Yellow-throated sparrow

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Yellow-throated sparrow
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Nagpur by Dr. Tejinder Singh Rawal.jpg
At Nagpur, India
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Passeridae
Genus: Gymnoris
G. xanthocollis
Binomial name
Gymnoris xanthocollis
(Burton, 1838)
  • Fringilla flavicollis Franklin, 1831 (preoccupied)
  • Fringilla xanthocollis E. Burton, 1838
  • Petronia xanthocollis (E. Burton, 1838) Blyth, 1845
  • Fringilla xanthosterna Bonaparte, 1850

The yellow-throated sparrow or chestnut-shouldered petronia (Gymnoris xanthocollis) is a species of sparrow found in southern Asia.


Showing the yellow throat

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]


Chestnut Shouldered Petronia at Gir Forest National Park

This species has sometimes been lumped along with the yellow-spotted petronia (Petronia pyrgita) of Africa.[3]

Currently, two subspecies are recognized:[5]

  • G. x. transfuga described by Hartert from the type locality of Bagu Kelat, eastern Baluchistan, a pale desert form found from south-eastern Turkey and south-eastern Iraq to Baluchistan, Sindh, and south-western Afghanistan.
  • G. x. xanthocollis described from the type locality of Bengal near the Ganges by Major Edward Burton (1790–1867)[6][7] and found in north-eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and India.


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]


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 was noted by Salim Ali (1896–1987) as key to his introduction into 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 ultimately took up ornithology as a profession. In 2003 the BNHS published a tribute to him entitled Petronia.[15]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Petronia xanthocollis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  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. & 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. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2018). "Old World sparrows, snowfinches, weavers". World Bird List Version 8.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  6. ^ Beolens, B.; Watkins, M.; Grayson, M. (2009). The Eponym Dictionary of Mammals. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-8018-9304-9.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b c Ali, S. & Ripley, S. D. (1999). Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 10 (2nd 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.; Ugra, G. W., eds. (2003). Petronia: Fifty Years of Post-Independence Ornithology in India. A Centenary Dedication to Dr. Salim Ali, 1896–1996. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-566653-4.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bhat, G. (1984). "Breeding Biology of Indian Yellow-throated Sparrow, Petronia xanthocollis (Burton) – a Grain eating Pest Bird. Ph.D. Thesis". University of Calcutta. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Bhat, G. & 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. & 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. JSTOR 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 Journal. 4 (10): 17–18.

External links[edit]