Since its discovery in June of 1957 at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains, the Five-striped Sparrow Amphispiza quinquestriata has become something of a holy grail for birders. Even birders who fear the problem of sparrow identification feel strongly compelled to seek out at least one of these handsome little enigmas, if only to lord it over their fainter-hearted companions. Their task will not be easy for several reasons.

The Five-stripe is, first of all, a very rare bird in Arizona, with maximum counts of fewer than 50 territorial males each nesting season. Almost all of these inhabit a handful of nearly inaccessible canyons in the rugged terrain of the Pajaritos Mountains. Elsewhere, a few birds occurred in the vicinity of Patagonia from 1969, when nesting was first noted in Arizona, until the mid-1980's, and a larger number haunted Chino Canyon from the late 1970's until about 1991; but the Patagonia breeding colony may have fallen victim to cowbird brood parasitism