Rufous-Crowned Sparrow: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Read some interesting rufous-crowned sparrow facts here.

Rufous-crowned sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps), a small sparrow and one of the birds of North America, is of the order Passeriformes, family Passerellidae, and genus Aimophila. These are around 12 recognized subspecies and around 18 suggested subspecies. The other two species of genus Aimophila are Aimophila notosticta and Aimophila rufescens. Aimophila is a derivative of two Greek words: 'aimos' that translates to 'thicket' and 'philos' meaning 'loving.' Some of the species of this genus is now considered to be a part of the Peucaea genus. They got their name because of the rufous-colored crown. These New World birds were first described by John Casson, American ornithologist, in 1852 as Ammodrammus ruficeps. Ruficeps is a derivative of two Latin words: 'rufus' meaning 'tawny' or 'reddish' and 'ceps' meaning 'head.' As they prefer rocky slopes, they are often referred to colloquially as the rock sparrow. These birds are brown and gray-colored. New World sparrows are more closely related to Old World buntings than Old World sparrows. They also share features like habits and appearance with finches.

If these facts about the North American rufous-crowned sparrow birds, then check out these swallow-tailed kite facts and the hyacinth macaw facts.

Rufous-Crowned Sparrow

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Small grass, forb seeds, fresh grass stems, and insects like ground beetles and ants

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

2-5 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.03-0.05 lb (15-23 g)

How long are they?

5.25 in (13.3 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown and gray

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Humans and raptors

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Open oak woodlands, dry uplands, coastal scrublands, scrub forests, chaparral areas, grassy vegetation, and bushes


North America, Southwestern United States, and Mexico





Scientific Name

Aimophila ruficeps





Rufous-Crowned Sparrow Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a rufous-crowned sparrow?

Rufous-crowned sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps) is of the order Passeriformes, family Passerellidae and phylum  Chordata.  This species are primarily found near the ground, walking or hopping. They rarely fly, and are clumsy in their flight. They do not fly long distances. They use their beaks to brush through their feathers and clean themselves by taking baths in shallow water in their habitat. These birds are non-migratory. However, the subspecies in mountain ranges get down to lower altitudes during severe winter.

What class of animal does a rufous-crowned sparrow belong to?

Rufous-crowned sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps) is of the class Aves of animals.

How many rufous-crowned sparrows are there in the world?

Rufous-crowned sparrow populations spread across North America is around 2,400,000.

Where does a rufous-crowned sparrow live?

Rufous-crowned sparrows cover a wide range in North America. They are found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. They occur in range throughout southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, California, Central Oklahoma. They are also found in their natural habitat from mid and southern California to Baja California in coastal regions to southern Mexico. These birds are spread around and have isolated populations.

What is a rufous-crowned sparrow's habitat?

Rufous-crowned sparrow habitat range includes open oak woodlands, dry uplands, coastal scrublands, chaparral areas, grassy vegetation, and bushes. The habitat range of these birds also includes oak forests, scrub forests, arid scrubland, and open pine. Their range might extend as they descend during extreme winter, but it won't be too far from their breeding ground. The altitude of their range 9,800 ft (2987 m) from sea level.

Who do rufous-crowned sparrows live with?

Rufous-crowned sparrows live on their own but are territorial during the breeding season.

How long does a rufous-crowned sparrow live?

Rufous-crowned sparrow's longest lifespan is three years and two months.

How do they reproduce?

During the breeding season, the male sings to attract females either from a nearby perch or in flight. When the pair unites, they sing together in their territory. In spring, these birds find a mate and often stay together till the next breeding season. The male bird is territorial but not extremely aggressive while protecting its territories. During heavy rainfall or rainy weather, they build their nest in Mexico in the early summer season. However, the rainfall in southern California occurs earlier. So, reproduction varies widely due to weather or the region. The birds in California lay their eggs earlier than those in Texas. Based on the rain patterns, some of these North American birds nest twice a year. It is observed that these birds breed when there is food available, and so the young ones' survival rates are high. The nest is built only by the female bird. She builds the nest with barks, twigs, hair, or grass and mostly deep concavity in the ground. She lays 2-5 eggs and incubates the eggs until they hatch. The incubation period is between 11-13 days. The young ones are altricial, and the parents feed their hatchlings. Even after the young leave the nest, they cannot fly and depend on their parents for food. It is not yet known when the young ones reach sexual maturity. This species usually returns to the same breeding ground every year once they choose their territory.

What is their conservation status?

Rufous-crowned sparrow conservation status is Least Concern. However, 3 out of the 17 recognized subspecies found in California are declining and need bird conservation plans. The rufous-crowned sparrow distribution in California is declining due to habitat degradation and human expansion.

Rufous-Crowned Sparrow Fun Facts

What do rufous-crowned sparrows look like?

These North American birds are of the order Passeriformes, family Passerellidae, and phylum Chordata. They have a brown back, dark streaks, and a gray underbelly. They have short and round brown wings with no wing bars. They have a long and round brown tail. The supercilium and face are with a rufous or brown streak that extends from each eye and a black streak on each of their cheek. They have chestnut to the rufous colored crown, and a few subspecies have a gray streak that runs down the center of their crown. They have a cone-shaped yellow bill. They have a dark-stripes white throat. The leg and feet of these species are pinkish-gray. The physical characteristics of both males and females are identical. However, the young rufous crowned sparrow has a brown-colored crown and several streaks on their flanks and breasts during autumn and spring.

The rufous crowned sparrow has no negative effects on human beings.

How cute are they?

These birds are small sparrows and are considered adorable.

How do they communicate?

This bird species use their voice and body language to communicate. Their voice is described as hoarse, and their call is short, fast, and bubbling chip notes. When threatened or separated from the male, they make a dear dear dear call. They use displays like the rodent run, the tumbling of the bush, and the broken wing to escape predators.

How big is a rufous-crowned sparrow?

The length of the rufous crowned sparrow is 5.25 in (13.3 cm). These birds are just a few inches smaller than the house sparrow. Males are larger than females.

How fast can a rufous-crowned sparrow fly?

This bird is clumsy in flight and flies for a short distance only.

How much does a rufous-crowned sparrow weigh?

These species weigh around 0.03-0.05 lb (15-23 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to the male and female rufous crowned sparrow.

What would you call a baby rufous-crowned sparrow?

There is no specific name given to a baby rufous-crowned sparrow.

What do they eat?

The diet of rufous-crowned sparrows includes small grass, forb seeds, fresh grass stems, and insects like ground beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and spiders. They forage food by pecking at the ground.

Are they poisonous?

No, these birds are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not make a good pet. They do well in open areas for breeding.

Did you know...

Predators of these birds are domestic cats, sharp-shinned hawk, American kestrels. These birds have adapted three kinds of displays to distract and escape predators.

Chipping sparrows and the song sparrows are native species of North America.

Other Aimophila sparrows are the Oaxaca sparrow (Aimophila notosticta) and the rusty sparrow (Aimophila rufescens).

These sparrows are rarely hosts to nest parasites like brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) and are hosts to two tick parasites-Ixodes pacificus and Amblyomma americanum. These sparrows also help with pest control with their feeding habits.

Are rufous-crowned sparrows endangered?

Due to their large geographical range, these species are listed as Least Concern. The population of 3 out of the 17 recognized subspecies found in California is declining and needs bird conservation plans. The southern California Rufous-crowned sparrow now has a restricted range due to agricultural developments and urbanization.

What is the difference between a rufous-crowned sparrow and a white-crowned Sparrow?

The rufous crowned sparrow is of the family Passerellidae, and the white-crowned sparrow is of the Emberizidae family.

Both species use similar calls and body language to communicate. The white-crowned sparrow has 10 different types of calls. They make a low-pitched sharp pink and also a harsh call.

Unlike the rufous crowned sparrow, the range of white-crowned sparrow is flexible. The cover areas from edges of the parking lot to boreal forests or meadows in rocky mountains.

The white-crowned sparrow has two distinctive black head stripes that extend behind the eyes.

The white-crowned sparrows are not rare species to their native land Canada, as they are listed Least Concern. However, they rarely wander across Europe.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these palm warbler facts and eastern kingbird facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bird coloring pages.



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