A project of

White-throated Sparrow

The State of White-throated Sparrows

Regionally: Steeply declining

White-throated Sparrow study area abundance from 2010 to 2023.

The mean (thick, dark line) annual estimate of White-throated Sparrow abundance—calculated as the annual sum of estimated White-throated Sparrow within the local area (a 4-hectare circle) surrounding all 791 Mountain Birdwatch sampling stations. The thinner, lighter lines represent less probable estimates of the annual abundance.

White-throated Sparrow numbers have likely been declining throughout our region for at least the last half-century. Mountain Birdwatch data indicate a steep overall population decline (-4.97% per year, 80% credible interval = -6.09% to -3.84%) in the mountains of our region; this trend equates to an incredible 48.44% decline between 2010 and 2023. These declines are prevalent throughout the region, but the steepest and most dramatic declines were observed in the Catskills of New York (see table below). At those rates of decline, White-throated Sparrow could be absent as a breeding species in the Catskills by 2060.

Mean annual population trends and population change (with 80% Bayesian credible intervals [CRI]) for White-throated Sparrow from 2010 through 2023. A red dot indicates strong evidence for a negative trend. Strong evidence is suggested for a trend when the 80% CRI does not contain zero.
RegionMean annual
trend (%)
(80% CRI)
Probability of
Probability of
change (%)
change (80% CRI)
All regions -4.97(-6.09, -3.84)>0.99<0.01-48.44(-55.84, -39.89)
New York
-17.23(-20.60, -13.86)>0.99<0.01-91.45(-95.01, -85.62)
New York
-6.60(-8.05, -5.20)>0.99<0.01-58.85(-66.40, -50.04)
Vermont -5.02(-6.36, -3.71)>0.99<0.01-48.79(-57.42, -38.82)
New Hampshire -5.12(-6.40, -3.80)>0.99<0.01-49.47(-57.69, -39.6)
Maine -2.58(-3.87, -1.33)0.990.01-28.81(-40.16, -15.93)

Globally: Declining 

With a global population of ~140 million, the White-throated Sparrow remains an abundant species. However, USGS Breeding Bird Survey data estimate that this species’ population size has declined by >30% across North America over the last half century. The USGS Breeding Bird Survey data indicate a broad, long-term decline for White-throated Sparrows in the Eastern U.S. and Eastern Canada (where this species is most numerous), and a stable or increasing population trend for this species in the Western U.S. and Western Canada.

State of the Mountain Birds