Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Costa Rican Ground-sparrow (Melozone cabanisi)


French: Tohi de Cabanis German: Rotohr-Grundammer Spanish: Toquí costarricense

Pyrgisoma cabanisi

P. L. Sclater and Salvin

, 1868,

San José, Costa Rica


Usually treated as conspecific with M. biarcuata, but differs in its black lateral ragged-edged breast-patch (3); greatly reduced white around (notably above and below) eye, with black below eye forming upper border of moustachial line and extending behind rusty ear-coverts as neck-line (3); white throat and submoustachial line interrupted by narrow black malar vs all-white throat extending as line around ear-coverts patch (rusty above, black below) (3); brighter rusty cap (ns[1]); lower flanks greyer, less dull rust-brown (ns[1]); smaller size (effect size for tail –3.06, score 2). Monotypic.


Highlands of C Costa Rica.

Descriptive notes

15 cm. Adult has bright rufous crown and nape, this colour extending over central and rear ear-coverts, edges of ear-coverts black, large white spot between eye and bill,... read more


Song (sometimes given in a very quiet duet, and mostly heard during the local wet season) is a... read more


Undergrowth and thickets in scrubby to tall second growth, patchy woodland, coffee plantations and... read more

Food and feeding

Diet appears to be basically unrecorded, but is presumably seeds and insects; forages mainly on ground, typically gleaning, sometimes... read more


Nests May–Sept. Nest a cup of dead leaves and grasses, lined with finer grasses, generally placed low down (0·25–2 m above ground) in bush... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). This species occupies a comparatively small range (estimated at just 1800 km2) which largely overlaps part of the Costa Rica and... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Costa Rican Ground-sparrow (Melozone cabanisi). 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 28 February 2020).