Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Near Threatened

San Benito Sparrow (Passerculus sanctorum)


French: Bruant des San Benito German: Benediktammer Spanish: Chingolo de las San Benito

Passerculus sanctorum


, 1884,

Isla San Benito, Baja California, Mexico


Traditionally treated as conspecific with P. sandwichensis, P. guttatus and P. rostratus, and apparently most closely related to P. guttatus, but all differ in morphology and plumage and, to some extent, in ecology; present species almost certainly reproductively isolated from those, and separation at species level supported by recent molecular findings. Monotypic.


San Benito Is, off CW Baja California, in extreme NW Mexico.

Descriptive notes

12–13·7 cm; 19·4–24 g. Medium-sized sparrow, relatively large-bodied and with large, stout bill deep at base. Plumage is greyish-brown above, crown mottled brown and with no... read more


Song not described, apparently like that of P. guttatus. Calls include “tsip”.


Xeric scrub; coastal desert-thorn (Lycium californicum), known also as “frutilla”, a... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds extensively on fruit of Lycium when this available; probably also takes variety of small arthropods. Also eats rice when... read more


Eggs late Mar or early Apr, recently fledged young seen late Apr (in 1906), and one young seen on nearby Cedros I on 21st Apr; no evidence... read more


Resident; possibly some limited dispersal.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Abundant where found; local. Has very small global range, restricted to three small islands, rendering it potentially vulnerable. May be threatened... read more

Recommended citation

Rising, J. (2020). San Benito Sparrow (Passerculus sanctorum). 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 22 February 2020).