Buntings and New World Sparrows (Emberizidae)

Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) - HBW 16, p. 549

French: Bruant de Lincoln German: Lincolnammer Spanish: Chingolo de Lincoln

Taxonomy: Fringilla Lincolnii Audubon, 1834, Labrador = near mouth of Natashquan River, Quebec, Canada.
Genus generally considered to be closely related to Passerella and Zonotrichia; unpublished molecular studies suggest close relationship with Xenospiza and some of the grassland sparrows (Passerculus, some Ammodramus, Pooecetes and Oriturus). Geographical variation of present species weak and clinal, and differences among populations obscured by individual variation; alticola often considered to be a synonym of nominate. Three subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • lincolnii (Audubon, 1834) - breeds from NW Alaska E through Canadian boreal forest (S from NC Yukon and C Northwest Territories) to Labrador, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and S in USA to C Washington, N Idaho, NW Montana, N Minnesota, N Wisconsin, C Michigan, W New York and C Maine; winters in region from S USA (S from N California, S Nevada and Arizona E to N Oklahoma, E Kansas, C Missouri, S Kentucky and N Georgia, also Florida) S to S Mexico and Guatemala, rarely S to Honduras, Panama and Greater Antilles.
  • gracilis (Kittlitz, 1858) - breeds coastal S Alaska and W Canada (C British Columbia, rarely Vancouver I); winters in SW USA (C California and Arizona) and NW & NC Mexico (Baja California, Sonora and Coahuila).
  • alticola (A. H. Miller & McCabe, 1935) - breeds in mountains of W USA from NC Oregon E to SC Montana and NC Wyoming, S to California (inner coastal ranges to San Jacinto Mts), WC Nevada, SW Utah, EC Arizona and N New Mexico; non-breeding from C California, Arizona and S Texas S through Mexico (except Yucatán Peninsula) to Guatemala and El Salvador (rare).