Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)


Zapata Sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata)


French: Bruant de Zapata German: Zapataammer Spanish: Chingolo de la ciénaga
Other common names: Cuban Sparrow

Torreornis inexpectata

Barbour and J. L. Peters

, 1927,

Santo Tomás, Zapata Peninsula, Cuba


Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. i. inexpectata Barbour & J. L. Peters, 1927 – Zapata Swamp, in W Cuba.
  • T. i. varonai Regalado, 1981 – Cayo Coco and Cayo Romano, off NC Cuba.
  • T. i. sigmani Spence & B. L. Smith, 1961 – coastal regions of province of Guantánamo, in SE Cuba.
  • Descriptive notes

    16·5 cm; 19·7–29·3 g. A large-headed, moderately long-tailed sparrow with medium-sized conical bill and short, rounded wings. Nominate race has... read more


    Songs tend to be duets, initiated by male. Typical duet a highly synchronized series of high-... read more


    Seasonally flooded sawgrass prairies in Zapata Swamp (nominate race); dry to semi-wet open forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    In Zapata Swamp feeds on eggs of apple snails (Pomacea) during wet season, and may take small lizards (Anolis); in dry... read more


    Season Mar–Jun. Appears to be territorial throughout year. Few nests known, all from the Zapata region, a grassy well-formed cup placed in... read more



    Status and conservation

    VULNERABLE. Previously considered Endangered. Restricted-range species: present in Cuba EBA. Has small range of c. 4300 km², within which it is total known from 17... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J., Jaramillo, A., de Juana, E. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Zapata Sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata). 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 16 January 2019).