WatchList Species Account for Baird’s Sparrow
(Ammodramus bairdii)

Qualifies for the list as a Red List Species


Baird's Sparrow
Photo: John C. Carlson

Baird’s Sparrow is a breeding species endemic to the grasslands of the Prairie Provinces, Montana, the Dakotas, and a small area of northwestern Minnesota. Its breeding range is very close to that of another prairie endemic, the Sprague’s Pipit. In winter it is found from southeastern Arizona south into central Mexico. Once considered one of the commonest prairie birds, it has, like other grassland birds, experienced dramatic declines due to the destruction and degradation of native grasslands.


Although the Baird’s Sparrow has experienced population declines and was once considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act, its numbers currently appear stable. Numbers found in surveys in Canada proved larger than predicted, and Canada removed the Baird’s Sparrow from its threatened species list in 1997.


However, further population declines are likely unless efforts are made to end the destruction of native prairie and to properly manage grasslands. Actively cultivated lands are unproductive for the species, but formerly cultivated lands with a vegetation structure resembling prairie are acceptable. Potential grassland habitat invaded by woody vegetation where grazing and fire are lacking soon becomes unsuitable for the bird. In winter it is found on extensive grassland with a minor shrub component. On its Mexican wintering grounds there are no regulations protecting habitat.