Lincoln’s Sparrow

Lincoln’s sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) is a small sparrow of the Passerellidae family, native to North America. It lives in well-covered brushy habitats, often near water. This bird is poorly documented because of its secretive nature and breeding habits solely in boreal regions.

Their breeding habitat is subalpine and montane zones across Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern and western United States, although they are less common in the eastern parts of their range. They are found mainly in wet thickets, shrubby bogs, and moss-dominated habitats. They prefer to be near dense shrub cover and their nests are well-concealed shallow open cups on the ground under vegetation. At lower elevations, they can also be found in mixed deciduous groves, mixed shrub-willows, and black spruce-tamarack bogs. They primarily use the ground and base of willows for foraging, whereas they use tall trees and willow branches for singing.

During migration, they live in thickets and bushes, particularly in riparian zones. They use lowlands such as the Great Plains and Great Basin, as well as urban and suburban habitats in the east.

In the winter, the majority of their diet consists of small seeds of weeds and grasses, but when available they will also eat terrestrial vertebrates. During the breeding season, they mainly feed on arthropods including insect larvae, ants, spiders, beetles, flies, moths, caterpillars, mayflies, and others. Adults typically eat prey from higher trophic levels such as spiders, whereas they feed their chicks greater proportions of plant material and lower trophic level prey like grasshoppers. They mostly forage on the ground in dense vegetation and, in the winter, may occasionally use bird feeders.

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