Species and Plant Community
Accounts for Identified Wildlife

Table of contents

GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (Ammodramus savannarum)


The grasshopper sparrow is RED-listed because it has a sparse distribution in a threatened ecosystem in a restricted area of the province.


The grasshopper sparrow is omnivorous, but is probably largely insectivorous in breeding season. It nests on the ground in grassland. Territories tend to be rather small (0.4-1.3 ha) and clumped-several males may defend territories in a small area while a larger area of suitable habitat is unoccupied. Spring migrants arrive in early to mid-May; the earliest arrival date recorded is 1 May. Fall departure occurs in September and October; the latest date recorded is 19 October.


Ecoprovince: Ecosections

Biogeoclimatic units

Breeding range

Breeding is largely restricted to the Okanagan and lower Similkameen valleys. The species has nested on the Douglas Lake plateau near Chapperon Lake; a nest found near Riske Creek is unconfirmed. Grasshopper sparrows may also occur in the extreme southern Rocky Mountain Trench, and they are vagrant on the south coast. Elevation of breeding sites ranges from 275 to 945 m above sea level.

Wintering and migration

This species winters from southern United States to Central America.

Habitat requirements

Broad ecosystem units

Structural stage

2: herb

Critical habitats and habitat features

Grasshopper sparrows nest in clumps of dense grass with last year's grass still standing. They use native grassland or habitats closely approximating it. The species is sensitive to grazing pressure, preferring lightly grazed or ungrazed grassland; it is not found in heavily grazed sites. It is not found in early seral stages of grasses, forbs and shrubs following the clearing of forested areas. Generally, preferred habitat is composed of short to middle height (20 to 60 cm) grass cover with about 25% bare ground. Small, scattered shrubs are preferred for singing posts.

Selected references

Cannings, R.J. 1995. Status report on the grasshopper sparrow, Ammodramus
savannarum, in British Columbia. B.C. Min. Environ., Victoria, B.C. Wildl. Bull. #B-77.

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