Vesper Sparrow

Pooecetes gramineus
Range Map

Vesper Sparrows are North American friends, found from coast to coast in every season. This bird winters from the southern USA and south into Mexico, but breeds in the northern 70% of the USA and into much of southern Canada. They prefer dry short grass and sage habitats where they nest and forage on the ground for seeds, or in low brush for bugs when on the breeding grounds. Our bird usually avoids tall or wet grass areas.

I’ve met these sparrows while they spent winters in southern California near my home. I’ve also enjoyed meetings on their breeding grounds in eastern Oregon and central Utah.

Science recognises four subspecies of Vesper Sparrow:

  • P. g. gramineus breeds from Minnesota east to Prince Edward Island and south to Missouri and North Carolina. They spend winters from the southern portion of their breeding range to the Gulf Coast and central Texas, sometimes wandering to northeastern Mexico and Bermuda.
  • P. g. confinis breeds from central British Columbia to southern Manitoba and Ontario south to eastern-central California, east to Nebraska. They spend winters from the southern edge of their breeding range south to southern Mexico, and occasionally in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.
  • P. g. affinis breeds in western Washington and Oregon south to coastal northern California. They spend winters south to Baja California.
  • P. g. altus is a less well-defined member of this group, found breeding from southern Utah to northern Arizona.

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