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Golden-Crowned Sparrow General Information

Golden-crowned Sparrows are small migratory birds. In early Spring, they leave their winter grounds in western continental US, and begin their northward migration to western Canada and Alaska where they establish their nesting grounds.

They only have a few months through late Fall to nest and raise their chicks before returning south.

Sparrow Eating a Seed

Golden-Crowned Sparrow Adult

Golden-Crowned Sparrow Juvenile

  Common Name:
  Scientific Name:
  Golden-Crowned Sparrow
  Zonotrichia atricapilla
  Alaska & North America
  approx. 25 cm (Adult)
  15 to 18 cm (Adult)
  20 to 36 grams (Adult)

Below: The name comes from the distinctive bright yellow crown on top of the Sparrow's head, seen here on an adult Golden-Crowned Sparrow spotted in South Central Alaska.

Yellow Crown on Sparrow's Head

White-Crowned Sparrow

Left and Below: Also present in Alaska, the White-Crowned Sparrow is a close cousin of the Golden-Crowned Sparrow. The 3 white patches on the head is the main differentiating detail.

White Crown on Sparrow's Head

Golden-Crowned Sparrows in Alaska

Photos of Golden-Crowned Sparrows in the Spring and Summer. All photos are taken in various locations throughout South Central and Interior Alaska.

Adult Sparrow Gathering Food
Adult Sparrow Feeding Chick
Juvenile Sparrow

Golden-Crowned Sparrow diet is mostly from small insects, berries, plant seeds, and occasionally new sprouts. During our studies and observations of the feeding behaviour, it was noted that in South Central Alaska, the adult Golden-Crowned Sparrow would mostly feed their chicks with insects.

Juvenile Sparrow South Central Alaska

Sparrow Feeding Chick

Adult Sparrow Alaska

Adult and Juvenile Sparrows

Adult Golden-Crowned Sparrow raising its chick which is now several weeks old. The juvenile is almost as big as the parent in the picture below where it is being fed some tender sprout shoots and seeds.

Feeding Sparrow Chick

Golden-Crowned Sparrow Close Up Pictures

Some extreme close up photos of Golden-Crown Sparrows in the wild, revealing the intricate feather details.

Golden-Crowned Sparrow Up Close
Golden-Crowned Sparrow Juvenile

Sparrow Eating Lychen

Adult Golden-Crowned Sparrow

Golden-Crowned Sparrow Plumage

Juvenile Summer Plumage

Close up pictures of Golden-Crowned Sparrow plumage during the Summer for adults and juveniles.

Left: This juvenile still has fluffy duvet type of feathers on its underbelly. In addition, the distinctive bright yellow patch is absent from the top of the head. Overall plumage colors are dull and blend well with the surrounding rocky landscape.

Close up of Summer Plumage

Fluffy Duvet Underbelly

Juvenile Sparrow
Adult Sparrow

By contrast, the adult plumage is more refined with a more contrasty color scheme. The fluffy duvet on the underbelly that is typical of the juvenile plumage is absent in the adult Golden-Crowned Sparrow, and is replaced with streamlined feathers.

Adult Plumage Detail in Spring

Juvenile Golden-Crowned Sparrow

In Search of Food

Photos of juvenile Golden-Crowned Sparrows in late Spring and Summer, South Central Alaska. These young Sparrows are several weeks old and can already fly on their own.

Fluffing its Wings
Weeks Old Sparrow Chick
Juvenile Sparrow with Duvet

Old enough to explore its surroundings and foraging for food under rocks or in shrubs.


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