Current Post-breeding, Winter, and Spring Status of Botteri's Sparrow in Arizona
The natural history of Botteri’s Sparrows, including the species summer and winter distributions (Peucaea botterii), has been extensively studied (Webb and Bock 2012). Most bird guides and other references suggest that “Arizona” Botteri’s Sparrows (P. b. arizonae) withdraw south well into Mexico after the breeding season and do not return to southeast Arizona until late spring (Webb and Bock 2012). However, in one recent reference several “accidental” winter records are listed (Tucson Audubon Society 2011). Furthermore, evidence by the author and other local birders suggests that in recent years this species lingers later into the fall, that at least some sparrows remain on or near their breeding grounds over the winter, and that their return in the spring may be earlier than had been previously published. The objective of this article is to review these winter and “out of season” records and to discuss possible explanations/implications of the findings.