Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Saxaul Sparrow (Passer ammodendri)


French: Moineau des saxaouls German: Saxaulsperling Spanish: Gorrión del saxaul

Passer ammodendri


, 1872,

Turkestan = Djulek, above Kyzyl Orda, on the Syr Darya, Kazakhstan


Currently six allopatric populations, relationships among which, and degree to which they are sufficiently distinctive to justify subspecific separation, are subject to debate. Additional proposed races are korejewi (described from E Transcaspia), included in nominate, and timidus (Gobi Desert), subsumed into stoliczkae. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. ammodendri Gould, 1872 – S Kazakhstan and N Uzbekistan (Kyzylkum Desert); Turkmenistan (Karakum Desert); possibly NE Iran#R#R and N Afghanistan#R.
  • P. a. nigricans Stepanyan, 1961 – SE Kazakhstan (Sary-Ishikotrau Desert) and NW China (N Xinjiang).
  • P. a. stoliczkae A. O. Hume, 1874 – China from S Xinjiang (Kashgar and Taklimakan Desert) E to W Inner Mongolia and N Ningxia (Ordos Desert); SC Mongolia (Gobi Desert).
  • Descriptive notes

    14–16 cm; 25–32 g. Male nominate race has central forehead and crown to nape black, broad white supercilium from in front of eye, becoming tawny behind eye and... read more


    Little reported. Call "cheerp cheerp", softer and more melodious than "chirrup... read more


    River valleys in sandy or stony desert and semi-desert, particularly associated with saxaul (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds, particularly of saxaul, also insects. Nestlings fed with insects and insect larvae, particularly weevils (Curculionidae), ladybirds... read more


    Season May–Jul; two broods. Nests as isolated pairs or in loose colonies, often mixed with P. domesticus and P. montanus... read more


    Mainly sedentary; flocks may make small local movements outside breeding season. Some populations... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Status poorly known; spends much time in foliage of bushes or trees, making it difficult to see. Some suggestion of range contraction, probably... read more

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2019). Saxaul Sparrow (Passer ammodendri). 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 13 December 2019).