Bird of the Year

Each year, Wake Audubon chooses a bird on which to focus. The species is always one that is locally found in Raleigh and a bird that is under pressure from development and loss of habitat. We learn about the species through articles in our enewsletter, lectures and field trips.

Congratulations to the Grasshopper Sparrow

Wake Audubon’s 2017 Bird of the Year

Grasshopper Sparrow at Mid Pines Road, Wake County.

Grasshopper Sparrow at Mid Pines Road, Wake County. Photo by Bob Oberfelder

The Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum, is so named because it does eat grasshoppers, as well as other insects that it finds while foraging in grassy places. Its song also reminds us of the buzzy sound of grasshoppers.   It is primarily a bird of large tracts of grasslands, and is rarely found in suburbs or urban areas.  It has been seen in Wake County in the agricultural fields along Mid Pines Road, in the grassy areas at Anderson Point, Prairie Ridge and Horseshoe Farm Nature Park.  The Grasshopper Sparrow’s conservation status is listed as a common bird in steep decline. Its population during the Breeding Birds Surveys declined by 75% between 1966 and 2014.  In North Carolina it is mainly a spring and summer resident, except in the coastal plain, where you can find it in the winter.

Here are some characteristics to look for in trying to identify this bird.  They are pale and have no streaking on their breasts. They are small sparrows with proportionately large heads and short tails.  They will be foraging on the ground.  During the spring their song is quite distinctive, two short notes, followed by a long buzzing sound.  Click on this link to hear it.

The Bird of the Year Archives