The White-crowned Sparrow is a standout. This brown bird sports a black cap with bold white stripes, making it the easiest of all the sparrows to identify.
Scientists have discovered something else that makes this bird stand out - its super endurance. When migrating, the White-crowned Sparrow can power through two weeks without sleeping, flying by night and foraging for food by day. One male White-crowned Sparrow was tracked moving 300 miles in a single night.
In the summer, the White-crowned Sparrow is found in the northern Rockies, pockets of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and western and northern Canada. Here, they choose mates (usually pairing with last season’s mate), territories, and raise a brood of chicks. Birds that nest in more southern territories may raise as many as four broods. Females do much of the incubating, but both birds take up feeding duty, bringing the chicks insects and spiders.
After the breeding season, White-crowned Sparrows come together in flocks, spending much of their time hopping in brushy thickets and on the ground, searching for food. In the summer, their diets are focused on insects and spiders. Like the towhee, they’re known to scratch back leaf litter to find insects. Before the exposed bug can scurry for cover, the bird darts forward to snap it up!
When the weather turns cold, the White-crowned Sparrow migrates south to a territory that spans much of the southern half of the U.S. along with Mexico. During this time, their diet is focused on grasses, grains, seeds and fruit.
At the feeder, a bird food mix that features sunflower seeds will bring the White-crowned Sparrow in for a landing. Try Lyric Supreme Wild Bird Mix featuring black oil sunflower seeds, black striped sunflower seeds, and sunflower kernels.