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20 Common Types of Sparrows in Florida (With Pictures)

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song sparrow bird

In the southeast corner of the U.S, Florida stands out with its geography and lush, tropical environment. There are endless opportunities to experience wildlife from afar, especially birding. There are many species of birds that are worth searching for, including sparrows.

In this article, we’ll be discussing more than a dozen common types of sparrows in the Sunshine State and their respective traits. Read below, and you’ll have a ton of new bird species to learn about!

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The 20 Common Types of Sparrows in Florida

1. Song Sparrow

song sparrow bird on a tree trunk

Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay

Scientific name: Melospiza melodia
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

Our first common sparrow species is the song sparrow. This small, brown, and white bird is frequently seen in open areas with wet vegetation or dispersed trees. They have a similar physique to others, like the field sparrow or fox sparrow, but they have a much darker complexion that stands out from the rest. Song sparrows can be found in most places throughout Florida’s ecosystem, but they only visit after migrating from the north during the winter. 


2. Field Sparrow

Bell's sparrow sitting in the field

Image Credit: Bowman Tim, USFWS, Pixnio

Scientific name: Spizella pusilla
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Unstable

Another extremely common small bird is the field sparrow. These insect-eating machines live in short, bushy habitats that have plenty of shelter from the elements. Field sparrows are brown and white, with a distinct underbelly that puffs out. They may live during all seasons near the border to Georgia, but if not, they are a winter guest. Although ground foragers, these birds are easy to tame at the feeder when given seeds. 


3. Fox Sparrow

Sooty Fox Sparrow

Image Credit: Belen Bilgic Schneider, Shutterstock

Scientific name: Passerella iliaca
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

Getting its name from the reddish hues of a fox, this sparrow is a very common sight around the states. Florida residents may be able to see a fox sparrow for themselves, but only near the border between Georgia and Alabama. Fox sparrows mainly eat a carnivorous diet, but they may be enticed to feed on grains at the feeder. They can be found in dense forests where their food is plentiful, and shelter is easy to come by, but they can be seen in more urbanized areas as well. 


4. Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper sparrow standing on a tree stump

Image Credit: Pxhere

Scientific name: Ammodramus savannarum
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Unstable

Found everywhere in the Sunshine State, the grasshopper sparrow has a lightly-colored body with a few tiny blotches of yellow near the top of the eyes and the tips of the wings. For the most part, grasshopper sparrows are migratory and come down to the south for winter. However, there are some populations that live year-round. They nest in wet grassland areas with lots of insects roaming beneath the stalks. They can be a challenge to search for, but it’s best to listen for buzzy calls if you want to identify them from afar. 


5. White-crowned Sparrow

White-Crowned Sparrow

Image Credit: karaskye, Pixabay

Scientific name: Zonotrichia leucophrys
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

The white-crowned sparrow has a mix of white, gray, brown, and black (males only) tones on display. This species lives in the state in a few select areas during the winter season, like central Florida and across the panhandle in the northwest. Living in scrubs and bushes, this bird eats a diet of insects and bugs that can be found near the ground. They do like seeds and grains though, so it shouldn’t be difficult to attract them to your backyard. 


6. Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Image Credit: vagabond54, Shutterstock

Scientific name: Pooecetes gramineus
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

The brown and white vesper sparrow is a winter resident of Florida that lives in all regions of the state. Designated in grassy habitats, the vesper sparrow is frequently heard as the sun sets. This species is known for its bright tail feathers in flight and chestnut-colored spots near the shoulders. Vesper sparrows eat mainly insects found in fields and pastures but they may eat grains if desired. 


7. Henslow’s Sparrow

henslow's sparrow

Image Credit: Lev Frid, Shutterstock

Scientific name: Centronyx henslowii
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Unstable

Henslow’s sparrows are masked with white, black, and beige stripes on their forehead, along with a faint, yellow head. They make extremely brief calls, which can be heard at dusk and dawn in open, grassy areas in the eastern U.S. In Florida, Henslow’s sparrows live across the state when it gets too cold to stay in the north. However, it’s best to search for them in marshland ecosystems while they scavenge for food on the ground. 


8. Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow on the grass

Image Credit: Boyd Amanda, Pixnio

Scientific name: Passerculus sandwichensis
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

The savannah sparrow looks quite similar to Henslow’s sparrow, with the same color patterns along the head and body. The best way to identify a savannah sparrow is by looking under its eye. You should see a series of small, lightly-colored feathers rather than the Henslows’ blackish streak. Savannah sparrows are named after their domain in Savannah, Georgia, as they live in the southeast’s warm, grassy climate. 


9. Eastern Towhee

eastern towhee eating

Image Credit: milesmoody, Pixabay

Scientific name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

The eastern towhee is a bit different from the other sparrows that we’ve mentioned. This red-eyed bird is hooded in black (male) or brown (female), with a white underbelly and an orange patch just below the wings. Unlike the above species, the eastern towhee is a year-round resident in Florida, found in every corner of the state. Eastern towhees are omnivorous, eating a variety of foods that they find beneath the brush of bushes and scrubs. Keep in mind that this species can be easily mistaken for the spotted towhee, which lives in the western states. However, their domain in the east makes it unlikely for them to roam together. 


10. Indigo Bunting

indigo bunting perched

Image Credit: dalspaugh, Pixabay

Scientific name: Passerina cyanea
Family: Cardinalidae
Endangerment: Stable

This bird was named after the bright blue hues displayed by the male indigo bunting. Females are brown in color, but both males and females have streaky wings and gray beaks. Calling home to all areas of Florida, this species lives during mating season and has some migratory behavior. Nesting in bushes in the open woodland biome, indigo buntings search for leaf-foraging bugs and seedy foods. 


11. Barn Swallow

barn swallow perching on a tree trunk

Image Credit: Elsemargriet, Pixabay

Scientific name: Hirundo rustica
Family: Hirundinidae
Endangerment: Stable

Barn swallows have a magnificent coloring of orange, yellow, and blue. Their scissor-like tail feathers are incredibly aerodynamic, which gives them great control in flight. Because of this feature, barn swallows are aerial foragers, catching flying insects that spring up from the grass. These birds live in all areas of the state but typically move down south and to the Caribbean after successfully breeding. Barn swallows are not easy to bring to your feeder, so it’s best to search in meadows or fields that are dense with grass and insects.


12. Saltmarsh Sparrow

Saltmarsh sparrow standing on a branch

Image Credit: Grayson Smith USFWS, Rawpixel

Scientific name: Ammospiza caudacuta
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Unstable

Populations of the salt marsh sparrow are greatly reducing in numbers, but they can be found along the coast of Florida and other Atlantic states. This species has an upright body with a brownish-white coloring, in addition to a yellowish face. Similar to many other sparrows, the salt marsh variation is a habitual ground forager that scans the dirt for crawling insects. As the name suggests, they live in marshes and grasslands that are close to the ocean.


13. Chipping Sparrow

close up of a chipping sparrow

Image Credit: Bernell, Pixabay

Scientific name: Spizella passerina
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

The best way to identify a chipping sparrow is to look for a bird with a white underbelly, goldish-brown wings, and a deep-orange cap if it’s a male. Chipping sparrows typically live here for warmth in the winter months, but they can be seen in the northwest during extended periods. An open-woodland dweller, the chipping sparrow is fond of seeds and grains; they can be attracted to feeders if in the right location. 


14. Seaside Sparrow

Seaside Sparrow

Image Credit: Teresa Otto, Shutterstock

Scientific name: Ammospiza maritima
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Unstable

As indicated by the name, this sparrow stays close to the coastlines of Florida and other southeastern states bordering the Atlantic. The seaside sparrow is found year-round in the northwestern marshes of Florida, whereas their eastern domain is most popular during the springtime for breeding. You’ll notice that the seaside sparrow has a small yellow patch above the eye, similar to some of the previous species we’ve discussed. The rest of its body is a mix of brown and gray shades.


15. LeConte’s Sparrow

LeConte’s Sparrow

Image Credit: vagabond54, Shutterstock

Scientific name: Ammospiza leconteii
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Unstable

A bird consisting of light-colored feathers, the LeConte’s sparrow is a resident in the Sunshine State’s northwestern panhandle. Here, they nest among the wet grassland vegetation and forage for invertebrates to feed their young. As they stay hidden the majority of the time, it can be difficult to spot them out in the open. However, their winter spots in Florida make them a bit less shy. 


16. Nelson’s Sparrow

Nelsons Sparrow

Image Credit: Hans Toom, Pixabay

Scientific name: Ammospiza nelsonii
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

A brown bird of Florida marshes, Nelson’s sparrow has territory ranging from the top half of the state’s coastal borders in addition to some habitat in the southern tip. Nelson’s sparrows live here outside of breeding season and are natural ground foragers. The best places to search for these birds are wetland marshes and meadows with stalky grass. Here, you may be able to see them frolicking on the ground in search of crawling insects.


17. House Sparrow

a house sparrow on a tree branch

Image Credit: KnipsKaline, Pixabay

Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

One of the most frequently sighted birds on the continent, the house sparrow is a familiar face, covered in a brown coat. Beware, though; this little bugger can be a hassle if you want to attract other birds to the feeder. House sparrows have invaded many habitats, including towns and homes. You won’t have trouble finding them throughout all times of year in all regions of the state. 


18. Dark-eyed Junco

female dark eyed junco

Image Credit: Luc Pouliot, Shutterstock

Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

Dark-eyed juncos can be seen flying and perching among thick forests with their half-gray-half-white plumage on display. While they do live in woodland areas, they tend to be active close to the ground so they have quick access to seeds and fruit-bearing plants. Find the dark-eyed junco in northern Florida during the winter or in some northern areas where they can be spotted year-round. 


19. White-spotted Sparrow

White-spotted Sparrow

Image Credit: Danita Delimont, Shutterstock

Scientific name: Zonotrichia albicollis
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

With bright yellow patches above the eyes, the white-spotted sparrow is a forest-dweller that loves to show off its brown coat and white-spotted throat. Found during non-breeding seasons, this species has a knack for gathering seeds while inspecting the forest floor; a true feeder-magnet! Do note that they do not always come with a yellow, black, and white cap. Instead, they may form a spin of light and dark brown shades. 


20. Swamp Sparrow

swamp sparrow

Image Credit: Jean van der Meulen, Pixabay

Scientific name: Melospiza georgiana
Family: Passerellidae
Endangerment: Stable

In the top half of Florida’s land area, the swamp sparrow lives both inland and near the ocean. Look in low-lying vegetation situated in marshes or meadows for a chance to see their nesting grounds. Like many of its kind, the swamp sparrow has a mixed plumage of brown, white, and tan. Your best luck in finding this species is during the mating off-season, and it’s possible to see them migrate to the north when the time comes. 

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Final Thoughts

Home to many sparrow species, Florida’s wet, tropical climate is the perfect place for these birds to roam free. Whether inland or close to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, you can see a variety of small sparrows outside of mating season. Although many on our list have similar physical traits, our guide of 20 common types of sparrows in Florida should give you the upper hand on the trails. 

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Featured Image Credit: u_z4q28nbq, Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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