Golden-Crowned Sparrow

Zonotrichia atricapilla
Range Map

Golden-Crowned Sparrows winter in the Pacific States of the USA, but breed in British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska. Science has neglected close study of this species, especially on its breeding grounds.

In winter, we often find these birds in flocks with other sparrows, especially White-Crowned Sparrows. My encounters with this species have all come from within the borders of California. Most have been in San Diego County, where I’m from, but I’ve met them in the Central Valley and on the border with Oregon at Tule Lake. I’ve found them in flocks that included Fox Sparrows.

Today’s science regards the Golden-Crowned Sparrow as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies). Unlike many North American species, this bird’s population appears to be stable. The list of its enemies includes: These include Northern and Loggerhead Shrikes, Sharp-Shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, Northern Harriers, Merlins, Mountain Pygmy Owls, Western Screech Owls, Barn Owls, feral cats, and Columbian Ground Squirrels.


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