Black-chinned SparrowSpizella atrogularis

adult male
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult female
Jim Culbertson/VIREO
Marvin R. Hyett, M.D./VIREO
Black-chinned Sparrow


5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). A gray sparrow with black chin and eye smudge, pink bill, chestnut-streaked mantle, white belly. Thin white wing bars. Female and juveniles lack black facial markings.


The beautiful song is a series of slurred notes, either swee? swee? or chew chew chew, running together into a rapid canary-like trill.




Low, dense chaparral on arid mountain slopes; sagebrush.


Breeds from central California, southern Nevada, southern Utah, Arizona, southern New Mexico, and western Texas southward. Winters along Mexican border.


Very little is known about the habits of this sparrow. Singing males are conspicuous when they sit on top of high bushes; their song carries well through the narrow, brushy canyons they inhabit, but in general the species is shy and secretive.


3 or 4 pale blue, plain or spotted eggs in a grass-lined cup well concealed in a low bush.

Similar Species


Five-striped Sparrow

5 1/2" (14 cm). A very dark sparrow with white stripes above and below eye and at sides and in center of throat. Bold, triangular black "whisker" mark.

adult, Interior

Sage Sparrow

5-6" (13-15 cm). Gray above; white belly with small black midbreast spot. Back and sides striped, wings lighter with buff-colored feather edges that also form 2 wing bars. Pronounced white eye ring.


Black-throated Sparrow

5 1/4" (13 cm). Gray above, white below, with striking black throat and breast; two conspicuous white stripes on sides of head, one above and one below the eye. Sexes alike.

adult male, Oregon junco

Dark-eyed Junco

5-6 1/4" (13-16 cm). This species shows much geographic variation in color. Typically, male of western population ("Oregon Junco") has black hood, chestnut mantle, white underparts with buff sides.


Yellow-eyed Junco

5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Unique bright yellow-orange eye and black lores. Bill has dark upper mandible and pale lower mandible. Gray above, with bright rusty mantle and white outer tail feathers.


Field Sparrow

5 1/4" (13 cm). The combination of bright pink bill, rufous cap, white eye ring, and unstreaked buff breast distinguishes this from other sparrows.


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