Black-throated Sparrow - Amphispiza bilineata

I did a painting of this sparrow on a whim, as I have never seen one in the field or worked on one in the prep lab at the museum. As the range of this species mainly encompasses the southwestern parts of the United States, and going up as far north as Washington, it would be highly unusual to come across one of these in the Midwest. Throughout its range it tends to favor, dry, semi-open habitat. It's a seed eater, but has been known to forage for invertebrates during the breeding season. Male and females have similar plumage. During courtship, the male will sit on a nearby perch singing, while the female constructs a nest below in cactus or desert shrub.

I've always thought them a very striking and handsomely marked breed of sparrow. Black-throated belong to the family Emberizidae. It's an avian family that for the most part includes all species of North American sparrows, juncos and towhees. It does not, however, include the common House Sparrow. House Sparrows are an Old World species that were introduced to the states. Like other Old World sparrows they belong to the family Passeridae and are not closely related to Emberizidae.

Painting available in Etsy Shop


  1. Diana:

    I've been enjoying your wildlife watercolors and commentary, as always. I stumbled across a forth-coming book on Amazon today that sounds like something you would enjoy. It's called Crow Planet: Finding Our Place in the Zoopolis by Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

    Last month we put up a new feeder designed so only smaller birds (like chickadees and nuthatches) can get to the feed. We stocked it with a nut and dried fruit mix that smells so good I had to resist have a bite myself. :-) It's on a line high up in one of our hackberries. We have chickadees every day now, where before we only saw them once or twice a year. No nuthatches yet.

    Kansas City

  2. Hey Fiske - I'll check out the book, for sure. Thanks for the tip!

    For the first time since moving (2 years) I've had regular chickadee visitors, but no nuthatches yet either. I haven't seen chickadees much over the last few years, as West Nile virus made a serious dent in populations around here.

    Happy Holidays!


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