Sparrow & Habitat

Grasshopper Sparrows are not named for their eating habits, though they do eat grasshoppers, but because the singing males sound uncannily like grasshoppers.  The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus) is a subspecies, and though it shares the Florida prairies with other grasshopper sparrows in the winter, floridanus stays year round. 

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow in captive breeding program at the Rare Species Consrvatory

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow in captive breeding program at the Rare Species Consrvatory

 

Map of Remaining Populations on Protected Lands

Though believed to be more widespread in earlier times, the sparrow is now found only in the headwaters of Florida's Everglades, a region sometimes referred to as the Northern Everglades. Today, the sparrow is known only from three protected areas and one private property, including Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, Kissimmee Prairie State Park, and the Avon Park Air Force Range.

Map of the Northern Everglades made by Archbold Biological Station.

Map of the Northern Everglades made by Archbold Biological Station.

 

florida dry prairie

The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is dependent on the Florida dry prairie, a unique habitat found only in Florida. The habitat, sometimes called the palmetto prairie, consists of large flat treeless areas with grass and saw palmettos. The prairie is maintained by frequent fire and, even though called dry, can have portions that flood for weeks or months during Florida's rainy season.

Florida dry prairie at Florida dry prairie at the Avon Park Air Force Range

Florida dry prairie at Florida dry prairie at the Avon Park Air Force Range

Florida dry prairie at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area

Florida dry prairie at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area

 

Sharing the prairie

The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow shares the prairie and its wetlands with at least nineteen nesting birds, including the Eastern Meadowlark, Burrowing Owl, Florida Sandhill Crane, and Audubon's Crested Caracara.

Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)

Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)

Florida Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pratensis

Florida Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pratensis

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

Audubon's Crested Caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii)

Audubon's Crested Caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii)

 
 

Nesting Birds

 

Nest in Florida Dry Prairie

Bachman's Sparrow

Burrowing Owl

Common Ground-dove

Common Nighthawk

Eastern Meadowlark

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow

 

Nest in Florida Dry Prairie Wetlands

King Rail

Pied-billed Grebe

Sandhill Crane

 

Nest in Overgrown Florida Dry Prairie

(prairie edges, trees within prairie, less well-maintained prairie)

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Common Yellowthroat

Crested Caracara

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Towhee

Morning Dove

Mottled Duck

Northern Bobwhite

Red-winged Blackbird

White-tailed Kite