WatchList Species Account for Le Conte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


LeConte's Sparrow
Photo: Laura Erickson

This elusive grassland sparrow breeds in tall prairies, wet fields, sedge meadows and open marshes in central and southern Canada and extreme north-central U.S., with greatest breeding densities in the western part of its range. It is also known to breed in annually cut hayfields and in upland grass areas.


It forages on the ground, often under cover, feeding largely on seeds of grasses and forbs and some insects. A relatively short-distance migrant, Le Conte's Sparrow winters within the U.S., where it can be found in upland grasslands and dry fields with a dense cover of short grasses, from southern Illinois and Missouri south to the Gulf Coast.


The bird’s low level of detectability makes population estimates difficult, since they can be found only with considerable effort; thus their true abundance is underestimated on Christmas Bird Counts, where most counts record the presence or absence of the bird in the count circle but do not try to count accurately numbers of individuals.


In managing for the species, periodic burning, mowing, grazing, or combinations thereof may be required to maintain optimal habitat. During breeding, haying may destroy nests and be detrimental to breeding birds.