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Species Guide
A photo of a Rufous-winged Sparrow (Peucaea carpalis)
Rufous-winged Sparrow

Rufous-winged Sparrow

Peucaea carpalis

The Rufous-winged Sparrow, Peucaea carpalis, presents itself as a medium-small, long-tailed avian with a distinctive gray face. Its crown and supercilium boast a rich, rusty hue, and the rufous lesser coverts of its wings, which lend the bird its name, are often hidden from view.

Identification Tips

This sparrow is characterized by a brown back adorned with darker streaks and a pale gray belly. The wings and crown are rust-colored, providing a striking contrast. A conical bill with a yellow base and a long brown tail are notable features aiding in its identification.


The Rufous-winged Sparrow favors desert grasslands dotted with mesquite or cholla. Its preferred environments also include sandy-bottomed washes, vegetated slopes, brushy irrigation ditches, and creeks lined with broad-leaved trees, mesquite, grasses, and forbs.


The bird is a year-round resident, with its range extending from south-central Arizona and Guadalupe Canyon in New Mexico, down to northern Sinaloa in Mexico.

Diet and Feeding

During the breeding season, the Rufous-winged Sparrow's diet consists primarily of insects, which it captures in flight or gleans from plant surfaces. Outside of breeding times, it shifts its diet to seeds.


Breeding typically occurs during the monsoon months of July and August. Nests are constructed low in small trees, bushes, or cacti, such as hackberry, palo verde, cholla, and mesquite. The average clutch size is four eggs, and pairs may raise two broods annually.

Conservation status

The Rufous-winged Sparrow is recognized as a migratory bird under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN.

Rufous-winged Sparrow Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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