Yellow-throated Sparrow

Yellow-throated Sparrow
Yellow-throated Sparrow
At Keoladeo National Park, India
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Infraorder: Passerida
Superfamily: Passeroidea
Family: Passeridae
Genus: Petronia
Species: P. xanthocollis
Binomial name
Petronia xanthocollis
(E. Burton, 1838)

Fringilla flavicollis Franklin, 1831 (preoccupied)
Fringilla xanthocollis E. Burton, 1838
Gymnoris xanthocollis (E. Burton, 1838) Blyth, 1845
Fringilla xanthosterna Bonaparte, 1850

The Yellow-throated Sparrow or Chestnut-shouldered Petronia (Petronia xanthocollis) is a species of sparrow found in Asia.



It has a finer bill than typical sparrows of the genus Passer and unlike them has no streaks on the plumage. The white double wing bar on the shoulder is diagnostic on the otherwise dull grey-brown sparrow. Males have a chestnut shoulder patch which can sometimes be hard to see. They also have a pale yellow spot on the throat in fresh plumage. Females are duller and lack the chestnut shoulder patch.[3] The yellow spot is much reduced or lacking in females.

This species is tree-loving although sometimes seen on wires and on the ground, where it has a hopping gait. The usual call is a "chirrup" but the song is distinctive and repetitive "chilp chalp cholp". It has a bounding flight and dips deeply before rising up.[4]


This species is sometimes placed in its own genus Gymnoris.[citation needed]

This species is sometimes lumped into the Yellow-spotted Petronia (Petronia pyrgita) of Africa.[3]

Three subspecies are described:

  • P. x. xanthocollis, the nominate from India, described from the type locality of Bengal near the Ganges by Major Edward Burton (1790–1867)[5][6]
  • P. x. transfuga described by Hartert from the type locality of Bagu Kelat, eastern Baluchistan, a pale desert form from Baluchistan, Sindh, and Afghanistan.
  • P. x. occidentalis described by Koelz from the type locality of Abulhassan, near Sar i Dasht, Bakhtiari, found from Iran westwards to Turkey.[7]


Feeding, at Keoladeo National Park

The species breeds in tree hollows from April to July, often making use of the holes made by primary hole-nesting birds such as barbets and woodpeckers. They may also make use of hollows on buildings. The nest is built mainly by the female, but males may sometimes assist.[8] The female alone incubates the eggs, sometimes leaving the nest during the hotter parts of the day.[9] The eggs hatch after about 12 to 14 days.[10][11]

They roost communally in low bushes. Some populations are migratory, moving in response to rains.[4][8]

They feed mainly on grains but also on insects, nectar and berries. An unusual food item is the petals of flowers such as those of Madhuca indica.[12] When they visit flowers such as those of Capparis, Salmalia, Erythrina and Bassia, their foreheads are covered with pollen.[8]


In Gujarat, India

The Chestnut-shouldered Petronia is found from Turkey into Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and as a vagrant in Sri Lanka[3] and possibly parts of Myanmar.[13] It is found in forest, gardens and open scrub habitats.


This species is said to have introduced Salim Ali (1896–1987) to ornithology. As a young boy he shot a sparrow that looked different, and it was identified for him by W. S. Millard, then secretary of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), who also introduced him to the literature and collections at the museum there.[14] As a result, Salim Ali ultimatey took up ornithology as a profession. In 2003 the BNHS published a tribute to him entitled Petronia.[15]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2009). "Petronia xanthocollis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Gregory, S. M. S. (2006). "Systematic notes on Asian birds. 57. The authorship of the generic name Gymnoris". Zoologische Mededelingen (Leiden) 80 (5): 185–188. 
  3. ^ a b c Rasmussen, P. C.; and Anderton, J. C. (2005). Birds of South Asia: the Ripley Guide.. 2. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions. p. 576. 
  4. ^ a b Clement, P.; Harris, Alan; Davis, John (1999). Finches and Sparrows. Princeton University Press. p. 469. 
  5. ^ Beolens, B.; Watkins, M.; Grayson, M. (2009). The Eponym Dictionary of Mammals. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 66. ISBN 0801893046. 
  6. ^ Burton, Edward (1838). Catalogue of the Collection of Mammalia and Birds in the Museum of the Army Medical Department, at Fort Pitt, Chatham. p. 23. 
  7. ^ Vaurie, C.; Koelz, W. (1949). "Notes on some Ploceidae from western Asia". American Museum Novitates (1406). hdl:2246/2345.  edit
  8. ^ a b c Ali, S.; and S. D. Ripley (1999). Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 10 (2 ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 81–86. 
  9. ^ Misra, M. K. (1990). "Observations on the nesting behaviour of yellow throated sparrow". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 30 (7&8): 4–5. 
  10. ^ Soni, R. G. (1993). "Breeding of Yellow-throated Sparrow". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 33 (3): 51. 
  11. ^ Soni, R. G. (1993). "Breeding of Yellowthroated Sparrow". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 33 (4): 78. 
  12. ^ Bharos, A. M. K. (1992). "Interesting feeding pattern of Yellowthroated Sparrow Petronia xanthocollis (Burton)". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 89 (1): 128. 
  13. ^ Robinson, S. M. (1925). "Nesting of the Yellowthroated Sparrow Gymnoris xanthosterna xanthosterna at Kalan, Shan States". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 30 (2): 477. 
  14. ^ Daniels, R. J. R. (2008). "Can we save the sparrow?" (PDF). Current Science 95 (11): 1527–1528. 
  15. ^ Daniel, J. C.; and Ugra, G. W. (editors) (2003). Petronia: Fifty Years of Post-Independence Ornithology in India. A Centenary Dedication to Dr. Salim Ali, 1896–1996.. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195666534. 

Further reading

  • Bhat, G. (1984). Breeding Biology of Indian Yellow-throated Sparrow, Petronia xanthocollis (Burton) – a Grain eating Pest Bird. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Calcutta. 
  • Bhat, G.; and Maiti, B. (1993). "Effects of Nitrofurantoin and Cadmium Chloride on Spermatogenetic Activity in an Avian Pest, the Yellow-throated Sparrow (Petronia xanthocollis Burton )". Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology 25 (1): 62–67. doi:10.3312/jyio1952.25.62. 
  • Reddy, V. R. (2006). "Evaluation of bird depredations to important standing crops in southern Telangana zone (STZ), Andhra Pradesh, India". Journal of Ecotoxicology and environmental monitoring 16 (5): 417–424. 
  • Ghose, R. K. (1969). "Behaviour of the Yellowthroated Sparrow Petronia xanthocollis". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 9 (7): 8. 
  • Mittal, O. P.; Sharma, V. L. (1990). "Studies on karyotypes of two species of Indian birds (Passeriformes: Aves)". Res. Bull. Panjab Univ. 41 (1–4): 93–102. 
  • Dixit, A. S.; Tewary, P. D. (1989). "Involvement of a circadian rhythm in the photoperiodic ovarian response of the yellow-throated sparrow, Gymnorhis xanthocollis". J. Exp. Biol. 143: 411–418. PMID 2732664. 
  • Tewary, P. D.; Tripathi, P. M.; Tripathi, B. K. (1985). "Effects of exogenous gonadal steroids and castration on photoperiodic responses of the Yellow-throated Sparrow Gymnorhis xanthocollis (Burton)". Indian J. Exp. Biol. 23: 426–428. 
  • Tewary, P. D. ; and Dixit, A. S. (1986). "Photoperiodic regulation of reproduction in subtropical female Yellow-Throated Sparrows (Gymnorhis xanthocollis)" (PDF). The Condor 88 (1): 70–73. doi:10.2307/1367755. 
  • Venugopal, B. (1997). "Nest relocation by Yellow-throated Sparrow (Petronia xanthocollis)". Indian Journal of Biodiversity 1 (1&2): 174. 
  • Misra, M. K. (1989). "Breeding behaviour of the Indian Yellow throated Sparrow (Petronia xanthocollis xanthocollis) (Burton)". Zoos' Print 4 (10): 17–18. 

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