Nests and forages in thorny desert scrub with scattered trees.
Ornithologists recognize 6 or 7 subspecies, all of which are very similar to one another, differing only slightly in plumage tones and size. Two of these nest in the United States. The subspecies acaciarum is resident from southern California, Nevada, and Utah southward into Mexico; it is associated mostly with the Sonoran Desert. The subspecies ornatus is found from New Mexico and Oklahoma southward into Mexico and is associated more with the Chihuahuan Desert. The remaining 4-5 subspecies are resident in Mexico.