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Rufous-winged Sparrow

Peucaea carpalis

Length: 5.75 inches Wingspan: 7.5 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Rufous-striped crown, small patch of rufous on lesser coverts of wing, streaks on back, fine brown stripe behind eye, dark throat stripe

Rufous-winged Sparrow - Peucaea carpalisThe Rufous-winged Sparrow was one of the last North American species to be named, with the first identification made in 1872.  They are only found in a quite small geographic range, in the arid southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. Unlike some other sparrow species in the arid southwest, Rufous-winged Sparrows shun areas without a good cover of vegetation, as they strongly prefer areas with thick grasses, or sometimes shrubs. 

Habitat: Found in areas of dense grass, often with scattered shrubs as well.  They can also sometimes be found in suburban area that are heavily vegetated.

Diet: Feeds mostly on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates during the summer months, but will also feed on seeds.  The diet in the winter may consist mostly of seeds.

Behavior: Forages by walking and hoping along the ground, or clambering through vegetation close to the ground.  They will also occasionally fly up to capture flying insects. 

Nesting: The nest of a Rufous-winged Sparrow is a deep cup of grasses, weeds, and twigs, often lined with animal hair.  It is built in a dense shrub or cactus, often very close to the ground.  The female lays 3 or 4 eggs, and the female alone incubates them.  After the eggs hatch, both parents feed the young.  The young leave the nest after about 10 days.

Song: The song of a Rufous-winged Sparrow is a series of accelerating, clear chip notes, sometimes ending in a trill.

Migration: Considered a permanent resident throughout their normal range, although post-breeding, some birds may move short distances.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Rufous-winged Sparrow sightings

Similar Species: In range most likely to be confused with the Chipping Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, or Cassin's Sparrow

Conservation Status: Populations appear to be stable.  The IUCN lists the Rufous-winged Sparrow as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) Cornell's All About Birds - Rufous-winged Sparrow

2) Audubon Guide - Rufous-winged Sparrow

3) Whatbird - Rufous-winged Sparrow

Photo Information:  November 9th, 2015 - Coronado National Forest, south of Tucson, Arizona - Terry Sohl


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Rufous-winged Sparrow - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Rufous-winged Sparrow Photos
 Rufous-winged Sparrow - Aimophila carpalisRufous-winged Sparrow - Aimophila carpalisRufous-winged Sparrow - Aimophila carpalisRufous-winged Sparrow - Aimophila carpalisRufous-winged Sparrow - Aimophila carpalisRufous-winged Sparrow - Aimophila carpalis