AMERICAN TREE SPARROW – (Spizelloides arborea)
Identification: The American tree sparrow is similar to the chipping sparrow, except that the latter has a white eye-brow and a black eye stripe, whereas in the American tree sparrow the eye stripe is rufous and has no white eye-brow. The American tree sparrow has a rufous cap and a brown back with streaks and a light grey breast with no streaks, with a dark spot in the middle. However that spot is not as prominent as in the Song sparrow, and the latter has brown streaks on the breast as well.
The English name ‘Sparrow’ derives from Anglo-Saxon ‘Spearwa’, which means ‘flutterer’, and it has been applied to many small birds (Choate).
The American tree sparrow feeds on the ground in the winter, on weeds in the fields. It also nests on the ground in the tundra or in boreal tree thickets.
The American tree sparrow is uncommon in PEI and has never been observed in the summer, as this is a bird that breeds in the northern parts of Canada and migrates mainly to the USA. It would be therefore on its migration route when visiting PEI. However it can be seen around bird feeders, sometimes with dark-eyed juncos.