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Sahel Bush Sparrow - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Bush Petronia; Russet-browed Bush-Sparrow; Bush Sparrow; Lesser Petronia; Lesser Rock-Sparrow

Photo by volker sthamer
Jema Valley Ethiopia
Gymnoris dentata

Petronia dentata


13cm. A fairly small sparrow with a short tail and a long conical bill.


  • Dark brown above
  • Grey crown separated from grey ear-coverts by russet supercilium
  • Indistinct pale tip on upperwing-coverts
  • Dark grey or greyish-brown tail with narrow pale edges and buffish to buffy-white tips
  • Creamy white chin and throat
  • Inconspicuous pale yellow spot on lower throat
  • Off-white underparts
  • Washed grey breast and flanks
  • Dark brown eye
  • Brown bill with paler-horn base, black in breeding season


  • Browner crown
  • Cream supercilium
  • Dark streaks on back
  • Reduced or lacking yellow spot

Juveniles are similar to females but more tawny-brown and with a tawny-buff supercilium.


Found in the Sahel zone and the savanna belt south of the Sahara in Africa. Also in the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.
Uncommon to locally fairly common. Locally abundant in Eritrea.


Sometimes regarded as monotypic, sometimes two subspecies accepted:

This species is sometimes placed in genus Petronia.


Dry savanna and dry shrubland. Occurs up to 1500m, in Yemen up to 1900m.


Feeds on small seeds and insects. Usually seen in trees, singly, in pairs or small flocks.
Breeding season from November to March. A solitary breeder. The nest is a cup, placed in a tree hole (often an old Woodpecker hole).
Resident and local migrant, wandering widely outside breeding season.


  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. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

Recommended Citation

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