Henslow's Sparrow Life History


Habitat GrasslandsLarge, flat fields with no woody plants, and with tall, dense grass, a dense litter layer, and standing dead vegetation.Back to top


Food InsectsInsects, mostly grasshoppers and beetles.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

An open bowl of loosely woven dry grasses, placed in layer of grass litter just off the ground.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:3-4 eggs
Number of Broods:2-3 broods
Incubation Period:10-12 days
Egg Description:Glossy white, with speckles and blotches.
Condition at Hatching:Eyes closed, covered with brownish-gray down.
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Behavior Ground ForagerNot widely observed; probably feeds on the ground.Back to top


Conservation Restricted RangeHenslow's Sparrow populations declined between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 400,000, with 100% of birds living in the U.S. The species rates a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Henslow's Sparrow is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. It is both a Tr-National Concern species and a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species. Henslow's Sparrow does not have federally protected status in the United States, but is listed as Endangered in seven states, as well as Canada. It is listed a Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Henslow's Sparrow has been identified as the highest priority for grassland bird conservation in eastern and midwestern North America by Partners in Flight (PIF), a cooperative effort of many organizations dedicated to bird conservation. PIF is promoting establishment of large grassland conservation areas for this and other species. The Conservation Reserve Program, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that assists farmers in setting aside qualifying land for conservation, has apparently successfully contributed to local population increases in isolated cases.Back to top


Herkert, James R., Peter D. Vickery and Donald E. Kroodsma. (2002). Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

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

Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. Link (2017). The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.

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

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