The field sparrow (Spizella pusilla) is a common to uncommon breeder in BCR 14. It prefers open grassy areas with low shrubs or trees. These sparrows are at the northern limits of their breeding range in BCR 14 and are declining with forest succession and development. It is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in one or more states in BCR 14.

Habitat Needs

This bird breeds in old fields or pastures in the early stages of succession with patches of scattered woody vegetation in the openings. They also use power-line corridors, woodland edges, overgrown gravel pits and cutover pine forests. Young Christmas tree plantations are also sometimes used.

Its territory size averages around 2 acres and may be as small as 1/3 of an acre in the best habitats.

Habitat Management Practices

Maintain old fields or pastures in the early stages of succession. Rotate mowing so that around 80 percent of the open area remains as usable habitat. Using a five-year rotation and mowing 20 percent of the area every year can accomplish this. Mow after July 1 so there is no interference with nesting and brood production.

When assessing properties for habitat potential, look for excessively to well-drained soils in Important Forest Soils Group IC if openings need to be created. Adams, Colton, Hinckley, Masardis, Quonset, Stetson, Windsor soils are examples but there are others depending on where you are in BCR 14.

Silvicultural Practices

Pine is the only forest type this species might use. This type is not the preferred habitat so it is likely that any habitat produced by pine management would be incidental. However, the application of group selection in pine would likely be beneficial to field sparrows if the pine stand is located adjacent to their preferred old field habitats.

Additional Information