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Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow Melozone kieneri

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Passerellidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Marîa Félix Ramos-Ordoñez, Claudia I. Rodríguez-Flores, Carlos A. Soberanes-González, Marîa del Coro Arizmendi, Alvaro Jaramillo, and Thomas S. Schulenberg

Of the trio of ground-sparrows in the genus Melozone, this is the least striking looking. Some recent molecular evidence also suggests that it may in fact be more closely related to the brown towhee group, and not part of Melozone. It is a species with a rusty crown and head, darker forehead, and grayish auriculars; white eye crescents contrast strongly on the face. It is whitish to grayish below, with a distinct black central spot on the breast. Unlike the other ground-sparrows, this is a Mexican endemic found from southern Sonora to south to northwestern Oaxaca. Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow typically is a ground foraging species, and stays relatively well hidden in shrubbery or thickets in the edge of dry forest. The song includes high pitched chips as well as louder whistles, one song type sounds like “tzip tzip Chup Sweeet!”  Due to its limited distributional range, Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow is a focal species in proposed conservation plans of different natural areas of Mexico.


© Andrew Spencer

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

Recommended Citation

Ramos-Ordoñez, M. F., C. I. Rodríguez-Flores, C. A. Soberanes-González, M. d. C. Arizmendi, A. Jaramillo, and T. S. Schulenberg (2013). Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow (Melozone kieneri), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.