Bachmans Sparrow: Aimophila aestivalis
Its color is often gray-brown and it has a long, dark bill and
long, rounded tail.
With native breeding habitat once extending from Florida to Ohio
and Illinois, the Bachman's sparrow shows a range-wide decline of
almost three percent per year from 1966 through 2001 (Breeding Bird
Survey). This demise is mostly due to the conversion of open
longleaf pine forests to dense pine monocultures, and the exclusion
of fire. The birds are more abundant in Florida than perhaps any
The Bachman's sparrow prefers open longleaf forests with a
groundcover of grasses or forbs, but with little or no understory
of trees or shrubs. These forests are best maintained with the use
of frequent prescribed fires. Occasionally, the sparrows will use
overgrown agricultural fields, pastures and clearcuts as long as
they remain relatively open, and especially if they are adjacent to
open longleaf forests.
Spring and summer is the best time to listen for the elusive
five-inch Bachman's sparrow. Their song begins with a loud, clear
whistle followed by an extended trill.
In the spring, pregnant females scrape out a shallow depression
on the ground and then construct a domed grass nest in a dense
shrub or palmetto clump. Three to five glossy white eggs are laid,
the young usually hatching in late spring or early summer. After 10
days, the young leave the nest.
They feed on a variety of insects and other invertebrates.
Generally, pinewoods management designed to benefit the
red-cockaded woodpecker also benefits the Bachman's sparrow.