Bachmans sparrow

Aimophila aestivalis

TAXONOMY

Fringilla aestivalis Lichtenstein, 1823, Georgia, U.S.A. Three subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Pine-wood sparrow; French: Bruant des pinèdes; German: Bachmanammer; Spanish: Zacatonero de Bachman.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5-6 in (12-16 cm); 0.7 oz (20 g). A fairly large, large-billed, round-tailed sparrow with reddish brown lateral crown stripes, streaked scapulars and back, gray chin and throat, and un-streaked breast. Sexes are alike in color. Birds from the southeastern United States are more rufous in coloration than are western birds.

DISTRIBUTION

A. a. aestivalis and A. a. bachmani, which are very similar in appearance, breed from Virginia to Florida and west to Louisiana. A. a. illinoensis breed from southern Missouri to central Louisiana and eastern Texas. They migrate from the northern part of their range in winter.

HABITAT

Inhabit open pine woods with fairly rank understory of wiregrass, palmettos, and weeds. They also occur in oak-palmetto scrub and in grasslands away from pine woods and in degraded pastures.

BEHAVIOR

In the breeding season, males sing persistently from an exposed perch, commonly in a pine tree. At other times they are secretive and hard to see and may run rather than fly when pursued.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feed on the ground, eating insects, other invertebrates, and seeds. In winter they principally eat seeds.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Socially monogamous. Nests are placed on the ground, usually in dense cover, and are well concealed by vegetation. Two to five (usually four) eggs are laid from mid-April through July (commonly in June). Incubation lasts 12-14 days, and the young fledge after about 10 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Near Threatened. Has declined in numbers since the 1930s and is extirpated in the northern parts of its range.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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