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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

Sage Sparrow -- Amphispiza belli

RANGE: Breeds from central Washington and eastern Oregon, east through the Great Basin into Wyoming and Colorado, south to southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Resident from southern California, into Baja California and parts of Arizona. Winters in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, eastern Texas, and northern Mexico.

STATUS: Common in parts of its range.

HABITAT: Prefers sage habitat where sagebrush, saltbush, and chaparral are found. Often found in and among the bushes in the Great Basin region and other dry desert areas.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Sagebrush and chaparral with scattered bushes.

NEST: Usually nests in low shrubs in desert regions, but sometimes in small depressions on the ground. Places nest 6 to 18 inches above the ground, often built into the body of the bush so the foundation is firmly placed. Builds nest of sticks and twigs, often lining it with animal hair and dry grass.

FOOD: Eats soft-bodied insects, ants, and spiders, often obtained from the ground or low in bushes. In winter, primarily eats small seeds and other plant materials.

REFERENCES: Reynolds 1981.

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