Buntings and New World Sparrows (Emberizidae)

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) - HBW 16, p. 548

French: Bruant chanteur German: Singammer Spanish: Chingolo Cantor

Taxonomy: Fringilla melodia A. Wilson, 1810, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Genus generally considered to be closely related to Passerella and Zonotrichia; unpublished molecular studies suggest close relationship with Xenospiza and some of the grassland sparrows (Passerculus, some Ammodramus, Pooecetes and Oriturus). In molecular-genetic studies of present species, little concordance found between mitochondrial DNA patterns and geographical variation in plumage and morphology, suggesting rapid post-glaciation radiation, combined with plumage evolution that has occurred more quickly than changes in mitochondrial DNA. One.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Fringilla melodia A. Wilson, 1810, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Genus generally considered to be closely related to Passerella and Zonotrichia; unpublished molecular studies suggest close relationship with Xenospiza and some of the grassland sparrows (Passerculus, some Ammodramus, Pooecetes and Oriturus). In molecular-genetic studies of present species, little concordance found between mitochondrial DNA patterns and geographical variation in plumage and morphology, suggesting rapid post-glaciation radiation, combined with plumage evolution that has occurred more quickly than changes in mitochondrial DNA. One of the most variable of all avian species, as many as 52 races have been named, many of them weakly differentiated. Proposed races considered insufficiently distinct include: amaka (described from Amak I, in extreme E Aleutians), which is synonymized with sanaka, inexspectata (from c. 4·8 km E of L Moose, in British Columbia), synonymized with morphna, juddi (from L Rock, Tower County, in North Dakota), melanchra (Bay Point, Ohio) and euphonia (Cranberry Glades, Pocahontas County, in West Virginia), all included within nominate; in California, saltonis (from margin of Salton Sea 1·6 km SE of Mecca), subsumed into fallax, fisherella (from L Honey, near Milford), subsumed into montana, mailliardi (from Ranchos Dos Rios, near Modesto, in Stanislaus County) and cooperi (from San Diego), both synonymized with heermanni, and micronyx (from San Miguel I), clementae (from San Clemente I) and coronatorum (from North I, in Los Coronados Is, off NW Baja California), all synonymized with graminea; also, in Mexico, yuriria (from Yuriria, in SE Guanajuato), treated as synonym of adusta, and niceae (from Tulancingo, in Hidalgo) and azteca (from Lago de Zumpango, in México), both subsumed into mexicana. Thorough taxonomic review required. Twenty-five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • maxima Gabrielson & Lincoln, 1951 - W Aleutian Is (Attu I E to Atka I).
  • sanaka McGregor, 1901 - E Aleutian Is (Seguam I E to Unimak I and Amak I), Alaska Peninsula E to Stepovak Bay and islands S of peninsula (Sanak I E to Semidi Is).
  • insignis S. F. Baird, 1869 - Kodiak I and Alaska Peninsula at Kukak and Katmai; non-breeding also S along Alaskan coast.

     See all 25 subspecies
  • maxima Gabrielson & Lincoln, 1951 - W Aleutian Is (Attu I E to Atka I).
  • sanaka McGregor, 1901 - E Aleutian Is (Seguam I E to Unimak I and Amak I), Alaska Peninsula E to Stepovak Bay and islands S of peninsula (Sanak I E to Semidi Is).
  • insignis S. F. Baird, 1869 - Kodiak I and Alaska Peninsula at Kukak and Katmai; non-breeding also S along Alaskan coast.
  • kenaiensis Ridgway, 1900 - Alaska on Pacific coast of Kenai Peninsula and islands in Prince William Sound; non-breeding also S to British Columbia.
  • caurina Ridgway, 1899 - coast of N Gulf of Alaska; non-breeding also in Pacific Northwest S to NW California.
  • rufina (Bonaparte, 1850) - outer islands of Alexander Archipelago, in SE Alaska, and in Queen Charlotte Is, in British Columbia (Canada).
  • morphna Oberholser, 1899 - C & SW British Columbia S (W of Cascades) in NW USA to NW Oregon.
  • merrilli Brewster, 1896 - E British Columbia S in USA to SE Washington and NW Montana; non-breeding farther S (S to SE California).
  • cleonensis McGregor, 1899 - W of Cascades in SW Oregon and NW California.
  • gouldii S. F. Baird, 1858 - C coast of California (except San Francisco Bay), also Santa Cruz I.
  • samuelis (S. F. Baird, 1858) - San Pablo Bay and N San Francisco Bay, in California.
  • maxillaris Grinnell, 1909 - Suisun Bay, E of San Pablo Bay.
  • pusillula Ridgway, 1899 - S San Francisco Bay.
  • heermanni S. F. Baird, 1858 - C & SW California and extreme NW Mexico (NW Baja California); non-breeding S to SE California.
  • graminea C. H. Townsend, 1890 - Channel Is (San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Anacapa), off SW California (USA), and Los Coronados Is, off NW Baja California (Mexico).
  • montana Henshaw, 1884 - breeds in W USA throughout Rocky Mts and Great Basin from SE Washington E to NC Montana, S to N & E California and N New Mexico; non-breeding S to SE California and N Mexico (E Sonora E to Coahuila).
  • melodia (A. Wilson, 1810) - breeds from WC Canada (Prairie Provinces and E Great Plains) E to Newfoundland, and S in USA (except middle Atlantic coast) to N Georgia; non-breeding S to Florida and S Texas.
  • atlantica Todd, 1924 - breeds US Atlantic coast from Long I (New York) S to C North Carolina; non-breeding from Maryland S to Georgia.
  • fallax (S. F. Baird, 1854) - SW USA from S Nevada and SW Utah S, including E Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert, to Gulf of California and SE Arizona.
  • rivularis W. E. Bryant, 1888 - S Baja California (from San Ignacio S to Sierra Laguna), in W Mexico.
  • goldmani Nelson, 1899 - W Durango (El Salto), in WC Mexico.
  • zacapu Dickerman, 1963 - Michoacán (Zacapu), perhaps also in Jalisco (at Laguna Chapala), in SW Mexico.
  • adusta Nelson, 1899 - R Lerma from L Yuriria (Guanajuato) S to Pátzcuero (Michoacán), in SC Mexico.
  • villai A. R. Phillips & Dickerman, 1957 - upper R Lerma drainage from Tarandacuao (Guanajuato) E to Toluca area (México), in SC Mexico.
  • mexicana Ridgway, 1874 - S Hidalgo, N México and Distrito Federal E to N Puebla and Tlaxcala, in SC Mexico.