Five-striped Sparrow

Aimophila quinquestriata

  • Sparrows, Buntings, Towhees, Longspurs
  • 200,000

Five-striped Sparrows are found in the U.S. only in the southeastern region of Arizona. These birds migrate south in the winter into parts of their Mexican breeding range.

This species is a large, stocky sparrow with a noticeably long bill. Both sexes are dark gray overall with a rusty-brown back. Distinctive black stripes are on the face, with white on the throat. The gray breast shows a dark gray spot.?

Distribution and Population Trends
Five-striped Sparrows are found on steep grassy and rocky hillsides and canyon slopes covered with dense thorn-scrub vegetation. They prefer areas where water is present year-round. They are found in the U.S. only in southeastern Arizona, but their full range includes western Mexico (excluding the narrow coastal plain) from northern Sonora south to northern Jalisco. Five-striped Sparrows are uncommon and local. In the U.S., numbers are not thought to exceed approximately 50 pairs in any year.

The nest is a deep cup of coarse grass and stems lined with fine grasses and fur. It is built in dense vegetation, near the ground. Nesting season is from June through early September and pairs may double-brood. The diet consists primarily of seeds and insects.

This species is considered at-risk due to its limited geographic range and specific habitat needs. Both degradation and direct loss of habitat from intense cattle grazing and other human activities in areas where the Five-striped Sparrow occurs may lead to population declines.

Many of the areas where the species occurs in the U.S. are protected. Conservation efforts within the Sonoran and Chihuahan ecoregions are increasing and will likely be beneficial to the species.

What Can You Do?
Audubon's Important Bird Area program is a vital tool for the conservation of Five-striped Sparrow as well as other species. To learn more about the Important Bird Areas program and how you can help, visit:

CIPAMEX, Audubon's BirdLife International partner in Mexico, also has an Important Bird Areas program that is working to protect habitat for Five-striped Sparrows and many other species. To learn more about Mexico's Important Bird Areas program and how you can help visit:

Volunteers are crucial to the success of programs that monitor the long-term status of wintering populations of Five-striped Sparrow and other bird species. Audubon's Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is one of the longest-running citizen-science monitoring programs in the world and has helped to follow changes in the numbers and distribution of Five-striped Sparrow. To learn more about the CBC and how you can participate, visit:

Information on where Five-striped Sparrows occur and in what numbers is vital to conserving the species. Help in monitoring this and other species by reporting your sightings to eBird. A project of Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, eBird is the world's first comprehensive on-line bird monitoring program:

Byers, C., J. Curson, and U. Olsson. 1995. Sparrows and Buntings. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York.

Rising, J.D. 1996. A Guide to the Identification and Natural History of the Sparrows of the United States and Canada. Academic Press. San Diego, London, New York, Boston, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto.