Savannah Sparrow
(Passerculus sandwichensis)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Savannah Sparrow is one of the most widespread species in Canada, breeding in open habitats across the country. The Breeding Bird Survey indicates that populations have undergone a moderate but steady decrease since 1970 although the species remains very abundant. Taxonomy of the species is complex, with 17 recognised subspecies (Wheelwright and Rising 2008). Conservation interest has been mainly focused on the princeps subspecies which breeds on Sable Island, Nova Scotia and which is treated in a separate assessment. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

See also:

Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Special Concern2009Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies
SARA (Canada)Special Concern2003Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2010 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaModerate DecreaseMedium

Population estimate

Canada> 50,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation of world population


Conservation and management

Although apparently declining over the past several decades, the species has generally benefited from the changes brought by human activity and is likely more common now than before the settlement period (Wheelwright and Rising 2008). Urbanization, reversion of marginal farmland to forest and earlier cutting of hayfields during the breeding season may, in part, be the cause of recent declines (Wheelwright and Rising 2008). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec Region