Despite $1 million worth of conservation efforts, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say Florida grasshopper sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum) are facing challenges in growing its population both in the wild and in captivity. The sparrow is largely endangered because of its dependence on its natural habitat: the dry prairies of central Florida. The subspecies was first discovered in 1902. However, it faced a population decline in the 1970s as prairie grasslands were converted to improve cattle pastures, sod production and other agricultural purposes. About 19 percent of original dry prairies remain in Florida today. A decline is noted in all three conservation lands where they remain, reports the Audubon Florida, with 2016 reporting the lowest counts in history.
- Avon Park Bombing Range: declined from 130 singing males in 1999 to only 10 in 2004
- Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park: declined from 150 a decade ago to only a few found on the property.
- Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area: as many as 140 singing males have been counted in the past but recent counts find about 60 singing males
If the grasshopper sparrow disappears, it would be the first bird species to go extinct in the U.S. since the dusky seaside sparrow did in 1987, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Source: Fox13 News, 03-01-2018