Monday, February 18, 2019

American Tree Sparrow

Strolling at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum last Saturday, Erika and I spied two small birds feeding on the snow-covered ground. American Tree Sparrows breed across arctic North America and winter in much of the northern United States. Naugler et al. (2017) point out that “tree sparrow” is somewhat of a misnomer, since the species often breeds north of the treeline. This source also reports on surprising genetic studies. American Tree Sparrows appear somewhat similar to Chipping Sparrows, and used to be classified in the same genus, Spizella. Apparently, despite looking quite different, tree sparrows are most closely related to Fox Sparrows. Ornithologists now place tree sparrows in a single-species genus, Spizelloides.

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