Spizella pallida - (Swainson, 1832)
Clay-colored Sparrow
Other English Common Names: Clay-coloured Sparrow
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Spizella pallida (Swainson, 1832) (TSN 179439)
French Common Names: bruant des plaines
Spanish Common Names: Gorrión Pálido
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100970
Element Code: ABPBX94030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
Image 11092

© Jeff Nadler

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Passerellidae Spizella
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: Spizella pallida
Taxonomic Comments: See Zink and Dittmann (1993) for a hypothesis for evolution in the genus Spizella. See Dodge et al. (1995) for a comparison of phylogenies derived from two molecular data sets for the genus Spizella; among other results, monophyly of Spizella including the American tree sparrow was supported.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 04Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N4N5B,N4N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N5M (25Jan2018)

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), Arizona (S1N), Arkansas (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Florida (SNA), Illinois (S1), Iowa (S2N), Kansas (SNA), Massachusetts (S2N), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (S4B), Navajo Nation (SNA), Nebraska (S4), New Jersey (S4B), New Mexico (S4N), New York (S3S4B), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNRB), Oklahoma (S4N), Oregon (SNA), South Dakota (S4B), Texas (S4), Vermont (S2B), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (S1B), Wisconsin (S4B), Wyoming (S3B)
Canada Alberta (S5B), British Columbia (S5B), Manitoba (S5B), Northwest Territories (SUB), Ontario (S4B), Quebec (S3S4), Saskatchewan (S5B)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: southern MacKenzie and eastern British Columbia east to central Ontario south to eastern Washington, central Montana, southeastern Wyoming, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, southern Nebraska, northern Iowa, southern Wisconsin, central and southeastern Michigan (AOU 1983, Knapton 1994). NON-BREEDING: southern Baja California, northern mainland of Mexico, and central Texas south to Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, in highlands. Casual to western Guatemala (AOU 1983, Knapton 1994).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) shows significant declines in southern Canadian provinces and across North America (Knapton 1994). Across entire BBS, trend was -1.1% per year (P < 0.01) from 1966 to 1995 (Peterjohn et al. 1996).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: BREEDING: southern MacKenzie and eastern British Columbia east to central Ontario south to eastern Washington, central Montana, southeastern Wyoming, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, southern Nebraska, northern Iowa, southern Wisconsin, central and southeastern Michigan (AOU 1983, Knapton 1994). NON-BREEDING: southern Baja California, northern mainland of Mexico, and central Texas south to Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, in highlands. Casual to western Guatemala (AOU 1983, Knapton 1994).

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, AZ, CO, FL, IA, IL, KS, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NN, NY, OK, OR, SD, TX, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NT, ON, QC, SK

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)
VT Chittenden (50007), Franklin (50011), Grand Isle (50013)
WY Albany (56001)*, Big Horn (56003)*, Campbell (56005)*, Carbon (56007)*, Converse (56009)*, Crook (56011)*, Fremont (56013)*, Johnson (56019)*, Natrona (56025)*, Niobrara (56027)*, Park (56029)*, Sheridan (56033)*, Sublette (56035)*, Sweetwater (56037)*, Teton (56039)*, Washakie (56043)*, Weston (56045)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
04 Lake Champlain (04150408)+
10 Yellowstone Headwaters (10070001)+*, Clarks Fork Yellowstone (10070006)+*, Upper Wind (10080001)+*, Little Wind (10080002)+*, Lower Wind (10080005)+*, Badwater (10080006)+*, Upper Bighorn (10080007)+*, Nowood (10080008)+*, Greybull (10080009)+*, South Fork Shoshone (10080013)+*, Shoshone (10080014)+*, Upper Tongue (10090101)+*, Upper Powder (10090202)+*, South Fork Powder (10090203)+*, Salt (10090204)+*, Crazy Woman (10090205)+*, Clear (10090206)+*, Little Powder (10090208)+*, Upper Little Missouri (10110201)+*, Antelope (10120101)+*, Dry Fork Cheyenne (10120102)+*, Upper Cheyenne (10120103)+*, Lightning (10120105)+*, Angostura Reservoir (10120106)+, Beaver (10120107)+, Upper Belle Fourche (10120201)+*, Lower Belle Fourche (10120202)+*, Redwater (10120203)+*, Niobrara Headwaters (10150002)+*, Upper North Platte (10180002)+*, Pathfinder-Seminoe Reservoirs (10180003)+*, Medicine Bow (10180004)+*, Little Medicine Bow (10180005)+*, Sweetwater (10180006)+*, Middle North Platte-Casper (10180007)+*, Upper Laramie (10180010)+*, Lower Laramie (10180011)+*
14 Upper Green (14040101)+*, Bitter (14040105)+*, Great Divide closed basin (14040200)+*, Little Snake (14050003)+*, Muddy (14050004)+*
17 Snake headwaters (17040101)+*, Gros Ventre (17040102)+*
+ 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: Clutch size is 3-5 (usually 3-4). Incubation, probably by both sexes, lasts 11-14 days (Terres 1980). Young leave nest 7-9 days after hatching.
Ecology Comments: In Saskatchewan, density was about one pair per ha in unburned prairie (Pylypec 1991). Nesting territories are relatively small, about 0.1 to 0.5 ha (Fox 1961, Salt 1966, Root 1968, Terres 1980). In Manitoba, Knapton (1979) reported smaller territories of about 0.04-0.1 ha. Territory size and arrangement in relation to other territories may depend upon shrub cover; nesting in areas with less dense brush cover may require larger territories (Knapton 1979). Although little area was needed for nesting, sparrows required foraging areas outside of defended nest territories (Knapton 1979, 1994).
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Arrives in northern U.S. and Canadian breeding areas in May (Terres 1980).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Shrubs and thickets, often near water; open areas in coniferous or deciduous forests; cutover or burned areas; brushy grasslands; pastures and fields (AOU 1983). Relatively dense grasslands, preferring idle or lightly grazed habitats, particularly native vegetation of mid to tall height with abundant litter, undisturbed cover, and a shrubby component (Salt 1966, Knapton 1978, 1994, Faanes 1983, Renken 1983, Arnold and Higgins 1986, Munson 1992, Madden 1996). Will also use more heavily grazed areas, burned areas with brush thickets not markedly affected by fire, weedy and brushy areas, shelterbelts, pine plantations and other open wooded areas, planted cover [e.g., Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields and dense nesting cover (DNC)], pasture, swamps, roadsides, and hayland; woodland edges are often used as singing perches (Peabody 1899; Root 1968; Owens and Myres 1973; Maher 1974, Stewart 1975; Kantrud 1981; Buech 1982; Renken 1983; Johnson and Schwartz 1993a,b; Anstey et al. 1995; Madden 1996; Dale et al. 1997; Davis et al. in press). Although presence of shrubs appears to be the main determinant of habitat suitability (Munson 1992, Knapton 1994), may use habitats without shrubs (Renken 1983, Johnson and Schwartz 1993b). Tall forbs and dense grass may provide adequate song perches and nest substrates in shrubless areas (Renken 1983, Johnson and Schwartz 1993b). Idle areas with only 2-3% shrub cover were utilized in North Dakota (Madden 1996). In Wisconsin, selected territories containing dense stands of woody vegetation; avoided open grasslands (Munson 1992).

Nest in residual vegetation on the ground or low (usually < 30 cm high; up to about 1.5 m) in grass tuft, small trees, or shrubs (Peabody 1899, Walkinshaw 1939, Root 1968, Stewart 1975, Knapton 1978, Terres 1980). In Manitoba, preferred to nest in western snowberry (SYMPHORICARPOS OCCIDENTALIS), which provided better concealment and less light penetration than other shrub species (Knapton 1978). In Saskatchewan, high densities occur in grazed pastures with shrubs (Dale 1983). In central Wisconsin, occupied territories that contained more habitat features with high nest cover value than were generally available (Munson 1992).

Breeding territories are commonly placed adjacent to suitable foraging areas. Prefer to forage in open areas with sparse, short vegetation, such as cropland and pastures (Knapton 1978, 1994, Dale 1983). Will use both native and tame vegetation (Peabody 1899, Walkinshaw 1939, Rand 1948, Fox 1961, Salt 1966, Root 1968, Stewart 1975, Renken 1983, Arnold and Higgins 1986, Munson 1992, Knapton 1994, Davis and Duncan 1995, Prescott and Murphy 1996). In Alberta, abundance was similar on native pasture and tame pasture (Prescott and Murphy 1996). In native pasture, abundance was highest in areas characterized by high cover diversity; in tame pasture, abundance was highest in areas characterized by high herbaceous biomass, moderate height variability, and high forb:grass ratio (Prescott and Murphy 1996). In Saskatchewan, preferred native pastures to tame pastures of crested wheatgrass (AGROPYRON CRISTATUM) or brome grass (BROMUS spp.), possibly because native pastures had more shrubs (primarily western snowberry) > 10 cm high (Anstey et al. 1995, Davis and Duncan 1995). In Manitoba, abundance was positively correlated with introduced vegetation and negatively correlated with native vegetation (Wilson and Belcher 1989). In North Dakota CRP fields, abundance exhibited a positive association with alfalfa (MEDICAGO SATIVA) and sweetclover (MELILOTUS spp.), which may substitute for brushy vegetation (Johnson and Schwartz 1993b). In South Dakota, abundance was greater in habitat patches within larger areas dominated by grassland; patch size was not as important as its landscape context (Bakker et al. 2002).

NON-BREEDING: In migration, in mesquite and other desert shrublands, thickets, weed patches, open woodlands, and parks (Rising 1996). In winter, in arid to semihumid grassland and fields with scattered shrubs (Howell and Webb 1995). Also dry scrub and fencerows (AOU 1983).

Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Feeds on a wide variety of seeds; during the summer eats insects. Forages on or near the ground. When breeding, feeds in area separate from nesting territory (Munson 1992).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 14 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Keys to management include providing shrubby grasslands and woody edges or thick, densely vegetated grasslands in shrubless areas. Recommendations from Johnson et al. (1998):

1) Allow grasslands to remain idle for long intervals between treatments to encourage shrubby vegetation (Arnold and Higgins 1986, Johnson 1997). Arnold and Higgins (1986) recommend leaving patches of shrubs when burning or using herbicides.

2) Maintain dense grasslands with tall forbs and abundant litter. In areas without woody vegetation, planted cover such as Conservation Reserve Program fields or dense nesting cover can provide suitable nesting habitat (Renken and Dinsmore 1987, Berkey et al. 1993, Johnson and Schwartz 1993b, Johnson 1997).

3) Discourage conversion of brush land to cropland, since croplands are not preferred breeding habitat (Salt 1966; Root 1968; Johnson and Schwartz 1993a,b). Brushy edges around cropfields should be promoted and retained, as they are used for nesting (Owens and Myres 1973, Dale 1983).

4) Woodland edges, wooded riparian areas, and other linear woody habitats such as windbreaks and shelterbelts can provide breeding habitat (Maher 1974, Faanes 1983). Succession following disturbances such as logging can be beneficial (Root 1968).

5) Do not implement grazing or burning regimes which frequently eliminate shrub and/or ground cover (Dale 1983, Halvorsen and Anderson 1983, Madden 1996, Johnson 1997).

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Nest success may be higher in larger, contiguous grassland areas. Prairie management to maximize nest productivity should provide large (> 130 ha), regularly burned prairies with no nearby wooded edges (Johnson and Temple 1990). In South Dakota, abundance was greater in habitat patches within larger areas dominated by grassland; patch size was not as important as its landscape context (Bakker et al. 2002). In Minnesota tallgrass prairie, brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds (MOLOTHRUS ATER) and nest depredation rates decreased as distance from wooded edges increased, and nest depredation rates were lower on large (130-486 ha) than on small (16-32 ha) grasslands (Johnson and Temple 1990). Nests are frequently parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds (Peabody 1899, Fox 1961, Friedmann and Kiff 1985, Stewart 1975, Knapton 1978, Buech 1982), and parasitism almost always results in lower sparrow productivity (Fox 1961, Salt 1966, Root 1968, Knapton 1978, Buech 1982).
Management Requirements: BURNING: In North Dakota, areas left unburned > 80 yr, and areas ungrazed > 11 yr had higher densities than recently burned and grazed areas (Madden 1996, Johnson 1997). In mesic mixed-grass prairie, conduct prescribed burns at moderate to long (8-10 yr) fire return intervals (Madden 1996, Johnson 1997). Shorter fire return intervals can frequently reduce woody vegetation and litter, resulting in decreased sparrow density or avoidance of burned habitats altogether (Huber and Steuter 1984, Pylypec 1991, Berkey et al. 1993). Intense fires which burn off shrubs have a negative short-term effect (Halvorsen and Anderson 1983, Huber and Steuter 1984, Madden 1996, Johnson 1997). In Saskatchewan, breeding densities in burned areas three years post-fire were one-third the densities in unburned areas (Pylypec 1991). In South Dakota, avoided burned areas, preferring denser vegetation in a lightly-grazed, unburned area (Martin 1967, Huber and Steuter 1984). Madden (1996) found that sparrows in North Dakota mixed-grass responded negatively to fire and were most abundant in areas unburned in greater than 80 years. Numbers increased with the number of years since the most recent burn, suggesting that moderate and long fire return intervals would be most beneficial (Madden 1996, Johnson 1997). Burned areas which retained shrubs were used immediately after burning (Johnson 1997). In Wisconsin, however, burning of residual cover caused a 94% decline in density after spring burning, even though no differences in shrub density were noted between burned and unburned areas (Halvorsen and Anderson 1983).

AGRICULTURE: Idle grasslands support high breeding densities (Renken 1983, Messmer 1990, Hartley 1994, Madden 1996). In southcentral North Dakota, use of idle areas decreased after mowing and as western snowberry cover decreased (Messmer 1990). In southern and southcentral North Dakota DNC fields, sparrows used tall, dense grass and forb cover in shrubless areas (Renken 1983, Renken and Dinsmore 1987, Johnson and Schwartz 1993b). In Saskatchewan, occurred with almost equal frequency in idle, native grassland as in DNC (Hartley 1994). However, in North Dakota, densities were significantly higher in idle grassland than DNC or grazed areas (Renken 1983). In Saskatchewan, preferred idle grasslands to haylands mowed either annually or periodically (about every 3-8 yr) (Dale et al. 1997).

Although sparrows tend to avoid haylands in North Dakota, mowing can be used to halt long-term succession (Kantrud 1981, Berkey et al. 1993). Will utilize hayland, but it does not appear to be preferred habitat (Kantrud 1981, Anstey et al. 1995, Dale et al. 1997, Davis et al. in press). Cropland is also rarely used for nesting (Salt 1966, Johnson and Schwartz 1993a, Knapton 1994, Anstey et al. 1995), but may provide sparser, shorter vegetation suitable for foraging (Dale 1983, Knapton 1994). In Saskatchewan, were frequently detected in wheat fields (Hartley 1994), and in Alberta, Salt (1966) often observed them in cultivated fields after young fledged. Shrubs retained along field edges are often used for nesting (Owens and Myres 1973, Dale 1983). In Alberta, were detected more frequently along a roadside route through cultivated land than along a route with more native grassland (Owens and Myres 1973). In Saskatchewan, were more frequent in native pasture than tame pasture with less shrub cover (Anstey et al. 1995). In North Dakota, were common in a variety of treatment types, including short-duration, season-long, twice-over rotation, and idle, but were consistently most abundant in areas with more western snowberry cover (Messmer 1990).

GRAZING: Sparrows exhibit ambiguous responses to grazing, but appear to be affected more by shrub coverage than by grazing regime (Bock et al. 1993). In North Dakota, were common in variety of grazing treatments, including short-duration, seasonlong, idle, and twice-over rotation, but were most abundant in areas with greater shrub cover (Messmer 1990). Light to moderate grazing on mixed-grass prairie may benefit sparrows by providing foraging areas of sparser cover, particularly if shrub cover is retained (Owens and Myres 1973, Kantrud 1981, Kantrud and Kologiski 1982, Dale 1983, Huber and Steuter 1984, Arnold and Higgins 1986, Messmer 1990, Bock et al. 1993, Knapton 1994, Anstey et al. 1995, Saab et al. 1995). Avoid heavy grazing which removes ground cover (Kantrud 1981, Kantrud and Kologiski 1982, Dale 1983). In Alberta, heavy grazing may be acceptable if shrubs remain (Owens and Myres 1973).

Lightly to moderately grazed grasslands are often used, but shrub cover may be a more important factor in determining habitat suitability than grazing regime (Owens and Myres 1973, Kantrud 1981, Kantrud and Kologiski 1982, Dale 1984, Bock et al. 1993, Anstey et al. 1995, Saab et al. 1995). Heavy grazing is detrimental, possibly because ground and/or shrub cover are reduced (Kantrud 1981, Kantrud and Kologiski 1982, Dale 1983).

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 Author: Mehlman, D.W.
Management Information Edition Date: 05Feb1998
Management Information Edition Author: JOHNSON, D.H., L.D. IGL, J.A. DECHANT, M.L. SONDREAL, C.M. GOLDADE, M.P.
Management Information Acknowledgments: Parts of this abstract were originally researched and written by staff of the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research center and published as Johnson et al. (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. Matching funds for this grant were donated by Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 14May1996
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
Help
  • Alabama Ornithological Society. 2006. Field checklist of Alabama birds. Alabama Ornithological Society, Dauphin Island, Alabama. [Available online at http://www.aosbirds.org/documents/AOSChecklist_april2006.pdf ]

  • Allen, C. R., S. Demarais, and R. S. Lutz. 1994. Red imported fire ant impact on wildlife: an overview. The Texas Journal of Science 46(1):51-59.

  • American Ornithologists Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American Birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pages.

  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1983. Check-list of North American Birds, 6th edition. Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas. 877 pp.

  • 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/.

  • Andrews, R. R. and R. R. Righter. 1992. Colorado Birds. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver. 442 pp.

  • Andrle, Robert F. and Janet R. Carroll, editors. 1988. The atlas of breeding birds in New York State. Cornell University Press. 551 pp.

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