Until recently considered conspecific with S. nana, but differs in its sandier-rufous (less greyish) crown to back (2); greatly reduced blackish centres of inner tertials and central rectrices (2); whiter underparts (1); slightly longer bill (effect size 1.58, score 1); but slightly shorter wing, indicating non-migratory habit (effect size –1.48, score 1). Claims of “very different” voices#R (apparently responsible for near-universal acceptance of split) could not, however, be confirmed in independent analysis of available recordings#R, although variable level of divergence may exist. Form described as S. ticehursti on basis of single specimen from S Morocco (near Ouarzazate), and treated either as a separate species or as a race of S. deserticola, is probably aberrant individual of race maroccana of latter (which it resembles in general structure and in tail and tertial patterns), or hybrid between it and present species (which it resembles in having pale sandy-brown upperparts). Monotypic.
NW Africa from Western Sahara N to S High Atlas (Morocco) and Saharan Atlas (Algeria) and E to W Libya.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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