Baird's Sparrow Life History


Habitat GrasslandsBreeds in native mixed-grass and fescue prairie. Winters in grasslands; specific winter habitat requirements not well described.Baird's Sparrow does not inhabit prairie lands where fire suppression and changes in natural grazing patterns have allowed woody vegetation to grow excessively. Some hayfields or pastures may support Baird's Sparrow where native grasses occur in sufficient quantity, but generally cultivated land is far inferior habitat relative to true prairie.Back to top


Food InsectsInsects and seeds.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

An open cup, with an outer layer of coarse grass and an inner layer of finer grass and other fiber. Placed in depression on ground, in tuft of grass.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:4-5 eggs
Number of Broods:1-2 broods
Egg Length:0.6-0.9 in (1.6-2.2 cm)
Egg Width:0.5-0.6 in (1.2-1.6 cm)
Incubation Period:11-12 days
Nestling Period:8-11 days
Egg Description:Grayish white, with brown spots and blotches.
Condition at Hatching:Helpless, pink and covered with some grayish down.
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Behavior Ground ForagerPicks insects from ground; gleans grass seeds from stems.Back to top


Conservation DecliningBaird's Sparrow populations declined by almost 3% per year between 1966 and 2014, resulting in a cumulative decline of 77%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 2 million with 29% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 71 % breeding in Canada, and 81% wintering in Mexico. The rate a 15 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and are on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. Throughout its range, Baird's Sparrow is considered a species of notable conservation concern, and is a Tri-National Concern Species, and a U.S.-Canada Stewardship Species. Loss and degradation of habitat has dramatically reduced population numbers from historical levels. Conservation of existing habitat is critically important; artificial habitat restoration is unlikely to be suitable for the species. Back to top


Green, M. T., Peter E. Lowther, Stephanie L. Jones, Stephen K. Davis and Brenda C. Dale. (2002). Baird's Sparrow (Ammodramus bairdii), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center (2014b). Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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