Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis) - Wiki
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[Photo] Rufous collared Sparrow in Arenal,Costa Rica. Taken by Steve Listengart
The Rufous-collared Sparrow, Zonotrichia capensis, is an American sparrow which breeds in highlands from the extreme southeast of Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, and on Hispaniola.
This abundant bird is found typically at altitudes between 600 and 4000m, locally lower, in open areas including cultivation, gardens, parks and scrubby second growth. It copes well with urban and suburban environments, but is absent from the Amazon basin. The nest, built by the female, is a cup of plant material lined with fine grasses. It is constructed in matted vegetation on the ground, low in a tree or bush, or in a niche in a wall. The female lays two or three brown-blotched greenish-blue eggs, which she incubates for 12-14 days. The male helps in feeding the chicks.
The Rufous-collared Sparrow is 13.5-15 cm long and weighs 20-25 g. The adult has a stubby grey bill and a grey head with broad black stripes on the crown sides and thinner stripes through the eye and below the cheeks. The nape and breast sides are rufous and the upperpart are black-streaked buff-brown. There are two white wing bars. The throat is white, and the underparts are off-white, becoming brown on the flanks and with a black breast patch.
Young birds have a duller, indistinct head pattern, with brown stripes and a buff ground colour. They lack the rufous collar, and have streaked underparts.
There are between 25 and 29 subspecies. In general, the smaller forms occur in coastal mountains, intermediate birds in the Andes, and large, darker, forms breed on the tepuis. The largest tepui subspecies, Z. c. perezchincillae has grey underparts, and the rufous collar extends as a black band of freckles across the breast. This form might be separable as a distinct species.
The Rufous-collared Sparrow has extensive geographical variation in its vocalisations (see section below), but calls include a sharp tsip. The male’s song, given from a low perch, typically includes slurred whistles with or without a final trill, tee-teeooo, e’e’e’e’e, or teeooo, teeeee.
The Rufous-collared Sparrow feeds on the ground on seeds, fallen grain, insects and spiders. It is usually in pairs which hold small territories or in small flocks. It is tame and approachable.
Byers, Olsson and Curson, Buntings and Sparrows ISBN 1-873403-19-4
Hilty, Birds of Venezuela, ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
Stiles and Skutch, A guide to the birds of Costa Rica, ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
Handford, Paul. 2005 Latin accents: song dialects in a South American sparrow. Birding 37(5): 510-519.
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