Florida Grasshopper Sparrow: Ammodramus savannarum
Florida grasshopper sparrows are small, short-tailed birds, about 5 inches long and weighing less than one ounce. This not-so-drab sparrow is mostly black and gray with some brown streaks on the back. Underneath, it is light gray or buff color with no streaking.
Feathers at the bend of the wing are bright yellow and there is an orange patch in front of the eyes. A white stripe marks the top of the head. The male's primary song is weak and grasshopper-like, giving rise to the bird's common name.
Florida grasshopper sparrows are found in the prairies of south-central Florida in Osceola, Polk, Highlands, and Okeechobee counties. This non-migratory subspecies uses grasslands dominated by bunch grasses such as wiregrass and bluestem, with a patchy cover of low shrubs and saw palmetto. A breeding population of fifty pairs requires about 2,000 acres of treeless prairie. A contraction in the range of the Florida grasshopper sparrow since the early 1900s corresponds to habitat loss due to prairie conversion to improved cattle pastures, sod production, and other agricultural uses.
Image Credit: Dameron Black IV