Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Swamp Sparrow - Melospiza georgiana
Search Common:                 Search Scientific:
General Comments The Swamp Sparrow breeds over much of Canada and the northern United States, nesting (rarely) south into Virginia, both in the Coastal Plain and in the mountains. Despite it nesting within one state to our north, there is as yet no evidence of breeding in North Carolina. Fortunately, it winters over most of the Southeastern states, and quite commonly in the eastern parts of North Carolina. Its name is a misnomer, as it is not a denizen of forested habitats (swamps, etc.), but inhabits fresh marshes and bogs in the breeding season. In winter, marshes, wet fields, wet thickets, and other damp "weedy" habitats are occupied; it is seldom found in drier habitats. Song Sparrows are common associates in winter with Swamp Sparrows.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S5N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Winter resident. Common to locally very common along the coast, Tidewater, and other areas in the eastern third of the province. Common elsewhere in the region, perhaps slightly less numerous in the Sandhills than elsewhere. After severe weather, can be noticeably less numerous. Mainly early Oct to early May. A specimen at New Bern on 28 May 1997 was quite unusual. Peak counts: 830, Eagle Island near Wilmington, 30 Dec 1995.
Piedmont Winter resident. Common in the eastern and southern portions, fairly common in the central portions, and uncommon in the western third of the province. Typically less common after severe weather. Mainly early Oct to early May; one on 12 Sep 1995 at Salem Lake (Forsyth) was quite early. Peak counts:
Mountains Winter resident. Generally uncommon at the lower elevations, more so in broad valleys, below 3,000 feet; rare in winter at middle and higher elevations. In migration, uncommon over the region, but can be locally fairly common. Can be quite rare after severe winter weather. Mainly early or mid-Oct to early May. Peak counts:
Finding Tips None needed, at least in the eastern Coastal Plain in the cooler months.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-31], LeGrand[2012-11-06], LeGrand[2011-12-18]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.