- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Passerellidae
At first glance, the Rufous-winged Sparrow resembles the widespread Chipping Sparrow, although you won't see the former outside of the Sonoran Desert’s thornbush and bunchgrass habitats. Note the gray face, pale bill, and rusty crown, eyeline, and shoulder patch. Males sing most consistently at the start of the summer monsoon, which kicks off the breeding season. Rufous-winged Sparrows are so tied to rainfall for breeding that if winter rains are heavy, they may nest again the following spring.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Search for Rufous-winged Sparrows by walking through remote desert areas with mesquite and scattered bunchgrass and listening for their song. During the breeding season, males sing regularly, even in the heat of the day. In the nonbreeding seasons, listen carefully for their subtle call notes to lead you to this bird. Watch carefully for rattlesnakes in this habitat.
- Chingolo Alirrufo (Spanish)
- Bruant à épaulettes (French)
- Cool Facts
- Rufous-winged Sparrow pairs remain on their territories year-round and stay bonded for life.
- The Rufous-winged Sparrow may depend more on rainfall as a stimulus for nesting than any other North American bird. It typically nests after summer rains have begun, often building a nest and laying its first egg within five or six days after the first rain.
- Unlike the nests of other New World sparrows, the nests of Rufous-winged Sparrows are easy to find because they are relatively high in small trees or shrubs, and often plainly visible.
- The Rufous-winged Sparrow was first scientifically described in 1872 from specimens taken in Arizona. Then, from 1886 to 1915 it was not recorded in the state.
- The oldest Rufous-winged Sparrow was a male, and at least 6 years old when he was re-captured and re-released during banding operations in Arizona.