard rather than seen. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify this species by its song, especially for census and survey work.
Henslow's Sparrow Images
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The Best Time to See
Henslow's Sparrows are most often observed or heard during the peak of their breeding season between mid-June and mid-July. They are more likely to be heard rather than seen. Sometimes they are heard calling on quiet summer nights.
Present Breeding
The time of year you would expect to find Henslow's Sparrow present (blue shading) and breeding (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)
    Young Henslow's Sparrows practically lack breast streaks thus the similar appearance to adult Grasshopper Sparrows.