Living Bird Magazine
Baird's SparrowCentronyx bairdii
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Passerellidae
The clear, tinkling song of the Baird’s Sparrow is one of the defining sounds of the northern Great Plains. Once among the most common birds of the tallgrass prairie, this species is a casualty of habitat alteration and the loss of native grassland to agriculture. This warm, yellowish-brown sparrow with neat black and chestnut streaks spends most of its time on the ground, foraging for insects and seeds. They have lost some 65% of their population since 1968 and are on the Yellow Watch List for declining species.More ID Info
Find This Bird
As with most grassland species, finding Baird’s Sparrows is mostly about finding the proper habitat. In spring and summer, this species can be locally abundant in intact tallgrass prairie reserves in eastern Montana, the Dakotas, and adjacent Canada. Males often sing at or near the tops of grass clumps or scattered shrubs, where they often provide good views. In winter, head to the Chihuahuan grasslands of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico.
- Chingolo de Baird (Spanish)
- Bruant de Baird (French)
- Cool Facts
- Baird’s Sparrow has the distinction of being the last new bird described by John James Audubon. He first collected the species in 1843 in North Dakota. The species was not recorded again for another 29 years.
- Baird’s Sparrows are partially nomadic, with breeding populations often shifting locations from year to year. This tendency probably evolved in response to the effects of drought, fire, and roving bison herds.
- Baird's Sparrows often escape predators (and bird watchers) by running on the ground, rather than taking flight.
- The oldest Baird’s Sparrow on record was at least 4 years, 7 months old. It was initially banded and then recaptured during banding operations on its wintering grounds in Arizona.