Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Jim Parrish
Photo Copyright Jim Parrish

The black-throated sparrow, Amphispiza bilineata, occurs within a large portion of western North America that includes northern Mexico, the southwestern United States, the southern Rocky Mountains, and the Great Basin. Birds in the southern half of this range (including extreme southern Utah) are year-round residents, but northern populations migrate south in winter. During winter, they are often found in mixed flocks with other sparrow species.

In Utah, the black-throated sparrow breeds statewide, but it breeds most commonly in the southern part of the state, in dry, brushy habitats. During the May through June nesting season, three or four eggs are laid in a nest that is either on the ground at the base of a bush or a cactus, or low in a bush. Nest cups are constructed of grasses, stems, and small twigs, and are lined with fine fibers. Eggs are incubated for about twelve days, and young can fly after about ten days. A second clutch is often produced. Adults eat a variety of foods, including insects, seeds, and plant shoots, but young are fed mainly insects.


  • Rising, J. D., and D. D. Beadle. 1996. A guide to the identification and natural history of the sparrows of the United States and Canada. Academic Press, San Diego. xii + 365 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.