Brown or grayish-brown overall; buffy or gray ear patch; thin dark stripe extending behind the eye; light eyebrow; breast and sides buffy or gray; belly white. 15 cm (6 in) in length. Rounded tail and large bill.
The breeding season begins in late April, peaks in May, and extends to mid-July. The breeding habitat includes pine woods, especially in areas with a dense understory. The cup-shaped nest is built by the female on the ground out of grass and other plant material. The nest may be domed with grass for protection. The female lays 3-5 eggs that she incubates for 14 days. The young are altricial and fledge 10-11 days after hatching. If the female is disturbed on the nest, she may perform a distraction display by dragging her wing or feigning injury to draw a predator away from the nest.
The Bachman's Sparrow most often frequents pine woodlands and dry wooded areas. Its diet includes seeds, insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. Food is gathered by searching the ground and low vegetation. Some individuals of this species are migratory.
During the breeding season, the Bachman's Sparrow occurs throughout most of the southeastern United States. During the winter, birds may be found from coastal North Carolina, south through Florida and west from Georgia to southern Arkansas and Louisiana.
The range of this species is steadily shrinking and its numbers appear to be declining for unknown reasons. It is listed as Endangered in Tennessee and Threatened in North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. It is being monitored throughout the rest of the Southeast.
Similar species include the Field Sparrow and the Grasshopper Sparrow. Field Sparrows are smaller and have a pink bill. Grasshopper Sparrows are also smaller, and have pale streaking on their breast and flanks, a light crown stripe, and a short tail.