Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
White-throated Sparrow - Zonotrichia albicollis
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General Comments One of the most abundant birds breeding in the boreal forests of North America is the White-throated Sparrow, though the birds are often at edges and around margins of bogs/muskegs. Not surprisingly, in winter, it is also abundant, and the winter range covers most of the eastern United States, including all of North Carolina. It is one of the most numerous birds in winter in the state, along with other finches such as the Dark-eyed Junco and the Song Sparrow. Tallies of over 1,000 birds are often made on CBC's. Favored habitats are "leafy" places such as deciduous forests with some to much understory and shrub cover, wooded borders, weedy fields, hedgerows, brush piles, and suburban yards with dense shrubbery. Unlike most songbirds, this species has two distinct color morphs (both numerous in the state); one has a white stripe over the eye and is brightly-colored, whereas the other has a tan stripe over the eye.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S5N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Winter resident. Common to abundant throughout, especially so along the Roanoke River floodplain. Mainly late Sep or early Oct to early May, but there are numerous records of stragglers in the summer. Peak counts:
Piedmont Winter resident. Common to abundant essentially throughout, though slightly less numerous (common) in the foothills. Mainly early Oct to early May, but there are many summer records of non-breeders. Peak counts:
Mountains Winter resident. Common to very common in the lower elevations, common in middle elevations, and less numerous above 4,500 feet. Can be abundant in migration. Mainly early Oct to early or mid-May. Numerous summer records of presumed non-breeders, including a few that represented singing males seemingly on territory. In no case was a pair of birds seen, nor was any other evidence of nesting (carrying food, juveniles, etc.) detected. Peak counts:
Finding Tips None needed.
Attribution LeGrand[2012-11-06], LeGrand[2011-12-18], LeGrand[2011-10-01]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NA Maps
(source NatureServe)

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002