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Sagebrush Sparrow - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Peter Day
Sagebrush Desert near Eden Reservoir, Wyoming, USA, June 2014
Artemisiospiza nevadensis


Photo by Michael Woodruff
Near Vantage, Kittitas County, Washington, USA, March 2005

5-6" (13-15 cm)

  • Pale gray above
  • White belly with small black mid-breast spot
  • Strong back streaking and streaking on flanks
  • Wings lighter with buff-colored feather edges that also form 2 wing bars
  • Lots of white on the outer tail feathers
  • Pronounced white eye ring
  • Gray cheek
  • White eyebrow
  • Weakly marked black "moustache" stripe

Immatures browner and have white throat and fine dark streaking on buff breast and belly.

Similar species

Stronger back streaking (especially in early fall) and malar streak less marked than in canescens of Bell's Sparrow.


United States.
Breeds in sagebrush and saltbush of Great Basin interior from eastern Washington, California to northern New Mexico. Winters in the southwestern USA from California to west Texas south to northwest Mexico (N Baja California, N Chihuahua).


This is a monotypic species.
It was formerly included in Sage Sparrow.


Sagebrush and saltbush.


Rather a secretive species, disappearing quickly into cover when approached. However, during the spring breeding season, the males sing openly from a sagebrush perch. A key behavior is their tendency to run (rather than hop) between bushes with their tail held erect, similar to a wren. The tail is often flicked.


The nest is a well hidden loose cup formed from pieces of sage-brush, lined with fur. Three or four bluey-white speckled eggs are laid.


Song is a short pattern of finch-like jumbling notes, rising, then falling. Call is a soft tinkling.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2011. IOC World Bird Names (version 2.10). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  3. Sibley, DA. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0679451228
  4. Birdforum thread discussing the split of Sage Sparrow; includes link to a PDF with id features.

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