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A photo of a Baird's Sparrow (Centronyx bairdii)
Baird's Sparrow

Baird's Sparrow

Centronyx bairdii

The Baird's Sparrow, a modestly adorned avian, is a small, brown-streaked sparrow. Its visage is painted with a yellow-brown hue, accented by subtle black markings. A distinctive broad ochre stripe adorns the center of its crown, setting it apart from its kin. Both male and female adults share a similar stature, with no sexual dimorphism to speak of. They measure approximately 12 cm in length and tip the scales at a delicate 17-21 grams. Their wings, when outstretched, span close to 23 cm.

Identification Tips

When attempting to distinguish the Baird's Sparrow from its relatives, note the absence of orange on the face, a trait common in LeConte's Sparrow. Its coloration and patterning bear resemblance to Henslow's Sparrow, yet it lacks the green facial hues. The Savannah Sparrow, another look-alike, is more heavily streaked and sports an additional white marking on its head.

Habitat

The Baird's Sparrow finds solace in the grasslands, particularly the tallgrass prairies, mixed grass prairies, and the moister fescue prairies of the northern United States and southern Canada. These habitats are crucial for its survival, yet they are under threat, diminishing the sparrow's natural abode.

Distribution

This migratory bird summers in the tall grass prairies of north central United States and South Central Canada, then winters in northern Mexico and the southern United States near Texas. During migration, it may be observed throughout the Midwest, with a particular affinity for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, and Canada in the warmer months.

Behaviour

Baird's Sparrows are ground nesters, crafting their homes in depressions or tufts of grass. They form small, loose colonies and may exhibit a unique behavior when threatened: they prefer to run rather than take flight. Their population numbers are known to fluctuate annually, influenced by environmental factors such as wildfires, drought, and the grazing patterns of American bison.

Breeding

The nests of Baird's Sparrows are grassy constructions, featuring two layers with finer materials lining the interior. Clutch sizes range from two to six white-gray eggs, speckled with brown. The young are altricial, depending heavily on their parents for survival post-hatching.

Similar Species

The Baird's Sparrow can be confused with LeConte's Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow, and the Savannah Sparrow. However, careful observation of facial coloration and streaking patterns can aid in accurate identification.

Diet and Feeding

On the ground, Baird's Sparrows forage for insects and grass seeds, a diet that sustains them throughout the seasons.

Conservation status

The Baird's Sparrow is currently listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List. However, their numbers have dwindled from historical counts, and habitat maintenance is vital for their continued existence. Habitat fragmentation poses a significant threat, leading to increased nest parasitism and other challenges.

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