Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Sharp-tailed sparrow
Ammodramus caudacutus

 

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 caudacutus
  • Authority: Gmelin

Comments on taxonomy:
Recorded as Oriolus caudacutus by Gmelin, 1788; syst. nat., 1(1), p. 394. Based mainly on the "sharp-tailed oriole" Latham, gen. synop. birds, 1(2), p. 448 (in noveboraco=New York) *02*.

 


OCCURENCE IN ILLINOIS

Uncommon migrant. May have formerly been a very rare summer resident in north *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 *03*.

 


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-hickory Grass-forb Unknown All
Oak-hickory 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   Scrub/shrub   Intermittently exposed/permanent nontidal Freshwater

Comments on species-habitat associations:
Inhabits wet grassy areas and lakeshores w/ grasses and cattails *01*. In migration and winter is also found in brushy areas and overgrown fields *02*.

Important plant and animal association: Seaside sparrow, LeConte's. May hybridize with seaside, LeConte's *05*.

High value habitats

HabitatStructural stageSeason
Agricultural land Special habitat
Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Cropland and pasture Special habitat
Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Other agricultural land Special habitat
Grass-forb
Shrub-seedling (trees 1" dia.)
All
Wetland Special habitat
Grass-forb
All
Nonforested wetland Special habitat
Grass-forb
All
Savanna Grass-forb All
Marsh Special habitat
Grass-forb
All
Swamp Special habitat
Grass-forb
All
Sedge meadow Special habitat
Grass-forb
All

Species-habitat interrelations: Found in wet grassy areas and lakeshores w/ grasses and cattails *01*. In migration and winter also in brushy areas and overgrown fields *02*.

 


GUILDS

Feed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonFeed-guilds
Agricultural land
Wetland
Unknown All Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of grass/grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface-flowers and fruits of forbs
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Terrestrial surface- invertebrates other than arthropods

Comments on feed-guilding:
Walks and runs to hunt food. Zigzags in grass or across mud; picks up foods w/ bill as it goes. Feeds on insects, spiders, amphipods (sand fleas), seeds of grasses, weeds, wild rice *05*.

Breed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonBreed-Guilds
Agricultural land
Wetland
Unknown Spring/summer Terrestrial surface, marshy areas with hydrophytes but not hydric soils
Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface, forb vegetation

Comments on breed-guilding:
Nests on ground in matted bed of rushes, in dense grass or sedges, of 1-3 in. above ground among upright stems *05*.

 


FOOD-HABITS

Trophic level is OMNIVORE

Food itemLife stage/plant part
Plants Fruit/seeds
Dicotyledonae (dicots) Fruit/seeds
Poaceae (grass) Fruit/seeds
Poaceae (grass): Rice Fruit/seeds
Mollusca: Gastropoda (snails) Unknown
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Unknown
Malacostraca (isopods, amphipods, crayfishes) Unknown
Insecta Unknown
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches) Unknown
Hemiptera Unknown
Homoptera (cicadas, aphids) Unknown
Coleoptera (beetles) Unknown
Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths) Unknown
Diptera (flies, midges, mosquitoes) Unknown
Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees) Unknown

Comments on food habits: 
General: A May-Oct study showed 81% animal matter; 19% veg. matter; more veg. taken in winter *06*. Hunts food by walking, running. Zigzags in grass or across mud. Picks up food w/ bill as it goes. Eats ants, beetles, weevils, grasshoppers, caterpillars, moths, leafhoppers, flies, amphipods (sand fleas), spiders, sm. snails, seeds of grasses, weeds, wild rice *05*.
Juvenile: Unknown
Adult: See general food habits.


ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS

General:

  • Flood plain: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: freshwater marsh
  • Aquatic habitats: swamp, general
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: seasonal wet depressions
  • Aquatic habitats: swamp
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: marsh
  • Ecotones: woodland/old fields
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Ecotones: woodland/grassland
  • Ecotones: grassland/water
  • Ecotones: see comments
  • Grassland: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments
  • Old fields: see comments
  • Grasses: see comments
  • Agricultural crops: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Vegetation successional stage: stable prairie/grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: subclimax grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: climax grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: see comments

Feeding adult:

  • Flood plain: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: freshwater marsh
  • Aquatic habitats: swamp, general
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: seasonal wet depressions
  • Aquatic habitats: swamp
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: marsh
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Ecotones: woodland/grassland
  • Ecotones: grassland/water
  • Ecotones: see comments
  • Grassland: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments
  • Grasses: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Vegetation successional stage: stable prairie/grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: subclimax grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: climax grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: see comments

Resting adult:

  • Flood plain: see comments

Breeding adult:

  • Flood plain: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: freshwater marsh
  • Aquatic habitats: swamp, general
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: seasonal wet depressions
  • Aquatic habitats: swamp
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: marsh
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Ecotones: woodland/grassland
  • Ecotones: grassland/water
  • Ecotones: see comments
  • Grassland: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments
  • Grasses: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Vegetation successional stage: stable prairie/grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: subclimax grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: climax grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: see comments

Comments on environmental associations:
General: Usually found in wet grassy areas and lakeshores w/ grasses w/ cattails; also wet meadows *01,02*. In migration and winter also in brushy areas and overgrown fields *02*.
Feeding adult, Breeding adult: See general assoc.


LIFE HISTORY

Origin: Native.

Physical description: Eggs green-white, profusely speckled, spotted with browns *05*. 5-6 in. long. Sexes outwardly alike. Rich buff triangle on side of face; gray ear patches. Light streaks on gray- brown back; unstreaked blackish cap breast and flanks pale buff, streaked or unstreaked. In flight, short, pointed tail distinguishes it from savannah sparrow with slightly forked tail. Immature similar to adult but much more buffy.

Reproduction: Eggs laid may to aug.; 3-7, usu. 3-5. Incubation by female, 11 days. Young leave nest when about 10 days old *05*. Population parameters: one tagged specimen was 3 yrs. *05*. Behavior: male not territorial; is promiscuous. Male sings from top of grass or stake in flight *05*. Spp. nests on ground in matted bed of rushes, in dense grass or sedges, or 1-3 in. above ground among upright stems *05*. Is built of coarse dry grasses, bulrushes and seaweeds, bulkly, loosly woven cup, 3-4 in. across, lined w/ fine material *05*.

Behavior: Migrates through Illinois early May to late May and mid-Sept. to late Oct. *01*. Migrates north at night *05*. Generally inhabits wet meadows, freshwater marshes *01,02,05*. In migration and winter also is in brushy areas and overgrown fields *02*. Is more numerous in fall than spring and arrives much later in spring than most sparrows *01*. Foraging stragegy/sites: walks and runs rather than hops, to hunt food. Zigzags in grass or across mud. Picks up insects, seeds, amphipods, spiders w/ bill as it goes *05*.

 


MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Beneficial:

  • Maintaining undisturbed/undeveloped areas
  • 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 levels
  • Developing/maintaining wetlands
  • Aquatic habitat management practices other than those included in ifwis lists (see comments)
  • Developing/maintaining riparian habitat
  • Reforestation by planting- setting out cuttings, seedlings, transplants, or containerized sto
  • Reforestation by natural regeneration

Adverse:

  • Practices other than those included on the IFWIS list (see comments)
  • Draining ponds/lakes
  • Drawdown of ponds/lakes
  • Draining wetlands
  • Aquatic habitat management practices other than those included in IFWIS lists (see comments)
  • Applying pesticide on agricultural land
  • Applying herbicide
  • Applying insecticide
  • Strip mining
  • Applying pesticides
  • Forest protection- pest control

Comments on management practices:
Usu. inhabits freshwater cattail marshes, wet grassy areas *01,02,05*.


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. SER., VOL. IX. 156 PP.

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

3. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, 1983. CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS, TITLE 50, 50 CFR 10,13, LIST OF MIGRATORY BIRDS, SPECIAL PUBL. FEDERAL REGISTER, GENERAL SERVICES ADMIN., OCT. 1.

4. 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. 123 PP.

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

6. JUDD, S.D. 1901. THE RELATION OF SPARROWS TO AGRICULTURE. USDA BIOL. SURV. BULL. #15. 96 PP.

7. BIRDS OF SQUAW CREEK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE. 1975. USFWS. RF-663560-2.

8. UNPB. CARY, D.L. 1981. BIRD CENSUS RESULTS - LAWRENCE COUNTY, MO. DEPT. CONSERV. 1110 COLLEGE AVE. COLUMBIA, MO 65201. (314)449-3761.

9. ROBBINS, M. 1975. FALL SURVEY. BLUEBIRD 42(2):5-7.

10. ANDERSON, D. 1972. FALL SURVEY. BLUEBIRD 39(1):5-7.

11. ANDERSON, D. 1971. BIRD SURVEY. BLUEBIRD 38(3):5.

12. RATHERT, J. & J.D. WILSON. 1980. FALL SURVEY. BLUEBIRD 47(1):14-16, 25-26.

 


 

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