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November 27, 1990

Description: Large, plump sparrow with a white-striped crown and rusty brown ear patch; white below with black chest patch; dark tail with white corners. Juveniles are streaked on the sides and crown; color is duller than adults. Length is 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 inches.

Habitat: Roadsides, savanna and cultivated areas.

Diet: Gleans grass and seeds from ground.

Displays: Distraction display by females to lure predators from nest or young includes spreading tail and fluttering either one or both wings. Males sing at night.

Nest: Scraped, hollow depression in ground lined with fine grasses, or bulky nest in shrub or rock crevice. Male and female select nest site together. Will reuse old nests and those of other species (especially mockingbirds).

Eggs: Cream- to grayish-colored, marked with deep browns, black and often wreathed. Length is an eighth of an inch.

Call: Two long notes begin a song of melodic notes, buzzing and trills; call is a sharp tsip, which is often rapidly repeated.

Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas, call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.

Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).

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