Species Profile

Grasshopper Sparrow, pratensis subspecies

Scientific Name: Ammodramus savannarum pratensis
Taxonomy Group: Birds
Range: Ontario, Quebec
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2013
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.


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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Grasshopper Sparrow, pratensis subspecies

Description

The Grasshopper Sparrow pratensis subspecies (hereafter Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow) is a small dull-coloured song bird of grassland habitats. It has a short tail, flat head and conical beige bill. Adults of both sexes have similar plumage, i.e. a plain buff-coloured throat and breast, buff, unmarked or faintly marked flanks, whitish below and mottled with rust above. Its summer diet is largely composed of grasshoppers and so the Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow is considered beneficial for agriculture. (Updated 2017/08/10)

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Distribution and Population

In Canada, the breeding range of the Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow includes extreme southern Québec and southern Ontario, with the vast majority of birds occurring in Ontario. In the United States, it breeds in all states east of the Midwestern states to the East coast and south to Georgia and Texas. The Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow winters in the southeastern United States, but also in the Caribbean and Central America. (Updated 2017/08/10)

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Habitat

In Canada, the Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow typically breeds in large human-created grasslands (5 ha or greater), such as pastures and hayfields, and natural prairies, such as alvars, characterized by well-drained, often poor soil dominated by relatively low, sparse perennial herbaceous vegetation. The habitat used by the Grasshopper Sparrow in its wintering range is generally similar to that used in the breeding range. (Updated 2017/08/10)

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Biology

The Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow is monogamous and generally exhibits breeding site fidelity. Males arrive on the breeding grounds in early May, and pair formation occurs immediately after females arrive, which is shortly after the males. Clutch size ranges from 4 to 5 eggs. Two broods can be produced per year. Nestlings are reared and fed in the nest by both adults for approximately 8 to 9 days. Post-fledging care lasts between 4 and 19 days. Age at first breeding is estimated at 1 year. (Updated 2017/08/10)

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Threats

The main causes of Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow declines are: 1) habitat loss caused by the conversion of forage crops and pastures to intensive crop production, (2) habitat fragmentation, which can result in high predation rates and 3) more frequent and earlier hay mowing activities during the breeding season causing nest failure. (Updated 2017/08/10)

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Protection

Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

7 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Grasshopper Sparrow pratensis subspecies Ammodramus savannarum pratensis in Canada (2014)

    The Grasshopper Sparrow pratensis subspecies (hereafter Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow) is a small dull-coloured song bird of grassland habitats. It has a short tail, flat head and conical beige bill. Adults of both sexes have similar plumage, i.e. a plain buff-coloured throat and breast, buff, unmarked or faintly marked flanks, whitish below and mottled with rust above. Its summer diet is largely composed of grasshoppers and so the Eastern Grasshopper Sparrow is considered beneficial for agriculture.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Grasshopper Sparrow, pratensis subspecies (2015)

    In Canada, this grassland bird is restricted to southern Ontario and southwestern Quebec. This subspecies has experienced persistent, long-term declines. It faces several ongoing threats including habitat loss, as pastures and hayfields are converted to row crops, habitat fragmentation, which increases predation rates, and mowing activities that destroy nests.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park of Canada (2016)

    Bruce Peninsula National Park (BPNP) and Fathom Five National Marine Park (FFNMP) lie at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula which separates Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. The peninsula is 90 km in length and its most prominent feature is the Niagara Escarpment which runs along the entire eastern edge. Within BPNP, the escarpment forms the Georgian Bay shoreline and is recognized as part of the core area of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.  BPNP was established by the federal government in 1987 to protect a representative example of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Lowlands natural region. Because of the fragmented nature of the park properties, many of the stresses on the park’s ecosystem originate from outside its boundaries. For this reason, First Nations, local residents, non-governmental organizations, and other groups and land users play an important role in managing, restoring, and protecting the northern Bruce ecosystem. 

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2017)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the status of the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2017)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances), and, given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem can lead to a loss of individuals and species resulting in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2013-2014 (2014)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 0 Endangered: 23 Threatened: 12 Special Concern: 20 Data Deficient: 0 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act : Terrestrial Species - January 2015 (2015)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments byApril 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website