Baird's Sparrow
(Centronyx bairdii)


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

The Baird's Sparrow breeds in native grasslands in the southern prairie provinces. Results from the Breeding Bird Survey show strong annual fluctuations in Baird's Sparrow population, but an overall decrease in abundance is apparent both within Canada and throughout North America. However, in both cases, while the year-to-year variability has continued, there has been no discernible further decrease since about 2000. In 2012, Baird's Sparrow was assessed as Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) based on habitat loss and subsequent population decline; it was listed as such under the Species at Risk Act in 2017. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Special Concern2012 
SARA (Canada)Special Concern2017 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow D2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseHighBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500,000 - 5,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late May and early June and ends in mid-August, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

The Baird's Sparrow is found in large tracts of native grassland. Because of large-scale conversion of these habitats to agricultural crops since the beginning of European settlement, populations are undoubtedly much lower than pre-settlement populations (Green et al. 2002). Habitat loss and degradation continue on both the breeding and wintering grounds (WWF 2017; Pool et al. 2013) . The species is area sensitive (Davis 2004). Prescribed burning programs may be beneficial in moist portions of the species' range because fire removes dense shrub cover. Haying generally decreases habitat quality; acceptable grazing intensity varies with moisture conditions (Green et al. 2002). Other threats include brood parasitism by cowbirds, pesticides and climate change (COSEWIC 2012). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) 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
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation & Stewardship