The Golden-crowned Sparrow is a medium-sized bird found in the western parts of North America. Measuring between 6.5 and 7.5 inches in length, it is slightly larger than a house sparrow. The bird has a wingspan of 9.8 to 11 inches, and weighs between 0.85 and 1.1 ounces. The males and females are similar in size and appearance, with a distinguishing bright yellow or orange-gold crown on their heads.
The bird’s most distinctive feature is its golden crown. The crown is a bright yellow or orange color and can be seen even at a distance. The bird’s body feathers are grayish-brown with white streaks along the sides, and its wings are brown with white bars. The beak is dark gray and slightly curved, and the legs and feet are pink or gray. Juvenile birds have a brown crown with a yellow stripe in the middle.
Golden-crowned Sparrows are migratory birds that breed in Alaska and migrate southward to the Pacific Northwest and California in the winter. They typically migrate in flocks and can be found in grasslands, shrublands, and forest edges. During the breeding season, they can be found in the tundra and subalpine zones. They often forage on the ground, scratching for seeds, insects, and berries.
Breeding season for Golden-crowned Sparrows starts in May and lasts until early August. The female builds the nest on the ground, hidden in grass or shrubs, and lays 3-5 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 12-14 days, and the chicks fledge after 9-12 days. The parents continue to feed the chicks for a few weeks after they leave the nest.
Golden-crowned Sparrows are popular among birdwatchers and backyard birders. They are known for their sweet and distinctive three-note whistle, which is often heard before the bird is seen. They are also attracted to bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, millet, and suet. With its bright golden crown, this sparrow is a striking and beautiful bird to observe in the wild.