This spring I was wandering around an open grassland area and spotted this brown speckled bird and thought, oh just another sparrow. With a closer look I realized it was a sparrow I have never seen before. It took me a few times looking through a bird book and some help from the Iowa birding group. I found out that it wasn't just an ordinary sparrow, but an elusive and declining species: Henslow's sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii). A grassland species, historically bred in the tallgrass prairies of the Great plains. It now nests mostly in neglected grassy fields, pastures and meadows. It is the loss of this habitat that has primarily contributed to the species' decline. Species like this, is one of the reasons why habitat management and restoration of native prairie and grassland is critical. The Henslow's sparrow has been identified as the highest priority for grassland bird conservation in eastern and midwestern North America. Currently the sparrow is listed as threatened in the State and a Species of Concern federally.
Learn more about the Henslow's Sparrow here: