South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Savannah Sparrow

Passerculus sandwichensis

Length: 5.75 inches Wingspan: 8 to 9.5 inches Seasonality: Summer/Migrant
ID Keys: Heavily streaked chest, thin white crown stripe, distinct facial pattern

Savannah Sparrow - Passerculus sandwichensisThe Savannah Sparrow is a ground-dwelling sparrow found in a wide variety of open grassy/marshy habitats.  Sometimes confusing for birders, several different races exist with a variety of colorations.  They were first named for Savannah, Georgia, the city in which they were originally identified and described.

Habitat: Open habitat including prairies, meadows, rangeland, pastures, salt marshes, other wetland edges, dunes, shores.

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects in the summer.  Also feeds on seeds and berries, especially in the winter.  Populations along the coast will also feed on small crustaceans and mollusks.

Behavior: Savannah Sparrows forage on the ground, or low in grasses and bushes.  They can be very sociable in migration, forming large flocks.

Nesting: May through July

Breeding Map: Breeding Bird Survey map

Song: 2 "chip" notes followed by a buzzy trill. 

Migration: Summers through all of Canada and Alaska, and most of the northern half of the U.S.  Winters in the southern half of the U.S., Mexico, and Central America.

Similar Species: Vesper Sparrow, Song Sparrow

Conservation Status: Stable throughout most of its range.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Savannah Sparrow

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Savannah Sparrow

3) Savannah Sparrow

Photo Information: May 26th, 2003 -- Minnehaha County -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Savannah Sparrow photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Savannah Sparrow - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common to uncommon migrant and summer resident, with higher breeding numbers in the northeastern part of the state.