A somewhat juncolike sparrow (with no white in the tail); it has a streaked brown back, but head and underparts are gray. In the male the pinkish bill is encircled by a black chin
and facial patch. Females lack the black and can be told by the unmarked gray head and breast, striped brown back.
Brushy mountain slopes, open chaparral, sagebrush. Found mostly in arid scrub on hillsides, from low foothills up to almost 7,000 in mountain
s, in chaparral and open thickets of manzanita, scrub oak, sagebrush, chamise, and other low shrubs. In winter also found locally in desert areas, mesquite thickets.
Probably seeds and insects. Diet is not well known; probably eats mostly seeds in winter, many insects in summer, like related sparrows. Probably feeds its young mostly on insects.
Behavior: Does most of its foraging on the ground, often moving about slowly and spending much time feeding in a limited area. Also forages up in low
shrubs. Except when nesting, often forages in small, loose flocks, sometimes associated with other sparrows.
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Details of nesting behavior are not well known. Often nests in small loose colonies. Male sings in spring to defend nesting territory.
Site is close to ground (from a few inches up to 4 high) in a low shrub, often a sagebrush. Nest is a shallow open cup made of dry grass, weed stems, yucca fibers, lined with fine grass, plant fibers, sometimes feathers or animal hair.
Clutch 2-4, sometimes 5. Very pale blue, often unmarked, sometimes dotted with dark brown. Incubation probably about 13 days; roles of the parents not well known, but incubation may be mostly by female.
Young: Both parents bring food to the young. Age at which the young leave the nest is not well known.
Southwestern United States to southern Mexico.
b Migration: Fall migration begins early, with many leaving their breeding grounds in August. May be a permanent resident in some areas near the Mexican border.
- spanwidth min.: 23 cm
- spanwidth max.: 24 cm
- size min.: 15 cm
- size max.: 16 cm
- incubation min.: 13 days
- incubation max.: 14 days
- fledging min.: 11 days
- fledging max.: 13 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 2
- eggs max.: 5
- Conservation Status
- Spizella atrogularis atrogularis
- Spizella atrogularis cana
- Spizella atrogularis caurina
- Spizella atrogularis evura
- Spizella atrogularis
- NA, MA sw USA, Mexico