Rock Sparrow

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia, Dashui Reservoir (36.716292, 99.471655), Qinghai, China, 29 June 2016. © 2016 by Craig Brelsford (www.craigbrelsford.com, www.shanghaibirding.com).
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia, Dashui Reservoir (36.716292, 99.471655), Qinghai, China, 29 June 2016. © 2016 by Craig Brelsford (www.craigbrelsford.com, www.shanghaibirding.com).

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia ranges from northwestern Africa to China, with intermedia in western Xinjiang and brevirostris ranging across Inner Mongolia from the extreme northeast to the desert west and into Gansu, Qinghai, and Sichuan. Reported Tibet. In dry, sparsely vegetated, treeless steppe and mountains, to 4800 m. Often on ground, where it runs like a pipit; usually in flocks, especially outside breeding season. May recall a female sparrow (in genus Passer), but has longer wings, white-tipped tail, and yellow throat patch. Striking head pattern punctuates a generally variegated, streaky appearance. Broad buff supercilium bordered above by dark-brown lateral crown stripe and below by dark-brown eyeline. Coronal stripe creamy-white. Upperparts and wings greyish-brown with heavy, blackish streaking; whitish patch at base of primaries. Wings show white tips to tail feathers, particularly noticeable in flight. Underparts buffish-white with diffuse brownish-grey streaking on breast and flanks. Brown undertail coverts scalloped white. Dark brown tail tipped white. Whitish throat accentuated by dark lateral throat stripe and pale submoustachial stripe (that may be inconspicuous). Yellow spot on lower throat can be inconspicuous, especially when bird is crouching. Brevirostris has less distinct head pattern. Juvenile lacks throat spot, and has distinct white tips to wing coverts and tertials. Large bill brown above, yellow below, with dark tip. Feet brownish-yellow. Noisy, with nasal “pey-ee” cheep. Song a loose repetition of call notes. Alarm call a trilling tii-yrrr. — Craig Brelsford

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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