Passerculus sandwichensis - (Gmelin, 1789)
Savannah Sparrow
Other English Common Names: savannah sparrow
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Passerculus sandwichensis (Gmelin, 1789) (TSN 179314)
French Common Names: bruant des prés
Spanish Common Names: Gorrión Sabanero
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103538
Element Code: ABPBX99010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
Image 11161

© Jeff Nadler

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Passerellidae Passerculus
Genus Size: A - Monotypic genus
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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: Passerculus sandwichensis
Taxonomic Comments: Some authors have recognized the various groups as separate species: princeps (Ipswich Sparrow); sandwichensis (Savannah Sparrow); beldingi (Belding's Sparrow); and rostratus (Large-billed Sparrow) (AOU 1983, 1998). Morphological evidence and the level and pattern of mtDNA variation support species status for rostratus (of southwestern California and the north and east coasts of the Gulf of California) (Zink et al. 1991).

Rising (2007) recommended that six subspecies (including alaudinus) be synonymized under P. s. sandwichensis (this was accepted by ITIS). Zink et al. (2005) recognizes P. rostratus as distinct, as well as questions the validity of certain subspecies of sandwichensis.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 04Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Very large range, relatively common.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N4N,N5M (14Jan2018)

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 (S5N), Alaska (S5B), Arizona (S5), Arkansas (S4N), California (SNR), Colorado (S4B), Connecticut (S3B), Delaware (SHB,S4N), District of Columbia (S1S3N), Florida (SNRN), Georgia (S5), Idaho (S5B), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4B), Iowa (S4B,S5N), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (S2S3B,S2S3N), Louisiana (S5N), Maine (S4S5N,S5B), Maryland (S4), Massachusetts (S4B,S5M), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (S4), Montana (S5B), Navajo Nation (SNA), Nebraska (S3), Nevada (S5B), New Hampshire (S5B), New Jersey (S2B,S4N), New Mexico (S2B,S5N), New York (S5B), North Carolina (S2B,S5N), North Dakota (SNRB), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S5), Oregon (S5), Pennsylvania (S5B,S2S3N), Rhode Island (S2S3B), South Carolina (SNRN), South Dakota (S4B), Tennessee (S1B,S4N), Texas (S4), Utah (S5B,S3S4N), Vermont (S5B), Virginia (S3S4B,S4N), Washington (S4N,S5B), West Virginia (S3N,S3B), Wisconsin (S3B), Wyoming (S5B,S5N)
Canada Alberta (S5B), British Columbia (S5B), Labrador (S4B,SUM), Manitoba (S5B), New Brunswick (S4S5B,S5M), Newfoundland Island (S5B,S5M), Northwest Territories (S5?B), Nova Scotia (S4S5B), Nunavut (SUB,SUM), Ontario (S4B), Prince Edward Island (S5B), Quebec (S3?), Saskatchewan (S5B), Yukon Territory (S5B)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):PS:SC
Comments on COSEWIC: The Ipswich Sparrow is designated Special Concern.
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: northern Alaska and northern Canada south of arctic islands east to northern Labrador and Newfoundland, south through the western U.S. and Mexico (locally) to southwestern Guatemala, and south to southern Iowa and New Jersey (AOU 1983). NON-BREEDING: southern British Columbia, southern Nevada, Gulf states, and Massachusetts to northern Honduras and West Indies (AOU 1983). RESIDENT: Pacific Coast from central California south to Baja California Sur and Gulf of California Coast from Sonora south to central Sinaloa (Wheelwright and Rising 1993). Accidental in Hawaii.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Overall Threat Impact Comments: The frequency of brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds (MOLOTHRUS ATER) appears to be low across much of the range (Wheelwright and Rising 1993). However, high rates of brood parasitism have been reported. In Manitoba, 33 percent of nests were parasitized (Davis 1994, Davis and Sealy in press). In Saskatchewan, 44 percent of nests contained > 1 cowbird egg (SWCC 1997).

Short-term Trend Comments: Termination of the USDA Conservation Reserve Program and a return of enrolled land to cultivation are expected to cause a population decline of 19% in North Dakota (Johnson and Igl 1995).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: northern Alaska and northern Canada south of arctic islands east to northern Labrador and Newfoundland, south through the western U.S. and Mexico (locally) to southwestern Guatemala, and south to southern Iowa and New Jersey (AOU 1983). NON-BREEDING: southern British Columbia, southern Nevada, Gulf states, and Massachusetts to northern Honduras and West Indies (AOU 1983). RESIDENT: Pacific Coast from central California south to Baja California Sur and Gulf of California Coast from Sonora south to central Sinaloa (Wheelwright and Rising 1993). Accidental in Hawaii.

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 AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, 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)
CA Los Angeles (06037), Orange (06059), San Diego (06073), Santa Barbara (06083), Ventura (06111)
CT Fairfield (09001)*, Hartford (09003), Litchfield (09005), Middlesex (09007), New Haven (09009), New London (09011), Tolland (09013), Windham (09015)
KY Boone (21015), Bourbon (21017), Boyle (21021), Fayette (21067), Henry (21103), Jefferson (21111), Larue (21123), Lewis (21135), Lincoln (21137), Livingston (21139), Oldham (21185), Scott (21209), Shelby (21211), Woodford (21239)
NC Alleghany (37005), Ashe (37009), Watauga (37189)
NE Box Butte (31013), Holt (31089), Morrill (31123), Sheridan (31161)
NJ Atlantic (34001), Bergen (34003), Burlington (34005), Cape May (34009)*, Cumberland (34011), Essex (34013), Gloucester (34015), Hudson (34017), Hunterdon (34019), Mercer (34021), Middlesex (34023), Monmouth (34025), Morris (34027), Ocean (34029), Passaic (34031), Salem (34033), Somerset (34035), Sussex (34037), Union (34039), Warren (34041)
NM Mckinley (35031), Rio Arriba (35039)
TN Hawkins (47073)*, Montgomery (47125), Washington (47179)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Lower Connecticut (01080205)+, Westfield (01080206)+, Farmington (01080207)+, Quinebaug (01100001)+, Shetucket (01100002)+, Thames (01100003)+, Quinnipiac (01100004)+, Housatonic (01100005)+, Saugatuck (01100006)+*
02 Rondout (02020007)+, Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+, Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104)+, Raritan (02030105)+, Long Island Sound (02030203)+, Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+, Crosswicks-Neshaminy (02040201)+, Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+*
03 Upper Yadkin (03040101)+
05 Upper New (05050001)+, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+, Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)+, South Fork Licking (05100102)+, Lower Kentucky (05100205)+, Upper Green (05110001)+, Red (05130206)+, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+, Salt (05140102)+, Lower Ohio-Bay (05140203)+
06 Holston (06010104)+*, Nolichucky (06010108)+
10 Upper Niobrara (10150003)+, Middle North Platte-Scotts Bluff (10180009)+, Upper Elkhorn (10220001)+
13 Rio Chama (13020102)+, Rio San Jose (13020207)+
18 Santa Barbara Coastal (18060013)+, Santa Clara (18070102)+, Calleguas (18070103)+, Santa Monica Bay (18070104)+, San Gabriel (18070106)+, Seal Beach (18070201)+, Santa Ana (18070203)+, Newport Bay (18070204)+, Aliso-San Onofre (18070301)+, Santa Margarita (18070302)+, San Luis Rey-Escondido (18070303)+, San Diego (18070304)+, Cottonwood-Tijuana (18070305)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small songbird (sparrow).
General Description: A highly variable species (or may comprise multiple species) that generally has yellow lores and often has a yellowish eyebrow; pale crown stripe (indistinct in southern California and often in juveniles); dark to buffy whisker stripe; upperparts usually streaked (not so in some parts of southern California); short notched tail; streaked sides and breast (sometimes with a central spot); whitish belly and undertail; pale pinkish or straw colored legs and feet (most of range) (NGS 1983, Ridgway 1901). The numerous subspecies vary in size, coloration, bill size, and extent of streaking (NGS 1983). Overall length is 11-14 cm, mass about 15-20 g. When flushed, runs through the grass or makes short, quick, erratic flights.

VOCALIZATIONS: song is an insectlike "tip tip tip seeee saaaaay." Calls include a slight "tseep" or "tsip."

Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from song sparrow (MELOSPIZA MELODIA) by usually having a yellowish eyebrow stripe, whitish crown stripe, short notched tail (vs. long and rounded), and pinker legs (Peterson 1990). Lacks the white outer tail feathers of the vesper sparrow (POOECETES GRAMINEUS).
Reproduction Comments: Arrive on the breeding grounds between late March and early May, and begin nesting in May (George 1952, Baird 1968, Lein 1968, Maher 1973, Welsh 1975, Bedard and LaPointe 1984b, Wheelwright and Rising 1993). In North Dakota, breed from late May through late July, with peak breeding occurring from early June to mid-July (Stewart 1975). If the first nesting attempt fails, will renest, and many females produce a second clutch after a successful first nest (George 1952, Lein 1968, Taber 1968, Wiens 1969, Weatherhead 1979, Wheelwright and Rising 1993). In northern areas, may be limited to a single brood (Maher 1973, Weatherhead 1979).

In Saskatchewan, departed from breeding territories in early August, but remained in the area, foraging in weedy fields, along road edges, and along the margins of lakes and sloughs (Lein 1968). Fall migration occurs in mid- to late September (George 1952, Maher 1973).

In the Canadian Maritimes, male and female are philopatric (Bedard and LaPointe 1984b, Wheelwright and Rising 1993). Philopatry to breeding territories in Newfoundland is high; 95 percent of surviving males and 90 percent of surviving females return to within 40 meters of territories from a previous year (Wheelwright and Rising 1993). There is no information on philopatry in the Great Plains, and philopatry of grassland birds in the Great Plains may be low (Wiens 1974, Johnson 1996). Polygyny is common in populations residing in the Canadian Maritimes, but populations in other portions of the species range are generally monogamous (Welsh 1975, Wheelwright and Rising 1993).

Ecology Comments: Territories are small, ranging from 0.05 to 1.25 hectares (George 1952, Lein 1968, Wiens 1969, Potter 1972, Welsh 1975, Piehler 1987, Wheelwright and Rising 1993).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Breeding populations throughout Canada and most of U.S. are long-distance migrants; arrive on nesting grounds in the northern and central U.S. and Canada in March-April, in far north late May-early June; departs far northern nesting areas usually by late August (Johnson and Herter 1989). Begins to arrive in the southeastern U.S. during the last week of September, with numbers increasing throughout the fall and reaching peak densities by mid-December; numbers are relatively stable until late March, when an abrupt decline begins; only a few scattered birds remain through late April and early May. Nonmigratory or local migrant in parts of west coast. Subspecies ROSTRATUS breeds along north and east coasts of the Gulf of California, many migrate north to winter in southwestern California (Zink et al. 1991). Subspecies PRINCEPS breeds on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, and winters on dune beaches of the Middle Atlantic states (McLaren, 1979 COSEWIC report).
Estuarine Habitat(s): Herbaceous wetland
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Alpine, Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Tundra
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Prefers habitat with short to intermediate vegetation height, intermediate vegetation density, and a well developed litter layer. These preferred habitats cover a wide range of vegetation types, including alpine and arctic tundra, coastal salt marshes, sedge bogs, grassy meadows, and native prairie (Wheelwright and Rising 1993).

In North American grasslands, occupies tallgrass prairie, idle and lightly grazed mixed-grass prairie, shortgrass, wet meadow zones surrounding prairie wetlands, alfalfa (MEDICAGO SATIVA)/brome (BROMUS spp.) hayfields, native and tame dense nesting cover (DNC), Conservation Reserve Program lands, weedy crop and stubble fields, retired cropland, and wheat fields (Stewart 1975; Salt and Salt 1976; Renken 1983; Dale 1993; Hartley 1994; Johnson and Igl 1995; Patterson and Best 1996; Prescott and Murphy 1995, 1996). Although occasionally breeds in cropland, is more abundant in idle native, DNC, and Conservation Reserve Program lands (Hartley 1994, Johnson and Igl 1995, Patterson and Best 1996). In Illinois, found in mixed and pure stands of hay, pastures, and idle grasslands, but reached highest densities in pastures and idle grasslands (Graber and Graber 1963). In Wisconsin and Ohio, abundance was positively correlated to percent herbaceous vegetation cover (Sample 1989, Swanson et al. 1997). In North Dakota and Saskatchewan, abundance was positively correlated with percent grass cover (Renken 1983, Renken and Dinsmore 1987, Sutter 1996). However, at a less arid site in Saskatchewan, abundance was negatively correlated to percent grass cover (Sutter 1996).

Most abundant on Conservation Reserve Program fields with high percent grass and low percent legume cover in the northern Great Plains (Johnson and Schwartz 1993). In Oregon and Nevada, Rotenberry and Wiens (1980) found a positive correlation between abundance and percent forb cover. In Wisconsin, abundance was negatively correlated to maximum vegetation height and vegetation height-density (Sample 1989). Wiens (1969, 1973) stated that low, dense vegetation was required for nest sites; grass-dominated habitats with little forb cover are preferred (Wiens 1969, 1973; Welsh 1975; Knight 1989; Vickery et al. 1992). In Wisconsin, avoided habitats with tall, dense vegetation and nested primarily in managed or disturbed habitats such as pastures and hayfields (Sample 1989). In Michigan, nested in hayfields of clover (MELILOTIS and TRIFOLIUM spp.), alfalfa, brome (BROMUS spp.), and timothy (PHLEUM PRATENSE), and in clumps of grass near cow pies in an overgrazed pasture (George 1952). In Maine, nesting birds in areas of mainly forb and shrub cover experienced lower reproductive success than those nesting in predominantly grass cover (Vickery et al. 1992). In Quebec, vegetation height did not differ between nest sites and random points, but successful nests were surrounded by taller vegetation than unsuccessful nests (Bedard and LaPointe 1984).

Avoids areas with extensive tree cover (Wheelwright and Rising 1993). Wiens (1969) noted that most breeding territories were located in the center of grassland habitats, away from cultivated fields and fence lines, and Sample (1989) found a negative correlation between abundance and percent shrub cover. In North Dakota, were found only on shrubless transects (Arnold and Higgins 1986). In Wyoming sagebrush steppe, were observed only on burned and herbicide treated areas with fewer shrubs and more grass and forb cover (Kerley and Anderson 1995). In West Virginia, nesting territory often included small trees, shrubs, and fence posts (Shields 1935). In Saskatchewan, nested in or near clumps of sparse western snowberry (SYMPHORICARPOS OCCIDENTALIS) shrubs (Lein 1968). Although total woody cover in habitats used for nesting was low (< 1 percent), Sample (1989) reported that the birds often used small trees and shrubs (< 2 m tall), fence posts and wire, and tall herbaceous stems as song perches.

NON-BREEDING: In migration, open fields, roadsides, dunes, coastal marshes, edges of ponds, and rarely in open woodlands (Wheelwright and Rising 1993). In winter, cultivated fields, pastures, golf courses, roadsides, dunes, and salt marshes (Wheelwright and Rising 1993).

Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: During summer eats insects, spiders, and snails; breeding adults ate average of 18-21 g of fresh arthropods daily (Williams 1987). Feeds on seeds of primarily herbaceous plants at other times of year. Forages on ground, sometimes scratches. Adults feed arthropods to young (Meunier and Bedard 1984).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 14 centimeters
Weight: 25 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Promote management or enhancement activities that increase the amount of contiguous grassland habitat (Herkert 1991). Acquire large grassland tracts and minimize edge effects through reduction of woody vegetation along edges and within grasslands (Wray et al. 1982; Johnson and Temple 1986, 1990; Burger et al. 1994). In small grasslands, adjacent woody habitats may allow edge and woodland predators to penetrate interior grassland areas.

Aim grassland restoration at benefiting bird species most sensitive to habitat fragmentation; restoration projects should be > 50 ha, preferably > 100 ha (Herkert et al. 1993). Where grassland restoration > 30 ha is not possible, Herkert et al. (1993) recommended establishing several small grasslands, 6-8 ha minimum size, within 0.4 km of each other, and using adjacent grassland habitats (e.g., pasture, hayland, waterway) as corridors among tracts.

Avoid disturbing (e.g., burning, mowing, moderate or heavy grazing) suitable habitat during the breeding season, approximately 1 May to 1 August. Treatments in nesting habitat should be delayed until after 1 August to prevent destruction of fledglings and renesting females (Swanson 1996).

Burn grasslands managed for breeding habitat in early spring (March to April) or late fall (October to November). In grasslands > 50 ha, burn 25-30 percent annually (Herkert et al. 1993).

When possible (e.g., on federal lands or through cooperation with private landowners), delay mowing of hayfields until mid-July, which would allow many birds to raise at least one brood in years with normal breeding phenology; mowing should be delayed further if nesting is delayed by inclement spring weather (Dale et al. 1997). When mowing must be done during the breeding season, divide large fields, mowing only half each year, or mow individual fields every other year to provide refuge for fledglings (Dale et al. 1997).

On airports not large enough to provide habitat for nesting birds (e.g., where all of the grassland available must be mowed to meet Federal Aviation Administration standards), mow grass short enough (< 4 cm) to discourage nesting. This may cause birds to select alternative areas where nesting success would be higher (Kershner and Bollinger 1996).

Light grazing (leaving > 40 percent vegetation cover > 25 cm tall) can be used to create intermediate vegetation height and density (Herkert 1991).

Restoration Potential: Plant fields with mixture of forbs and short and tall grasses (Jones and Vickery 1997).
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: May occupy small (< 5 ha) areas of suitable habitat (Potter 1972). However, Jones and Vickery (1997) suggest that minimum grassland size is 20-40 acres and Herkert et al. (1993), based on data from Illinois, categorized the species as highly sensitive to habitat fragmentation. Species with a high area sensitivity are generally restricted to nesting in large, contiguous habitats and rarely nest in small habitat fragments. In New York, density was positively correlated with field size (Bollinger 1988, 1995), whereas in Saskatchewan, occurrence was negatively associated with area (SWCC 1997). In Illinois, Herkert (1991) found no sparrows on grassland tracts < 10 ha and noted that they were significantly more likely to occur on large than small grasslands. Incidence increased with area and reached 50 percent at about 10 ha in Maine (Vickery et al. 1994) and 40 ha in Illinois (Herkert 1994).

In Saskatchewan, 700-1,600 ha may be required to halve brood parasitism (SWCC 1997). In Minnesota tallgrass prairie, abundance was higher, and nest depredation and cowbird brood parasitism rates lower, as distance to wooded edges increased; nest depredation rates were lower on large (130-486 ha) than small (16-32 ha) grassland fragments (Johnson and Temple 1986, 1990).

Management Requirements: BURNING: In Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, higher nest densities were found in unburned (for > 12 months) than burned grasslands (Tester and Marshall 1961, Martin 1967, Halvorsen and Anderson 1983, Huber and Steuter 1984). Halvorsen and Anderson (1983) attributed the difference in nesting densities between burned and unburned areas to the lack of litter on burned areas required for nesting. In Minnesota, nesting was significantly correlated with litter cover and litter depth, and may require > 2 years of litter accumulation postfire before using a grassland for nesting (Tester and Marshall 1961). In North Dakota, reached highest densities 1-5 years (Johnson 1997) and 6-7 years postfire (Madden 1996).

Common on an idle control (Johnson 1997), and, although they reached their highest density 6-7 years postfire, no significant response to fire (Madden 1996). Fire reduced abundance on native fescue (FESTUCA ALTAICA) for 3 years in Saskatchewan (Pylypec 1991). However, in Illinois, preferred recently burned grassland for nesting (Herkert 1994). Densities were highest in grasslands the first growing season postfire, lower on grasslands the second growing season postfire, and were not encountered > 3 growing seasons postfire (Herkert 1994).

MOWING/HAYING: In Alberta, nesting densities were highest in undisturbed (>3 growing seasons since last mowing) grasslands, but they also nested in grasslands that had been mowed the previous summer (Owens and Myres 1973). In Saskatchewan, more abundant in tame hayland idled for > 3 years than in annually hayed tame vegetation or in idle native prairie (Dale 1992, Dale et al. 1997). In Manitoba, most abundant and most productive in hayland compared to native grassland, tame grasslands, and woodlands; productivity was evaluated using a behavioral index that ranked behavior indicative of nestling or fledgling care (Jones 1994). Abundance was highest in recently (within 4 months of 1 May) mowed grasslands, which provided the low-to-medium vegetation height preferred by this species (Herkert 1991). In Michigan, abundance was reduced after hayfields were mowed, and mowing exposed nests and young to predators (George 1952). On seven rural Illinois airports, mowing destroyed 44 percent of all grassland bird nests, and Savannah Sparrow nest success was 23 percent (Kershner and Bollinger 1996).

GRAZING: In short- and mixed-grass prairie, moderately and heavily grazed areas do not provide the dense ground cover required by nesting birds (Dale 1983). Several studies conducted in the Great Plains reported higher nesting densities on idle or lightly grazed grasslands compared to moderately or heavily grazed areas (Owens and Myres 1973; Maher 1974,1979; Kantrud 1981; Kantrud and Kologiski 1982; Anstey et al. 1995). For example, average breeding densities were 7.7 pairs per hectare in ungrazed versus 0.3 pair per hectare in grazed grasslands (Maher 1979). In Tennessee, no longer used a grassy field after it was heavily grazed (Knight 1989). In Idaho, used both grazed and ungrazed riparian habitats, but were more abundant in ungrazed areas (Medin and Clary 1990).

Although heavily grazed areas are unsuitable for nesting, grazing can be used to improve habitat. In North Dakota, densities of were highest in fields one year postgrazing, followed by dense nesting cover (DNC), grazed, and idle fields (Renken 1983). In Saskatchewan, foraged most frequently in grazed grasslands, but the number of nesting pairs was consistently lower in grazed than ungrazed areas (Dale 1984). Herkert et al. (1993) recommended light grazing, resulting in > 40 percent vegetative cover > 25 cm tall, to produce the intermediate vegetation height and density. In Alberta, frequency of occurrence did not significantly differ between four grazing treatments: early season tame (grazed from late April to mid-June), early season native (grazed in early summer), deferred grazed native (grazed after 15 July), and continuously grazed native (Prescott and Wagner 1996). In North Dakota, densities did not differ significantly between season-long (continuously grazed), short-duration, and twice-over rotation grazing treatments (Messmer 1990). Short-duration grazing involves a system of pastures rotated through a grazing schedule of approximately one week grazed and one month ungrazed, repeated throughout the season. Twice-over rotation involves grazing a number of pastures twice per season, with about a 2 month rest in between grazing. Season-long grazing involves leaving a herd on the same pasture all season. Higher densities of Brown-headed Cowbirds were observed in summer-grazed versus winter-grazed pastures in Colorado, and Knopf et al. (1988) cautioned that summer grazing could lower reproductive success of Savannah Sparrows and other grassland-nesting birds.

CULTIVATION/CROPLAND: In Saskatchewan, were more abundant in hayland and tame pasture than in native pasture, and were detected least frequently in cropland (Anstey et al. 1995); in Alberta, the species also occurred more frequently in tame than native pasture (Prescott and Murphy 1996). In native pasture, preferred low to moderate cover diversity and moderate to tall grass; in tame pasture, the species preferred high herbaceous biomass (Prescott and Murphy 1996). However, another Saskatchewan study found that Savannah Sparrow occurred more frequently on native pasture than on pastures seeded to pure crested wheatgrass (AGROPYRON CRISTATUM); no difference was found in frequency of occurrence when native pastures were compared to pastures of crested wheatgrass/grass (brome [BROMUS INERMUS] and Kentucky bluegrass (POA PRATENESIS) or crested wheatgrass/alfalfa (MEDICAGO SATIVA) (Davis and Duncan, in press).

In eastcentral Saskatchewan, were as common in fallow cropland as in two kinds of planted cover (Dale 1993). In Manitoba, Savannah Sparrows were as equally abundant in native DNC as in tame DNC and native grassland (Dhol et al. 1994). However, they were more productive in native DNC than in native grassland. Avian productivity was evaluated using a behavioral index that ranked behavior indicative of nestling or fledgling care. Most abundant in 1-3 years old DNC fields in Alberta, although they were present in all age classes studied (0-5 years since seeding) (Prescott and Murphy 1995).

In Alberta, abundance and productivity increased when winter and spring wheat were minimum tilled rather than conventional tilled (Dale and McKeating 1996). In Iowa, Savannah Sparrows nested at low densities in nontilled fields of corn and soybeans that were idle in fall and spring and contained year-round crop residue, rather than in tilled fields (Basore et al. 1986). In North Dakota, very few were found nesting in any type of cropland (conventional tillage, minimum-tillage, and organic fields in fallow, sunflowers, or wheat) (Lokemoen and Beiser 1997). Minimum-tillage and organic fields had more vegetation and attracted greater numbers and species of birds, but predation and mechanical activities resulted in low reproductive success (Lokemoen and Beiser 1997). Conservation tillage (reduced and no-tillage) may create ecological traps, as grassland nesting birds are attracted to the habitat provided, but have low nesting success (Best 1986).

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: 01May1995
Management Information Edition Date: 01May1998
Management Information Edition Author: SWANSON, D.A.; REVISIONS BY G. HAMMERSON, J. MICHAUD, M. KOENEN, AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: Parts of this abstract were originally researched and written by staff of the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and published as Swanson (1998). 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: 16May1996
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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