Black-Chinned Sparrow

Spizella atrogularis
Range Map

The Black-Chinned Sparrow breeds in mixed chaparral or sagebrush in the American southwest. Populations have decreased by over 60% since 1970. Overgrazing seems to be a major factor in their decline. They spend winters in northern and central Mexico.

This shy and retiring bird can be difficult to find when feeding in the thick brush it loves, but come spring, the males rise to elevated perches and sing their bubbly songs. The notes are sharp, crisp whistles that speed up in pace at the end of the song. Some have characterized the song as sounding like a bouncing ping pong ball.

Today, science recognises four subspecies of Black-Chinned Sparrow:

  • S. a. evura breeds in southeastern California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, C and Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas and northern Mexico.
  • S. a. caurina breeds in the coast ranges of central California, and sometimes north to southern Oregon.
  • S. a. cana breeds in the coastal mountains of central California and northwestern Mexico, including norther Baja California (Mexico). They spend winters in southern Baja California (Mexico).
  • S. a. atrogularis lives in the central plateau of Mexico.

To date, all my meetings with Black-Chinned Sparrows have been in the mountains and foothills of southern California.

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