History in Pima County, Arizona
The Rufous-Winged Sparrow in Pima County: This species was first discovered in 1872, near old Fort Lowell, Tucson, where it was described as "very common". In 1881, the sparrow was found:
"sparingly about Tucson and Camp Lowell. It inhabited the mesquite thickets, keeping closely hidden in the bunches of 'sacaton' grass, from which, when flushed, it flew into the branches above."
After 1886, verified species records were exceedingly rare. The species was considered extinct in Arizona due to overgrazing. The rufous-winged sparrow was rediscovered in 1936, the first record in over fifty years. The sparrow now has records throughout much of eastern Pima County; in Canoa Ranch, Madera Canyon, Santa Rita and Santa Catalina Mountains, and in areas around Tucson. Loss of habitat as a result of overgrazing and urban development is believed to have had the greatest effect on populations.