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Bell's Sparrow Artemisiospiza belli

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Passerellidae
  • Polytypic: 4 subspecies
  • Authors needed...

Sage Sparrow is a terrestrial inhabitant of arid lands including desert with sagebrush and saltbush, open slopes with juniper and pinyon, and chaparral with sagebrush, greasewood, baccharis, and cactus. It inhabits elevations from sea level to about 2000 m. Adults have a gray head and white eye ring, a white dot over the lores, black and white malar and sub-malar (moustache) stripes, white underparts with a dark breast spot. Resemble immature Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata) but lack that species’ white supercilium. Sage Sparrow is widespread in the western U.S. (races nevadensis and canescens), nesting as far north as Washington, eastward to Wyoming and Colorado, and west to California. Birds of the western U.S. (except coastal California) migrate southward as far south as Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico. The distinctive race belli of western California (Bell’s Sparrow) nests southward into Baja California Norte. It is slightly smaller (length 14.5 cm) and has a smaller bill. It has a darker gray head, a broader black moustache stripe, and is richer brown on the mantle, wings, flanks, and tail. In the central portion of the Baja Peninsula, Bell's Sparrow is replaced by the similar but paler race cinerea.

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© Geoffrey A. Keller

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Bell's Sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: