Living Bird Magazine
Olive SparrowArremonops rufivirgatus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Passerellidae
A little-known sparrow of dense thorn scrub, the Olive Sparrow hops on the ground, never straying far from cover. This large, towhee-like sparrow is gray overall with an olive back and brown stripes on the head. It holds its rather long tail up while foraging for seeds and insects in the undergrowth. In the United States the Olive Sparrow occurs only in southern Texas, but it also occurs south of the border with a patchy distribution into Central America.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Olive Sparrows are secretive birds that are best detected by sound. Listen for their ping-pong-like trilled song, or for the sound of their feet scratching amid the dry leaf litter as they forage. They are more vocal in the spring than at other times of the year. In some areas they visit bird feeders, feasting on the seeds under the feeder where they can be easily viewed in the open.
- Cerquero Oliváceo (Spanish)
- Tohi olive (French)
If you live within the Olive Sparrow's range, they may visit your yard for seeds. They're more likely to take seeds scattered on the ground than placed in a feeder off the ground.
- Cool Facts
- In tropical parts of their range, Olive Sparrows are sometimes found foraging at army ant swarms, where they catch fleeing insects.
- George N. Lawrence described the Olive Sparrow in 1851 from a specimen collected near Brownsville, Texas.
- The oldest recorded Olive Sparrow was at least 8 years, 3 months old.