Worthen's Sparrow
Spizella wortheni
Worthen's Sparrow (Spizella wortheni) is a little known species endemic to Mexico. Visually similar to Field Sparrow (S. pusilla), Worthen's has a very different song and lacks some of the facial markings of the Field Sparrow. Although the first Worthen's Sparrow known to science was collected in New Mexico in the 1800's, the species has not been recorded with certainty in the U.S. since that time. Currently, Worthen's Sparrow is a locally uncommon resident of desert scrub in several northeastern Mexican states including Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas. This individual shown here was photographed in Coahuila, about 40 km south of Saltillo, in October, 1990. The bird had been captured in a mist net. I coauthored a detailed paper titled "First nesting records of Worthen's Sparrow for Nuevo Leon, Mexico, with a habitat characterization of the nest site and notes on ecology, voice, additional recent sightings and leg coloration" in Cotinga 8:27-33. Refer to that article for more detailed information than is presented here. See the below photos for some additional information.
The Worthen's Sparrow in the 8 shots shown here was a singing male near a nest site in June, 1994, near Las Esperanzas, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. These photos were taken with a Canon T-90 & Sigma 500mm F4.5 lens with a 1.4X extender on Kodachrome 200 film with available light. These images are of very poor quality compared to what I expect today, but since very few images of this sparrow exist on the Internet, I will leave them up for now. I hope to someday return to this area of Mexico to get better shots.