Photo: Laure Wilson Neish
Probability of observation
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Number of squares
Long-term BBS trends
Mean abundance by region
Bird Conservation Regions [plot]
Mean abundance by habitat [plot]
Characteristics and Range This small sparrow, an attractive but typically hard-to-see bird of the undergrowth, is distinguished by fine black streaks on its buffy upper breast and a conspicuous buffy "moustache". Usually described as elusive or secretive, a skulker, its loud, distinctive song announces its presence during the breeding season. Its breeding range extends from Pacific to Atlantic coasts, roughly coincident with the Boreal Forest and, in the west, continues south along the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada. Its winter range includes a narrow coastal strip extending from southwestern British Columbia to Baja, much of the southwestern United States, and Mexico.
Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat The Lincoln's Sparrow breeds throughout most of interior British Columbia, with records concentrated in the northeast (the Peace River and Fort Nelson River lowlands) and the north-central interior (Nechako Plateau). It is sparsely distributed in some coastal areas, but absent as a breeder from most of Vancouver Island and the Georgia Depression Ecoprovince.
Point count data and the Probability of Observation model confirm that this species is most abundant and most easily found in forests of the Boreal and Taiga Plains ecoprovinces. There is a secondary area of abundance in the Central Interior Ecoprovince, and generally high but locally variable abundance and PObs in the Sub-Boreal Interior and Northern Boreal Mountains ecoprovinces. This contrasts somewhat with Campbell et al. (2001) who found the highest summer numbers of Lincoln's Sparrow in northern Haida Gwaii and the Sub-Boreal Interior Ecoprovince. The Lincoln's Sparrow is also widespread in the Southern Interior Mountains and Southern Interior ecoprovinces. Comparison of Atlas results with The Birds of British Columbia suggests that, in general, the overall distribution of this species has remained more or less constant since the late 1990s. Lincoln's Sparrow breeds across a wide elevation range; it is most numerous at the relatively low elevations (250-1,000 m) that include much of the Taiga and Boreal Plains ecoprovinces.
Breeding habitat is predominantly within boreal, montane, and subalpine biogeoclimatic zones. The bird nests in moist and dense shrub thickets, especially willow (Salix) and alder (Alnus) species, Water Birch (Betula occidentalis), Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta), and spruce (Picea) species associated with wetlands, swamps, bogs, riparian flats, and beaver ponds with openings of sedges, moss or grass. It also nests in damp clear-cuts and on avalanche slopes. In the drier parts of the province, such as southern interior, Lincoln's Sparrow is found at elevations well above the valley floors (Cannings et al. 1987).
Conservation and Recommendations Breeding Bird Surveys suggest that Lincoln's Sparrow populations are stable, although reliability is relatively low because the data show considerable annual variation and relatively few survey routes in British Columbia report this species. Disturbance by humans (e.g., recreational activities) near nesting sites may be detrimental (Ammon 1995).
Recommended citation: Ryder, J.M. 2015. Lincoln's Sparrow in Davidson, P.J.A., R.J. Cannings, A.R. Couturier, D. Lepage, and C.M. Di Corrado (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia, 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada. Delta, B.C. http://www.birdatlas.bc.ca/accounts/speciesaccount.jsp?sp=LISP&lang=en [04 Mar 2024]
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