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Grasshopper Sparrow

Ammodramus savannarum

Length: 4.75 to 5.25 inches Wingspan: 8 to 8.5 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Central white crown stripe bordered by dark stripes, striped back, plain face, yellow lore

Grasshopper Sparrow - Ammodramus savannarumNamed after its song which is very similar to a grasshopper, the Grasshopper Sparrow can sometimes be difficult to observe.  Unless singing during the mating season, they prefer to stay out of sight near the ground in grassy areas.  However, in South Dakota, they can sometimes be seen along fence lines, perched on barbed wire or singing from fence posts.

Habitat: Grasslands and prairies, prefer ably with tall grasses and scattered shrubs.  Will also use hayfields, and occasionally agricultural fields with other crops.  

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects and spiders in the summer, while seeds and waste grain make up most of the diet in the winter (and a portion of the summer diet).  Also will feed on earthworms and snails.

Behavior: Nearly always forages along the ground.  During the summer breeding season, they sometimes are found in loose breeding colonies, with individual males defending small patches of turf by singing from low perches.

Nesting: June and July

Song: Insect-like buzzing. Grasshopper Sparrow Song

Migration: Summers throughout much of the U.S.  Winters in the southern U.S. and points south.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Grasshopper Sparrow sightings

Similar Species: Henslow's Sparrow, Baird's Sparrow

Conservation Status: Has shown severe declines locally.  The Florida sub-species is seriously endangered, as are local populations in the Appalachians.  Still common and widespread in many areas, however.   In South Dakota, they often show a strong preference for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land.  In recent years, many farmers are giving up their CRP contracts and planting crops on former CRP land, which has the potential to seriously affect Grasshopper Sparrow populations in many areas.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Grasshopper Sparrow

2) BirdWeb - Grasshopper Sparrow

3) Audubon Guide - Grasshopper Sparrow

Photo Information: July 16th, 2004 -- Near Richland Wildlife Area on the Fort Pierre National Grasslands -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Grasshopper Sparrow photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Grasshopper Sparrow - Ammodramus savannarum - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common summer resident throughout the state in areas of suitable habitat.

Additional Grasshopper Sparrow Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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