Backyard BirdsUncategorized

Olive Sparrows (Arremonops rufivirgatus) aka Green Finches or Texas Sparrows

The Olive Sparrows (Arremonops rufivirgatus) are also known as Green Finches and those populations are found in the US, as Texas Sparrows.

Olive Sparrow
Olive Sparrow

Distribution / Habitat

Olive Sparrows occur naturally in North America and Middle America.

In the United States, they are found in southern Texas. From there they range south into Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

They are resident birds (non-migratory) and inhabit weedy thickets, semi-open scrub, chaparral, and undergrowth near forests – from sea level to 6,000 feet (1,800 meters). They typically avoid humid tropical forests.

Olive Sparrow

Subspecies and Ranges:

  • Texas Olive Sparrows (Arremonops rufivirgatus rufivirgatus – Lawrence, 1851)
    • Range: Extreme southern United States in southern Texas to northeastern Mexico from northeastern Coahuila (San Juan de Sabinas) and Nuevo León south to southern coastal Tamaulipas
  • Olive Sparrow (ridgwayi) (Arremonops rufivirgatus ridgwayi – Sutton and Burleigh, 1941)
    • Range: Eastern Mexico – from Tamaulipas south to eastern San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo and northern Veracruz
  • Olive Sparrow (crassirostris) (Arremonops rufivirgatus crassirostris – Ridgway, 1878)
    • Range: Atlantic coast of southeastern Mexico from central and southern Veracruz south to eastern Puebla, northern Oaxaca, and eastern Tabasco
  • Yucatan Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus verticalis – Ridgway, 1878)
    • Range: East Tabasco and the Yucatán Peninsula in southeastern Mexico south to Petén in northern Guatemala and northern Belize
  • Olive Sparrow (rhyptothorax) (Arremonops rufivirgatus rhyptothorax – Parkes, 1974)
    • Range: Northern parts of the Yucatán Peninsula in southeastern Mexico
  • Pacific Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus [superciliosus])
    • Range: Pacific coast of northwestern Costa Rica, from Nicaragua border south to Santo Domingo.
  • Olive Sparrow (sinaloae) (Arremonops rufivirgatus sinaloae – Nelson, 1899)
    • Range: Coastal western Mexico from central Sinaloa south to Nayarit.
  • Olive Sparrow (sumichrasti) (Arremonops rufivirgatus sumichrasti – Sharpe, 1888)
    • Range: Coastal southwestern Mexico from Jalisco to Colima, Michoacán, and Oaxaca (Isthmus of Tehuantepec)
  • Olive Sparrow (chiapensis) (Arremonops rufivirgatus chiapensis – Nelson, 1904)
    • Range: Central Valley of Chiapas in southern Mexico.



Length: 5.5 – 7.1 inches (14 – 18 cm)

Wingspan: 8 – 10 inches (21 – 25 cm)

Plumage Details / Adults

Plain sparrow with an olive back; broad dull brown eye streak and on the crown; buffy chest and some white feathers on the abdomen. Underparts are paler.

Other Physical Details

  • Cone-shaped beak

Gender ID

Males and females look alike.

Juvenile Description

Immature birds have a more buffy plumage and some streaking on the abdomen.

Similar Species

Resembles the Green-tailed Towhee but is smaller and without the rusty cap.

Diet / Feeding

Their diet consists of insects (including caterpillars) and seeds.

Breeding / Nesting

Most of the breeding activities are noted between March to September. They construct bulky domed nests with side entrances using twigs, grasses, straws, strips of bark, leaves, stems, and other plant material.

The nests are lined with fine grasses and hair. The nest is placed about 2 – 5 feet (0.6 – 1.5 meters) above the ground.

A nest may contain 3 – 5 glossy white, unmarked eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 10 – 12 days. It is believed that the pairs produce 2 broods in a season.

Calls / Vocalizations / Sounds

Alternate (Global) Names

Chinese: ???? … Czech: Habije olivová … Danish: Olivenspurv … Dutch: Olijfgors
Finnish: Viirupääsirkku … French: Bruant olive, Pinson olive, Tohi olive … German: Olivrückenammer, Olivrücken-Ammer … Italian: Passero oliva, Passero olivaceo … Japanese: oriabushitodo, ori-bushitodo … Norwegian: Olivenspurv … Polish: ciszek oliwkowy … Russian: ????????? ?????????, ????????? ???????-????????? … Slovak: strnádlik krovinový … Spanish: Arrocero Olivo, Cerquero Oliváceo, Curtío Olivo, Gorrión oliváceo, Pinzón Aceitunado, Pinzón Aceituno, Rascador Oliváceo … Swedish: Olivsparv


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button