Amphispiza is a genus of birds in the American sparrow family. It contains two species:

Amphispiza bilineataPCCA20050311-5951B.jpg
Adult black-throated sparrow (A. bilineata)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Passerellidae
Genus: Amphispiza
Coues, 1874

Amphispiza bilineata
Amphispiza quinquestriata

It has long been considered to contain the sage sparrow complex as well, but mitochondrial DNA sequences suggest that the sage sparrow (in the broad sense) is not very closely related to the five-striped and black-throated sparrows, so it has been placed in its own genus, Artemisiospiza,[1] a treatment followed here.

Both Amphispiza species inhabit dry areas of the western United States and northern Mexico, but in different habitats. They frequently run on the ground with their tails cocked and sing from low bushes. Adults are whitish on the belly and gray above and on the head, with black and white head markings. Juveniles are rather similar to each other, grayish brown above and whitish below, with short streaks on the breast.[2]

The genus name Amphispiza derives from the two Ancient Greek words αμφι (amphi), meaning "on both sides" or "around", and σπίζα (spíza), a catch-all term for finch-like birds,[3][4] originally applied to the sage sparrow. It was then considered a finch and resembles some other finch-like birds "around" it, that is, in its range.[5]


  1. ^ Klicka, John; Banks, Richard C. (17 March 2011). "A generic name for some sparrows (Aves: Emberizidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa (2793): 67–68. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
  2. ^ Howell, Steve N. G.; Webb, Sophie (1995). A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford University Press. pp. 714–715. ISBN 0-19-854012-4.
  3. ^ Bailly, Anatole (1981-01-01). Abrégé du dictionnaire grec français. Paris: Hachette. ISBN 978-2010035289. OCLC 461974285.
  4. ^ Bailly, Anatole. "Greek-french dictionary online". Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  5. ^ Holloway, Joel Ellis (2003). Dictionary of Birds of the United States: Scientific and Common Names. Timber Press. p. 25. ISBN 0-88192-600-0.