The Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis) is an American sparrow found in a wide range of habitats, often near humans, from the extreme southeast of Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, and on the island of Hispaniola. It is famous for its diverse vocalizations, which have been intensely studied since the 1970s, particularly by Paul Handford and Stephen C. Lougheed (UWO), Fernando Nottebohm (Rockefeller University) and Pablo Luis Tubaro (UBA). Local names for this bird include the Portuguese tico-tico and the Spanish chingolo and copetón (tufted) in Colombia.
The Rufous-collared Sparrow is 13.5–15 cm long and weighs 20–25 g. The adult has a stubby grey bill and a grey head with broad black stripes on the crown sides and thinner stripes through the eye and below the cheeks. The nape and breast sides are rufous and the upperpart are black-streaked buff-brown. There are two white wing bars. The throat is white, and the underparts are off-white, becoming brown on the flanks and with a black breast patch. Young birds have a duller, indistinct head pattern, with brown stripes and a buff ground colour. They lack the rufous collar, and have streaked underparts. There are between 25 and 29 subspecies. In general, the smaller forms occur in coastal mountains, intermediate birds in the Andes, and large, darker, forms breed on the tepuis. The largest of the tepui subspecies, Z. c. perezchincillae, has grey underparts, and the rufous collar extends as a black band of freckles across the breast. This form might be separable as a distinct species, or it might just be a particularly distinct population due to genetic bottleneck effects.