Ammodramus savannarum floridanus - (Mearns, 1902)
Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
Other English Common Names: Florida grasshopper sparrow
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ammodramus savannarum floridanus (Mearns, 1902) (TSN 179335)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102168
Element Code: ABPBXA0022
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). 1957. The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds, 5th ed. Port City Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD. 691 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B57AOU01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ammodramus savannarum floridanus
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5T1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Jun2018
Global Status Last Changed: 11Feb1998
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: T1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Scattered, disjunct populations occur in a very restricted range (Kissimmee Prairie region, Florida); habitat continuing to disappear; total numbers very low.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (05Jan1997)

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 Florida (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (11Mar1967)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 250-1000 square km (about 100-400 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Restricted to Kissimmee Prairie region northwest of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, U. S.. Known from a small area in four counties (southern Osceola, southern Polk, northern Highlands, western Okeechobee, counties). No birds were found in southern Polk and only 1 nest in northern Highlands, and no nests in western Okeechobee in 2017; no information yet for 2018. There is a lack of information regarding historical range, though it appears to have been reduced. Geographically isolated from conspecific populations by over 400 km.

Area of Occupancy: 1-5 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: 2017: Data from 4 sites (U17FWC01FLUS): Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area (TLWMA) had 32 nests of which 14 were successful, 30 males seen at least once, 14-19 showed signs of pairing but thought to be only 14 females; Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR) had 8 total birds - 5 males, of which 3 were paired with females and 4 nests from 1 pair; Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park (KPPSP) found no nests, 17 males detected in annual survey mostly in April (53 total detections -surveys and outside surveys)(data not clear for KPPSP); the Ranch (private property) had 5 males pair, down from 12 in 2016, pop. est. 44 adults in 2015, 31 in 2016, and 23 in 2017. There were unbanded birds that appeared on KPPSP, TLWMA, and the Ranch, which is a small encouragement.

2013: Overall Occurs at 3-4 scattered sites: TLWMA has the most stable population but with less than 75 singing males detected in 2013; APAFR has declined precipitously since 1990s and only had one singing male detected in 2013; KPPSP had approximately 25 singing males counted on a partial coverage of the park (Schrott 2013) and population in 2014 may be 20 individuals or lower (J. Cox pers. comm. 2014). Ca. 1998: Occurs at seven scattered sites, including public and private land, in a relatively small area. Occurs at four main sites, which are all public: APAFR has an estimated 275 individuals (Delany 1993; G. Shriver, pers. comm.); TLWMA has an estimated 300 individuals; Ordway Whittell Kissimmee Prairie has an estimated 50 individuals (G. Shriver, pers. comm.); at Kissimmee Prairie (Florida Department of Environmental Protection undesignated, formerly Latt Maxey property) 40 individuals were counted (T. Dean, pers. comm., 1997?; C. NeSmith, S. Jue, D. Hipes, pers. comms., 1997), but no thorough inventory has been conducted at this site. Additional sites include Bright Hour Ranch (conservation easement) in DeSoto County (two birds found in early 1990s (Delany 1993); no birds found in 1997 (T. Dean, pers. comm.)). Also Flying K Ranch (private) in Okeechobee County (three birds recorded by Delany (1993)); and a site south of Avon Park Air Force Range in Highlands County.

Population Size: 1 - 250 individuals
Population Size Comments: 2017: estimate of less than 125 individuals; 2014: estimate of 200-300 individuals remaining. 1998: Recent estimates of population size approach 670 individuals distributed among four main sites. Until the early 1900s, may have occurred as a larger, more widespread population.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: None (zero)
Percent Area with Good Viability/Integrity: No area with excellent or good viability or ecological integrity Viability/Integrity Comments: 2017: Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) still has the largest known population but at only 14? territories in 2017 (U17FWC01FLUS). 2014: TLWMA has the largest population, an estimated 60-70 males, as of 2014 (Cox, J. pers. comm., 2014).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Unclear as to what exactly has caused the relatively recent precipitous decline in the Florida grasshopper sparrow. High fire frequency (1-2 years) is required for this subspecies but the role of season of fire is less clear (J. Cox, M. Korosy, pers. comm., 2014). Recommended growing season fires may in fact push breeding birds into the wet season, which increases the risk of flooding. Fire ants have also been implicated in the decline of sparrows on Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park (P. Miller, pers. comm., 2014). Over arching threat has been habitat loss from conversion (and drainage) of native dry prairie to improved pastures or more intensive uses.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 80-90%
Short-term Trend Comments: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1990) categorized the status as "declining." Since late 1990s/2000 population has gone from ca. 670 individuals to an estimated 100-125 birds. And from several sites to no site with >50 birds.

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: see Short-Term trends

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Very habitat specific, ground-nesting bird

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Requires fairly specific conditions in grassland/prairie habitats for breeding.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Continue to monitor populations; survey private lands for other populations. Coordinate this with Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Protection Needs: Preserve existing EOs and other tracts of suitable habitat in region.

Distribution
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Global Range: (250-1000 square km (about 100-400 square miles)) Restricted to Kissimmee Prairie region northwest of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, U. S.. Known from a small area in four counties (southern Osceola, southern Polk, northern Highlands, western Okeechobee, counties). No birds were found in southern Polk and only 1 nest in northern Highlands, and no nests in western Okeechobee in 2017; no information yet for 2018. There is a lack of information regarding historical range, though it appears to have been reduced. Geographically isolated from conspecific populations by over 400 km.

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: endemic to a single state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States FL

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Glades (12043), Hendry (12051), Highlands (12055), Okeechobee (12093), Osceola (12097)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Kissimmee (03090101)+, Western Okeechobee Inflow (03090103)+, Everglades (03090202)+, Caloosahatchee (03090205)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Florida grasshopper sparrow, Emberizidae.
General Description: A chunky sparrow with a short narrow tail, flat head, buffy breast and sides (adults usually without obvious streaking), dark crown with a pale central stripe, narrow white eye ring, and (in most adults) a yellow-orange spot in front of the eye; juveniles have pale buff breast and sides, streaked with brown; average length 13 cm (NGS 1983).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from other subspecies chiefly in its darker dorsal coloration.
Reproduction Comments: Clutch size is 3-6 (commonly 4-5). Commonly produces two broods per year. Incubation lasts 11-13 days, by female. Young are tended by female, leave nest at 6-9 days while still unable to fly. Nests in small semicolonial groups.
Ecology Comments: Breeding territory size probably is around 1 ha. Local population sizes fluctuate greatly from year to year (Ehrlich et al. 1992).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Savanna
Habitat Comments: Dry prairie with stunted saw palmetto and dwarf oaks, bluestems and wiregrass; unimproved cattle pastures. Habitat is maintained by periodic fires. Cannot survive in pastureland if it is stripped of shrubby patches.
Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats insects, other small invertebrates, grain, seeds of herbaceous plants. Most food items are picked off the surface of the ground (Terres 1980, Ehrlich et al. 1992).
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Length: 13 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Periodic winter burns improve habitat by maintaining prairie scrub community at early successional stage (Matthews and Moseley 1990).
Biological Research Needs: Continue investigation of ecology and habitat needs. Also investigate captive breeding for this bird.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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Justification: Use the Generic Element Occurrence Rank Specifications (2008).
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
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: 07Jun2018
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: NeSmith, C. C., Jackson, D. R. Minor revisions by G. Hammerson. Updated 2014 and 2017 and 2018 by C. C. NeSmith.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 28Apr1995
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).

References
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  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1957. The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds, 5th ed. Port City Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD. 691 pp.

  • Delany, M. F. 1993. Florida Grasshopper Sparrow Population Survey, Final Performance Report - for the period 1 July 1989-30 June 1993. Preliminary Draft.

  • Delany, M. F., C. T. Moore and D. R. Progulske, Jr. 1995. Territory size and movements of Florida grasshopper sparrows. J. Field Ornithol., 66(2): 305-309.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1992. Birds in Jeopardy: the Imperiled and Extinct Birds of the United States and Canada, Including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. 259 pp.

  • Matthews, J.R. and C.J. Moseley (eds.). 1990. The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Endangered Species of North America. Volume 1. Plants, Mammals. xxiii + pp 1-560 + 33 pp. appendix + 6 pp. glossary + 16 pp. index. Volume 2. Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fishes, Mussels, Crustaceans, Snails, Insects, and Arachnids. xiii + pp. 561-1180. Beacham Publications, Inc., Washington, D.C.

  • National Geographic Society (NGS). 1983. Field guide to the birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington, DC.

  • Pranty, B., and J. W. Tucker, Jr. 2006. Ecology and management of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. Pages 188-200 in R.F. Noss, editor. Land of Fire and Water: The Florida Dry Prairie Ecosystem. Proceedings of the Florida Dry Prairie Conference. Painter, DeLeon Springs.

  • Schrott, G. 2013. Florida grasshopper sparrow population trends over time at three publically managed sites.  Unpublished data 26 Sept 2013. Archbold Biological Station.

  • Terres, J. K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1990. Endangered and threatened species recovery program: report to Congress. 406 pp.

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