Rufous-crowned sparrow

Rufous-crowned sparrow
Aimophila ruficeps

Photo J. Centavo (Flickr)

Common name:
rufous-crowned sparrow (en); escrevedeira-de-barrete-ruivo (pt); bruant à calotte fauve (fr); chingolo coronirrufo (es); rostscheitelammer (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

This species is found in the south-western United States and Mexico, from Nebraska to northern California and south to Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

These birds are 13-15 cm long and weigh 15-23 g.

The rufous-crowned sparrow is found in arid and rocky open areas, including dry grasslands and dry scrublands with scattered trees. They are also found to a lesser extent in pine and oak forests. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

Outside the breeding season they feed primarily on the seeds of small grasses and forbs, fresh grass stems and tender shoots. During spring and summer they feed mainly on spiders and insects such as ants, grasshoppers, beetles and scale insects.

These birds are monogamous and pair bonds can remain over several years. They breed in March-August. The nest is a simple cup made of dry grass barks, twigs and hair, placed in a shallow concavity on the ground made by the birds. The female lays 2-5 bluish-white eggs, which she incubates alone for 11-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 8-9 days after hatching, but continue to receive food from the parents for some time after fledging.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
The rufous-crowned sparrow has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 2,4 million individuals. The population has undergone a small decrease over the last 4 decades, but is not threatened.

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