White crowned sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys, is a medium-sized sparrow native to North America.

For the last couple weeks I have enjoyed the sweet white crowned sparrows in my yard here in Northern California. In the morning I listen to its distinct pleasing whistle. I relish the time I can draw this regal looking bird with its black and white head, pale beak, and ironed gray breast. It’s one of the easier sparrows to identify. They are rather shy and keep close to the brush as they forage on the ground. Sometimes I see them zip into the air to catch flying insects. They also do what birders call “double-scratching” like a towhee to turn over leaves. It looks like a quick hop backwards, followed by a forward pounce to flush out bugs and insects under dried leaves or brush.

White crowned sparrows nest either low in bushes or on the ground under shrubs and lay three to five brown or gray markings on greenish-blue eggs.

White crowned sparrows are numerous and widespread but populations declined by about 33 percent between 1966 and 2010, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. They are not on any watch list I could find but still numbers are dropping as human numbers rise.