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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

Black-throated Sparrow -- Amphispiza bilineata

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Oregon and northern California, east through the Great Basin, south into Baja California and Mexico. Winters from southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, south into Baja California and Mexico.

STATUS: Common in parts of its range.

HABITAT: Inhabits thinly grassed pastureland with scattered mesquite, yucca, pricklypear, and cholla cacti. Generally found in dry uplands but extends into the depths of Death Valley.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Arid areas with scattered shrubs including cactus, sage, and mesquite.

NEST: Generally conceals nest near the ground in small bushes or a variety of cactus species. Usually locates nest about 12 inches from the ground, fastened among forking branches of the low shrubs. Builds nest with small twigs and fibers of sage, frequently lining it with the fur of animals found in the area, such as rabbits.

FOOD: Eats a variety of insects as well as seeds that are available where it is breeding and wintering. Selects soft-bodied insects. Survives in areas lacking water by eating green vegetation or insects.

REFERENCES: Johnsgard 1979.

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