Brewer's Sparrow
(Spizella breweri)


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

Two subspecies of the Brewer's Sparrow breed in Canada, one in the sagebrush grasslands of southern British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and the other in the subalpine shrublands of the Rocky Mountains, northern British Columbia, and southern Yukon. Breeding Bird Survey results, mainly reflecting the sagebrush subspecies, suggest little overall change in the population in Canada relative to the early 1970s. 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
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeMediumAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 500,000 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 early May and late May and ends between mid-July and late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

The sagebrush subspecies of the Brewer's Sparrow has suffered considerable habitat loss and degradation throughout its range in North America (Rotenberry et al. 1999). In Canada, much of its sagebrush habitat has been lost due to on-going vineyard, orchard, and urban development in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, the region with the highest population density in Canada (Lea 2008). Elsewhere, habitat loss has been attributed primarily to changes in agricultural and linear development (e.g., roads, trails, power-lines, pipelines) associated with industrial activity that fragments the landscape and introduces noise, predators, and invasive, non-native plants that are detrimental to bird populations (Rotenberry 1998, Rotenberry et al. 1999, Ingelfinger and Anderson 2004). Most conservation recommendations involve the prevention of further loss of sagebrush habitats and restoration of remaining habitat. One of the main habitat restoration issues is the control of cheatgrass, an invasive annual species (Rotenberry et al. 1999). The timberline subspecies is not well known.


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
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation & Stewardship
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation
Northwestern Interior ForestNorthwestern Interior Forest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other