Pale rock sparrow

Carpospiza brachydactyla taxonomy

Petronia brachydactyla Bonaparte, 1850, Kunfuda, western Arabia. From its behavior and form of nest has been considered to be a cardueline finch, but the horny palate and digestive tract confirm it belongs to Passeridae.

other common names

French: Moineau soulcie pâle; German: Arabian Steinsperling; Spanish: Gorrión Palida.

physical characteristics

5.3-5.7 in (13.5-14.5 cm); 1.0-1.4 oz (28-40 g). Generally rather featureless pale brown bird with a short, stout bill. Long, triangular-shaped wings recall lark in flight. Sexes are similar, but juvenile paler, more sandy-colored.

Distribution

Southwest Asia, withdrawing south in winter to Arabia and northeast Africa.

habitat

Sparsely vegetated regions up to 9,850 ft (3,000 m). behavior

Spends much of the time on the ground, forming flocks of up to several hundreds outside the breeding season that collect near water or fields of ripening grain.

feeding ecology and diet

Mainly seeds of grasses, including cultivated cereals, but takes some insects during breeding season. Nestlings are mainly reared on insects.

reproductive biology

Nest is open, untidy cup of twigs lined with softer material in bush or tree close to ground. Clutch is four to five eggs, incubation 13-14 days, fledging 11-16 days. Incubation by female only, but both sexes feed the young.

conservation status

Not threatened. Locally common.

significance to humans None known. ♦

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