Editor's Note: Owing to recent mitochondrial genetic data, the Five-Striped Sparrow has been returned to the genus Amphispiza. See the 51st Supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Checklist of North American Birds for details. Future revisions of this account will reflect this change.
The Five-striped Sparrow is a Mexican species whose range barely extends into the southwestern United States. First sighted in Arizona in 1957, this distinctively marked sparrow may have existed historically in the U.S., found only when observers searched in appropriate habitat, or it may have experienced a recent northern range extension. It now breeds regularly in isolated canyons of southeastern Arizona, with the start of summer rains, nesting in shrubs or low to the ground in grass clumps. It has a large vocal repertoire, up to 200 different songs in some individuals. In winter it is a secretive bird, difficult to locate. Only about 60 to 70 individuals have been surveyed annually in the U.S. in the past decade, reflecting its small northern population. The species has been studied extensively in Arizona and Sonora, but very little is known of southern populations or of the species in winter throughout its range.