Five-Striped Sparrow

Amphispizopsis quinquestriata

The poorly known Five-Striped Sparrow is a Mexican species. They live in arid to semiarid thorny scrublands and tropical deciduous forest. These birds occur mostly within the Sierra Madre Occidental in northwestern and western Mexico. There are two isolated populations. We find the northern population from southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora south to at least Sinaloa and western Durango. The southern population lives from Nayarit and Zacatecas to Jalisco. 

These distinctively marked sparrows breed when the summer rains start. Then they nest in shrubs or low grass clumps. After the breeding season, they are secretive and hard to find. 

Five-Striped Sparrows have been studied in Arizona and Sonora, but very little is known of southern populations. Neither has their non-breeding lifestyle over their entire range. At the northern limit of their range, Five-Striped Sparrows breed in isolated canyons of southeastern Arizona. There, their population is small. Only 47-54 singing males were found annually during surveys done in the early 1990s.

Taxonomists recognise two subspecies of Five-Striped Sparrow.

  • A. q. septentrionalis is resident in northwestern Mexico, from Sonora and Chihuahua, south to at least Sinaloa. A low density of individuals live north into southeastern Arizona, where their migratory status is less clear.
  • A. q. quinquestriata is resident in western Mexico, including, Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Aguas Calientes.

I’ve been visiting Arizona for decades, and I learned of the existence of these birds long ago. But it was not until the last day of my four-month, 8700 mile North American expedition in 2023 that I finally met these elusive birds. The meeting made for a nice ‘cherry’ on top of my long trip in the RV I call home.

Range Map for Five-Striped Sparrow
Range Map

14 Photos

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