Spizella pusilla - (Wilson, 1810)
Field Sparrow
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Spizella pusilla (A. Wilson, 1810) (TSN 179443)
French Common Names: bruant des champs
Spanish Common Names: Gorrión Pusila
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102535
Element Code: ABPBX94050
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
Image 11162

© 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 pusilla
Taxonomic Comments: Constitutes a superspecies with S. wortheni and considered to be conspecific with it by some authors (AOU 1983, 1998). 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
Reasons: Abundant despite decline.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (19Mar1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4B,NUM (14Dec2017)

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 (S5), Arkansas (S4B,S5N), Colorado (S1B), Connecticut (S4B), Delaware (S4), District of Columbia (S2B,S4N), Florida (SNRB,SNRN), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S5B,S5N), Kansas (S5B), Kentucky (S5B,S5N), Louisiana (S4B,S5N), Maine (S3S4B), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S3S4), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (S5B), Missouri (SNRB,SNRN), Montana (S4B), Nebraska (S5), New Hampshire (S3), New Jersey (S4B,S4N), New Mexico (S3N), New York (S5B), North Carolina (S5B,S5N), North Dakota (SNRB), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S5), Pennsylvania (S5B,S4N), Rhode Island (S4B), South Carolina (S5?), South Dakota (S4B), Tennessee (S4), Texas (S5B), Vermont (S4B), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S4B,S4N), Wisconsin (S3B), Wyoming (S5B,S5N)
Canada Ontario (S4B), Quebec (S3), Saskatchewan (S1B)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Candidate (High)
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: eastern Montana east across the northern U.S. and southern Canada to New England and southern New Brunswick, south to northeastern Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Gulf Coast, and southern Georgia; also southern Manitoba (Carey et al. 1994, AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: Kansas east to Massachusetts, south to southeastern New Mexico, northern Coahuila, central Nuevo Leon, northern Tamaulipas, Gulf Coast, and southern Florida (Carey et al. 1994, AOU 1998).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Species is widely distributed.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Abundance not known but widespread and common. In North Carolina, in pine planting with bluestem spot mapping estimated 23 males in 5.95 hectares, in pines with pasture estimated 14 males in 10.12 hectares (Fretwell 1970, cited in Carey et al. 1994). In a Maryland study, found 17 males per 100 hectares in damp deciduous scrub with standing dead trees, to 197 males per 100 hectares in apple orchard with unmowed ground cover. According to Breeding Bird Survey, highest densities in Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: PREDATION: Predation is the major cause of nest mortality. In Illinois, 112 of 147 nests depredated (Best 1978, cited in Carey et al. 1994). In Illinois 24 of 66 nests depredated (Nolan 1963, cited in Carey et al. 1994). In Pennsylvania, 163 of 371 nests depredated (Carey et al. 1994). Nest predators include variety of snakes (e.g., blue racers [COLUBER CONSTRICTOR], milk snake [LAMPROPELTIS spp.], black rat snake [ELAPHE OBSOLETA], garter snake [THAMNOPHIS SIRTALIS], and prairie kingsnake [LAMPROPELTIS CALLIGASTER]), small mammals (e.g., chipmunk [TAMIAS STRIATUS], red fox [VULPES FULVA], gray fox [UROCYON CINEOARGENTEUS], weasels [MUSTELA spp.], skunks [MEPHITIS MEPHITIS], mink [MUSTELA VISON], raccoon [PROCYON LOTOR], and opposum [DIDELPHIS VIRGINIANA]), and birds (e.g., blue jay [CYANOCITTA CRISTATA], American crow (CORVUS BRACHYRHYNCHUS], and house wren [TROGLODYTES AEDON]). Best (1978, cited in Carey et al. 1994) attributed 48 percent of egg loss and 54 percent of nestling loss to snakes. Another study attributed 65 percent of nest predation to snakes (Carey et al. 1994). PARASITISM: Parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds (MOLOTHRUS ATER) is common (Crooks and Henderson 1953, Friedmann 1963, Walkinshaw 1968, Kupsky 1970, Friedmann et al. 1977, Best 1978, Evans 1978, Buech 1982, Laubach 1984, Carey et al. 1994). Parasitism rate varies geographically: in Iowa, 80 percent of nests parasitized; in Missouri, 13 percent; in Illinois, 11 percent; in Ohio, 32 percent; in Pennsylavania, less than 1 percent. Parasitized nests commonly deserted (Walkinshaw 1949; George 1952; Crooks and Hendrickson 1953; Ely 1957; Best 1978; Carey et al. 1994; D. E. Burhans, pers. comm.). Of 182 parasitized nests in Michigan, 100 were deserted and only 27 of 234 cowbird eggs hatched (Walkinshaw 1968). In another study in Michigan, only eight of 29 cowbird eggs hatched and, of these, only one cowbird fledgling survived the first week (Crooks 1948).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: May have had greatest abundances in late 19th century after clearing of eastern forests. More recently, North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data indicate annual survey-wide decrease -3.3 percent (N = 1621; P less 0.0) in the period 1966-1996 (Sauer et al. 1997). Biggest annual rate of decrease in Maine (-16.8 percent; N = 25; P less than 0.02) for same period. Non-significant increases noted only in Minnesota, Nebraska, and North Dakota. Decline probably due to changes in breeding habitat as shrubby old fields grow to forest or are cleared for agriculture and development.

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: eastern Montana east across the northern U.S. and southern Canada to New England and southern New Brunswick, south to northeastern Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Gulf Coast, and southern Georgia; also southern Manitoba (Carey et al. 1994, AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: Kansas east to Massachusetts, south to southeastern New Mexico, northern Coahuila, central Nuevo Leon, northern Tamaulipas, Gulf Coast, and southern Florida (Carey et al. 1994, AOU 1998).

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, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY
Canada 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)
NH Carroll (33003)
NJ Cumberland (34011), Monmouth (34025), Morris (34027), Ocean (34029)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Saco (01060002)+
02 Raritan (02030105)+, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+, Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+
+ 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 usually three to five. Two or sometimes three broods per year. Incubation 10-17 days (average 11.6), by female. Young tended by both parents, leave nest at 7-8 days, independent at 26-34 days.
Ecology Comments: Territory sizes range from 0.3 to 2.4 hectares (Walkinshaw 1945, 1968; Crooks 1948; Best 1977; Evans 1978; Laubach 1984). In Illinois, territories that included suboptimal habitats, such as grasslands devoid of woody vegetation and woodlands, were found to be larger in area than those habitats that included only optimal habitat, such as shrubby grassland (Best 1977).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Northernmost breeding populations are migratory, move south for winter; migrate northward in small flocks in March-April (Terres 1980). Partially migratory in North Carolina; some individuals migrate in some years, all migrate in some years.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Old field, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Hardwood
Habitat Comments: Old fields, brushy hillsides, overgrown pastures, thorn scrub, deciduous forest edge, sparse second growth, fencerows (AOU 1983). Early nests on or near ground in weed clumps or grass tufts, later nests may be higher in small thick shrubs as leaves grow, to about 30 centimeters above ground (Harrison 1978). Suitable habitat includes oldfields, sage (ARTEMISIA) flats, weedy pastures, untilled and idle cropland, Conservation Reserve Program fields, grassed waterways, hedgerows, shelterbelts, orchards, woodland edges, brushy woodlands, wooded draws, pine (PINUS) plantations, attenuated gallery and gallery forest, and reclaimed strip mines (Gabrielson 1914; Ely 1957; Graber and Graber 1963; Walkinshaw 1968; Stewart 1975; Best 1977, 1978; Evans 1978; Johnsgard 1980; Stauffer and Best 1980; Whitmore 1980; Best et al. 1981, 1997; Faanes 1981, 1983; Buech 1982; Hopkins 1983; Sousa 1983; Dinsmore et al. 1984; Kahl et al. 1985; Basore et al. 1986; Sample 1989; Bryan and Best 1991; Herkert 1991a; Cable et al. 1992; Zimmerman 1993; Carey et al. 1994; Vickery et al. 1994; Faanes and Lingle 1995). Woody vegetation and dense grass appear to be critical components for habitat suitability (Johnston 1947, Kupsky 1970, Lanyon 1981, Sousa 1983, Laubach 1984, Herkert 1991a). Optimal habitat was described as areas greater than 2 hectares containing dense, moderately tall grass, low to moderate shrub density with 50-75 percent of shrubs less than 1.5 meters tall, and shrub cover between 15-35 percent . Areas where most shrubs were less than 1.5 meters in height were considered too sparse in providing adequate numbers of perch sites, whereas areas where most shrubs were taller than 1.5 meters were considered too sparse in providing adequate numbers of possible nest sites. Areas with more than 75 percent shrub cover were too dense to be suitable breeding habitat (Sousa 1983).

The key to determining suitability of an area for nesting in Illinois was the availability of shrubs, trees, or other substrates that could be used as song perches; sparrows stayed within or near the forest edge, not venturing deeper than a few meters into the forest, nor farther than 12-15 meters into surrounding fields (Johnston 1947). In Illinois, preferred shrub-grassland, where shrubs and trees were less than 8 meters tall, over adjacent grassland or woodland edge; shrub-grassland offered an assemblage of grasses, forbs, trees, and shrubs to accommodate temporal shifts in the nesting and foraging preferences (Best 1974a, 1977). All available shrub-grassland habitat was encompassed within territories, whereas not all grassland or woodland edge habitat was encompassed within territories. Within riparian habitats ranging from hayfields to closed canopy woodlands in Iowa, density was positively correlated to species richness of shrubs; 67 percent of nine nests were built in shrubs, 22 percent in evergreen trees, and 11 percent in forbs (Stauffer and Best 1980, Best et al. 1981). Also in Iowa, preferred grassy areas with shrubs or low trees (Laubach 1984). In Wisconsin, density was positively correlated with percent woody cover and total number of dead stems (Sample 1989). In North Dakota, were attracted to wooded draws with a high shrub density (Faanes 1983). In Missouri, occupied grasslands and idle areas were characterized by low to intermediate canopy height (2-8 meters, never more than 8 meters), few woody stems less than 2.5 centimeters diameter at breast height (dbh) (approximately 350-700 per hectare), and moderate numbers of woody stems more than 2.5 centimeters dbh (approximately 25-50 per hectare) (Kahl et al. 1985). Moderate amounts of dense grass also are important (Sousa 1983). Optimal grass density is 50-90 percent canopy cover, which provides adequate nesting cover, abundant food sources, and ease of movement through vegetation (Sousa 1983). Optimal height of herbaceous vegetation during May and June is 16-32 centimeters; vegetation with an average height more than 40 centimeters provides suboptimal habitat and vegetation with an average height less than 5 centimeters provides inadequate concealment (Sousa 1983). In Wisconsin, preferred habitats that were relatively undisturbed, that were uncultivated, and that contained an average of 75 percent herbaceous cover (Sample 1989). In an Ohio oldfield, foraged in grasses in higher frequencies than expected based on their availability (Kupsky 1970). In Michigan, preferred to nest in residual stands of Indiangrass (SORGHASTRUM NUTANS) over residual stands of big bluestem (ANDROPOGON GERARDII) because most of the big bluestem was prostrate whereas most of the Indiangrass was upright (Best 1974a).

Nests on or near the ground in weed clumps, grass tufts, or litter usually at or near the base of woody vegetation early in the breeding season (May-June), but nest in small shrubs and saplings later in the breeding season as vegetative cover increases in height (Walkinshaw 1936, 1945; Crooks 1948; Crooks and Hendrickson 1953; Nolan 1963; Best 1974a, 1978; Evans 1978; Sousa 1983; Carey et al. 1994). Nest height ranges from 0 to 4.4 meters above ground (Walkinshaw 1936, 1945; Crooks 1948; George 1952; Ely 1957; Nolan 1963; Kupsky 1970; Best 1978; Evans 1978; Lanyon 1981; Buech 1982; Laubach 1984; Carey et al. 1994; D. E. Burhans, pers. comm.), but height is dependent upon time of season and substrate type. Based on the observations of one male that returned to the same Michigan site for 6 years, May nests were on the ground, and June and July nests averaged 26.0 centimeters and 40.5 centimeters above the ground, respectively (Walkinshaw 1945). In Iowa, six of 11 nests built in May were above ground with an average height of 16 centimeters; by June, six of 10 nests were above ground with an average height of 40 centimeters, and by July, all of the 11 nests found were above ground with an average of 51 centimeters (Crooks 1948). May nest in woody vegetation after foliage becomes dense enough to conceal nests (Crooks 1948, Nolan 1963). Best (1978), however, found preference for use of residual grasses as a nesting substrate over live grasses or woody vegetation that had leafed out. As long as isolated clumps of residual grass remained exposed from new growth, nested in residual grass; once residual grass was covered by live grasses, nested in woody vegetation.

Other important habitat features are vegetation patchiness, species richness of herbaceous and woody vegetation, and slope (Stauffer and Best 1980, Best et al.1981, Sample 1989, Vickery et al. 1994). In riparian habitats in Iowa, densities were positively correlated to horizontal patchiness of shrubs, vertical patchiness of trees, slope, and species richness of grass-like vegetation, shrubs, and evergreen trees; densities were negatively correlated to tree density and tree size, species richness of vines, and vertical stratification of vegetation (Stauffer and Best 1980, Best et al. 1981). In Maine grassland barrens, abundance was positively correlated to habitat patchiness, litter, shrub cover, and short grass, and negatively correlated to bare ground (Vickery 1993, Vickery et al. 1994). Density in Wisconsin was positively correlated to plant species richness (Sample 1989). In Iowa, all 15 breeding territories in an idle pasture were located on semi-wooded hillsides or lowlands (Crooks and Hendrickson 1953).

Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats insects, also spiders and seeds; forages much on the ground (Terres 1980).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 15 centimeters
Weight: 13 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Keys to management include providing shrub-dominated edge habitat adjacent to grassland or providing grassland with a shrub component (both of must which include dense grass and moderately high litter cover), and avoiding disturbances that completely eliminate woody vegetation. Avoid management practices that completely remove woody vegetation (Best 1979, Stauffer and Best 1980). Protect existing prairie remnants (Herkert 1994b). Collaborate with private landowners to maintain suitable habitat (Herkert 1994b).

Manipulations of forested riparian habitats include reducing woody vegetation to narrow strips, partially removing woody canopy, and thinning shrubs and saplings (Stauffer and Best 1980).

Disturbance, such as burning, should be avoided before territories have been established, approximately March to early April (Best 1979, Carey et al. 1994, Herkert 1994b). Burning after territories already have been established does not appear to cause territory abandonment (Best 1979, Carey et al. 1994).

Burning should be used to prevent encroachment of woody vegetation, but some woody vegetation should be allowed to remain (Best 1979, Carey et al. 1994, Herkert 1994b). On prairie fragments greater then 80 hectares, burning should be conducted on a rotating schedule with 20-30 percent of area treated annually (Herkert 1994a). Small, isolated prairie fragments should not have more than 50-60 percent of total area burned at a time, and where several small prairie fragments are present, a rotating schedule also can be implemented to provide adjacent burned and unburned areas (Herkert 1994a).

In Iowa, mowing should be delayed until late August or early September to prevent destruction of nests and young; however, mowing should not occur later than mid-September, as vegetation will not have time to recover before the winter and following spring (Bryan and Best 1991).

Minimize tillage, because conventional tillage leaves little or no crop residue on the soil surface. Reduced tillage allows 15-30 percent of crop residue to remain, whereas conservation tillage allows more than 30 percent of crop residue to remain (Basore et al. 1986, Koford and Best 1996).

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: The habitat suitability model posited that breeding habitat should be more than 2 hectares (Sousa 1983). However, Kupsky (1970) and Petter et al. (1990) found breeding evidence on fields smaller than 2 hectares. In Illinois, were encountered on small (less than 10 hectares) sites but were classified as moderately tolerant to habitat fragmentation because they were more frequently encountered on large than on small grassland fragments (Herkert 1991a,b). Field Sparrows in this study, however, were more strongly influenced by habitat structure than grassland area, and their absence from some small grassland areas may have been due to a lack of suitable habitat rather than an avoidance of small areas per se (Herkert 1991a; J. R. Herkert, pers. comm.). In Maine, occurrence was not affected by field size (Vickery et al. 1994). 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: Complete removal of woody vegetation from an area may make it unattractive (Stauffer and Best 1980, Sousa 1983). In Illinois, appeared tolerant to burning in shrub-grassland if woody vegetation remained and burning occurred after territories had been established (Best 1979). Field Sparrows moved from the adjacent burned tallgrass and woodland edge into the shrub-grassland. Also in Illinois, preferred burned areas 3-4 years postburn but were not present more than 5 years postburn (Westemeier and Buhnerkempe 1983; Herkert 1991a, 1994a). In Iowa, one nest was found just 27 days after the area was burned (Laubach 1984). In Wisconsin, density was positively correlated with the proportion of plots that was burned (Sample 1989). In Kansas tallgrass prairie, did not occur in annually burned watersheds, probably because they lacked woody vegetation (Zimmerman 1993). In the same study area, occurred in prairie that was neither burned or grazed, but were absent from ungrazed prairie that was annually burned (Zimmerman 1997). In Nebraska, abundance did not differ between pastures grazed by cattle and a pasture grazed by American bison (BISON BISON), or between burned and unburned areas in the pasture grazed by American bison (Griebel et al. 1998). In Maine, avoided grassland barrens more than 3 years postburn (Vickery 1993). In Michigan, following a burn in early spring, only males that had bred on the burned area the previous year bred on the burned area (Walkinshaw 1945). Some males whose territories were severely burned did not acquire a mate until the vegetation had recovered. One male did not acquire a mate until July but still was able to successfully nest.

HAY AND CROPFIELDS: In Illinois, selected idle areas over areas that were high-mowed (stubble more than 30 centimeters remains on the field), but were absent in hayed areas (Westemeier and Buhnerkempe 1983). However, in another Illinois study, were absent from both tame hayfields and idle fields (Herkert 1991a). In Iowa, nested only in grassed waterways that were mowed the previous year (Bryan and Best 1994). Also in Iowa, they nested in low densities in strip cover, such as grassed waterways, terraces, fencerows, and road rights-of-way (Basore et al. 1986). They also nested in soybean fields that were not tilled in fall and spring and that contained year-round crop residue; they did not nest in spring-tilled fields. In Illinois, were observed more frequently in a corn field under no-tillage treatment than in a conventionally tilled corn field, possibly because there was greater availability of invertebrates in the former corn field (Warburton and Klimstra 1984). In a study of avian use of cropland in Ohio, used fallow cropland, pasture, and small grains grown in strips between idle cropland (Good and Dambach 1943). In Wisconsin, were absent from hayfields and cropland (Sample 1989). In New York, avoided fields mowed annually and nested in oldfields 2-16 years following the cessation of cultivation; after that time the fields were no longer attractive, probably due to lack of suitable nesting cover such as weeds and saplings (Lanyon 1981).

PESTICIDES: Little information exists concerning the effects of pesticides. In New York, carbaryl (1-naphthyl methylcarbamate) was sprayed on shrubs at normal levels and at levels six times the normal dose (Bart 1979). Not affected by the spraying; the number of singing males did not significantly differ between the treated areas and the control areas. In New York, did not breed for 18 years in a field where vegetation was removed by a one-time application of 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxy acetic acid (2,4,5-T) and kerosene (Lanyon 1981). In Texas, in a study examining the effects on avian density of discing, spraying of 2,4,5-T approximately 14 years earlier, and construction of brush shelters, grassland sparrows, as a group, were more abundant in the treated than untreated areas; effects on particular species were not examined (Gruver and Guthery 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: 29Oct1999
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: KOENEN, M.; Revisions by D.W. MEHLMAN
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 M. KOENEN, G. HAMMERSON, AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: Michael Carey provided a helpful review of a draft of this abstract. 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: 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).

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