Grasshopper Sparrow
(Ammodramus savannarum)

Summary

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

The Grasshopper Sparrow is a relatively uncommon and patchily distributed grassland bird that breeds across the southern reaches of Canada, though most of the population breeds in the United States. The Breeding Bird Survey suggests little overall change in the small Canadian population relative to about 1970. However, the pratensis subspecies (Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow), found in Ontario and Quebec, is showing a long-term decrease. It was assessed as Special Concern in 2013 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC 2013e) and is listed as such under the Species at Risk Act. The continental population of Grasshopper Sparrow has also experienced a large decrease. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Special Concern2013Grasshopper Sparrow pratensis subspecies
SARA (Canada)Special Concern2017Grasshopper Sparrow pratensis subspecies
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Common birds in steep decline2017 
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
Grasshopper Sparrow pratensis subspeciesLarge DecreaseHighBelow Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500,000 - 1,000,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaLow

General nesting period in Canada

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

Conservation and management

The Grasshopper Sparrow prefers native prairie and grasslands, but has adapted to using planted hayfields and pastures. Despite this adaptability, habitat is still being lost, degraded and fragmented by conversion to large-scale agriculture. In the eastern portion of the range, much of the perennial crops have been converted to intensive crops (COSEWIC 2013e) and conversion of marginal lands into planted tree stands has been detrimental (Savignac et al. 2011). Agriculture programs that encourage planting grass on marginal cropland in the prairies are particularly helpful to this species (McMaster and Davis 2001). Depending on the type of grassland, light grazing, prescribed burning or delayed mowing are recommended to conserve suitable habitat for the species (Vickery 1996). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to see 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
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation
 

References