Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Russet Sparrow (Passer cinnamomeus)


French: Moineau rutilant German: Rötelsperling Spanish: Gorrión rutilante

Pyrgita cinnamomea


, 1836,

“apud montes Himalayenses” = north-west Himalayas


Sometimes treated as conspecific with P. castanopterus. Proposed race batangensis (W Batang area of Sichuan, in China) included in intensior. Species previously listed as P. rutilans, but present name has been shown to have priority#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. cinnamomeus (Gould, 1836) – NE Afghanistan E in Himalayas (mostly above 1800 m) to S China (S & SE Xizang and S Qinghai) and NE India (Arunachal Pradesh).
  • P. c. intensior Rothschild, 1922 – NE India (Assam), SC & S China, and N Myanmar E to N Laos and NW Vietnam.
  • P. c. rutilans (Temminck, 1836) – NC & E China, Korea, Taiwan, S Sakhalin, S Kuril Is and Japan.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm; 13–23 g. Race rutilans male breeding has top of head to hindneck and upperparts bright cinnamon-brown or russet, heavily streaked black on... read more


    Main call a monosyllabic "cheep" or "chilp", used by male for proclaiming nest-... read more


    In W of range occupies light woodland, terrace cultivation around edges of villages, and more open... read more

    Food and feeding

    Principally seeds, including those of cultivated cereals, also small berries. Nestlings fed almost exclusively with animal food, mainly... read more


    Season Apr–Jul; two broods. Solitary; not particularly colonial. Nest built by both sexes, an untidy collection of grass, lined with... read more


    Those breeding at high altitudes in Himalayas descend to 500–1000 m in winter. Farther E,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in W of range. Possibly decreasing in E parts of range, where formerly abundant as a passage migrant in flatlands of N Honshu (Japan), but now... read more

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2020). Russet Sparrow (Passer cinnamomeus). 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 January 2020).