Chondestes grammacus - (Say, 1822)
Lark Sparrow
Other English Common Names: lark sparrow
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Chondestes grammacus (Say, 1823) (TSN 179371)
French Common Names: bruant à joues marron
Spanish Common Names: Gorrión Arlequín
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102370
Element Code: ABPBX96010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
Image 10688

© Dick Cannings

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Passerellidae Chondestes
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: Chondestes grammacus
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 24Nov2000
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread and abundant throughout much of western North America, but has withdrawn to a great extent from former breeding range east of the Mississippi River; significant survey-wide declines indicated by BBS data for 1966-2007, but relatively stable since mid-1990s.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B (19Mar1997)
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 (S3B), Arizona (S5), Arkansas (S3S4B), California (S4S5), Colorado (S4), Florida (SNA), Georgia (S3S4), Idaho (S4B), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S3B), Iowa (S4B), Kansas (S5B), Kentucky (S2S3B), Louisiana (S3), Maryland (SXB), Massachusetts (S1N), Minnesota (S3B), Mississippi (S5B), Missouri (SNRB), Montana (S5B), Navajo Nation (S5B), Nebraska (S4), Nevada (S4B), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (S4B,S4N), New York (SNRN), North Carolina (S1B), North Dakota (SNRB), Ohio (S1), Oklahoma (S3S5), Oregon (S4), South Carolina (SNRB), South Dakota (S5B), Tennessee (S1B), Texas (S4B), Utah (S5B,S2N), Virginia (SHB), Washington (S3B), West Virginia (SHB), Wisconsin (S2S3B), Wyoming (S5B,S5N)
Canada Alberta (S4B), British Columbia (S3S4B), Labrador (SNA), Manitoba (S4B), Ontario (SHB), Saskatchewan (S5B)

Other Statuses

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 range extends from extreme southern British Columbia and eastern Washington, southeastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, northern Minnesota, western Wisconsin, southern Michigan, Ohio (local remnant population), and central Pennsylvania south to southern California, northern Baja California, central Nevada, southern Arizona, northeastern Sonora, southern Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Nuevo Leon, northern Tamaulipas, southern and eastern Texas, Louisiana, central Alabama, central North Carolina, and western Virginia; local and irregular east of the Mississippi Valley (AOU 1998, Martin and Parrish 2000). Accidental breeder in Ontario (Martin and Parrish 2000). Nonbreeding range extends from western Oregon, California, southern Idaho, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and Texas south through Mexico to southern Baja California, Oaxaca, and Chiapas; casual on U.S. Gulf Coast, Belize, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Cuba (AOU 1998, Martin and Parrish 2000).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences.

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 1,000,000. Rich et al. (2004) estimated global population size at 9,900,000.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Many occurrences appear to have at least good estimated viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species often thrives in grazed habitats, disturbed areas, and ecotones. Various types of land uses (e.g., agricultural) may increase lark sparrow habitat to the extent that they generate or increase the amount of edge habitat. Lark sparrow habitat is negatively affected by fire regimes and rangeland management practices that eliminate scattered woody vegetation or that result in encroachment of thick vegetation and ground cover (see Martin and Parrish 2000).

Lark sparrows are highly susceptible to brood parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds (Wiens 1963, Newman 1970, Hill 1976, Friedmann et al. 1977). Abandonment of parasitized nests has been reported in two cases (Baepler 1968, Walley 1985).

Local declines have been potentially linked to grasshopper control measures (pesticides) (Paige and Ritter 1999).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data indicate a nonsignificant decline of 0.7 percent per year in North America from 1980 to 2007 (this translates to a decline of 7 percent over 10 years). BBS abundance (average number of birds per route) has been relatively stable since the mid-1990s.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Long term abundance trend over the past 200 years is unknown, but the species evidently expanded its breeding range eastward with historical deforestation and subsequently has withdrawn from some areas with reforestation or intensive uses of land by humans. Various other anthropogenic habitat changes have resulted in increases in the breeding range in some areas (see Martin and Parrish 2000).

Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data indicate a significant decline of 1.6 percent per year in North America from 1966 to 2007 (a decline of 48 percent over that time period). BBS abundance in 1966-2007 declined from an average of around 5-6 birds per route in the 1960s and early 1970s to an average of 3.1-3.4 birds per route in the 2000s.

Geographic pattern of BBS trend for 1966-2003 is a mosaic of declines in many regions interspersed with several areas with increasing abundance.

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 range extends from extreme southern British Columbia and eastern Washington, southeastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, northern Minnesota, western Wisconsin, southern Michigan, Ohio (local remnant population), and central Pennsylvania south to southern California, northern Baja California, central Nevada, southern Arizona, northeastern Sonora, southern Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Nuevo Leon, northern Tamaulipas, southern and eastern Texas, Louisiana, central Alabama, central North Carolina, and western Virginia; local and irregular east of the Mississippi Valley (AOU 1998, Martin and Parrish 2000). Accidental breeder in Ontario (Martin and Parrish 2000). Nonbreeding range extends from western Oregon, California, southern Idaho, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and Texas south through Mexico to southern Baja California, Oaxaca, and Chiapas; casual on U.S. Gulf Coast, Belize, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Cuba (AOU 1998, Martin and Parrish 2000).

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, CA, CO, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MDextirpated, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, ON, 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


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Limestone (01083)
KY Boone (21015)*, Bourbon (21017)*, Bracken (21023)*, Breckinridge (21027), Bullitt (21029)*, Caldwell (21033)*, Calloway (21035), Campbell (21037)*, Carlisle (21039)*, Christian (21047), Clark (21049)*, Crittenden (21055)*, Daviess (21059)*, Fayette (21067)*, Fleming (21069)*, Fulton (21075)*, Gallatin (21077)*, Grant (21081)*, Hardin (21093)*, Harrison (21097), Henry (21103)*, Hickman (21105), Hopkins (21107)*, Jefferson (21111)*, Jessamine (21113)*, Kenton (21117)*, Larue (21123)*, Lewis (21135), Livingston (21139)*, Lyon (21143)*, Madison (21151)*, Mason (21161)*, McLean (21149)*, Meade (21163)*, Mercer (21167), Monroe (21171), Muhlenberg (21177), Nelson (21179)*, Nicholas (21181), Oldham (21185)*, Owen (21187)*, Pendleton (21191), Robertson (21201)*, Scott (21209)*, Shelby (21211), Taylor (21217)*, Trigg (21221), Trimble (21223)*, Union (21225)*, Warren (21227), Washington (21229), Wayne (21231)*, Webster (21233)*, Woodford (21239)*
LA Beauregard (22011)
MN Anoka (27003), Becker (27005), Benton (27009), Blue Earth (27013), Brown (27015), Carver (27019), Cass (27021), Chippewa (27023), Chisago (27025), Clay (27027), Clearwater (27029), Crow Wing (27035), Dakota (27037), Faribault (27043), Fillmore (27045), Goodhue (27049), Grant (27051), Hennepin (27053), Houston (27055), Hubbard (27057), Isanti (27059), Jackson (27063), Kandiyohi (27067), Kittson (27069), Le Sueur (27079), Lyon (27083), Marshall (27089), Meeker (27093), Mille Lacs (27095), Morrison (27097), Mower (27099), Nicollet (27103), Norman (27107), Olmsted (27109), Otter Tail (27111), Polk (27119), Pope (27121), Ramsey (27123), Red Lake (27125), Redwood (27127), Renville (27129), Rock (27133), Roseau (27135), Scott (27139), Sherburne (27141), Sibley (27143), Stearns (27145), Stevens (27149), Swift (27151), Todd (27153), Wabasha (27157), Washington (27163), Wilkin (27167), Winona (27169), Yellow Medicine (27173)
NC Cumberland (37051), Hoke (37093), Montgomery (37123), Moore (37125), Richmond (37153), Scotland (37165)
OH Adams (39001), Auglaize (39011), Fulton (39051), Hamilton (39061), Lucas (39095)
TN Chester (47023)*, Clay (47027), Decatur (47039)*, Hardeman (47069)*, Hardin (47071), Henry (47079)*, Lake (47095), Lawrence (47099)*, Macon (47111), McNairy (47109), Montgomery (47125), Obion (47131)*, Rutherford (47149)*, Shelby (47157), Wilson (47189)
WI Adams (55001), Dane (55025), Dunn (55033), Grant (55043), Iowa (55049), Jackson (55053), Monroe (55081), Pepin (55091), Pierce (55093), Rock (55105), Sauk (55111)
WV Hampshire (54027)*, Pendleton (54071)*, Preston (54077)*, Tyler (54095)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 South Branch Potomac (02070001)+*
03 Upper Cape Fear (03030004)+, Lumber (03040203)+
04 Auglaize (04100007)+, Lower Maumee (04100009)+
05 Tygart Valley (05020001)+*, Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201)+*, Lower Great Miami (05080002)+, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+, Little Miami (05090202)+, Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)+*, Licking (05100101)+, South Fork Licking (05100102)+, Upper Kentucky (05100204)+*, Lower Kentucky (05100205)+*, Upper Green (05110001)+*, Barren (05110002)+, Rough (05110004)+*, Lower Green (05110005)+*, Pond (05110006)+, Upper Cumberland-Lake Cumberland (05130103)+*, Lower Cumberland-Old Hickory Lake (05130201)+*, Stones (05130203)+, Lower Cumberland (05130205)+, Red (05130206)+, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+*, Salt (05140102)+, Rolling Fork (05140103)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+, Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon (05140201)+*, Lower Ohio-Bay (05140203)+*, Tradewater (05140205)+*
06 Wheeler Lake (06030002)+, Lower Elk (06030004)+*, Pickwick Lake (06030005)+*, Lower Tennessee-Beech (06040001)+, Kentucky Lake (06040005)+, Lower Tennessee (06040006)+*
07 Elk-Nokasippi (07010104)+, Crow Wing (07010106)+, Long Prairie (07010108)+, Platte-Spunk (07010201)+, Sauk (07010202)+, Clearwater-Elk (07010203)+, Crow (07010204)+, Twin Cities (07010206)+, Rum (07010207)+, Pomme De Terre (07020002)+, Hawk-Yellow Medicine (07020004)+, Chippewa (07020005)+, Redwood (07020006)+, Middle Minnesota (07020007)+, Cottonwood (07020008)+, Blue Earth (07020009)+, Lower Minnesota (07020012)+, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+, Rush-Vermillion (07040001)+, Cannon (07040002)+, Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)+, Zumbro (07040004)+, La Crosse-Pine (07040006)+, Black (07040007)+, Root (07040008)+, Lower Chippewa (07050005)+, Upper Iowa (07060002)+, Castle Rock (07070003)+, Lower Wisconsin (07070005)+, Sugar (07090004)+, Des Moines Headwaters (07100001)+, Upper Des Moines (07100002)+
08 Lower Mississippi-Memphis (08010100)+, Bayou De Chien-Mayfield (08010201)+, Obion (08010202)+*, South Fork Obion (08010203)+*, South Fork Forked Deer (08010205)+, Upper Hatchie (08010207)+*, Wolf (08010210)+*, Whisky Chitto (08080204)+, West Fork Calcasieu (08080205)+
09 Bois De Sioux (09020101)+, Mustinka (09020102)+, Otter Tail (09020103)+, Upper Red (09020104)+, Buffalo (09020106)+, Elm-Marsh (09020107)+, Eastern Wild Rice (09020108)+, Sandhill-Wilson (09020301)+, Red Lake (09020303)+, Clearwater (09020305)+, Snake (09020309)+, Two Rivers (09020312)+
10 Rock (10170204)+
12 Lower Sabine (12010005)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A bird (sparrow).
Reproduction Comments: Clutch initiation peaks in early May in the south, early June in the north (McNair 1985). Clutch size is three to six, usually four or five; mean around 4 (McNair 1985). Female incubates 11-12 days (Baepler 1968). Young leave nest typically at 11-12 days, can fly short distances (Baepler 1968, Johnsgard 1979). Individual females often produce two clutches during a single nesting season (Kaspari and Joern 1993). Males may be polygynous (Terres 1980).
Ecology Comments: Lark sprrows defend small territories around the immediate nest site (Martin and Parrish 2000), 66-248 square meters in extent (n=3, Fitch 1958).

This species may be seen in flocks, especially during the winter.

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Breeding populations throughout Canadian and most of U.S. range are long-distance migrants, wintering largely in Mexico and the American southwest. Spring migrants pass through Sonora in mid-March and April (Russell and Monson 1998), peak in Oregon in late April through mid-May (Gilligan et al. 1994), and arrive in southern Alberta in mid- to late May (Semenchuk 1992). Resident populations occur in southwestern Oregon, California, southern Idaho, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, Texas, northern Baja California, and northcentral Mexico (Martin and Parrish 2000).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Breeding habitat includes various open situations with scattered bushes and trees: shortgrass, mixed-grass, and tallgrass prairie with a shrub component and sparse litter; parkland; sandhills; barrens; oldfields; cultivated fields; shrub thickets; shrubsteppe (native and altered); woodland edges; shelterbelts; orchards, parks; riparian areas; brushy pastures; overgrazed pastures; and savanna, (Rand 1948, Baepler 1968, Newman 1970, Rising 1974, Stewart 1975, Salt and Salt 1976, Wiens and Rotenberry 1981, Faanes 1983, Dinsmore et al. 1984, Kahl et al. 1985, Walley 1985, Sample 1989, Wershler et al. 1991, Bock and Bock 1992, Cable et al. 1992, Kaspari and Joern 1993, Zimmerman 1993, Bock et al. 1995, Faanes and Lingle 1995, Best et al. 1997, Prescott 1997, AOU 1998, Martin and Parrish 2000).

In Nevada, this species preferred areas of crested wheatgrass that were invaded by sagebrush over areas dominated solely by either sagebrush or wheatgrass; abundance was negatively correlated with sagebrush density (McAdoo et al. 1989). In Arizona, inhabited areas characterized by mean habitat values of 38 percent bare ground, 54 percent grass cover, 7 percent forb cover, less than 2 percent canopy cover, 13 centimeter grass height, and 0.068 shrubs per square meter; individuals usually were flushed near mesquite (Bock and Webb 1984).

Nests are either on the ground or close to the ground (most often within 4 meters) in woody vegetation (Ely 1957, Baepler 1968, McNair 1985). Ground nests may be located in areas of sparse ground cover such as those areas associated with burning, moderate to heavy grazing, or poor or eroded soils (Fitch 1958, Graber and Graber 1963, Baepler 1968, Kahl et al. 1985, Walley 1985, Zimmerman 1993, Prescott 1997), or in idle fields, lawns, and cemeteries (Baepler 1968, Salt and Salt 1976, Walley 1985). Ground nests often are placed at the base of a plant (Ely 1957, Baepler 1968, Rising 1974). In Montana, nests always were located under sagebrush (Cameron 1908). Above-ground nests may be located in various species of shrubs, saplings, and small trees (Baepler 1968, Newman 1970, McNair 1985). This species sometimes uses old nests of other birds (e.g., northern mockingbird, thrasher).

Nonbreeding habitats include agricultural areas, suburban gardens, oak woodlands, chaparral, and mesquite/acacia grassland (Rising 1996).

Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: This sparrow is an on omnivore during the breeding season, a granivore in the nonbreeding season (DeGraaf et al. 1985). It feeds on seeds and insects; during the breeding season in Nebraska the diet was 61% seeds and 39% insects (especially grasshoppers, but also beetles, larval Lepidoptera, and spittlebugs) (Kaspari and Joern 1993). Feeding occurs on the ground, often in small flocks.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 17 centimeters
Weight: 29 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Keys to management include providing suitable habitat (open grasslands with sparse to moderate herbaceous and litter cover, and a shrub component) and allowing moderate grazing or occasional burning. Cooperate with ranching and farming advocates to preserve native pasture and rangeland (Martin and Parrish 2000). Avoid disturbances (e.g., haying, burning, grazing) during nesting (Martin and Parrish 2000). Conduct burns before (early March) arrival on the breeding grounds (Renwald 1977). During brush removal, leave about 10% brush cover (McAdoo et al. 1989); removal of all woody vegetation would make an area unsuitable (Renwald 1977). Conduct burns at 5- to 8- year intervals to increase amount of open foraging area; burns should be conducted at moderate temperatures so as to provide patches of unburned habitat for nesting and perching, while still providing open areas for foraging (Renwald 1977).
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Little is known concerning area requirements. In a Kansas oldfield, one pair used 6 hectares for foraging and nesting activities (Fitch 1958). No studies have investigated a relationship between patch size and nest success or patch size and rates of brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds (MOLOTHRUS ATER).
Management Requirements: BURNING: Usually is beneficial, except perhaps in northwestern shrub-steppe ecosystems (see below). Within Arizona desert grasslands, abundance increased in native vegetation 2 years postburn; abundance was positively correlated with percent herbaceous cover (Bock and Bock 1992). A nonsignificant increase in abundance occurred 2 year postburn in fields composed of African lovegrass (ERAGROSTIS LEHMANNIANA) and weeping lovegrass (ERAGROSTIS CURVULA) (Bock and Bock 1992). Prior to the burn, did not inhabit those fields and were absent 3 and 4 years postburn (Bock and Bock 1988, 1992). In Arizona floodplains dominated by sacaton (SPOROBOLUS WRIGHTII), there was no difference in abundance between burned and unburned stands (Bock and Bock 1988). Within a honey mesquite (PROSOPIS GLANDULOSA)/tobosagrass (HILARIA MUTICA) grassland in central Texas, abundance was highest in most recent burns and decreased as litter and grass cover increased (Renwald 1977). A negative correlation was found between number of nests and percent cover of tobosagrass; nested in tobosagrass ranging from 32 to 55 percent cover (Renwald 1977). In a Missouri study examining avian composition within 53 sites ranging from hardwood forest to oldfields to grasslands, were found on only one site (Kahl et al.1985). This site was a recently burned grassland characterized by sparse litter cover and few (24-50 stems per hectare) woody stems more than 2.5 centimeters diameter at breast height (Kahl et al. 1985). In contrast to the aforementioned studies, Lark Sparrows avoided an area devoid of woody vegetation burned 2 year previously within Montana shrubsteppe, preferring instead areas dominated by big sagebrush (ARTEMISIA TRIDENTATA) within unburned sites (Bock and Bock 1987). The same was true in southern British Columbia, where Lark Sparrows preferred shrub-steppe dominated by antelope-brush (PURSHIA TRIDENTATA) or big sagebrush, and avoided areas where shrubs had been removed by fire (S. Cannings, pers. comm.).

GRAZING: Little information is available concerning response to mowing or grazing. In Colorado, birds preferred shortgrass and mixed-grass uplands over tallgrass remnants or hayfields (Bock et al. 1995). In Nebraska, abundance was higher on an area both burned and grazed by American bison (BISON BISON) than on an area grazed by cattle (Griebel et al. 1998). Abundance was not different between burned and unburned areas within the pasture grazed by American bison. In Oklahoma and Manitoba, nested in moderately to heavily grazed pastures, but also nested in idle fields (Baepler 1968, Newman 1970, Walley 1985). Abundance was significantly higher on grazed than on ungrazed desert grasslands in Arizona (Bock et al. 1984, 1993; Bock and Webb 1984; Bock and Bock 1988).

CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM (CRP): Not common in fields enrolled in the CRP, Permanent Cover Program, or in fields of dense nesting cover (Johnson and Schwartz 1993, Hull et al. 1996, Best et al. 1997, Klute et al. 1997, McMaster and Davis 1998).

PESTICIDES: In a study examining the effects on avian density of discing, spraying of the herbicide 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxy acetic acid (2,4,5-T) about 14 years earlier, and construction of brush shelters, there were no effects on brushland sparrows as a group (Gruver and Guthery 1986). In a study examining the effects of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) dust for tick control in Texas, nesting numbers decreased in both the treated and untreated area (George and Stickel 1949).

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: 18Mar2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings
Management Information Edition Date: 15Jul1999
Management Information Edition Author: DECHANT, J.A., M.L. SONDREAL, D.H. JOHNSON, L.D. IGL, C.M. GOLDADE, B.D. PARKIN, AND B.R. EULISS; REVISIONS BY G. HAMMERSON, 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 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: 17Mar2009
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

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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Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2019.
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Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

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