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Grasshopper Sparrow

Posted on May 10, 2015

I photographed this Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) last week on a dreary and foggy morning in grasslands known to be a spring migratory site for the species. It was busy feeding in the mist, generally avoiding any picturesque views, as is typical for the species. It had even been singing the previous day!

Grasshopper Sparrow Stratford Point May 8 2015-0445

RTPI staff documented confirmed breeding of Henslow’s Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows at the Chautauqua County/Jamestown Airport (KJHW) during the summer of 2013. Both species are listed as New York endangered species with the Henslow’s Sparrow classified as ‘threatened’ and the Grasshopper Sparrow classified as ‘special concern’. Working with airport officials, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation and the local birding community, data and information was collected throughout the 2013 summer breeding season, protecting certain areas of the airport from mowing whenever possible.

Botanical studies to determine habitat selection and site usage were undertaken as well. In 2014, RTPI staff worked with student interns from SUNY’s Jamestown Community College to continue this conservation effort conducting both point count surveys for bird life and vegetation surveys. Unfortunately neither species returned to nest in 2014, possibly due to regular airport maintenance mowing that had occurred. We will soon be continuing this work in 2015, now at the expected arrival date of both birds, with our fingers crossed that at least some of the habitat will now be acceptable to them. Either way we will learn a great deal more and continue working towards making it the most hospitable home it can be for them.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator