Living Bird Magazine
Cassin's SparrowPeucaea cassinii
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Passerellidae
Plain in plumage but distinctive in habits, the Cassin's Sparrow inhabits arid grasslands in the south-central United States and northern Mexico. Though furtive, the male performs dramatic territorial display flights while singing a sweet, far-carrying song.More ID Info
- Chingolo de Cassin (Spanish)
- Bruant de Cassin (French)
- Cool Facts
- In his display flight, the male Cassin's Sparrow flies straight up and then floats downward on fixed wings, singing the entire time. This behavior, distinctive among sparrows, is sometimes called "skylarking."
- Cassin's Sparrow population numbers vary widely in response to summer rainfall. In some years singing males suddenly appear at the edge of the range where none usually breed. Just what causes these movements is unknown, but hypotheses include east-to-west migration, dispersal of birds that were unsuccessful breeding in another area, and nomadism.
- Cassin's Sparrow has an unusual molt cycle. The juvenile molts twice in the first six months of life whereas the adult has a long body molt lasting several months, then a much quicker complete molt in fall.