BIRD OF THE WEEK — WHITE CROWED SPARROW — PLANET EARTH BIRD WORLD group

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BIRD OF THE WEEK

White-crowned Sparrow

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Zonotrichia leucophrys
POPULATION: 75 million
TREND: Decreasing
HABITAT: Nests in dense brush; winters in scrubby hedgerows, woodland edges, and thickets.

The dapper White-crowned Sparrow is easily recognized by its boldly striped head, colorful pink or yellow bill, and unmarked gray breast. Like its close relative the White-throated Sparrow, this handsome bird is a widespread winter visitor in many parts of the United States, reaching well into Mexico as well.

In spring 2020, researchers in San Francisco discovered that White-crowned Sparrows quickly modified the volume and quality of their songs in response to the quieter conditions resulting from pandemic lockdowns. The ease with which the sparrows adapted to the changed soundscape suggests that more permanent reductions in urban traffic, and thus street sound volume, could lead to other beneficial outcomes for urban and suburban birds, including higher species diversity.

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