Rusty-crowned Ground Sparrow, Melozone kieneri

Original descriptionPyrgisoma kieneri Bonaparte 1850

eBird range map

Taxonomic history at Avibase

Taxonomic history in AOU/AOS Check-list 

AOU 6 (1983): Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow, Melozone kieneri

AOU 7 (1983): Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow, Melozone kieneri

IUCN Conservation StatusOf least concern

There is no information suggesting that this species is exposed to any large-scale threats.

Behavior:A reclusive ground feeder, the Rusty-crowned Ground Sparrow hops and scratches, towhee-like, beneath low vegetation on the edges of tropical deciduous forest. Males ascend a low but conspicuous perch to sing.

Voice: Rusty-crowned Ground Sparrows give high, thin, short tsik calls, almost like the flight note of a Savannah Sparrow. They also have a buzzy, descending, rather towhee-like dzeer, thinner and softer than what is apparently the corresponding call of the Canyon Towhee. The male’s homely song is a slow, well-articulated series of notes of different lengths, pitches, and qualities; it often begins with two or three tsik notes, followed by three or four lower, slurred liquid notes djiu djiu. Some songs end with a sputtering labial trill, somewhat like that of a Botteri Sparrow.

Detailed description and measurements drawn from standard reference works

Adult Melozone kieneri rubricata: Tail feathers dark olive-gray, with slightly paler tips. Upper tail coverts, rump, and back olive-gray with brown overlay. Primaries, secondaries, and tertials brown-gray. Greater and median coverts brown-gray; innermost greater coverts may have faintly buffier tips. Nape cinnamon or tawny brown. 

Under tail coverts and vent yellowish buff, varying to tawny cinnamon. Flanks gray-brown with buffy tinge. Sides of breast olive-gray like upperparts. Center of belly and lower breast whitish, with smudgy dusky spot at bottom of breast. Upper breast and throat bright white, separated from bright white jaw stripe by faint gray-brown lateral throat stripe. 

Back half of crown cinnamon to rufous, extending to upper nape. Ear coverts dark olive-gray, tending to sooty below eye; cinnamon of nape curls around below ear coverts to reach base of white jaw stripe. Lore blackish. Bright white eye ring, thickest above eye; broken usually both behind and at front of eye. 

Bill blackish. Tarsi and toes pinkish brown.

Length 146-158 mm (5.7-6.2 inches)

Wing chord 70-78 mm (2.8-3.1 inches)  

Tail 61-72 mm (2.4-3.1 inches)

W:T 1.08

Mass 35-41 g