My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

The grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) is a small American sparrow.

These small sparrows measure 10–14 cm (3.9–5.5 in) in length, span about 17.5 cm (6.9 in) across the wings and weigh from 13.8 to 28.4 g (0.49 to 1.00 oz), with an average of 17 g (0.60 oz). Adults have upperparts streaked with brown, grey, black and white; they have a light brown breast, a white belly and a short brown tail. Their face is light brown with an eye ring and a dark brown crown with a central narrow light stripe. There are regional variations in the appearance of this bird.

Their breeding habitat is open fields and prairie across southern Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central America, with a small endangered population in the Andes of Colombia and (perhaps only formerly) Ecuador. The northern populations migrate to the southern United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Like many grassland birds, this bird’s numbers have declined across many parts of its range, including a 98% drop in New York State.

The nest is a well-concealed open cup on the ground under vegetation. They forage on the ground in vegetation, mainly eating insects, especially grasshoppers, and seeds.

This bird’s song is a buzzy tik tuk zee, resembling the sound made by a grasshopper. Unlike some other members of the Ammodramus family of sparrows, they will readily sing from open and exposed perches.

On to my photos:

These photos were on several occasions, on the edges of the farm fields that surround the Muskegon wastewater facility during the summer of 2015.

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

 

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

 

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

 

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

 

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

 

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

 

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

 

This is number 188 in my photo life list, only 162 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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26 responses

  1. What lovely photographs, you are so clever!

    March 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan!

      March 4, 2016 at 11:16 pm

  2. That’s a cute one, and one I’ve never heard of.

    March 4, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    • Thanks Allen, they stay well hidden most of the time.

      March 4, 2016 at 11:16 pm

  3. Sweet little bird.

    March 4, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    • Thank you very much Belinda!

      March 4, 2016 at 11:16 pm

  4. Great shots – I especially like the last one!

    March 4, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare!

      March 4, 2016 at 11:17 pm

  5. Wonderful shots of the grasshopper sparrow, especially that last one! I’ll try to see whether I can find one around here, but a 98% drop in New York state does not augur well for New Jersey.

    March 4, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    • Thank you very much! If you go looking for them, do it in the spring in wide open fields when the males will be out in the open looking and singing for a mate. During the rest of the year, they stay down in the vegetation, and you never hear or see them.

      March 4, 2016 at 11:19 pm

  6. Such gorgeous shots, Jerry. The details are lovely. I really admire your skill and patience with bird shots. I especially like the last one. 🙂

    March 5, 2016 at 5:08 am

    • Thank you very much Jane! Every one seemed to like the last photo, where the sparrow is singing, I’ll have to try for more of those this spring.

      March 5, 2016 at 11:02 am

  7. Great post. Great images.

    March 5, 2016 at 6:26 am

    • Thank you very much Victor!

      March 5, 2016 at 11:02 am

  8. Great photos showing this lovely bird.

    March 5, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      March 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm

  9. Great photos to help with a difficult identification. It’s hard to imagine actually identifying any of these on the fly!

    March 6, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    • Thank you very much Judy! How difficult it is to ID birds is what led to the idea of doing it through my photos, but I still have to pay attention to the slightest details when seeing them. For example, it would be very easy to mistake, and not bother to check this species, as it is very similar to a Savannah sparrow.

      March 7, 2016 at 3:25 am

  10. The colouring and eye ring certainly make this little fellow’s eyes look awfully big. Fantastic camera work.

    March 7, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    • Thank you very much Simon!

      March 7, 2016 at 11:07 pm

  11. Those are great photos, Jerry, nice closeups. I love the one of the little fellow in full song!

    March 8, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia!

      March 8, 2016 at 2:41 pm

  12. I love that last capture, Jerry, singing his little heart out! 🙂

    March 15, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    • Thank you Donna! That photo seems to be every one’s favorite.

      March 15, 2016 at 11:56 pm

  13. Scary to think about a 98% population drop, although your source doesn’t mention over what time period. Ground nesting must be dangerous. Nice photos.

    March 16, 2016 at 10:58 am

    • Thanks again Judy! Some of the population drop is due to reforestation of old farmland, but yes, ground nesting is dangerous, especially since coyotes have expanded their range so far to the northeast.

      March 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm