The Grasshopper Sparrow is a widespread species found in grassland habitat throughout much of North America. A denizen of open grasslands of intermediate height and density, this species is a good example of a Common Bird in Steep Decline. Rangewide, the Grasshopper Sparrow has lost 68% of its population since 1970, largely due to habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation. Eastern populations have declined even more steeply, disappearing along with historic coastal prairie habitats, and the Florida subspecies is critically endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated it as a focal species and it is listed as a species of special concern or greatest conservation need in 35 U.S. states.
Primary Habitats:Breeding: Grassland
Breeding: Agricultural Conversion, Changing Rangeland Conditions, Urbanization
Wintering: Changing Rangeland Conditions
Population Loss Since 1970: -68%
Urgency/Half Life: > 50 years
Global Conservation Status: IUCN 2016-3.1 Least Concern
U.S. Conservation Status: not listed
Canadian Conservation Status: Special Concern (COSEWIC 2013)
Birds of Conservation Concern: USFWS – Bird of Conservation Concern
|Region||Area Importance||Long-term Population Change||Half Life|
|Playa Lakes Joint Venture||31%||-66%||31* years|
|Northern Great Plains Joint Venture||17%||-75%||>50 years|
|Prairie Pothole Joint Venture||14%||-66%||24* years|
|Upper Mississippi River/Great Lakes Region Joint Venture||11%||-81%||13 years|
|Rainwater Basin Joint Venture||10%||-48%||19* years|
|Rio Grande Joint Venture (w)||AI = 5||***||***|
|Sonoran Joint Venture (w)||AI = 5||***||***|
|Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (w)||AI = 4||***||***|
|East Gulf Coast Plain Joint Venture (w)||AI = 2||***||***|
* indicates a confidence interval of >40 years around the half-life estimate.
*** indicates insufficient or unreliable data to calculate a regional long-term change or half-life estimate.
(w) indicates the region supports a significant wintering population of this species.
- The Arizona Bird Conservation Initiative is beginning a targeted grassland bird monitoring program
- National Audubon Society’s Prairie Bird Initiative
The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and New Jersey Audubon are conducting collaborative citizen science grassland bird surveys
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, in collaboration with Virginia Working Landscapes, conducts a citizen science grassland bird survey program on property of participating Virginia landowners
Species Conservation Plans:
- Ruth 2015. Status assessment and conservation plan for the grasshopper sparrow Ammodramus savannarum
- Audubon Minnesota 2014.Grasshopper Sparrow Minnesota Conservation Plan
- COSEWIC 2013. COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Grasshopper Sparrow praetensis subspecies Ammadromus savannarum praetensis in Canada, prepared with the financial support of Environment Canada.
- Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 2013. An action plan for the conservation of state-listed obligate grassland birds in Massachusetts
- Pool et al. 2012. Chihuahuan Desert Grassland Bird Conservation Plan
- PACP-Ch 2011. Conservation Plan for the Chihuahuan Grasslands of Mexico. Plan de acción para la conservación y el uso sustentable de los pastizales del Estado de Chihuahua 2011-2016
- USFWS 1986. Multi-species Recovery Plan for South Florida – Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
Key Species References:
Peer Reviewed Papers:
Guttery et al. 2017. Scale-specific habitat relationships influence patch occupancy: defining neighborhoods to optimize the effectiveness of landscape-scale grassland bird conservation
Wilsey et al. 2016. Quantifying avian relative abundance and ecosystem service value to identify conservation opportunities in the Midwestern US
Gorzo et al. 2016. Using the North American Breeding Bird Survey to assess broad-scale response of the continent’s most imperiled avian community, grassland birds, to weather variability.
West et al. 2016. Grasslands bird occupancy of native warm-season grass.
Buxton and Benson 2016. Conservation-priority grassland bird response to urban landcover and habitat fragmentation.
Wood and Ammer 2015. Grasshopper Sparrow reproductive success and habitat use on reclaimed surface mines varies by age of reclamation.
Augustine and Derner 2015. Patch-burn management, vegetation heterogeneity, and avian response in a semi-arid grassland.
Crosby et al. 2015. Looking beyond rare species as umbrella species: Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and conservation of grassland and shrubland birds
Birds of North America (BNA) Species Account