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Sagebrush Sparrow

Artemisiospiza nevadensis ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Sagebrush Sparrow is an elegant sparrow intimately tied to the great open spaces of the intermountain West. They live among sagebrush and other shrubs, where they forage mostly on the ground for insects and seeds. In early summer, males sing an abrupt, lively song from the shrub tops, where their soft gray upperparts complement the muted, gray-green sage. These sparrows depend on intact, relatively undisturbed tracts of sage for their breeding success; they winter in desert scrub and grasslands in the Southwest and Mexico.

Calls

  • Song, calls
     
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Both sexes give a distinctive, bell-like tink contact call, and use a similar, but more forceful note as an alarm call.

Other Sounds

The song is an abrupt series of several trills broken up by short chips, lasting about 2 seconds or less. Only males sing, and each male gives one song type which can vary by truncating the last syllables.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

As with many inconspicuous sparrows, the best way to find Sagebrush Sparrows is to look for them in the early morning during the breeding season, when males perch out in the open on tall shrubs and sing for your attention. At other times they may be considerably harder to find. Just be aware that in the right habitat—undisturbed sagebrush—these sparrows are fairly numerous, and they tend to forage on the ground and scurry rather than fly between patches of shrub cover. Patient watching and listening either for the sounds of foraging or for this bird’s bell-like tink call will help you find them.

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Sagebrush and Bell’s Sparrows, eBird, March 6, 2014.

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