Golden-crowned Sparrow protected

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Non-breeding plumage

The Golden-crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla, is a medium-sized American sparrow. It is slightly larger than the closely related White-crowned Sparrow.


Adults are 18 cm (7 in) long. In the breeding season, it has a distinct gold patch on its head, flanked by two dark black stripes. When not breeding, its plumage is more variable, ranging from a small, dull gold patch and no black, to near-breeding season plumage.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The breeding habitat is across the north part of western Canada and the U.S. state of Alaska. In the winter the Golden-crowned Sparrow migrates to Vancouver Island in Canada and the West Coast of the United States.


It nests in shrubby habitat above the treeline or near the coast and lays 3-5 brown-marked greenish white eggs.


The song is a three-note whistle, descending in pitch. It is very distinctive, and often described as "oh-dear-me". However, birds in the mountains of British Columbia have been reported to have a trill on the third note, rather than a clear whistle as in other populations. These songs are heard mainly in the breeding season, but also in the wintering grounds just after fall migration as well as just before they take off for spring migration.


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Sample edit for testing purposes.