Living Bird Magazine
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The hot, rocky hillsides of the Southwest can look inhospitable on a baking summer day, but they’re exactly the kind of place Rufous-crowned Sparrows call home. These bulky, long-tailed sparrows forage on the ground beneath sparse shrubs and grasses. These are attractive sparrows with reddish toned upperparts and neat gray underparts, accentuated by a white eyering and a white malar or whisker stripe on the face. Males sing a short, jumbled song with a bubbly quality that recalls a House Wren.More ID Info
Rufous-crowned Sparrows are habitat specialists, so the first step in finding them is to find a dry, rocky hillside with shrub cover that is not too dense. These birds tend to stay hidden and close to the ground except when singing, so you’ll have best results if you try during spring or early summer when males will be singing in the early morning from exposed perches. At other times of year you’ll need to be patient and keep a distance as you wait for foraging sparrows to move into open spaces between shrubs or patches of grass.