Sage Sparrow

Amphispiza belli
L 6 1/4″ (16 cm).

Song or calls:
Song is jumbled series of finch-like notes with rising and falling phrases; sung from low perch.

photo by Phil Swanson

Description: Sexes similar. Lightly streaked grayish-brown head and back; white eye ring and eyebrow; broad white mustache stripe bordered by dark whisker stripe. Buffy-brown upperparts; two pale wing bars. White underparts with dark central breast spot and brownish streaking on sides. Coastal birds are much darker overall. Juvenile is duller with heavier streaking. /p>

Behavior: Has habit of flicking its tail while hopping around on ground. Runs from intruders, with tail cocked, rather than flying.

Habitat: Usually found in sagebrush, chaparral, and dry foothills.

Where in Nebraska: Accidental. One documented record in Sioux County August 1989.

Fun Facts: The Sage Sparrow when approached prefers to run along the ground rather than fly, as a result is spends much of its time running on the ground with its tail in the air.