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14â€“17 cm (5Â½-6Â¾ in)
Details of the head pattern differ between subspecies; see Taxonomy section below.
Breeds from Alaska and western Canada east to Labrador and northern Quebec. In western North America breeds south to central California and the mountains of northern Arizona and New Mexico. Winters in the southern and central United States (on the Atlantic coast as far north as Pennsylvania and Long Island) and in northern Mexico.
There are five recognized subspecies:
The latter three subspecies, sometimes grouped for identification purposes as "Gambel's White-crown," are distinguished by their white lores and orange to yellow bill. (Nominate and oriantha share black lores and pink bill.)
Winters in hedgerows and densely vegetated field edges, roadsides and streambanks, woodland and forest edges. In California it is an abundant nester in coastal scrub, but winters in a wide range of habitats, including dry deserts, as for instance in the Kelso Valley of Kern County.
They forage on the ground and in low vegetation, for beetles, bugs, seeds and plant material. They sometimes make short flights to catch flying insects.
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