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Arremon aurantiirostris

Orange-billed Sparrow

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Emberizidae
  • Polytypic 8 Subspecies

Authors: Hart, Patrick, M. F. Ramos-Ordoñez, C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González, Robert A. Behrstock, M. C. Arizmendi, and D. Mehlman

Arremon aurantiirostris

Colombia; 16 November 2009 © Alonso Quevedo Gil/Fundación ProAves

The widespread Orange-billed Sparrow is a resident of humid tropical forests from Oaxaca, Mexico south to northern Peru, at elevations from near sea level up to at least 1200 m. This medium sized finch is found in undergrowth habitats within primary and secondary forests, but occasionally ventures out onto paths or the edges of clearings. Both sexes are similar. All populations have a characteristic bright orange bill and black head with contrasting white supercilium and gray median crown stripe. The white throat contrasts heavily with head and broad black band across upper breast. The rest of underparts are grayish white, except for brownish gray to olive green flanks and undertail coverts. The upperparts are generally olive green, the wings and tail are darker, and the bend of the wing ("wrist") is yellow. The sparrow’s plumage pattern is similar to that of some species of brush-finch, but the striking orange bill allows identification of even briefly glimpsed individuals. Eight subspecies of Arremon aurantiirostris currently are recognized, based primarily on subtle differences in plumage coloration and size. Orange-billed Sparrow usually is encountered in pairs or small family groups, foraging in the leaf litter or in low shrubs, and appears to occupy year-round territories of approximately one hectare or more. The song is generally high-pitched but is quite variable geographically.

Recommended Citation

Hart, Patrick, M. F. Ramos-Ordoñez, C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González, Robert A. Behrstock, M. C. Arizmendi, and D. Mehlman. 2013. Orange-billed Sparrow (Arremon aurantiirostris), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website, for the distribution in Central America and/or Caribbean, and on a map provided by Robert S. Ridgely, for the South American distribution.

The data for the InforNatura maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical lowland evergreen forest
  • Foraging Strata:Terrestrial
  • Foraging Behavior:Glean
  • Diet:Omnivorous
  • Sociality:Pairs/Family Groups
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Spherical
  • Clutch: 2 - 2
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern