US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Field Ornithology, Vol. 76, No. 1 (Winter, 2005), pp. 61-71.


ABSTRACT. Little is known about the breeding biology of the Le Conte's Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteil), probably because of its secretive nature. We provide new information on several aspects of Le Conte's Sparrow breeding biology, including rates of nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) and potential factors affecting breeding densities and nesting success of the species. Our study was conducted in the tallgrass prairie of northwestern Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota during 1998-2002. Breeding densities varied among years, but this variation was not clearly linked to climatic patterns. Vegetation had some influence on densities of Le Conte's Sparrows; densities were highest in grasslands with moderate amounts of bare ground. Prairie patch size and the percentage of shrubs and trees in the landscape had no recognizable influence on density. Nesting success was highly variable among sites and years and increased slightly with distance from trees. Rates of nest parasitism were low (1 of 50 nests parasitized), and clutch sizes were similar to those of other studies of Le Conte's Sparrow