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Shelley's Sparrow - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 15:56, 1 October 2017 by Wintibird (talk | contribs) (range description, reference updated)
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Alternative name: Shelley's Rufous Sparrow; White Nile Rufous Sparrow

Photo by volker sthamer
Yabello, Ethiopia, October 2011
Passer shelleyi


13 - 15cm.


  • Blue grey crown to upper mantle, ear-coverts and cheek
  • Black lores, chin and throat
  • Broad chestnut band extending from above eye around rear of ear-coverts and on neck side forward, black line underneath
  • Rufous chestnut lower mantle to upertail-coverts, streaked black on mantle and uper back
  • Blackish to dark brown upperwing
  • White tips on median coverts
  • Dark brown tail
  • Greyish underparts
  • Horn-coloured bill, blackish in breeding season


  • Similar to male but much duller
  • Dark grey bib
  • Chestnut replaced by buff

Juveniles are similar to females but they look paler and washed-out.

Similar species

Smaller than Great Sparrow. Note also paler eye, greyer face and more grey on neck and mantle (especially in nominate).


Found in southeastern South Sudan, northeast Uganda, western Kenya, southern and eastern Ethiopia and northwest Somalia.
Common in Ethiopia and Uganda, rare in Kenya.


This is a monotypic species.
It has been considered conspecific with Kenya Sparrow and Kordofan Sparrow in the past.


Open grassy savanna with trees, also in adjacent semi-deserts and light woodland. Does not penetrate into villages and associate with humans. Occurs from 1000 - 1700m.



Little information on diet, feeds probably on seeds and insects. Feeds mainly on ground.


Breeds from September to November and March to June in loose colonies. The nest is a dome with a side entrance made of grasses and placed in a tree. Takes sometimes abandonend nests of weavers. Lays 3 - 6 eggs.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. 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

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