Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)


French: Bruant à gorge noire German: Schwarzkehlammer Spanish: Chingolo gorjinegro

Emberiza bilineata


, 1850,

Texas, on Rio Grande, USA


Molecular work demonstrates that present species is close to A. quinquestriata (which was formerly placed in Aimophila). ­Several other races proposed: dapolia (described from Chisos Mts, Texas) included in opuntia; in SW Gulf of California, carmenae (Carmen I) and sanctissima (Espíritu Santo I) both synonymized with bangsi; confinis (Chihuahua Municipality, C Chihuahua) treated as a synonym of grisea. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. b. deserticola Ridgway, 1898 – W USA from C Washington, Oregon, NE California, N Nevada, S Idaho, N Utah, SW Wyoming and W Colorado S through Great Basin to NW Mexico (NE & C Baja California S, including Cedros I, Natividad I and Ángel de la Guarda I, to c. 27° N, E to NW Chihuahua); non-breeding in S third of breeding range and S into N Sonora (Mexico).
  • A. b. opuntia Burleigh & Lowery, 1939 – SE Colorado and NW Oklahoma S through E New Mexico and W Texas (USA) S to N Mexico (NW Coahuila); non-breeding in S parts of breeding range.
  • A. b. bilineata (Cassin, 1850) – S USA (NC Texas) S to NE Mexico (E Coahuila, Nuevo León and lower elevations of Tamaulipas).
  • A. b. bangsi Grinnell, 1927 – S Baja California (S from c. 26° N), including nearby islands (except Tortuga I and Cerralvo I), in NW Mexico.
  • A. b. tortugae van Rossem, 1930 – Tortuga I, in WC Gulf of California (S Baja California).
  • A. b. belvederei Banks, 1963 – Cerralvo I, in SW Gulf of California (S Baja California).
  • A. b. pacifica Nelson, 1900 – C & S Sonora (including Tiburón I and San Pedro Nolasco I, in E Gulf of California) and N Sinaloa, in NW Mexico.
  • A. b. cana van Rossem, 1930 – San Esteban I, in E Gulf of California.
  • A. b. grisea Nelson, 1898 – NC Mexico from C Chihuahua, S Coahuila, San Luis Potosí and SW Tamaulipas S to N Jalisco, Guanajuato, Querétaro and Hidalgo.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14·5 cm; 10·2–16·4 g. A small to medium-sized sparrow with distinctive plumage. Nominate race has crown and upperparts grey, mantle and... read more


    Song, heard through spring and summer (and occasionally at other times) variable and complex,... read more


    Open arid areas with scattered bushes and cacti, from sea-level to 2500 m. Common in alluvial fans... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet during breeding season mainly arthropods, including grasshoppers (Orthoptera), mantids (Mantodea), walking sticks (Phasmida),... read more


    Mainly Apr–May, sometimes from as early as Feb, and recently fledged young seen in Aug in N Mexico (Coahuila); sometimes two broods, when... read more


    N populations migratory, and individuals in many populations move downslope in winter; S... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Often common or very common in appropriate habitat; local in Oregon. Populations in USA seem to be declining, probably primarily because of urban... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. (2020). Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 February 2020).