Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Rusty Sparrow (Aimophila rufescens)


French: Tohi roussâtre German: Rostrückenammer Spanish: Chingolo rojizo

Pipilo rufescens


, 1827,

Temascaltepec, México, Mexico


Race pyrgitoides intergrades with pectoralis in area from S Mexico (C Chiapas), NC Guatemala and W Belize E to interior highlands of Honduras (possibly also of Nicaragua). In Mexico, proposed races sinaloa (described from S Sinaloa), pallida (Etzatlán, in Jalisco), disjuncta (San Gabriel Mixtepec, in S Oaxaca) and brodkorbi (Cerro de la Gineta, in SW Chiapas) are all treated as synonyms of nominate, and newmani (E of Ciudad del Maiz, in San Luis Potosí) is considered synonymous with pyrgitoides; gigas (Nebaj, 80 km N of Quiche, in SW Guatemala) is synonymized with pectoralis. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. r. antonensis van Rossem, 1942 – Sierra de San Antonio, in NC Sonora, NW Mexico.
  • A. r. mcleodii Brewster, 1888 – NW Mexico from E Sonora and W Chihuahua S to N Sinaloa and NW Durango.
  • A. r. rufescens (Swainson, 1827) – W & S Mexico from S Sinaloa S to Jalisco, Colima, Guerrero, S Oaxaca and SW Chiapas, and E to Guanajuato, México and S Puebla.
  • A. r. pyrgitoides (Lafresnaye, 1839) – E & SE Mexico from S Tamaulipas and E San Luis Potosí S through E Puebla and Veracruz to N Oaxaca and N & C Chiapas, and S to Honduras, N & C El Salvador and NW Nicaragua.
  • A. r. pectoralis Dickey & van Rossem, 1927 – S Mexico (Chiapas) and C & S Guatemala S to Honduras and El Salvador.
  • A. r. discolor Ridgway, 1888 – N Honduras and NE Nicaragua.
  • A. r. hypaethra Bangs, 1909 – Pacific slope of Guanacaste Cordillera, in NW Costa Rica.
  • Descriptive notes

    16·5–20 cm; 28·2–49·7 g. A large sparrow, larger in N than in S, with large bill and long, rounded tail. Nominate race has rusty crown with grey median stripe, often a thin... read more


    Song a varied, usually short series of clear chipping notes, e.g. “cheeu shik-chik”. Call a fast... read more


    In Sonora and Chihuahua inhabits logged pine (Pinus) forests and pine–oak (Pinus... read more

    Food and feeding

    Little information. Diet probably seeds, small insects, spiders (Araneae) and fruits; sometimes takes nectar. Forages principally on or... read more


    Records mostly mid-May to Sept; nest with eggs on 7th Jun in Guatemala (at Volcán de Agua, 2000 m), and a female laying in Oct in El... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common throughout range. Often common or very common in optimum habitat.

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. (2020). Rusty Sparrow (Aimophila rufescens). 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 24 February 2020).