The Savannah Sparrow has a crisply streaked brown and white breast, short notched tail, and a telltale yellow spot between the beak and eye. The head is streaked and sometimes appears slightly peaked. Males and females are similar except that males are slightly larger.
This sparrow prefers open lands, shunning forested areas for grasslands, meadows, and even cultivated fields and pastures. It forages and nests mainly on the ground. Insects, spiders, and beetles furnish the bulk of its breeding-season diet, then in winter it switches to small seeds. The Savannah Sparrow often exhibits “natal philopatry,” the tendency to return to the place where it hatched. Its name comes not from its preferred habitat, but from the city in Georgia where it was first documented. Since it lives so close to the ground it is quite inconspicuous.
What brings it to the SBG?
The SBG habitat provides both an abundance of insects and potential nesting sites; goldenrod stands are reportedly favored nesting places. In fall the habitat offers abundant seeds for migrating Savannah Sparrows.
When can I see it?
Spring, summer, fall. Pennsylvania lies in the Savannah Sparrow’s breeding range, but so far it has been spotted at SBG only in the fall. It migrates southward for the winter.