Emberizids are typically omnivorous (both insectivorous and grainivorous). They primarily eat seeds during the winter and insects during the summer. Their choice of prey usually consists of whatever insects are most common and easiest to catch. Some species, such as song sparrows (Melospiza melodia), that live in coastal areas, feed on mollusks and crustaceans.
Many species will specialize on certain types of seeds; small beaked sparrows eat small seeds, large beaked sparrows eat large seeds. Bill size and shape are adaptations that reflect the birds' food type. Emberizids forage by scratching at the ground looking for insects and seeds, pulling them off of vegetation, picking them off the ground, or gleaning insects from vegetation. Some species can get most of the water they need from insects and seeds and do not need additional water.
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore ); herbivore (Granivore ); omnivore
- Anderson, B. 2003. "Sparrows" (On-line). Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Accessed February 10, 2004 at http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/pubs/notebook/bird/sparrows.php.