|Conservation status||Still common in some areas but has declined significantly in others. Florida race is seriously endangered, with very limited range.|
|Family||New World Sparrows|
|Habitat||Grassland, hayfields, prairies. Breeds in rather dry fields and prairies, especially those with fairly tall grass and weeds and a few scattered shrubs. Also nests in overgrown pastures and hayfields, and sometimes in fields of other crops. In Florida, nests in prairie with scattered palmettos. During migration and winter, found in many types of open fields.|
Forages while hopping or running on the ground, picking up items from the soil or from plant stems. Almost always forages alone.
4-5, sometimes 3-6. Creamy white, spotted with reddish brown and gray. Incubation is by female only, about 11-12 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9 days after hatching, before they are able to fly well.
Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9 days after hatching, before they are able to fly well.
Mostly insects and seeds. In summer feeds mostly on insects, including many grasshoppers, also beetles, caterpillars, ants, true bugs, and many others. Also eats spiders, snails, centipedes, and earthworms. Seeds are also important in diet, probably more so in winter, including those of weeds and grasses as well as waste grain.
May nest in small colonies; numbers in a given area often change markedly from year to year. Male sings from a low perch to defend territory; sometimes sings at night. In courtship, sometimes sings in flight. Nest site is on the ground, very well hidden at base of weed, shrub, or clump of grass. Often placed in slight depression, so that rim of nest is even with level of ground. Nest (probably built by female) is an open cup of dry grass, lined with fine grass, rootlets, sometimes animal hair. Usually has partly domed back and sides of grass woven into overhanging vegetation, leaving opening at front.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Apparently migrates mostly at night. Peak of migration in many areas during late April and October.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA high-pitched, insect-like kip-kip-kip, zeeee, usually uttered from the top of a weed stalk.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Grasshopper Sparrow
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Grasshopper Sparrow
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.