American Tree Sparrows

American Tree Sparrows are winter visitors to the United States; they breed in the far north tundra of Canada and Alaska. Preferred wintering areas include marshes, and all the birds pictured here were seen in marshy areas. Like many birds, the diet of American Tree Sparrows changes with the season and availability. In summer on their breeding grounds, they eat mainly insects, while in winter they switch over to seeds and berries. While they can be seen foraging on the ground in small flocks, they also hop about (often more conspicuously) in vegetation. They voraciously feed on the seed heads of Phragmites australis (common reed) and will visit backyard feeders for seeds and millet. While they may look rather drab at first glance (especially from afar), their bicolored bill with its bright yellow lower portion makes them instantly recognizable and their overall roundness and tendency to fluff up their feathers puts them solidly in the “cute” category.