Rufous-wing Sparrow Photograph and Sound Recording
Photo by Jim Burns, August 1998
The Rufous-wing Sparrow is an Arizona "specialty" bird found primarily in the south-central part of the state. Unlike many sparrows it builds a nest in a tree, bush, or Cholla cactus a few feet off the ground. In 1997 all the singing males were advertising from the tops of trees, but no other breeding behavior was witnessed from march to June. In 1998, with normal rainfall available, both singing and breeding were finally observed. No survey work was performed during the monsoon months of July and August in 1997 so there could have been breeding activity in that period. In 1998 nests were found before the monsoon period implying that in good years this bird may have more than one brood, but in poor years breeding is delayed until the monsoon rains (or other cause for sufficient food source to become available). The easiest way to confirm breeding for this bird is to find a family group with very young juvenile birds. The nests are extremely hard to find even though they are built in cactus and locations similar to Curve-billed Thrashers, whose nests are easy to find.
The Rufous-wing Sparrow and Bewick's Wren both have some songs that sound alike except for the rate of repetition. If both birds are singing at the same time, a common occurrence, it can be difficult to separate the birds and determine the species by ear.
11/18/98 Update, Rufous-wing Sparrow nest and Cowbird
The original Rufous-wing Sparrow sound recording was produced using a Sennheiser MKH70 shotgun microphone and the audio was stored on a 48 ksps DAT using a Tascam DA-P1 digital audio recorder. The recording was down-sampled to 44.1 ksps and converted to MPEG3 to reduce the file size to 469k bytes. The example recording is made from several different birds so that some of the repertoire of the bird can be squeezed into a short recording. The usual gaps of silence between song paragraphs is missing.
download mpeg3 recording (rws_coll.mp3)
download mpeg3 decoder
Copyright Greg Clark, 1999