Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps)

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Aimophila ruficeps | [UK] Rufous-crowned Sparrow | [FR] Bruant a couronne fauve | [DE] Rostscheitel-Ammer | [ES] Gorrion alirrojo | [NL] Roestkruingors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Aimophila ruficeps NA, MA sc, sw USA, Mexico
Aimophila ruficeps australis
Aimophila ruficeps boucardi
Aimophila ruficeps canescens
Aimophila ruficeps duponti
Aimophila ruficeps eremoeca
Aimophila ruficeps extima
Aimophila ruficeps fusca
Aimophila ruficeps laybournae
Aimophila ruficeps obscura
Aimophila ruficeps pallidissima
Aimophila ruficeps phillipsi
Aimophila ruficeps ruficeps
Aimophila ruficeps rupicola
Aimophila ruficeps sanctorum
Aimophila ruficeps scottii
Aimophila ruficeps simulans
Aimophila ruficeps sororia
Aimophila ruficeps suttoni

Physical charateristics

A dark sparrow of the arid Southwest, with a plain dusky breast, rufous cap, and rounded tail. Note the black whisker bordering the throat.

Listen to the sound of Rufous-crowned Sparrow

[audio: Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 20 cm wingspan max.: 23 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 8 days fledging max.: 10 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America, Middle America : Southcentral, Southwest USA, Mexico


Grassy or rocky slopes with sparse low bushes; open pine-oak woods.
Habitat varies, but always in brushy areas. In Southwest, usually in rocky areas of foothills and lower canyons, in understory of pine-oak woods, or in chaparral or coastal scrub. On southern Great Plains, found in rocky outcrops
with cover of dense grass and scattered bushes.


Members of a pair may remain together all year on permanent home range. In spring and summer, male sings to defend nesting territory.
Nest: Site is usually on the ground, typically well hidden at base of bush or grass clump, placed in a slight depression so that rim of nest is near ground level. Occasionally in low shrub, up to 1-
3′ above ground, especially in eastern part of range. Nest is an open cup made of small twigs, grass, weeds, plant fibers, often with some animal hair in lining.
Eggs: 3-4, sometimes 2-5. Pale bluish white, unmarked. Incubation is probably by female, but details not well known.
Young: Both parents bring food for the nestlings. Young probably leave the nest after about 8-9 days, before they are able to fly; young may remain with parents for up to several months.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and seeds.
Diet varies with season and locality, but tends to eat more insects in summer, more seeds in winter. Major items in diet may include caterpillars, beetle larvae and adults, grasshoppers, ants, other insects and spiders. Also eats many seeds of grasses an
d weeds, especially in winter.
Behavior: Forages mostly while walking or hopping on the ground, but also will feed up in weeds and low bushes. Tends to move slowly, foraging in a limited area. Usually forages in pairs or in family groups.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Rufous-crowned Sparrow status Least Concern


Southwestern United States. Breeds locally to eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas. Migration: Generally a permanent resident. Thought to
retreat from some northern areas of range in winter, but may be simply overlooked at that season.

Distribution map

Rufous-crowned Sparrow distribution range map

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