Ammodramus leconteii - (Audubon, 1844)
LeConte's Sparrow
Other English Common Names: Le Conte's Sparrow, LeConte's sparrow
Synonym(s): Ammospiza leconteii (Audubon, 1844)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ammodramus leconteii (Audubon, 1844) (TSN 179345)
French Common Names: bruant de Le Conte
Spanish Common Names: Gorrión de Le Conte
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100333
Element Code: ABPBXA0040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Passerellidae Ammodramus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ammodramus leconteii
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly known as Le Conte's Sparrow, corrected to LeConte's Sparrow by AOU (2017). Formerly treated as Passerherbulus caudacutus or Ammospiza leconteii (AOU 1983). Closest relatives are A. caudacutus, A. nelsoni, and A. maritimus (Zink and Avise 1990). See Zink and Avise (1990) for relationships within genus Ammodramus (based on analysis of mtDNA and allozymes); Ammodramus (sensu AOU 1983) possibly is not monophyletic; previous generic limits (AOU 1957) seem better to reflect phylogeny than current taxonomy.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 06Apr2016
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Population appears stable or increasing.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3B,N4N (19Mar1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N5M (26Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S3N), Arkansas (S3S4N), Florida (S2N), Georgia (S3), Illinois (SX), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (S4N), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (S3N), Missouri (SNRN), Montana (S3B), Navajo Nation (SNR), Nebraska (SNRN), New Mexico (S2N), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SU), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (S4?N), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (S1S2B), Tennessee (S1N), Texas (S3), Wisconsin (S2S3B), Wyoming (S5N)
Canada Alberta (S5B), British Columbia (S4B), Manitoba (S3S4B), Northwest Territories (S3S4B), Ontario (S4B), Quebec (S3), Saskatchewan (S4B), Yukon Territory (S2B)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 80,000 to >1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: northeastern British Columbia and southern Mackenzie to central Quebec, south to southern Alberta, northern Montana, southern Saskatchewan, North Dakota, central Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and northern Michigan, casually to South Dakota, and Ontario (Lowther 1996, AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: central Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas, central and southern Missouri, southern Illinois, south to Gulf Coast, west to central Texas, and east to western Tennessee, central Alabama, southern Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida (Lowther 1996, AOU 1998). Breeding range extent estimated at 1,460,000 sq. km. (BirdLife International 2014) and 2,855,857 sq. km. (Canadian 2,426,685 sq. km. and USA 429,172 sq. km.) (PIF Science Committee 2013; http://rmbo.org/pifpopestimates ).

Area of Occupancy: Unknown 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Undetermined; Linear occupancy is unknown.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Population fluctuates and habitat use varies from year to year. Number of occurrences undetermined but given the large estimated population size and large range, possible occurrences could be high but species exhibits large fluctuations in abundance and distribution so occurrences could be somewhat ephemeral and tied to local conditions (Igl and Johnson 1995, Lowther 2005).

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Low detectability. Limited information with which to estimate abundance. Three North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) routes in Alberta that regularly detected high numbers reported 7-year means of 13.3, 11.6, and 11.0 birds per route (Price et al. 1995, cited in Lowther 1996). In North Dakota, found 1.5 males per 40 hectares of alfalfa and wheatgrass (Renken and Dinsmore 1987, cited in Lowther 1996). In Ontario, estimated 11-100 birds per 100 square kilometers (Cadman et al. 1987, cited in Lowther 1996). At Shreveport, Louisiana, ten-year average for Christmas Bird Count was 0.29 birds per party-hour (Root 1988, cited in Lowther 1996). Other estimates in Oklahoma and Texas ranged from 22 to 268 birds per 100 hectares. Population numbers fluctuate in response to local conditions. Largest numbers during winter found in eastern Texas (Lowther 1996). The Partners in Flight (PIF) Science Committee (2013; http://rmbo.org/pifpopestimates) estimates a global breeding populationof 8,000,000 individuals (for Canada - 7,000,000 individuals and for USA - 700,000 individuals) based on BBS routes and range.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few to some (1-40)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Hard to know. Apparently species has little fidelity to breeding sites from year to year (Murray 1969 and Winter et al. 2005 inLowther 2005). Igl and Johnson (1999) showed dramatic changes in the status of Le Conte's Sparrow in grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program in the northern Great Plains. The sparrows went from an uncommon breeding species in 1990-1993 (drought conditions) to one of the most abundant breeding species in 1994-1996 (end of drought).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: HABITAT: Changes in land use have affected the extent and distribution of available habitats. Haying may destroy nests and can be detrimental to breeding birds. PARASITISM: Brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds (MOLOTHRUS ATER) has been reported, but the effect on productivity is unknown (Peabody 1901, Friedmann 1963, Murray 1969, Friedmann and Kiff 1985). Lowther (1996) indicates cowbird parasitism may seem relatively frequent: all five nests found by Murray (1969) in North Dakota were parasitized; but no parasitism found among 36 nests in Wisconsin (Richter 1969). INCLEMENT WEATHER: Flooding has been known to cause a large number of nest losses (Walkinshaw 1968, cited in Lowther 1996). Climate changes (e.g., an increase in extent of drought conditions) may have a significant impact on this species.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Population numbers likely fluctuate in response to local conditions. North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) from 1984 - 1993 showed a 29.8 percent increase (N = 135 survey routes; P less than 0.1); from 1966 to 1993, however, no significant population increase (Price et al. 1995, cited in Lowther 1996). BBS data from 2002-2012 suggest a 1.57% annual increase in North America (N = 367 routes; Sauer et al. 2014, http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/atlasa12.pl?05480&1&12).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Recent BBS trend data suggest a significant 1.75% annual decline survey-wide, 1966-2012 (N = 367 routes; Sauer et al. 2014, http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/atlasa12.pl?05480&1&12 ) that reflects decreasing populations in Canada (Alberta especially has credible data and shows a significant 4% annual decline) and slightly increasing populations in the United States, most notably North Dakota and Minnesota (Sauer et al. 2013). Mapped Christmas Bird Count (CBC) 1959-1988 appears stable (Sauer et al. 1996). Birds per party-hour on CBCs from 1942 - 2012 appear relatively stable but with spikes in certain years (largest in 2011)(National Audubon Society 2010).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Apparently greatly affected by local climatic conditions in perennial grasslands.

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Requires fairly specific conditions in grassland habitats for breeding.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Document occurrences of Le Conte's sparrows on all existing managed areas both public and private. Sites should be monitored long-term to document relationship to climatic factors. Identify and characterize habitats on wintering grounds in the southeastern U.S., giving special attention to occurrences on any private preserves or public lands.

Protection Needs: Protect grasslands through conservation easements, land purchases, and development of farm programs that hold conservation of wildlife habitat in high priority (Johnson 1996, McMaster and Davis 1998).

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 80,000 to >1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: northeastern British Columbia and southern Mackenzie to central Quebec, south to southern Alberta, northern Montana, southern Saskatchewan, North Dakota, central Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and northern Michigan, casually to South Dakota, and Ontario (Lowther 1996, AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: central Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas, central and southern Missouri, southern Illinois, south to Gulf Coast, west to central Texas, and east to western Tennessee, central Alabama, southern Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida (Lowther 1996, AOU 1998). Breeding range extent estimated at 1,460,000 sq. km. (BirdLife International 2014) and 2,855,857 sq. km. (Canadian 2,426,685 sq. km. and USA 429,172 sq. km.) (PIF Science Committee 2013; http://rmbo.org/pifpopestimates ).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, FL, GA, IA, ILextirpated, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NN, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, WI, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NT, ON, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
MS Forrest (28035), Issaquena (28055), Jackson (28059), Lafayette (28071), Madison (28089), Marshall (28093), Panola (28107), Tunica (28143), Warren (28149), Winston (28159)
MT Flathead (30029), Lake (30047), Roosevelt (30085), Sheridan (30091)
ND Bottineau (38009), Kidder (38043), McHenry (38049), Stutsman (38093)
SD Beadle (46005)*, Campbell (46021), Day (46037), Faulk (46049), Roberts (46109)
WI Ashland (55003), Barron (55005), Bayfield (55007), Burnett (55013), Door (55029), Douglas (55031), Green Lake (55047), Iron (55051), Jackson (55053), Marathon (55073), Monroe (55081), Oconto (55083), Oneida (55085), Polk (55095), Portage (55097), Vilas (55125), Washburn (55129), Wood (55141)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Noxubee (03160108)+, Pascagoula (03170006)+, Black (03170007)+, Escatawpa (03170008)+, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+, Middle Pearl-Strong (03180002)+
04 St. Louis (04010201)+, Beartrap-Nemadji (04010301)+, Bad-Montreal (04010302)+, Door-Kewaunee (04030102)+, Oconto (04030104)+, Upper Fox (04030201)+
07 Upper St. Croix (07030001)+, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+, Black (07040007)+, Flambeau (07050002)+, Red Cedar (07050007)+, Upper Wisconsin (07070001)+, Lake Dubay (07070002)+, Castle Rock (07070003)+
08 Little Tallahatchie (08030201)+, Tallahatchie (08030202)+, Coldwater (08030204)+, Deer-Steele (08030209)+
09 Lower Souris (09010003)+, Willow (09010004)+, Bois De Sioux (09020101)+
10 Charlie-Little Muddy (10060005)+, Big Muddy (10060006)+, Brush Lake closed basin (10060007)+, Apple (10130103)+, West Missouri Coteau (10130106)+, Upper James (10160003)+, Mud (10160005)+, Middle James (10160006)+*, Snake (10160008)+, Middle Big Sioux Coteau (10170201)+
17 North Fork Flathead (17010206)+, Stillwater (17010210)+*, Swan (17010211)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small bird (sparrow).
Reproduction Comments: Eggs are laid from late May to early July. Clutch size is 3-5 (usually 4). Incubation, by female, lasts 11-13 days. Young are tended by female alone at first, male helps later?
Ecology Comments: Rough estimates of breeding territory sizes in North Dakota and Minnesota were 0.0009-0.004 hectares (Murray 1969, Cooper 1984).
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrates north to breeding areas usually March-April (Terres 1980).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Uses open, level uplands and lowlands, with tall, thick herbaceous vegetation and thick litter (Peabody 1901, Tester and Marshall 1961, Walkinshaw 1968, Murray 1969, Richter 1969). Wetlands, sedge meadows, prairie, grasslands within aspen parkland, planted cover (e.g., Conservation Reserve Program [CRP] fields, Permanent Cover Program [PCP] fields, and dense nesting cover [DNC]), hayfields, fallow fields, and idle pasture all support breeding populations (Peabody 1901; Walkinshaw 1937; Murray 1969; Richter 1969; Robbins 1969; Stewart 1975; Renken 1983; Cooper 1984; Niemi 1985; Renken and Dinsmore 1987; Dale 1993; Dhol et al. 1994; Hartley 1994; Jones 1994; Igl and Johnson 1995, 1999; Igl 1996; Prescott and Murphy 1995, 1996; Dale et al. 1997, McMaster and Davis 1998). Many species of tall, dense, native and tame grasses, sedges (CAREX), rushes (JUNCUS), and forbs can provide suitable habitat (Peabody 1901, Walkinshaw 1968, Murray 1969, Faanes 1981, Renken 1983, Cooper 1984, Niemi 1985; Renken and Dinsmore 1987, Dale 1993, Jones 1994, Madden 1996). Prefer areas with dense litter for nesting cover (Tester and Marshall 1961, Madden 1996).

In Minnesota and North Dakota, bred in hummocky alkali fens, tallgrass prairie, wet-meadow zones of wetlands, tame hayfields, and retired cropland (Johnsgard 1979). Nested on the ground in dense herbaceous vegetation, usually in the drier borders of wetlands. Although nested among scattered small willows (SALIX) in Minnesota and Michigan, they seemed to prefer areas free of shrubs and other woody vegetation (Peabody 1901, Walkinshaw 1968, Robbins 1969, Madden 1996). In North Dakota, were associated with a high amount of grass cover, especially broad-leaved, introduced grasses (Madden 1996).

Habitat use varies widely by region and yearly moisture conditions. In Montana, singing sparrows were observed in extensive wet meadows (Davis 1952). In North Dakota, Minnesota, and the Canadian prairie provinces, used freshwater wetlands and low wet prairie (Murray 1969). In Minnesota, three of 15 nests found were located in upland grasslands (Peabody 1901). More recent studies have found breeding evidence in drier upland areas. In Wisconsin and Minnesota, nested in dry upland grasslands, as well as in fallow fields near wetlands (Robbins 1969, Cooper 1984). In CRP fields in the northern Great Plains, occurred in both damp, low areas and dry, upland areas (Igl and Johnson 1995, 1999). In North Dakota, low, wet areas were optimal breeding habitat, but also nested in domestic hayfields and retired cropland (Stewart 1975).

In aspen parkland in Saskatchewan and Alberta, were not observed in cropland, including fallow cropland (Dale 1993, Hartley 1994, Prescott and Murphy 1995). In North Dakota, singing males were observed in small-grain fields that were CRP the previous year (L.D. Igl and D.H. Johnson, unpubl. data). Presence in these small-grain fields, however, may have been an expression of site fidelity to a previous breeding site. In Manitoba, were not detected in cropland (Jones 1994). In Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, occurred more frequently in PCP grasslands than in cropland (McMaster and Davis 1998).

NON-BREEDING: Variety of old field and prairie habitats with dense cover of grass or sedge. Examples include: moist fields of broomsedge, rice stubble, airfield grasslands, and damp weedy or grassy fields (Lowther 1996).

Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly seeds in winter, insects and spiders in summer; forages on ground (Terres 1980).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 13 centimeters
Weight: 13 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Timing and type of management must be adjusted according to regional differences and annual precipitation.

Burn every 2-4 years in mesic, mixed-grass prairie. In North Dakota reached highest abundances 2 years postburn and avoided unburned prairie (Madden 1996).

Avoid annual mowing, which can destroy nests and reduce dense litter needed for nesting (Murray 1969, Lowther 1996, Dale et al. 1997).

In Saskatchewan, dense cover can be maintained by mowing some fields in alternate years while leaving others idle for at least 3 years (Dale et al. 1997). Grasslands mowed at longer (2-9 years) intervals also may be suitable (Renken and Dinsmore 1987).

If fields need to be mowed at < 2 year intervals, ensure productivity of hay and birds by dividing large fields in half, mowing each half in alternate years (Dale et al. 1997). If possible, delay mowing of hayfields until after 15 July or until after the majority of nests have fledged young (Dale et al. 1997).

Discourage mowing or grazing of CRP land during extremely wet years, because disturbance will negatively impact breeding birds (Igl and Johnson 1995). CRP and DNC plantings can provide tall, dense nesting habitat (Renken and Dinsmore 1987; Igl and Johnson 1995, 1999).

Do not leave habitat idle for so long as to allow over-accumulation of litter. Tester and Marshall (1961) suggested that idling for more than 1 year in Minnesota tallgrass may allow litter to build up too high for use.

Mow periodically to maintain suitable habitat and prevent woody-vegetation encroachment (Robbins 1969, Kantrud 1981, Dale et al. 1997).

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Little information is available regarding minimum area requirements. No relationship between frequency of occurrence and patch size in CRP fields in the northern Great Plains (D.H. Johnson, unpubl. data).
Management Requirements: Periodic treatments such as burning, mowing, grazing, or combinations thereof, may be needed to maintain optimal habitat. BURNING: Appear to respond favorably to fire in some parts of the range. In North Dakota mixed-grass prairie, increased in abundance with repeated fires but was absent from prairies that had not been burned for long periods (Madden 1996). Highest abundance noted 2 years postburn and would probably benefit from short (2-4 years) fire intervals (Madden 1996). In Minnesota, avoided burned areas immediately after burning, but were present the following year after litter and vegetation regrowth increased (Tester and Marshall 1961).

MOWING: Annual haying often negatively influences breeding birds (Murray 1969, Lowther 1996, Dale et al. 1997). In addition to direct destruction of nests by mowing, repeated mowing reduces the dense litter layer preferred by the species (Dale et al. 1997). In Saskatchewan, preferred periodically mowed (idle for 3-8 years) tame hayland over annually mowed tame hayland and idle mixed-grass prairie (Dale et al. 1997). Were absent from both mowed and unmowed annual hayland. Comparing recently mowed periodic hayland, were more abundant on unmowed hayland than on mowed hayland. Hayfields mowed at more than 1 year intervals provide stands of introduced, broad-leaved grasses attractive to sparrows (Dale et al. 1997). In Minnesota, only five of 24 territories were within annually cut hayland; the remaining territories were mostly in idle grass and fallow fields (Cooper 1984). In North Dakota, however, highest abundances occurred on hayland that had been mowed 1 year previously, providing tall grass growth that was preferred for nesting (Kantrud 1981).

GRAZING: Effects of grazing are not clear (Bock et al. 1993). Used actively grazed areas in Minnesota and idle pastures in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, provided that adequate litter was present (Tester and Marshall 1961, Robbins 1969). In Alberta aspen parkland, occurred more frequently in tame pasture than in native pasture (Prescott and Murphy 1996). In tame pasture, preferred high grass biomass; in native pasture, preferred low to moderate cover diversity and moderate to tall grass of uniform height (Prescott and Murphy 1996).

CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM: In the northern Great Plains (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana), breed in thick, undisturbed cover provided by CRP and DNC plantings (Renken 1983; Renken and Dinsmore 1987; Igl and Johnson 1995, 1999). In North Dakota, used DNC fields of alfalfa (MEDICAGO SATIVA) and intermediate and tall wheatgrass (AGROPYRON INTERMEDIUM and A. ELONGATUM, respectively) that were idle for 6-9 years (Renken and Dinsmore 1987). However, idling habitat for more than 1 year in a Minnesota tallgrass prairie allowed too much litter accumulation for use (Tester and Marshall 1961).

In Canadian aspen parkland, regularly breed in DNC plantings (Dale 1993, Prescott and Murphy 1995). In Saskatchewan, bred in native and tame DNC that was 3-5 years old (Hartley 1994). In Alberta, were rare or absent in DNC that were less than 2 years old, increased in abundance through the fifth year, and decreased in abundance after the fifth year (Prescott and Murphy 1995). In that study, DNC was mostly tame, although a native component was present. Dale (1993) found sparrows in tame DNC planted to intermediate and tall wheatgrass, alfalfa, and sweet clover (MELILOTUS) in Saskatchewan. Were also very common in low nesting cover composed of Kentucky bluegrass (POA PRATENSIS) and creeping red fescue (FESTUCA RUBRA) (Dale 1993). Were abundant in both native and tame DNC in Alberta (Prescott et al. 1995). In Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, the frequency of occurrence was higher in hayed PCP sites than in grazed PCP sites (McMaster and Davis 1998). Were detected in native grassland, native DNC, tame DNC, and hayland in Manitoba (Jones 1994). In another Manitoba study, were more abundant in native DNC than in idle native grasslands, but no difference in abundance was found between native and tame DNC or between tame DNC and native grasslands; no difference in productivity among the three habitats was detected (Dhol et al. 1994).

Biological Research Needs: Research needed on breeding biology, of which there is little information (Lowther 2005). Information needed on species' habitat needs across its geographic range under various conditins, which would require longer term studies but could yield valuable information to managers and policy makers (Igl and Johnson 1999).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Passerines

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Nest Site, Nesting Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Mapping Guidance: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas as well as foraging areas.

For swallows and other species that have separate nesting and foraging areas, separations are based on nest sites or nesting areas, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap larger than the separation distance are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Mean foraging radius (from nesting area) of Brown-headed Cowbird females was 4.0 kilometers in California, 1.2 kilometers in Illinois-Missouri (Thompson 1994). Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, and probably Red-winged Blackbirds all forage up to 1.6 kilometers away from breeding colony (Willson 1966, Horn 1968). In one study, Brewer's Blackbirds were found as far as 10 kilometers from nesting area (Williams 1952), but this may be unusual.

For swallows and other parrerines with similar behavioral ecology, separation distance pertains to nest sites or nesting colonies, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap of more than 5 km are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: For most passerines: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating individuals (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat.

For swallows: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 100 birds in appropriate habitat (e.g., traditional roost sites).

Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually.

EOs should not be described for species that are nomadic during nonbreeding season: e.g., Lark Bunting.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary but intended to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any area used traditionally in the nonbreeding season (used for populations that are not resident in a location year-round). Minimally, reliable observations of 10 or more individuals in appropriate habitat for 20 or more days at a time. For G1-G3 species, observations of fewer individuals could constitute an occurrence of conservation value. Sites used during migration should be documented under the 'migratory stopover' location use class.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is necessarily arbitrary but attempts to balance the high mobility of birds with the need for occurrences of reasonable spatial scope. Note that a population's roost sites and foraging areas are parts of the same occurrence, even if they are more than 5 km apart.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nonmigratory
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a particular location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in or near appropriate habitat.

These occurrence specifications are used for nonmigratory populations of passerine birds.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and breeding-season foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Blue jays have small summer home ranges but fly up to 4 kilometers to harvest mast (Tarvin and Woolfenden 1999). Flocks of pinyon jays range over 21-29 square kilometers (Ligon 1971, Balda and Bateman 1971); nesting and foraging areas may be widely separated. Tricolored blackbirds forage in flocks that range widely to more than 15 kilometers from the nesting colony (Beedy and Hamilton 1999).

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: These specs pertain to nonmigratory species.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 17Sep2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: KOENEN, M.; Revisions by D.W. Mehlman (1999); Revisions by C. C. NeSmith, 2014.
Management Information Edition Date: 15Jun1999
Management Information Edition Author: DECHANT, J.A., M.L. SONDREAL, D.H. JOHNSON, L.D. IGL, C.M. GOLDADE, A.L. ZIMMERMAN, AND B.R. EULISS; REVISIONS BY M. KOENEN AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: Helpful comments on a draft of this abstract were received from P. Lowther. Parts of this abstract were originally researched and written by staff of the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and published as Dechant et al. (1999). Additional support for the preparation of this abstract was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Initiative, through challenge grant number 97-270 to The Nature Conservancy, Wings of the Americas Program. Matching funds for this grant were donated by Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 04Mar1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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