Common predators to the song sparrow include cats, hawks, and owls, however snakes, dogs, and the American kestrel are treated ambiguously, suggesting that they are less of a threat. The song sparrow recognizes enemies by both instinctual and learned patterns (including cultural learning), and adjusts its future behavior based on both its own experiences in encounters, and from watching other birds interact with the enemies. Comparisons of experiments on hand-raised birds to observation of birds in the wild suggest that the fear of owls and hawks is instinctual, but fear of cats is learned.
This bird was named by Audubon after his friend, Thomas Lincoln, of Dennysville, Maine. Lincoln shot the bird on a trip with Audubon to Nova Scotia in 1834, and Audubon named it “Tom’s Finch” in his honor.