Rufous-crowned Sparrow

General description.

Another distinct field mark of the "Rufous-crowned Sparrow" is his conspicuous black "whisker". His mantle is gray with rufous-brown streaks; the underparts are unstreaked gray. These birds are quite skittish and rarely appear in the open. They spend much of their time, especially when foraging, under cover of vegetation.

Juvenile appearance.

Juveniles have a buff breast with faint streaking and little, if any, rufous markings.

Flight pattern.

This bird prefers to walk. However, if disturbed the "Rufous-crowned Sparrow" will fly to a nearby rock for a short survey, then return to the grass.

Breeding habits.

The "Rufous-crowned Sparrow" breeds where he resides in California, Arizona and New Mexico east to Texas and Oklahoma.

Calls or song.

Only in spring does the male sing in the early morning from the tops of boulders, otherwise he is usually on the ground, saying in effect, "why fly?". His advertising song sounds like "chi-chi-chew, CHU, tsi-tsi-ti-tsi-ti". Both sexes call with a distinctive nasal quality, "dear-dear-dear".

Population and distribution.

The "Rufous-crowned Sparrow" inhabits the semi-arid environments of steep grassy and rocky hillsides and canyons.

Nesting habits.

The female lays 3-5 white or slightly bluish eggs in a neat nest of plant fiber and grasses, which is placed on or near the ground.
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