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Dotty, The Tree Sparrow

In Chapter 4 of The Burgess Bird Book, Peter explains to Johnny Chuck, who sleeps all winter, that Dotty is a Tree Sparrow who takes Chippy’s place when Chippy flies south for the Winter. Then when Chippy flies north, Dotty goes even more north (p. 19, The Burgess Bird Book, Living Books Press). What’s confusing to them (and others, even now) is the fact that Tree Sparrows are ground birds. So really Chipping Sparrows should be named Tree Sparrows in their place. But as The Cornell Lab admits, American Tree Sparrows were, “misleadingly named by European settlers reminded of Eurasian Tree Sparrows back home.” (source:

How can you tell an American Tree Sparrow when you see one? They always have a dot or dark smudge on their chest, hence the name Burgess gives him, “Dotty.” If you compare them to Chipping Sparrows, you’ll also find that they have a rusty eyeline instead of a black one.

Here is what we found about Dotty from allaboutbirds and our Burgess Book:

Dotty: Tree Sparrow

Size & Shape: American Tree Sparrows are small round-headed birds.

Color Pattern: A rusty cap and rusty (not black) eyeline.

Diet: Seeds

Behavior: Ground Forager

Something you didn’t know: The longevity record among banded American Tree Sparrows is 10 years and 9 months.

I would not use this picture as a good field guide, although it is very cute and creative:

Form 1, Grade 1 Student

Hehe, all of us love birds here! So until next time, keep bird watching! <3 Kate

For our Burgess Bird Coloring and Writing pages, check here!

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