Scientific Name: Ammodramus bairdii
Taxonomy Group: Birds
Range: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
The Baird’s Sparrow is a secretive grassland sparrow, distinguished from other sparrows by “moustache” marks on its yellowish-ochre face, a necklace of thin streaks across its breast, and a song that usually ends in a wiry, musical trill. As a range-restricted species of the northern prairies, it is a valuable grassland indicator for that region. (Updated 2017/08/10)
The Baird’s Sparrow breeds from southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and southwest Manitoba, south to Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Canada encompasses about 45% of its breeding range, and is home to an even greater proportion of the global population. Baird’s Sparrows winter from southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas south to north central Mexico. (Updated 2017/08/10)
This species mainly breeds in large patches of mixed grass and fescue prairie with sparse shrubs, moderate grass heights, and some litter. These features can sometimes be met by non-native habitats, but breeding success can be poor in some of these habitats, such as tame hay and croplands. Over 75% of native grassland in the Baird’s Sparrow’s breeding range has been destroyed since the 1800s, mostly converted to cropland. Habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation continue across the species’ range. (Updated 2017/08/10)
Baird’s Sparrows likely breed in their first year and live about 3 years. They nest in late May through July, raising an average of 1.5 young during each of the one or two breeding attempts they have each year. About half of nests fail, with most lost to a variety of avian and mammalian predators. Birds rarely return to the same place to breed each year, but instead settle wherever conditions are suitable for breeding. (Updated 2017/08/10)
The main threats to Baird’s Sparrows are habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation, caused by a variety of factors, with energy extraction becoming particularly important recently. Other threats include disruption of natural processes (grazing, fire, and drought), agricultural operations, brood parasitism by cowbirds, pesticides, and climate change. (Updated 2017/08/10)
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.
The Baird’s Sparrow is a secretive grassland sparrow, distinguished from other sparrows by “moustache” marks on its yellowish-ochre face, a necklace of thin streaks across its breast, and a song that usually ends in a wiry, musical trill. As a range-restricted species of the northern prairies, it is a valuable grassland indicator for that region.
Canada supports about 60% of the breeding population of this prairie songbird. The species was common and perhaps even abundant historically. It suffered declines stemming from agricultural conversion of its native prairie habitat across the Great Plains. There is good evidence for population declines in recent decades, but the species is difficult to monitor effectively, and information on short-term population trends is relatively weak. Loss and degradation of its specialized grassland habitat, on both its breeding and wintering grounds, are believed to pose the most significant threats. Evidence of long-term population declines, coupled with ongoing threats to habitat, are the primary reasons for elevating the status of this species from Not at Risk to Special Concern.
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 conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to subsection 27(1) of the Species at Risk Act, makes the annexed Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act.
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 (September 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012) from November 21 to 25, 2011 and from April 29 to May 4, 2012. On February 3, 2012, an Emergency Assessment Subcommittee of COSEWIC also assessed the status of the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus), the Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), and the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis). During the current reporting period COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 67 wildlife species.
For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern).
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2011-2012 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 15
Data Deficient: 2
Not at Risk: 6
Of the 67 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 49 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment (see Table 1a).
As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk.
Please submit your comments by
March 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations
October 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.