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Botteri's Sparrow

Peucaea botterii ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A plain sparrow of Mexican grasslands, Botteri's Sparrow reaches the northern limits of its range in southeastern Arizona and southern Texas. The species shows a strong affinity for tall grasses in semidesert areas and coastal prairie.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
5.9–6.7 in
15–17 cm
Wingspan
8.7 in
22 cm
Weight
0.6–0.9 oz
17–26 g
Other Names
  • Bruant de Botteri (French)
  • Gorrión de Botteri, Zacatonero de Botteri, Sabanero pechianteado (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Botteri's Sparrow was much more widespread in Arizona in the early and middle 19th century than it is now. Loss of grasslands and possibly natural cycles are probably responsible for the decline. The species was not recorded at all in Arizona from 1903 to 1932.
  • Up to nine subspecies of Botteri's Sparrow are recognized by taxonomists. In the United States, the birds found in Arizona and New Mexico have brownish gray backs, while the ones found in Texas are more pale blackish gray.

Habitat


Grassland

Grassland and coastal prairie, with some interspersed shrubs and trees. Prefers tall grasses for nesting.

Food


Insects

Insects, especially grasshoppers; also seeds.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–5 eggs
Egg Description
White and unmarked.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with tufts of gray down.
Nest Description

Nest includes an outer cup, a fine inner lining, and an attached entryway; built on the ground in clumps of grass.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

Feeds on the ground. Hops and flies after grasshoppers, then picks exhausted prey with bill.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Population of Arizona subspecies of Botteri's Sparrow appears stable. Similarly, prospects are rather good for Botteri's Sparrow in Texas, since most breeding habitat there is now protected. In Mexico, however, degradation of coastal prairie habitat has led to a very poor outlook for the species in these areas. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 200,000, with 2% living in the U.S., and 95% in Mexico. They rate a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.

Credits

  • Webb, E. A., and C. E. Bock. 1997. Botteri's Sparrow (Aimophila botterii). In The Birds of North America, No. 216 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and the American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
  • Partners in Flight. 2012. Species assessment database.

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