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Olive Sparrow - BirdForum Opus

Arremonops rufivirgatus
Photo by HelenB
Neal's Lodges, Concan, Texas, USA, April 2005


Length 16cm (6.25in), wingspan 23cm (9in)
Two prominent brown longitudinal stripes on head, brown eye stripes, upper body dull olive green, buff underparts, legs pinkish-brown. (This is the only sparrow with an olive back.) Males and females are the same.
Juveniles are more buff with faint streaking on breast and neck.

Similar Species

A. r. rufivirgatus
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Concan, Texas, USA, 14 April 2021

Similar in coloration to the Green-tailed Towhee, but smaller, and lacks the rufous cap.


Southern Texas to Guatemala; northwest Costa Rica.

Fairly common along the Mexico coasts, range extends barely into Texas along the lower Rio Grande Valley, but is found regularly on the west side of the Texas Hill Country.



This is a polytypic species, consisting of nine subspecies[1]:
rufivirgatus Group

  • A. r. rufivirgatus: Southern Texas to north-eastern Mexico (Coahuila and Nuevo León to Tamaulipas)
  • A. r. ridgwayi: Eastern Mexico (southern Tamaulipas to San Luis Potosí and northern Veracruz)
  • A. r. crassirostris: Coastal south-eastern Mexico (Veracruz to eastern Puebla and northern Oaxaca)
  • A. r. verticalis: South-eastern Mexico (Yucatán Peninsula) to Petén of northern Guatemala and northern Belize
  • A. r. rhyptothorax: South-eastern Mexico (Yucatán Peninsula)

superciliosus Group (Pacific)

  • A. r. sinaloae: Coastal western Mexico (Sinaloa to Nayarit)
  • A. r. sumichrasti: Coastal south-western Mexico (Jalisco to Colima, Michoacán and Oaxaca)
  • A. r. chiapensis: Southern Mexico (central valley of Chiapas)
  • A. r. superciliosus: Pacific coast of north-western Costa Rica


Riparian thickets, thorny scrub and second growth.


Individuals or pairs forage on the ground and low in trees and bushes. Scratches in leaf litter in a similar manner to towhees.

Voice varies geographically. The song of the subspecies in Yucatan and further south often accelerates towards the end of the phrase.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. BF Member observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.