Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Prevost's Ground-sparrow (Melozone biarcuata)


French: Tohi à face blanche German: Brillengrundammer Spanish: Toquí cuatroojos

Pyrgita biarcuata

Prévost and Des Murs

, 1846,

no locality = “California” and Guatemala


Usually treated as conspecific with M. cabanisi, but differs in morphometrics, plumage pattern and colour, and voice#R. Formerly considered close to, and has been considered conspecific with, M. kieneri, but differs in both adult and juvenile plumages, and phylogenetically the two species occupy different subclades#R. Birds of SE Mexico sometimes separated as race hartwegi, but morphologically and geographically barely separable#R. Monotypic.


SE Mexico (Chiapas) to highlands of Guatemala, W Honduras and El Salvador.

Descriptive notes

16–17·5 cm; 24·8–32 g. A fairly large sparrow, adult with distinctive head pattern. Adult has blackish forehead, rusty crown to hindneck, white side of face with rusty to... read more


Song consists of a high, thin, staccato sputter of pleasant buzzy notes and a slow trill, followed... read more


Edges of tropical deciduous montane evergreen forest, also secondary forest, and in undergrowth and... read more

Food and feeding

Diet mainly small arthropods and seeds. Forages usually on or near ground. Scratches on ground among leaf litter in search of arthropods.... read more


Nests in late Apr in El Salvador, Jul in Guatemala, and Jun–Jul in Chiapas (S Mexico). Nest a loose cup of woody twigs and stems, with a... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally fairly common. Common on Pacific slope of Guatemala and fairly common in Caribbean subtropics; uncommon to locally fairly... read more

Recommended citation

Rising, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Prevost's Ground-sparrow (Melozone biarcuata). 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 25 February 2020).