Living Bird Magazine
Black-chinned SparrowSpizella atrogularis
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Passerellidae
If you hear a ping-pong ball bouncing around rugged and rocky hillsides of the Southwest, look for a Black-chinned Sparrow. These small, long-tailed sparrows are gray with a pink bill and brown wings. Only the male sports the namesake black chin. They forage on the ground in chaparral and desert scrub, but they don't stay out in the open for long. They spend winters in Mexico.More ID Info
Find This Bird
The combination of rugged habitat and reclusive nature can make Black-chinned Sparrows a challenge to see. Luckily, males boldly sing from exposed perches during the breeding season, an ideal time to go looking. From late April through June scan the tops of shorter shrubs for a dark gray sparrow in full song. During the nonbreeding season, they often move down in elevation to desert scrub. Their gray heads and pink bills should make them easy to pick out.
- Chingolo Barbinegro (Spanish)
- Bruant à menton noir (French)
- Cool Facts
- Most male and female sparrows look alike, but not Black-chinned Sparrows; the male sports a black chin patch that is absent on the female.
- Jean Louis Cabanis, a German ornithologist, discovered the Black-chinned Sparrow in Mexico in 1851.