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Russet Sparrow

From Opus

Revision as of 13:00, 8 February 2018 by Wintibird (Talk | contribs)

Alternative names: Cinnamon Sparrow; Cinnamon Tree Sparrow; Ruddy Sparrow

Male nominate subspecies Photo by peterday Bhutan, 8 April 2010
Male nominate subspecies
Photo by peterday
Bhutan, 8 April 2010
Passer cinnamomeus



14 - 15cm (5Ā½-6 in)


  • Bright cinnamon-brown or russet top of head to hindneck and upperparts, heavily streaked black on mantle
  • Black lores
  • Off-white ear-coverts and cheeks (strong yellow tinge in nominate and intensior)
  • Black median coverts with broad white tips
  • Blackish flight feathers
  • Dull brownish or grey-brown tail
Female subspecies rutilansPhoto by ilovebirdSouth Korea
Female subspecies rutilans
Photo by ilovebird
South Korea
  • Black chin and throat
  • Off-white underparts (stronge yellow tinge in nominate and intensior)


  • Sandy brown to dull cinnamon above
  • Conspicuous long, bright creamy supercilium
  • Broad pale and dark stripes on mantle
  • White chin and throat

Juveniles are similar to females but duller.

Similar species

The female resembles the female of House Sparrow but is more brightly marked and has a far more striking supercilium.


nominate subspecies : FemalePhoto by Alok TewariDalhousie Hill Station, Alt. 7000 ft, HP-Himalayas, India, June-2014
nominate subspecies : Female
Photo by Alok Tewari
Dalhousie Hill Station, Alt. 7000 ft, HP-Himalayas, India, June-2014

Found in Asia in the Himalayas, northern Indochina, China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and north to Sakhalin (Russia). Winters in north Thailand.
Common in the western parts of its range, rare in the east, rare and declining in Taiwan.


Has been considered to form a superspecies or to be conspecific with Somali Sparrow.
The species name used to be Passer rutilans, however cinnamomeus has priority over rutilans.


Three subspecies recognized[1]:

The proposed subspecies batangensis from Sichuan is usually considered synonymous with intensior.

M & F of nominate subspecies, foraging togetherPhoto by Alok TewariAlmora, Alt. 5200 ft, India, April 2016
M & F of nominate subspecies, foraging together
Photo by Alok Tewari
Almora, Alt. 5200 ft, India, April 2016


In the western parts of its range found in open woodland, terrace cultivation around villages and open parts of villages and towns. Occurs at 1000m - 4300m, down to edge of plains in winter.
In the eastern parts of its range found in open woodland, forest edges and cultivation, descending down to sea-level.



Feeds on seeds, takes also small berries. Nestlings are fed with caterpillars and grubs.
In winter seen in large flocks to feed on spilt grain and weed seeds in stubbles of cultivated fields.


Breeding season from April to July. A solitary breeder. The nest is an untidy collection of grass, placed in a tree hole or in a hole in a house. In the east of the range also placed in branches of shrub. Lays 4 - 6 eggs.


Birds of the Himalayas spend the winter at lower altitudes, birds from the east are migratory.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

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