Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Silcock and Jorgensen, “Henslow’s Sparrow Status in Nebraska,” from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2007) 75(1).


Copyright 2007 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) is a grassland species of considerable conservation concern endemic to southern and eastern North America (Herkert et al. 2002; Reinking 2002). Annual declines of about 7.5% from 1966 to 2000 (Sauer et al. 2001) and the extirpation of breeding birds from large portions of the historic range have led to the sparrow being listed as a species of "Highest Concern"' on the Partners in Flight National Watch List (PIFNWL:

While the Henslow's Sparrow is not listed as federally threatened or endangered, most species on this list are prime candidates for such consideration. The Nebraska Natural Legacy Plan (Schneider et al. 2005) considers the Henslow's Sparrow a "Tier I At-Risk Species."

Henslow's Sparrow is a rare but regular summer resident and breeder in southeast Nebraska (Sharpe et al. 2001). In the United States, the breeding range has apparently expanded northwestward in the last two decades (Herkert et al. 2002; Reinking 2002). Nebraska reports were few prior to 1990 and none were reported in the Nebraska Breeding Bird Atlas project 1984–89 (Mollhoff 2001). A set of eggs and a female were said to have been collected in Douglas County prior to 1900 (Bruner et al. 1904), and there are 3 specimens in the University of Nebraska State Museum, all collected near Lincoln 26 Apr–18 May 1899–1920 (Sharpe et al. 2001). The only other published report prior to 1980 was of a singing male at Nine-Mile Prairie, Lancaster Co, 8 Jul 1951; no others were seen and no nesting evidence was found (Baumgarten 1953).