Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

White-eared Ground-sparrow (Melozone leucotis)


French: Tohi oreillard German: Weißohr-Grundammer Spanish: Toquí orejiblanco

Melozone leucotis


, 1861,

Costa Rica


Hitherto treated as conspecific with M. occipitalis. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. l. nigrior W. deW. Miller & Griscom, 1925 – NC highlands of Nicaragua; perhaps this race also EC Honduras#R.
  • M. l. leucotis Cabanis, 1861 – highlands of Costa Rica.
  • Descriptive notes

    17·5–19 cm; 39·9–43 g. A large, chunky sparrow with large feet, and much black on fore parts. Nominate race has head mostly black, large bright whitish spot on lores, broken... read more


    Most vocal close to dawn (which is also true of M. occipitalis). Song consists of... read more


    Found in montane evergreen forest, dark thickets, moist ravines, low scrubby growth, at edges of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, spiders (Araneae) and other arthropods, also seeds. Females observed feeding both insects (e.g., moths) and fruits (e.g., ... read more


    Season late Mar–Sept in Costa Rica. Nest of two types: (1) a large bulky bowl of dead leaves, stems and thin twigs, lined with finer... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally fairly common and population is believed to be stable.

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). White-eared Ground-sparrow (Melozone leucotis). 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 29 February 2020).