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Rufous-collared Sparrow
Zonotrichia capensis

Rufous-collared Sparrow
Zonotrichia capensis
Length: 150mm. Sexes alike. Bill dark grey with whitish grey mandible; iris dark brown; crown and auriculars grey; collar rufous covering back and sides of neck, and extending along either side of breast; back brown with blackish streaks, lower back and rump brown; uppertail coverts dark brown with brown margins; tail feathers dark brown with pale brown margins. Chin and throat white with black spots to tip of rufous semicollar; upper breast and flanks pale brown; rest of breast and belly white; undertail coverts whitish stained with brown. Lesser wing coverts dark brown with pale brown margins; median coverts dark brown with white terminal bar; greater coverts dark brown with rufous margins and whitish terminal bar; remiges dark brown with rufous margins. Legs brownish grey.
Average weight: 24.5g. Juveniles show head and neck stained dark brown and lack rufous semicollar. Habitat and behaviour: it inhabits all types of environments, being one of the best known and commonest birds of Argentina. Tame by nature, it occurs in pairs or sometimes very large flocks that forage for seeds, various plants and insects on the ground. The Rufous-collared Sparrow moves by hopping with both legs. Its song may be heard from early morning and it consists of high-pitched notes and repeated whistles, the contact and alarm call consists of a series of brief notes repeated over and over. The nest is often built on the ground, hidden among grasses, and is a simple cup. Clutch size: up to four pale blue eggs with brown mottles. This species has several subspecies in Argentina which are hard to tell apart. Patagonia hosts three subspecies, in some cases ranges overlap and also there is sympatrism; the most useful characters for identification are the black streaks on head, the width and intensity of rufous on collar, the shades of colour on back and the length of wings. Range: widespread in Patagonia, the three races occurring in this region are approximately distributed as follows: west of Neuquén, Zonotrichia capensis chilensis; Zonotrichia capensis choraules in Neuquén and Río Negro; Zonotrichia capensis australis from Chubut to Tierra del Fuego
Illustrated Handbook of the Birds of Patagonia
Kindless: Kovacs Family

Photographs: Mariano Diez Peña

Birding Patagonia • Birdwatcing in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina and Chile.
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Photographs on the website: Mariano Diez Peña