Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Bachman's Sparrow
Aimophila aestivalis

 

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: Aimophila
  • Species: Aimophila aestivalis
  • Authority: (Lichtenstein)

Comments on taxonomy:
Other names: pine woods sparrow *02,05,06,16*. A subspecies Aimophila aestivalis illinoensis was noted *09,11*.

 


OCCURENCE IN ILLINOIS

Rare migrant and rare summer resident in southern portions of state *03,04*. May have once been statewide *04*. Declining in state since 1900, due in part by central Ill. being the northern extent of its range where loss of habitat has occurred *04,10,13*. Last record in Jackson Co., Sept. 7, 1975 *03*. Northeast portion of state included in breeding range in various references *02,16,17*.

 


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 (S)

State Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed

Other:

Game Furbearer Nongame protected
Sportfish Commercial Pest None of the above

Species has never been common in Ill. *04*. Loss of savanna habitat in southern portions of the state has had a negative affect on the Bachman's sparrow *04*.

 


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 Young
(1-9" dia.)
0-40% Spring/summer
Oak-pine Young
(1-9" dia.)
0-40% Fall

Associated tree species:

  • Ash
  • Red cedar
  • Oak
  • Pine
  • Sumac
  • Species other than those on IFWIS list

Comments on species-habitat associations:
Species inhabits open oaks and pines, old orchards, brushy hillsides and abandoned fields and pastures in the early stages of tree invasion with scattered shrubs and bushes *01,02,04,05,06,09,10,14,15,16,17,18*

Important plant and animal association: Grass seeds, grasshoppers and coleoptera larvae. Mostly grass seeds eaten all year round *07*. Listed insects ob- served being fed to young, assumed important *00,19*.

High value habitats

HabitatStructural stageSeason
Grassland/forest combination - oak savanna All Spring/summer
Other agricultural land Special habitat Spring/summer
Mixed rangeland Grass - forb Spring/summer
Savanna Special habitat Spring/summer
Grassland/forest combination - oak savanna All Fall
Other agricultural land Special habitat Fall
Mixed rangeland Grass - forb Fall
Savanna Special habitat Fall
Forageland Special habitat Spring/summer
Forageland Special habitat Fall
Early abandoned forageland Special habitat Spring/summer
Early abandoned forageland Special habitat Fall

Species-habitat interrelations: Open oaks and pines with bordering shrubby-brushy, overgrown fields in the early stages of tree invasion or burned or clearcut areas with replanted trees are considered to be valuable habitat *04,06,09,10,17,18 19*. Brushy hillsides with scattered trees and shrubs often mentioned *03,08,09,10,11*. Oak-savanna mentioned by Bowles et. al. (1981) as an important habitat.

 


GUILDS

Feed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonFeed-guilds
Grassland/forest combination - oak savanna All All Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of grass/grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Other agricultural land Special habitat All Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of grass/grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Mixed rangeland Grass - forb All Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of grass/grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Savanna Special habitat All Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of grass/grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Forageland Special habitat All Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of grass/grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Early abandoned forageland Special habitat All Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of grass/grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface- arthropods

Comments on feed-guilding:
Forages on ground among the grasses *05,07,19*.

Breed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonBreed-Guilds
Grassland/forest combination - oak savanna All Spring/summer Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Mixed rangeland Grass - forb Spring/summer Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Other agricultural land Special habitat Spring/summer Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Savanna Special habitat Spring/summer Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Forageland Special habitat Spring/summer Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Early abandoned forageland Special habitat Spring/summer Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation

Comments on breed-guilding:
Nesting takes place on ground beneath bush, tree, shrub or grass clump *05,06,09,16,17*.

 


FOOD-HABITS

Trophic level is OMNIVORE

Food itemLife stage/plant part
Pinaceae (pine family) Fruit/seeds
Poaceae (grass) Fruit/seeds
Diplopoda (millipedes) Adult
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Adult
Insecta Adult
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches) Adult
Coleoptera (beetles) Adult
Lepidoptera (butterfiles, moths) Unknown
Important:
Poaceae (grass) Fruit/seeds
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Adult
Insecta Adult
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches) Adult
Juvenile:
Poaceae (grass) Fruit/seeds
Diplopoda (millipedes) Adult
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Adult
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches) Adult
Lepidoptera (butterfiles, moths) Unknown
Adult:
Pinaceae (pine family) Fruit/seeds
Poaceae (grass) Fruit/seeds
Diplopoda (millipedes) Adult
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Adult
Insecta Adult
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches) Adult
Coleoptera (beetles) Adult
Lepidoptera (butterfiles, moths) Unknown

Comments on food habits:
General: Young fed insects *07,10,19*. Insects often mentioned as food item *05,07,11,12*. Allaire et al. (1975) states that this species is predominantly a seed eater. Meanley (1959) mentions that weed seeds and beetles are the main food source.
Juvenile: Nestlings fed insects by both parents *07,10,11,19*. Assumed to adapt adult food habits after independence, see comments on adult food habits [AF].
Adult: Feeding/foraging on ground for insects and seeds of grasses, sedges and pines *05,07,11,12,19*. Forages independently or in pairs during breeding season *07*.


ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS

General:

  • Ecotones: woodland/old fields
  • Orchards: see comments
  • Old fields: see comments
  • Herbs-leguminous forbs: see comments
  • Canopy closure (%) of trees: see comments
  • Preferred trees: see comments
  • Ground cover- shrub (%): see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Human associations: wildlife refuges/sanctuaries
  • Unknown

Limiting:

  • Ecotones: woodland/old fields
  • Old fields: see comments
  • Herbs-leguminous forbs: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields

Egg

  • Unknown

Feeding juvenile:

  • Ecotones: woodland/old fields
  • Orchards: see comments
  • Old fields: see comments
  • Preferred trees: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Human associations: wildlife refuges/sanctuaries

Resting juvenile:

  • Ecotones: woodland/old fields
  • Orchards: see comments
  • Old fields: see comments
  • Herbs-leguminous forbs: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Human associations: wildlife refuges/sanctuaries

Feeding adult:

  • Ecotones: woodland/old fields
  • Orchards: see comments
  • Old fields: see comments
  • Preferred trees: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Human associations: wildlife refuges/sanctuaries

Resting adult:

  • Ecotones: woodland/old fields
  • Orchards: see comments
  • Old fields: see comments
  • Herbs-leguminous forbs: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Human associations: wildlife refuges/sanctuaries

Breeding adult:

  • Ecotones: woodland/old fields
  • Orchards: see comments
  • Old fields: see comments
  • Herbs-leguminous forbs: see comments
  • Preferred trees: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Human associations: wildlife refuges/sanctuaries

Comments on environmental associations:
General: Open oak or pine forests seem to be important *01,04,05,06,14*. Brushy hillsides with scattered trees often mentioned *03,09,10,15*. Old fields with scattered shrubs and invading bush size trees also appear to be important *15,16,17,18*. Dense herbaceous cover important for nesting and hiding *15,16,18*. Grassy and old orchards mentioned *09, 16*. In a study by Hardin et al. (1982), it was found that preferred territories contained 4.1% and 2.3% in shrub and tree cover, respectively. For percentages of various forb and herbaceous cover, see Hardin et. al. (1982).
Feeding juvenile: Young fed by parents presumably at nesting site *00,10,11,19*. Older juveniles assumed to feed with the same habits as adults, see [FA].
Resting juvenile: Resting assumed to take place in the important habitats listed *00*.
Feeding adult: Forages mainly on ground in the mornings and a couple hours before sunset *05,07*. May eat seed from pines *05,19*.
Resting adult: Some resting assumed to be done from singing perches on fences or in low bushes or trees and among tall weeds *00,05,10,15,11,19*.
Breeding adult: Most of the time spent on ground, nesting on ground, breeding assumed to take place on ground *00,05,06,09,11,14,16,17*. Sings from low perch in bush or tree in spring *15,16*.


LIFE HISTORY

Origin: Native *03*.

Physical description: Length 5 1/2-6" *01,05,06,12,13*. Wingspread 7 1/2 *12*. Striped with reddish brown above, dingy buff across a plain breast, yellow at bend of wings, bill dark *01,05,06,08,12,13*. Sexes similar *05,12,13*.

Reproduction: Breeding season estimated from early april through august. This time marks the period shortly after arrival from winter- ing grounds to several weeks after a second clutch is layed in July *03,05,09,10,11*. Singing from late winter to early spring in various states *15,19*. This singing is used to establish territories *18*. Nest on ground at base of grass clumb or beneath a bush, tree, or shrub. Constructed by female from weeds, stems, grass, and hair and fine grasses for lining. Some domed over with grass *05,06,09,11,14,16 17*. Two broods per season, possibly 3 in southern states *05,09,11, 16*. Three to five eggs per clutch. Smooth, white with slight gloss, unmarked, average size about 19.0 x 15.0 mm *05,06,09,10,11,14,16,17*. Laying dates in Tennessee from early May to mid July *17*. Incubation, by female, from 12 to 14 days *05,11,16*. "Crippled" bird act used by female if disturbed while incubating *05*. From dates when young were found in nests, hatching dates can be estimated to be from late June to mid July *17*. By using the same method, hatching dates in Missouri are estimated to be from mid May to early June *18*. Average number of offspring *09,10,12*. Both parents feed young *10,11,19*. Young leave the nest about the tenth day *05,11*. Nicholson (1976) states that due to species very secretive behavior, information is "lacking on nesting success and dispersal of young".

Behavior: Species is territorial *08,09*. Sizes of territories report- ed to be from a 150 ft. radius to an average of 0.62 ha *09,18*. Mean- ly (1959) mentions that in optimum nesting habitat, there is one pair/ 2 acres. Dispersion was taking place in the late 1800's to early 1900's when species was expanding its range northward into central Illinois but has since been declining in this state *01,03,04,10,11*. Fall migration to the pine barrens and saw palmetto habitats of the gulf states, Georgia and North Carolina, begins from August to late September *02,03,04,11,14,17*. Species is a thorough forager, doing so on the ground, among the grasses, in the morning and 2 hrs before sun- set *05,07,19*. Foraging irregular in nonbreeding season *07*. Bachman's sparrow is shy and secretive, also crepuscular, making it difficult to study *01,05,07,09,11,17*.

Limiting factors: Appropriate habitat *04,15*.

Population parameters: No information.

 


MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Beneficial:

  • Maintaining undisturbed/undeveloped areas
  • Maintaining natural areas and nature preserves
  • Maintaining unique or special habitat features (wetlands, snags, caves, cliffs, talises, etc.
  • Preserving endangered species habitat
  • Creating topographic features
  • Performing field survey prior to prescription
  • Controlling land use and human activities
  • Contouring to create knolls in mine areas
  • Periodically burning prairie areas
  • Plant management practices other than those included in ifwis list (see comments)
  • Thinning operations in forest areas
  • Reforestation by direct seeding
  • Developing/maintaining forest openings
  • Developing/maintaining forest edge
  • Estimating/maintaining nesting and escape cover

Adverse:

  • Strip mining

Existing:

  • Performing special survey prior to prescription

Comments on management practices:
Bowles et al. (1981) suggest prescribed burning of savanna and proper management of old field succession as management practices. Strip mining harmful to habitat. Contour reclamation areas to form hilly areas which are preferred *03,08,09,11*. Open oak and pine forests often mentioned as suitable habitat, could be managed by thinnings *00,01,04,05,06,08,11*. Manage to create hilly, old field growth with scattered shrubs and trees *01,04,05,06,08,10,11*. Cutting and thinning cycles along with prescribed burning, followed by direct seeding *18,19*. Prevent heavy invasion of woody species *18*. Species protected by the Ill. Endangered Species Protection Act of 1972, the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, and the Ill. Wildlife Code of 1971 *04,20,21*.


REFERENCES

0. IRISH, J. 1984. ILL. NAT. HIST. SURV., 607 E. PEABODY DR., CHAMPAIGN, ILL. (217)333-6846.

1. PETERSON, R. 1980. A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS. 4 ED. HOUGHTON-MIFFLIN CO., BOSTON. 384 P.

2. AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS' UNION. 1982. CHECK-LIST OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. 6TH EDITION. ALLEN PRESS, INC. LAWRENCE, KN. 877 PP.

3. BOHLEN, H. 1978. AN ANNOTATED CHECK-LIST OF THE BIRDS OF ILLINOIS. ILLINOIS STATE MUS. POP. SCI. SER., VOL. IX. 156 P.

4. BOWLES, M.L., V.E. DIERSING, J.E. EBINGER AND H.C. SCHULTZ, EDS. 1981. ENDANGERED AND THREATENED VERGEBRATE ANIMALS AND VASCULAR PLANTS OF ILLINOIS. ILLINOIS DEPT. CONSERV. 189 P.

5. TERRES, J. 1980. AUDUBON SOCIETY: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. ALFRED KNOPF, NEW YORK. 1109 P.

6. PEARSON, T.G., EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, AND J. BURROUGHS, CONSULTING EDITOR, 1944. BIRDS OF AMERICA. GARDEN CITY PUB. CO., INC., GARDEN CITY, NY. VLIV + PART 1:272 PP. + PART 2:289 PP. + 106 PLS.

7. ALLAIRE, P.N. AND C.D. FISHER. 1975. FEEDING ECOLOGY OF THREE RESIDENT SYMPATRIC SPARROWS IN EASTERN TEXAS. THE AUK 92(2):260- 269.

8. CLAYTON, L. 1969. BACHMAN'S SPARROW IN LAWRENCE COUNTY [TENNESSEE]. THE MIGRANT 40(4):86-87.

9. MENGEL, R. 1965. THE BIRDS OF KENTUCKY. ORNITH. MONOGR. NO. 3. 581 P.

10. BROOKS, M. 1938. BACHMAN'S SPARROW IN THE NORTH-CENTRAL PORTION OF ITS RANGE. THE WILSON BULL 50:86-109.

11. BENT, A.C. CONTRIBUTED BY F.M. WESTON. 1968. LIFE HISTORIES OF NORTH AMERICAN CARDINALS, GROSBEAKS, BUNTINGS, TOWHEES, FINCHES, SPARROWS AND ALLIES. U.S. NATL. MUS. BULL. NO. 237. PART 2.

12. AUDUBON, J.J. 1871. THE BIRDS OF AMERICA. GENERAL PUBLISHING CO., LTD., DON MILLS, TORONTO, ONTARIO; 1967 REPRINT, DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC., NY. VOL. 3. 233 PP.

13. CORY, C.B. 1909. THE BIRDS OF ILLINOIS AND WISCONSIN. FIELD MUSEUM OF NATL. HISTORY, CHICAGO, ILL. PUBLICATION 131, VOL. IX. 764 PP.

14. REED, C.A. 1965. NORTH AMERICAN BIRD EGGS. DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC., NY. 372 PP.

15. DORSEY, G.A. 1976. BACHMAN'S SPARROW: SONGS AND BEHAVIOR. THE ORIOLE 41(4):52-56.

16. HARRISON, H.H. 1975. A FIELD GUIDE TO BIRDS' NESTS. HOUGHTON-MIFFLIN CO., BOSTON. 257 PP.

17. NICHOLSON, C.P. 1976. THE BACHMAN'S SPARROW IN TENNESSEE. THE MIGRANT 47(3):53-60.

18. HARDIN, K.I., T.S. BASKETT AND K.E. EVANS. 1982. HABITAT OF BACHMAN'S SPARROW BREEDING ON MISSOURI GLADES. WILSON BULL. 94(2):208-212.

19. MEANLEY, B. 1959. NOTES ON BACHMAN'S SPARROW IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA. THE AUK 76(2):232-234.

20. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT 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. 120 PP.

21. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE. 1983. CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS. TITLE 50. WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES. CHAPTER 1, PP. 11-18. 50 CFR 10.13. LIST OF MIGRATORY BIRDS. SPEC. PUBL. FEDERAL REGISTER. GENERAL SERV. ADMIN. OCT. 1.

 


 

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