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Cassin's Sparrow Aimophila cassinii


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Cassin's Sparrow
credit: Jamie Chavez /CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Emberizidae, New World Sparrows view all from this family

Description ADULT Has gray-brown upperparts overall; back feathers have pale margins with rufous centers and dark subterminal mark. Gray-brown crown has pale central stripe; note the indistinct pale supercilium and face markings. Pale throat is bordered by indistinct dark line. Underparts are gray-buff with indistinct streaks on breast and flanks. JUVENILE Similar, but with bolder head pattern and more pronounced streaking below.

Dimensions Length: 5 1/4-5 3/4" (13-15 cm)

Habitat Summer visitor (mainly May- Aug) to arid, dense, tall grassland with scattered bushes; winters in southern U.S. and Mexico, where also present year-round.

Observation Tips Fairly easy to see when singing, but otherwise a real challenge.

Range Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Texas, Plains

Voice Song is a brief, sweet trill preceded by, and ending with, a couple of whistling notes; call is a thin tseep.

Similar Species Botteri's Sparrow A. botterii (L 5.75-6 in) has more rufous back, grayer face, and yellow-buff wash to underparts; very local summer visitor (Apr-Sep) to southeastern Arizona and southern Texas grassland.

Discussion Secretive sparrow with unremarkable plumage. Scurries through dense vegetation and hard to flush. Only realistic opportunity for observation comes in spring, when males are vocal; sometimes seen in parachuting song flight. Sexes are similar.