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Baird's Sparrow


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Rare and elusive, Baird's Sparrow breeds in the vanishing prairie lands of the northern Great Plains. It habitually lies low in the tall grass, revealing its presence only with its distinctive tinkling song.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
4.7 in
12 cm
9.1 in
23 cm
0.6–0.7 oz
17–21 g
Other Names
  • Bruant de Baird (French)
  • Gorrión de Baird (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Baird's Sparrow is partially nomadic, with breeding populations shifting dramatically among locations from year to year. This tendency probably evolved in response to the effects of drought, fire, and movements of bison herds over the prairie.
  • John James Audubon collected the first specimens of Baird's Sparrow in 1843 in North Dakota. The species was not recorded again for 29 years.
  • Baird's Sparrow often eludes predators (and human watchers) by running on the ground, rather than flying away.



Breeds 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.



Insects and seeds.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Egg Description
Grayish white, with brown spots and blotches.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless, pink and covered with some grayish down.
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.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Picks insects from ground; gleans grass seeds from stems.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Baird'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.


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