Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

LeConte's sparrow
Ammodramus leconteii

 

Taxonomy
Occurence in Illinois
Status
Habitat associations
Guilds
Food-habits
Environmental associations
Life history
Management practices
References


TAXONOMY

 

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Emberizidae
  • Genus: Ammodramus
  • Species: Ammodramus leconteii
  • Authority: Audubon

Comments on taxonomy:
Recorded as Fringilla cauda Cuta (not Oriulus caudacutus Gmelin) by Latham, 1790. Type locality: interior at Georgia. Later recorded by Audubon as Emberiza leconteii, 1844. Type locality: Fort Union, N. Dakota. *02*. Past genus, species names used include Passerharbulus caudacutus or Ammospinza leconteii *02*. A.K.A. Leconte's bunting *03*.

 


OCCURENCE IN ILLINOIS

Uncommon migrant. Occasional winter resident in south. Rare winter resident in central and north [formerly summer resident in north and possibly central]. Seen in IL from mid-March to late April, then early Oct. to mid-Nov. *01*.

 


STATUS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories
Forest Service Categories: S = recommended for regional sensitive status, F = forest listed species, M = management indicator species

Federal Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed for listing
Candidate for proposal Recovery plan approved Recovery plan received (USFWS)
Recovery plan in preparation Under notice of review Delisted
Migratory EPA indicator Forest Serv.- Shawnee species

State Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed

Other:

Game Furbearer Nongame protected
Sportfish Commercial Pest None of the above

Comments on status:
Is a non-game bird protected under Ill. wildlife code laws, 1971 *04* and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 1918 *05*.

 


HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories

General habitat:

Unknown Terrestrial Aquatic Riparian

USFS timber inventory forest size class:

Unknown Unstocked Seedling Sapling
Seedling/sapling Pole Mature Over mature

Land use and land cover:

Unknown   Urban Residential
Commercial
Industrial
Transportation, communication
Complex industrial/commercial
Mixed
Other
Agricultural Crop, pasture
Orchards, groves, nurseries
Feedlot
Other
Rangeland Herbaceous
Shrub and brush
Mixed
Forestland Deciduous
Evergreen
Mixed
Water Stream
Lake
Reservoir
Bay
Wetland Forest
Non-forest
Barren Salt flat
Beach
Sand
Rock
Mine
Transit
Mix

 


Forest cover types:

Cover typeStructural stageCanopy closureSeason
Oak-pine Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Oak-hickory Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All

Associated tree species: No records.

National wetland inventory classifications:

SystemSubsystemClassSubclassWater regime modifiersWater chemistry
Palustrine   Emergent vegetation Persistent Intermittently exposed/permanent nontidal Freshwater
Palustrine   Forest Deciduous Intermittently exposed/permanent nontidal Freshwater
Palustrine   Scrub/shrub Deciduous Intermittently exposed/permanent nontidal Freshwater
Upland   Scrub/shrub Deciduous Intermittently exposed/permanent nontidal Freshwater

Comments on species-habitat associations:
Inhabits moist grassy areas, sedge meadows; marsh and bog edges; also areas of moist or dry tall, rank grass. In migration and winter also in woody fields, broom sedge and cattails *01,02*.

Important plant and animal association: Cowbirds, sharp-tailed sparrow. Probably fairly common host to cowbirds; may hybridize with sharp- tailed sparrow *03*.

High value habitats

HabitatStructural stageSeason
Agricultural land Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Other agricultural land Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Wetland Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
Special habitat
All
Nonforested wetland Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Upland forest Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Mesic upland forest Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Wet-mesic upland forest Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Swamp Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Bog Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Sedge meadow Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Agricultural field Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Prairie Special habitat All

Species-habitat interrelations: Inhabits grassy areas, sedge meadows; marsh and bog edges. Also found in areas of moist or dry tall, rank grass. In migration and winter also in woody fields, broomsedge and cattails *01,02*.


GUILDS

Feed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonFeed-guilds
Agricultural land Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of grass/grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of forbs
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Wetland Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of grass/grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of forbs
Terrestrial surface- arthropods

Comments on feed-guilding:
Forages on ground for weeds, grass seeds, esp. in winter. Feeds on insects, spiders in summer *03*.

Breed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonBreed-Guilds
Agricultural land Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
Spring/summer Terrestrial surface, marshy areas with hydrophytes but not hydric soils
Terrestrial surface, bare ground (sand to rubble)
Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface, forb vegetation
Wetland Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
Spring/summer Terrestrial surface, marshy areas with hydrophytes but not hydric soils
Terrestrial surface, bare ground (sand to rubble)
Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface, forb vegetation

Comments on breed-guilding:
Nest is built on or about 8 in. above ground in drier parts of marsh areas. Is sometimes sunk in ground *03*.


FOOD-HABITS

Trophic level is OMNIVORE

Food itemLife stage/plant part
Poaceae (grass) Fruit/seeds
Cyperaceae (bulrush,sedge) Fruit/seeds
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Unknown
Insecta Unknown
Homoptera (cicadas, aphids) Unknown
Coleoptera (beetles) Unknown
Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths) Unknown
Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees) Unknown
Adult:
Poaceae (grass) Fruit/seeds
Cyperaceae (bulrush,sedge) Fruit/seeds
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Unknown
Insecta Unknown
Homoptera (cicadas, aphids) Unknown
Coleoptera (beetles) Unknown
Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths) Unknown
Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees) Unknown

Comments on food habits: 
General: Diet is largely weed seeds in winter *06*. In MO study, 15 gizzards contained 83% veg. & 17% animal food *07*.


ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS

General:

  • Flood plain: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: bogs
  • Aquatic habitats: prairie potholes
  • Aquatic habitats: seasonal wet depressions
  • Aquatic habitats: lake weedbeds
  • Aquatic habitats: swamp
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: marsh
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Ecotones: grassland/water
  • Ecotones: see comments
  • Grassland: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments
  • Grasses: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: filled pond
  • Vegetation successional stage: stable prairie/grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: vegetation-choked pond
  • Vegetation successional stage: see comments

Feeding adult:

  • Flood plain: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: bogs
  • Aquatic habitats: prairie potholes
  • Aquatic habitats: seasonal wet depressions
  • Aquatic habitats: lake weedbeds
  • Aquatic habitats: swamp
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: marsh
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Ecotones: grassland/water
  • Ecotones: see comments
  • Grassland: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments
  • Grasses: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: filled pond
  • Vegetation successional stage: stable prairie/grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: vegetation-choked pond
  • Vegetation successional stage: see comments

Breeding adult:

  • Flood plain: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: bogs
  • Aquatic habitats: prairie potholes
  • Aquatic habitats: seasonal wet depressions
  • Aquatic habitats: lake weedbeds
  • Aquatic habitats: swamp
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: marsh
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Ecotones: grassland/water
  • Ecotones: see comments
  • Grassland: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments
  • Grasses: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: filled pond
  • Vegetation successional stage: stable prairie/grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: vegetation-choked pond
  • Vegetation successional stage: see comments

Comments on environmental associations:
General: Frequents damp open fields & marshes covered with thick grasses & sedges *06*. In migration and winter also in weedy fields, broomsedge and cattails *02*. Nests in drier parts of marshy areas *03*.
Feeding adult: See species environmental assoc.
Breeding adult: Nests on or above ground in drier parts of marshy areas *03*.


LIFE HISTORY

Origin: Native.

Physical description: Eggs are gray-white, speckled and spotted with browns *03*. Adults are 4 1/2- 5 1/2 in. long. Sexes outwardly alike; streaked back and sides. Yellow-brown throat and underparts with reddish brown color. White stripe through dark crown; has bright orange stripe over each eye and bristly tail *03*.

Reproduction: Br. season: egg dates from May to July. Does not breed in IL *01,03*. Incubation is by female, about 12-13 days. Age when young leave nest unknown. Three to 5, usually 4 eggs laid *03*.

Behavior: Male sings from grass cover, a grass stem or in flight *03*. Spp. migrates through IL from Mid-march to late April, then early Oct. to mid-Nov. *01*. Foraging strategy/sites: forages on ground for weed and grass seeds, esp. in winter. Eats insects and spiders in summer *03*. In MO study, 15 gizzards contained 83% veg. And 17% animal food *07*. Nest built on or about 8 in. above ground in drier parts of marsh areas. First interweaves dead grasses among standing stems; then builds rounded cup of finer grasses within *03*.

Limiting factors: May be fairly common host to cowbirds *03*.

Population parameters: No records.

 


MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Beneficial:

  • Maintaining undisturbed/undeveloped areas
  • Maintaining natural ecological succession
  • Maintaining unique or special habitat features (wetlands, snags, caves, cliffs, talises, etc.
  • Performing special survey prior to prescription
  • Performing field survey prior to prescription
  • Seasonal restriction of human use of habitats
  • Controlling pollution
  • Practices other than those included on the ifwis list (see comments)
  • Controlling pollution in aquatic habitats
  • Controlling water use e.g. irrigation, livestock
  • Developing/maintaining wetlands
  • Creating/maintaining wetlands from non-wetlands
  • Maintaining bogs
  • Draining wetlands
  • Protecting existing wetlands
  • Developing/maintaining riparian habitat
  • Retaining crop residue (over winter)
  • Controlled grazing of domestic livestock
  • Planting native vegetation
  • Developing/maintaining native vegetation
  • Develop/maintain prairie
  • Maintaining undisturbed resting areas for migrating birds

Adverse:

  • Controlling water levels
  • Controlling aquatic plants
  • Draining ponds/lakes
  • Drawdown of ponds/lakes
  • Removing bank vegetation
  • Applying pesticide on agricultural land
  • Applying herbicide
  • Applying insecticide
  • Strip mining
  • Applying pesticides
  • Applying herbicides
  • Applying insecticides
  • Mowing
  • Controlling pests
  • Application of pesticides
  • Application of insecticides

Comments on management practices:
Generally inhabits moist grasses or sedge meadows, edges of marshes, bogs *02,03*.

 


REFERENCES

0. SHERMAN, R.A. 1986. ILL. NAT. HIST. SURV., 607 E. PEABODY DR., CHAMPAIGN, IL. 61820. (217)333-6846.

1. BOHLEN, H. 1978. AN ANNOTATED CHECK-LIST OF THE BIRDS OF ILLINOIS. ILLINOIS STATE MUS. POP. SCI. SERV., VOL. + 156 PP.

2. AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS' UNION, 1984. CHECK-LIST OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. 6TH EDITION. ALLEN PRESS, INC. LAWRENCE, KS. + 877 PP.

3. TERRES, J.K. 1980. AUDUBON SOCIETY ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. ALFRED A. KNOPF, N.Y.

4. ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CONSERVATION, 1980. CONSERVATION LAWS. CH. 61. WILDLIFE. ART. II. PAR. 2.2. REPRINTED FROM ILLINOIS REVISED STATUTES, 1979. WEST PUBL. CO., ST. PAUL, MN. + 123 PP.

5. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, 1983. CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS, TITLE 50, WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES, CH. 1, PP. 11-18, 50 CFR 10.13. LIST OF MIGRATORY BIRDS, SPECIAL PUBL. FEDERAL REGISTER, GENERAL SERVICES ADMIN.; OCT. 1.

6. WALKINSHAW, L.H. 1968. LECONTE'S SPARROW. PAGES 765-776 IN A.C. BENT (ED.). LIFE HISTORIES OF NORTH AMERICAN CARDINALS, GROSBEAKS, BUNTINGS, TOWHEES, FINCHES, SPARROWS, AND ALLIES. US NATL. MUS. BULL. 237. 1889 PP.

7. EASTERLA, D.A. 1962. FOODS OF LE CONTE'S SPARROW. USK 79:272-273.

8. JONES, D.M. 1976. MISSOURI CHRISTMAS BIRDS COUNT-1975. BLUEBIRD 43(2): 8-23.

9. ANDERSON, R. 1966. WINTER SURVEY. BLUEBIRD 33(1):13-16.

10. GOODGE, W. 1978. MISSOURI CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT 1977-1978. BLUEBIRD 45(1):11-20.

11. ROBBINS, M. 1977. WINTER SURVEY. BLUEBIRD 44(1):17-28.

12. COMFORT, J. 1974. MISSOURI CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT-1973. BLUEBIRD 41(1): 9-15.

13. ROBBINS, M. 1978. FALL SURVEY. BLUEBIRD 45(1):23-29.

 


 

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