Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)


French: Bruant à joues marron German: Rainammer Spanish: Chingolo arlequín

Fringilla grammaca


, 1822,

Bellefontaine, 4 miles [6.4 km] from mouth of Missouri River, Missouri, USA


Geographical variation largely clinal; races poorly differentiated. Proposed races quillini (described from Cotulla, Texas) and actitus (from Oregon) included in strigatus, although recent integrative study suggested that actitus may be valid#R. Two subspecies generally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. g. strigatus Swainson, 1827 – S Canada from S interior British Columbia and SE Alberta E to S Saskatchewan and S Manitoba, and W USA from Washington and Oregon E to the Dakotas and S to S California, C Nevada and S Arizona (Chiricahua Mts), S to N Mexico (N Sonora E to Coahuila, S to Zacatecas, Nuevo León and W Tamaulipas); non-breeding from S edge of breeding range S to S Louisiana and Mexico (S, except Yucatán Peninsula and adjacent lowlands, to S Baja California, Veracruz and Chiapas).
  • C. g. grammacus (Say, 1822) – from Minnesota and C Wisconsin S to Texas, E to Ohio, Mississippi Valley and N Louisiana; non-breeding from C Texas S through C Mexico to Guerrero and Oaxaca.
  • Descriptive notes

    14·1–18·3 cm; 24·7–33·3 g. Fairly large, long-tailed sparrow with strongly patterned face and much white in tail. Nominate race has... read more


    Song musical and variable, a broken series of clear notes, “twee twee trerere trerere twee... read more


    Open habitats with heavily grazed grassland, bare ground and scattered trees. In Great Plains often... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet c. 75% granivorous and 25% insectivorous. Insects taken include 14% orthopterans, also adult beetles (Coleoptera), larval... read more


    Season mid-Apr through Jul; usually single-brooded. Monogamous. Pairs formed soon after arrival on breeding grounds. Nest-site selected by... read more


    Most populations migratory; present all year S USA (California, S Arizona, New Mexico, Texas) and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to locally very common; rare in S Ontario (Canada). Has declined in E parts of range, where nominate race, until fairly recently, bred... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. (2020). Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus). 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 26 February 2020).