Rufous-Winged Sparrow

Peucaea carpalis
Range Map

The Rufous-Winged Sparrow inhabits desert grasslands scattered with thorn bushes, bunch grass, mesquite, or cholla in the Sonoran Deserts of southern Arizona and the northwestern Mexican mainland. These birds form lifelong pair-bonds and stay on their home territory their entire lives. They always seem to time their nesting with the summer rainy season, usually building nests within a week or less after the first rainfall of the monsoon season.

Science used to classify this bird as Aimophila carpalis, but we now called it Peucaea carpalis. Major Charles Bendire (read more about him <Here>) discovered this bird for science in 1872 near Tucson (Arizona). Overgrazing in the latter half of the 1800s destroyed critical habitat in southern Arizona and we did not find the birds there again until 1936. Habitat loss from overgrazing and development continues to be a threat to these birds.

Modern science recognises three subspecies of Rufous-Winged Sparrow:

  • P. c. carpalis lives in southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora (Mexico).
  • P. c. bangsi lives in Mexico, from southern Sonora to northern Sinaloa.
  • P. c. cohaerens lives in southwestern Mexico.

All my meetings with this species have been in southern Arizona, south of Tucson.

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