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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Rufous-winged Sparrow -- Aimophila carpalis

RANGE: Resident from south-central Arizona south into Mexico.

STATUS: Locally common.

HABITAT: Occurs in rather restricted, isolated colonies in open flat grassy areas with scattered thorn bushes, bunch grasses, mesquite, or cholla. Inhabits desert swales with wide grassy bottoms, leguminous brush, and low trees, washes with sandy bottoms but vegetated slopes; creeks bordered by broad-leaved trees, mesquite, grasses, and weeds; and brushy irrigation ditches.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Grassy areas with scattered shrubs that are thorny or dense, preferably both.

NEST: Nests in the edges of bushes such as hackberry, paloverde, cholla cacti, or mesquite, usually in a crotch or fork of a branch, 5 to 10 feet above the ground. Also will nest in dense clumps of mistletoe.

FOOD: During the nesting season, feeds on a variety of insects caught on the wing or gleaned from plant surfaces. During other seasons, presumably eats grass and weed seeds.

REFERENCES: Phillips in Bent 1968b, Phillips et al. 1964, Terres 1980, Terrill in Farrand 1983c.

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