Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Zarudny’s Sparrow (Passer zarudnyi)


French: Moineau de Zarudny German: Turkmenensperling Spanish: Gorrión del Karakum
Other common names: Asian Desert Sparrow

Passer simplex Zarudnyi


, 1896,

Transcaspia [= Repetek, Turkmenistan]


Until recently (but still widely) considered conspecific with P. simplex, to which it is clearly closely related. Differs, however, in its stronger black mask (2); white fringe on forehead (ns[1]); pale grey vs pale sandy crown to back, rump, and fringes on wings and tail (1); female like male (3); apparently shorter wing but longer tail (mean of 4 male tails 59.75 mm vs 53.6 in 10 male P. s. saharae and 53 in 2 male P. s. simplex; allow 1). Vocal studies desirable. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Turkmenistan and C Uzbekistan.

Descriptive notes

13·5–15 cm. Compared to formerly conspecific P. simplex has shorter wing and bill, and longer tail. Adult male further differs in having the facial mask decidedly... read more


Vocalizations not well known and no differences from P. simplex known, but largely... read more


Confined to bare, rocky or sand-plain areas with sparse trees and bushes especially sand acacias (... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly seeds of desert bushes and ground vegetation, especially of Aristida pennata. Nestlings fed with beetles (Coleoptera),... read more


Season Apr–Aug; two broods. Breeds solitarily or in small colonies, four or five nests in one tree, although these may include old... read more


Possibly some tendency for withdrawal to S in winter months, although species might be better... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Of apparently unpredictable occurrence, like formerly conspecific P. simplex, but seems much less secure than the latter... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Zarudny’s Sparrow (Passer zarudnyi). 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).