Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Desert Sparrow (Passer simplex) - HBW 14, p. 804

French: Moineau blanc German: Wüstensperling Spanish: Gorrión Sahariano
Other common names: African Desert/White Sparrow

Taxonomy: Fringilla simplex M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823, Ambukol, Dongola, Sudan.
Sometimes thought, with little justification, to be part of superspecies formed by P. domesticus, P. italiae and P. hispaniolensis. Has been suggested that Asian and African populations might have evolved separately from P. domesticus, but it seems more likely that present species once had more continuous distribution (from N Africa E to W Turkestan) until probably up to 50,000 years ago, at least, but has become extinct in C regions with increased aridification. Race zarudnyi distinctive, and may represent a separate species. Birds in Mauritania, currently .. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Fringilla simplex M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823, Ambukol, Dongola, Sudan.
Sometimes thought, with little justification, to be part of superspecies formed by P. domesticus, P. italiae and P. hispaniolensis. Has been suggested that Asian and African populations might have evolved separately from P. domesticus, but it seems more likely that present species once had more continuous distribution (from N Africa E to W Turkestan) until probably up to 50,000 years ago, at least, but has become extinct in C regions with increased aridification. Race zarudnyi distinctive, and may represent a separate species. Birds in Mauritania, currently included within nominate, possibly belong to race saharae. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • saharae Erlanger, 1899 - NW Sahara Desert E to W Libya, S at least to S Algeria (Ahaggar) and Chad.
  • simplex ( M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823) - S Sahara from Mauritania and Mali E to S Egypt and Sudan.
  • zarudnyi Pleske, 1896 - Turkmenistan and W Uzbekistan.