I don't know about you but sparrows are right behind gulls when it comes distinguishing between the different species. There is a class on sparrow identification that is held in South Dakota each summer. Perhaps I will attend it one year so that I can improve my ID skills. Fortunately the white-crowned sparrow is one species that is not so hard.
Most white-crowned sparrows breed in northern and western Canada as well as Alaska. They winter in the lower two thirds of the US and into Mexico. This was by far the most common sparrow that we saw when we were in New Mexico last month. In Minnesota we usually only see them during migration. Often they will stop and forage on the ground for seeds and insects to help them as they continue their migration. They are often considered a sign of fall and when we see them up at Hawk Ridge in Duluth where I took these photos.