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Amphispiza belli - Sage Sparrow
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Taxonomy/Classification
Scientific Name: Amphispiza belli
Authority: (Cassin, 1850)
English Common Name: Sage Sparrow
Spanish Common Name(s): Zacatonero de Artemisa
Portuguese Common Name(s): None Known


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Class Order Family
Aves Passeriformes Emberizidae

Taxonomic Comments: Composed of two groups which may represent distinct species: NEVADENSIS (Sage Sparrow) and BELLI (Bell's Sparrow) (AOU 1998). Johnson and Marten (1992) documented morphological, genetic, and ecological differences among subspecies CANESCENS, BELLI, and NEVADENSIS. They found that CANESCENS averages larger than BELLI in several morphometric characters and that CANESCENS and BELLI, though genetically closely related, are 100% separable on the basis of plumage coloration alone. Previously published reports of intergradation were shown to be incorrect. Also, post-nesting CANESCENS move into the active breeding range of BELLI but the two forms do not interbreed. All data indicated that CANESCENS and BELLI are reproductively isolated. Johnson and Marten noted that further study is needed before the absence of interbreeding can be regarded as firmly established. Johnson and Marten (1992) determined that subspecies CANESCENS and NEVADENSIS are strongly differentiated both morphologically and genetically; they found no evidence of intergradation and noted that Johnson was studying the possible biological species status of the two forms.

Global Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern  
CITES Status: None

Habitat
BREEDING: Found from sea level to 2000 meters (Rising 1996); strongly associated with sagebrush for breeding. Also found in salt-bush brushland, shadscale, antelope brush, rabbitbrush, black greasewood (Colorado), mesquite, and chaparral (California; AOU 1998; Green and Smith 1981; Martin and Carlson 1998; Paige and Ritter 1998; Reynolds 1981). Prefers semi-open habitats, shrubs 1-2 meters tall (Martin and Carlson 1998). Habitat structure (vertical structure, shrub density, and habitat patchiness) is important to habitat selection (Martin and Carlson 1998). Positively correlated with big sagebrush (ARTEMISIA TRIDENTATA), shrub cover, bare ground, above-average shrub height, and horizontal patchiness; negatively correlated with grass cover (Rotenberry and Wiens 1980; Wiens and Rotenberry 1981; Larson and Bock 1984).

In northern Great Basin, associated with low and tall sagebrush/bunchgrass, juniper/sagebrush, mountain mahogany/shrub, and aspen/sagebrush/bunchgrass communities for breeding and foraging (Maser et al. 1984). In Idaho, found in sagebrush of 11 to 14 percent cover (Rich 1980). Martin and Carlson (1998) report preference for evenly spaced shrubs; other authors (Rotenberry and Wiens 1980; Peterson and Best 1985) report association where sagebrush is clumped or patchy.

Subspecies BELLI: chaparral dominated by chamise and/or California sagebrush (Johnson and Marten 1992). Subspecies CANESCENS: breeds in desert scrub where ATRIPLEX is prevalent (Johnson and Marten 1992). Subspecies NEVADENSIS: breeds in brushland dominated by big sagebrush or sagebrush-saltbush (Johnson and Marten 1992). Subspecies CLEMENTEAE: nests in boxthorn shrubs interspersed by cactus (Willey 1997).

Nests on the ground or in a shrub, up to about one meter above ground (Terres 1980). In the Great Basin, usually nests in living sagebrush where cover is sparse but shrubs are clumped; avoids southwestern side of plant (Petersen and Best 1985). Placement may be related to density of vegetative cover over the nest, as will nest higher in a taller shrub (Rich 1980).

NON-BREEDING: In migration and winter also in arid plains with sparse bushes, grasslands and open situations with scattered brush, mesquite, and riparian scrub; preferring to feed near woody cover (Martin and Carlson 1998; Meents et al. 1982; Repasky and Schluter 1994). Flocks in Mojave Desert appear to follow water courses (Eichinger and Moriarty 1985). Wintering birds in honey mesquite of lower Colorado River select areas of higher inkweed (SUAEDA TORREYANA) density (Meents et al. 1982).
Population Status

Distribution Status in Latin America

Native Mexico

References

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  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, DC. 829 pp.

  • Balda, R. P., and G. C. Bateman. 1971. Flocking and annual cycle of the piņon jay, GYMNORHINUS CYANOCEPHALUS. Condor 73:287-302.

  • Best, L.B., and K.L. Petersen. 1982. Effects of state of the breeding cycle on sage sparrow detectability. Auk 99:788-791.

  • BirdLife International. 2004. Threatened birds of the world 2004. CD ROM. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

  • Carlson, B. H. 1983. Habitat selection by breeding birds at the Motte Rimrock Reserve. Master's thesis, Univ. of California, Riverside.

  • Carter, M., C. Hunter, D. Pashley, and D. Petit. 1998. The Watch List. Bird Conservation, Summer 1998:10.

  • Carter, M., G. Fenwick, C. Hunter, D. Pashley, D. Petit, J. Price, and J. Trapp. 1996. Watchlist 1996: For the future. Field Notes 50(3):238-240.

  • Eichinger, J., and D.J. Moriarty. 1985. Movement of Mojave Desert sparrow flocks. Wilson Bulletin 97:511-516.

  • Everatt, W.T., J.R. Gustafson, C.E. Koehler, and J. Larson. 1994. San Clemente sage Sparrow. Pages 220-221 in Life on the edge. Biosystems Books, Santa Cruz, CA.

  • Fish and Wildlife Service. 1980. Selected vertebrate endangered species of the seacoast of the United States- San Clemente sage sparrow. FWS/OBS-80/01.55, Slidell.

  • Green, B.H., and H.D. Smith. 1981. Habitat utilization by sage sparrows in mixed desert shrub community. Abstract only. Encyclia 58:159.

  • Harrison, C. 1978. A Field Guide to the Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of North American Birds. Collins, Cleveland, Ohio.

  • Horn, H. S. 1968. The adaptive significance of colonial nesting in the Brewer's Blackbird. Ecology 49:682-694.

  • Johnson, N. K., and J. A. Marten. 1992. Macrogeographic patterns of morphometric and genetic variation in the sage sparrow complex. Condor 94:1-19.

  • Knick, S. T., and J. T. Rotenberry. 1995. Landscape characteristics of fragmented shrubsteppe habitats and breeding passerine birds. Conservation Biology 9:1059-1071.

  • Larson, D.L., and C.E. Bock. 1984. Determining avian habitat preferences by bird-centered vegetation sampling. Pages 37-43 in J. Verner, M.L. Morrison, and C.J. Ralph, editors. Wildlife 2000: Modeling habitat relationships of terrestrial vertebrates. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI.

  • Ligon, J. D. 1971. Late summer-autumnal breeding of the piņon jay in New Mexico. Condor 73:147-153.

  • Martin, J.W., and B.A. Carlson. 1998. Sage Sparrow (AMPHISPIZA BELLI). In A. Poole and F. Gill, editors, The Birds of North America, No. 326. The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. 20 pp.

  • Maser, C., J.W. Thomas, and R.G. Anderson. 1984. Wildlife habitats in managed rangelands -- The Great Basin of southeastern Oregon. The relationship of terrestrial vertebrates to plant communities. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDI Bureau of Land Management, General Technical Report PNW-172. LaGrande, OR.

  • Meents, J.K., B.W. Anderson, and R.D. Ohmart. 1982. Vegetation relationships and food of sage sparrows wintering in honey mesquite habitat. Wilson Bulletin 94:129-138.

  • Moore, W. S., and R. A. Dolbeer. 1989. The use of banding recovery data to estimate dispersal rates and gene flow in avian species: case studies in the Red-winged Blackbird and Common Grackle. Condor 91:242-253.

  • National Geographic Society (NGS). 1983. Field guide to the birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington, DC.

  • Oberholser, H.C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. 2 vols. Univ. of Texas Press, Austin.

  • Paige, C., and S.A. Ritter. 1998. Birds in a sagebrush sea: managing sagebrush habitats for bird communities. Western Working Group of Partners in Flight, Boise, ID.

  • Parker III, T. A., D. F. Stotz, and J. W. Fitzpatrick. 1996. Ecological and distributional databases for neotropical birds. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

  • Peterjohn, B. G., J. R. Sauer, and W. A. Link. 1994. The 1992 and 1993 summary of the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Bird Populations 2:46-61.

  • Petersen, K. L., and L. B. Best. 1985. Nest-site selectionby sage sparrows. Condor 87:217-221.

  • Petersen, K.L., and L.B. Best. 1986. Diets of nestling sage sparrows and Brewer's sparrows in an Idaho sagebrush community. Journal of Field Ornithology 57:283-294.

  • Petersen, K.L., and L.B. Best. 1987. Effects of prescribed burning on nongame birds in a sagebrush community. Wildlife Society Bulletin 15:317-329.

  • Petersen, K.L., and L.B. Best. 1987. Territory dynamics in a sage sparrow population: are shifts in site use adaptive? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 21:351-358.

  • Peterson, R. T. 1990. A field guide to western birds. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 432 pp.

  • Poole, A. F. and F. B. Gill. 1992--. The birds of North America. The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. and The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA.

  • Repasky, R.R., and D. Schluter. 1994. Habitat distributions of wintering sparrows along an elevational gradient: tests of the food, predation and microhabitat structure hypotheses. Journal of Animal Ecology 63:569-582.

  • Reynolds, T.D. 1979. The impact of loggerhead shrikes on nesting birds in a sagebrush environment. Auk 96:798-800.

  • Reynolds, T.D. 1981. Nesting of the Sage Thrasher, Sage Sparrow, and Brewer's Sparrow in southeastern Idaho. Condor 83:61-64.

  • Reynolds, T.D., and C.H. Trost. 1980. The response of native vertebrate populations to crested wheatgrass planting and grazing by sheep. Journal of Range Management 33:122-125.

  • Rich, T.D. 1978. Cowbird parasitism of sage and Brewer's sparrows. Condor 80:348.

  • Rich, T.D. 1980. Territorial behavior of the sage sparrow: spatial and random aspects. Wilson Bulletin 92:425-438.

  • Rich, T.D. 1996. Degradation of shrubsteppe vegetation by cheatgrass invasion and livestock grazing: effect on breeding birds. Abstract only. Columbia Basin Shrubsteppe Symposium. April 23-25, 1996. Spokane, WA.

  • Rising, J.D. 1996. A guide to the identification and natural history of the sparrows of the United States and Canada. Academic Press, San Diego.

  • Rotenberry, J. T., and J. A. Wiens. 1989. Reproductive biology of shrubsteppe passerine birds: geographical and temporal variation in clutch size, brood size, and fledging success. Condor 91:1-14.

  • Rotenberry, J. T., and J. A. Wiens. 1991. Weather and reproductive variation in shrubsteppe sparrows: a hierarchical analysis. Ecology 72:1325-1335.

  • Rotenberry, J.T., and J.A. Wiens. 1980. Habitat structure, patchiness, and avian communities in North American steppe vegetation: a multivariate analysis. Ecology 61:1228-1250.

  • Saab, V.A., C.E. Bock, T.D. Rich, and D.S. Dobkin. 1995. Livestock grazing effects in western North America. Pages 311-353 in T.E. Martin and D.M. Finch, editors. Ecology and management of Neotropical migratory birds. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

  • Saab, V.A., and T.D. Rich. 1997. Large-scale conservation assessment for neotropical migratory land birds in the Interior Columbia River Basin. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Research Station, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-399. Portland, OR.

  • Sauer, J.R., J.E. Hines, G. Gough, I. Thomas, and B.G. Peterjohn. 1997. July 29-last update. The North American Breeding Bird Survey Results and Analysis. Version 96.4. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. Online. Available: http://www.mbr.nbs.gov/bbs/bbs.html.

  • Sauer, J.R., J.E. Hines, G. Gough, I. Thomas, and B.G. Peterjohn. 1997. The North American Breeding Bird Survey Results and Analysis. Version 96.3. Online. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. Available: http://www.mbr.nbs.gov/bbs/bbs.html.

  • Sauer, J.R., S. Schwartz, and B. Hoover. 1996. The Christmas Bird Count Home Page. Version 95.1 U.S.G.S. Biological Resource Division, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. Online. Available: http://www.mbr.nbs.gov/bbs/cbc.html.

  • Tarvin, K. A., and G. E. Woolfenden. 1999. Blue Jay (CYANOCITTA CRISTATA). No. 469 IN A. Poole and F. Gill, editors. The birds of North America. The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. 32pp.

  • Terres, J. K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

  • Thompson, F. R., III. 1994. Temporal and spatial patterns of breeding brown-headed cowbirds in the midwestern United States. Auk 111:979-990.

  • USDA Forest Service (USFS). 1994. Neotropical Migratory Bird Reference Book. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region. 832 pp.

  • Wiens, J. A., J. T. Rotenberry, and B. Van Horne. 1985. Territory size variations in shrubsteppe birds. Auk 102:500-505.

  • Wiens, J. A., and B. Van Horne. 1990. Comparisons of the behavior of sage and Brewer's sparrows in shrubsteppe habitats. Condor 92:264-266.

  • Wiens, J.A. 1985. Habitat selection in variable environments: shrub-steppe birds. Pages 227-251 in M.L. Cody, editor. Habitat selection in birds. Academic Press, Inc. San Diego, CA.

  • Wiens, J.A., J.T. Rotenberry, and B. Van Horne. 1986. A lesson in the limitation of field experiments: shrubsteppe birds and habitat alteration. Ecology 67:365-376.

  • Wiens, J.A., and J.T. Rotenberry. 1981. Habitat associations and community structure of birds in shrubsteppe environments. Ecological Monographs 51:21-41.

  • Wiens, J.A., and J.T. Rotenberry. 1985. Response of breeding passerine birds to rangeland alteration in a North American shrubsteppe locality. Journal of Applied Ecology 22:655-668.

  • Willey, D. W. 1990. Nesting success of San Clemente sage sparrows. Southwestern Naturalist 35:28-31.

  • Williams, L. 1952. Breeding behavior of the Brewer blackbird. Condor 54:3-47.

  • Willson, M. F. 1966. Breeding ecology of the Yellow-headed Blackbird. Ecological Monographs 36:51-77.

  • Wilson, A. G., Jr., E. M. Wilson, C. R. Groves, and R. L. Wallace. 1997. U.S. distribution of the Coeur d'Alene salamander (PLETHODON IDAHOENSIS Slater and Slipp). Great Basin Naturalist 57:359-362.

  • Winter, B.M., and L.B. Best. 1985. Effect of prescribed burning on placement of sage sparrow nests. Condor 87:294.


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Overview Map
Note: indicates countries of occurrence, actual area occupied by the species is usually much less. Footnote - please click for information on permanent, temporary breeding, or non-breeding distribution of birds.

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West Caribbean Map
Species not known to occur in this region.

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East Caribbean Map
Species not known to occur in this region.

Footnote - please click for information on permanent, temporary breeding, or non-breeding distribution of birds.
NOTE: Maps for birds indicate countries where a species occurs either as a resident (permanent or temporary breeding or nonbreeding) or as a passage migrant. Not all records of vagrant or accidental occurrences in a country are included in the database.

Summary Text |  Overview Map |  West Caribbean Map  |  East Caribbean Map |  Range Map

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. A shapefile of this map is available for download at www.natureserve.org/getData/animalData.jsp.


Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002

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