Very similar to Botteri's Sparrow, but with a slightly smaller bill and a peaked crown. Feathers on the upperparts are brown with pale gray edges and black bars. Looks scaly on back. The tail is blackish, except for the central tail feathers, which are lighter with black bars. In fresh plumage, the outer tail feathers show whitish tips. The head is mostly gray, with a brown-streaked crown and indistinct dark border around the auriculars. The throat is whitish, bordered on each side by a dark line. Underparts are pale grayish with indistinct streaking on the breast and flanks. Juveniles have extensive streaking on a buffy breast. The molt sequence of this species (shared by Bachman's Sparrow) is unusual in that hatch-year birds molt twice before their first spring and after hatch-year bird undergo an extended molt that lasts from February through August.
Length: 13 (cm) Wingspan: 23 (cm)
Song begins with a double whistle, followed by a trill, then two more whistles ending on a higher pitch.
Grasslands with scattered shrubs or yucca; chaparral.
Male often sings in flight, rising several meters then floating down. When not singing, usually stays close to the ground in heavy cover.
Forages on the ground for insects during breeding season, seeds in winter.
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