Behavior

Although sparrows commonly sing at night during breeding season, they are diurnal. Most sparrows and buntings are territorial, and territorial males use song, chasing, and fights to defend their territories, which generally serve as a place to build a nest and to forage. When singing, males often sit in a conspicuous place and throw back their head to sing. Commonly, they sing with the feathers of their crown or rump

1. Lapland longspur female {Calcarius lapponicus) solicitation display; 2. Snow bunting {Plectrophenax nivalis) song-flight; S. Reed bunting {Emberiza schoeniclus) singing with rump feathers ruffed; 4. Corn bunting {Emberiza calandra) dangling-legs display. {Illustration by Bruce Worden)

ruffed. Many species, especially those that live in tundra or prairies, sing their songs while in flight as a part of an elaborate flight display. When soliciting food or copulation, sparrows generally point their head forward, more-or-less parallel with the ground, elevate their tail, and shiver their wings.

During migration and winter, sparrows may be seen in small, loose, often mixed-species flocks. Some species, however, form large flocks.

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