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Rock Sparrow - BirdForum Opus

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Alternative names: Rock Petronia; Common Rock-Sparrow; Eurasian Rock-Sparrow; European Rock-Sparrow; Streaked Rock-Sparrow

Photo by john-henry
Spanish Pyrenees, Spain
Petronia petronia


14 - 15.5cm (5½-6 in). A stout sparrow with a short tail and a robout bill:

  • Strong white supercilium and weaker crown stripe
  • Patterned brown back and wings
  • Diagnostic yellow throat-spot but often difficult to see
  • In flight broad wings and white-tipped tail characteristic

Sexes similar. Juveniles are browner than adults and have no yellow throat-spot.


Western north Africa, Spain, and Portugal across southern Europe and through central Asia.

Note the yellow throat-spot
Photo by lior kislev
Mount Hermon, Israel, June 2009



Six or sometimes seven subspecies are recognized: [1]2]

  • P. p. petronia (madeirensis):
  • P. p. barbara:
  • P. p. puteicola:
  • P. p. exigua:
  • P. p. kirhizica:
  • Lower Volga River Valley to Turgay depression and Aral Sea
  • P. p. intermedia:
  • Transcaspia to eastern Iran, northern Afghanistan, Pamirs and western Kunlun Shan Mountains
  • P. p. brevirostris:

Kirhizica is usually merged in intermedia.


Bare treeless country from rocky slopes and ravines to flat desert steppe. Also in open woodland or parkland and often in large open areas of cultivation, vineyards, olive groves or around old buildings. Occurs from sea-level up to 4800m.


They can come together in large flocks outside of the breeding season.


Breeding season from March to August. Nests in loose colonies or isolated pairs. The domed nest is made of grass and placed in crevices in rocks or walls. Lays 4 - 7 eggs.


Their diet consists mostly of seeds and some berries. Nestlings are fed with invertebrates, especially termites, caterpillars, beetles and grasshoppers. They forage on or near the ground in low vegetation.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved December 2016)

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