Henslows Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii)

Henslows Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Ammodramus henslowii | [UK] Henslows Sparrow | [FR] Pinson de Henslow | [DE] Henslowammer | [ES] Sabanero de Henslow | [NL] Henslows Gors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Ammodramus henslowii NA c, ec se USA
Ammodramus henslowii henslowii
Ammodramus henslowii susurrans

Physical charateristics

A secretive sparrow of the fields, easily overlooked were it not for its odd song. Short-tailed and flat-headed, with a big pale bill; finely striped across the brea
st. The striped olive-colored head in conjunction with reddish wings identifies it. Flies low and jerkily with a twisting motion of the tail.

Listen to the sound of Henslows Sparrow

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/H/Henslows Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 20 cm wingspan max.: 21 cm
size min.: 11 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 12 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 10 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : Central, Eastcentral


Weedy fields. Requirements not well understood; often absent from seemingly suitable habitat. Breeds in fields and meadows, ofte
n in low-lying or damp areas, with tall grass, standing dead weeds, and scattered shrubs. Sometimes in old pastures, occasionally in hayfields. Winters in various kinds of rank weedy fields.


May breed in small, loose colonies, which change in location from year to year. Courtship may involve male leading female to potential nest sites, carrying bits of grass in his bill.
Nest: Site is on or near the ground, very well hidden. Usually placed in the base of a clump of grass, sometimes in a slight depression in the ground, occa
sionally more than a foot up among vertical stems. Ground nests often have grass partly arched over them, adding to concealment. Nest (built mostly by female) is open cup of grass and weeds, lined with finer grass and sometimes animal hair.
Eggs: 3-5. Whitish to pale greenish white, with reddish brown and gray spots concentrated toward the larger end. Incubation is by female only, about 11 days.
Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9-10 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and seeds.
Summer diet is mainly insects, including crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, stinkbugs, caterpillars, small wasps, and many others, also some spiders and snails. Many seeds are also eaten, and probably make up the majority of the winter diet; included are s
eeds of weeds, grasses, and sedges.
Behavior: Apparently does all of its foraging on the ground. Almost always forages alone, not associating in flocks with its own kind or other sparrows.


This species has declined significantly over the last three decades owing to the loss and degradation of its grassland habitats. Although recent population trends are unclear, it is precautionarily listed as Near Threatened as a result of suspected moderately rapid population declines. Nevertheless, further information on the apparently positive trends observed since the establishment of the Conservation Reserve Program may in due course lead to its reclassification as Least Concern.
Henslows Sparrow status Near Threatened


Central and eastern United States.
b Migration: Apparently migrates at night. Difficult to detect during migration period, but most probably move during late April and September.

Distribution map

Henslows Sparrow distribution range map

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