Conservation status Probably has declined in both Arizona and Texas with loss of habitat, but still common in some localities.
Family New World Sparrows
Habitat Desert grassland, coastal prairie. In our area, found mostly in drier grassland areas with relatively tall grass and scattered taller shrubs; mainly desert grassland in Arizona, coastal prairie in Texas. Avoids true desert and heavily grazed areas. Farther south in Mexico and Central America, also found on dry scrub areas, overgrazed pastures, and open savanna.
Two kinds of plain, long-tailed sparrows live side by side in southwestern grasslands. While Cassin's is fairly widespread, Botteri's Sparrow is found only in a few areas of southern Texas and Arizona. Although it will perch up on a shrub or an ocotillo stalk to sing its series of accelerating chip notes, Botteri's Sparrow is quite secretive at other times, hiding in dense grass.

Feeding Behavior

Forages almost entirely while hopping or running on the ground, picking up items from the ground or from plants. Usually forages alone, sometimes in pairs or family groups.


2-5, probably usually 4. White to pale bluish white, unmarked. Details of incubation are not well known. Young: Probably both parents help feed the nestlings.


Probably both parents help feed the nestlings.


Mostly insects and seeds. Diet is not known in detail. In summer feeds mainly on insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, and beetles, plus many others. Also eats many seeds, probably more so in winter.


Nesting activity is mostly in early summer in Texas, mostly in late summer (after onset of summer rainy season) in Arizona. Male sings from a raised perch to defend nesting territory. Details of nesting behavior are not well known. Nest: Nest is usually on the ground, often in a slight depression in soil and hidden under grass and weeds; sometimes slightly elevated in base of grass clump, and occasionally a few inches up in the base of a bush. Nest is a shallow open cup made of grass.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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Timing of migration not well known, since birds are very secretive when not singing.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

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Songs and Calls

Song consists of several short trills often introduced by a couple of clips and che-licks, but is variable.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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