- Savannah Sparrow
name = Savannah Sparrow
image_width = 200px
image_caption = Summer bird, Alaska. Probably "P. s. anthinus"
status = LC
status_system = iucn3.1
genus = "Passerculus"
genus_authority = Bonaparte,
species = "P. sandwichensis"
binomial = "Passerculus sandwichensis"
binomial_authority = (Gmelin, 1789)
subdivision =Some 10-20, see article text
The Savannah Sparrow ("Passerculus sandwichensis") is a small
American sparrow. It is the only widely accepted member of the genus"Passerculus". Recent comparison of mtDNA NADH dehydrogenase subunit2 and 3 sequences indicates that the Ipswich Sparrow, formerly usually considered a good species (as "Passerculus princeps"), is a well-marked subspeciesof the Savannah Sparrow, whereas the southwestern subspecies should be recognized as distinct species Large-billed Sparrow("Passerculus rostratus").Zink "et al." (2005)]
It is named after
Savannah, Georgiawhere one of the first specimens of this bird was collected.
passerine birdbreeds in Alaska, Canada, northern, central and Pacific coastal USA, Mexicoand Guatemala. The Pacific and Mexican breeders are resident, but other populations are migratory, wintering from the southern United States to northern South America. It is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.
This species has a typically sparrow-like dark-streaked brown back, and whitish underparts with brown or blackish breast and flank streaking. It has a yellowish or whitish crown and eyebrow stripes. The cheeks are brown and the throat white.
The Savannah Sparrow is a very variable species, with numerous
subspecies, several of which have been split as separate species at various times. The different forms vary principally in the darkness of the plumage, with Alaskan and interior races the palest, and southwestern coastal forms the darkest; by and large ths agrees with the new species limits. The Savannah Sparrows proper (see below) are very similar and migrant birds can not usually be related to a breeding population with certainty. The resident or partially migratory subspecies are well distinguishable by size and, particularly between groups, coloration. The song is mixture of "chirps" and trills. The flight call is a thin "seep".
These birds forage on the ground or in low bushes. They mainly eat seeds, but insects are also eaten in the breeding season. They form flocks in the winter to migrate.
Seventeen subspecies (including the Large-billed Sparrows) are currently recognized. Four additional subspecies are not generally accepted. The subspecies are usually divided into several groups:
avannah Sparrows proper
All are migratory.
* "P. s. labradorius", breeds in Newfoundland,
Labrador, and N Quebec
* "P. s. oblitus", breeds in N
* "P. s. savanna" (Eastern Savannah Sparrow), breeds in the NE USA and adjacent Canada (includes "P. s. mediogriseus")
* "P. s. sandwichensis" (Aleutian Savannah Sparrow), breeds on the
Aleutian Islandsand W Alaskan Peninsula
* "P. s. anthinus", breeds in the remainder of Alaska, south and east to central
British Columbiaand north of the Great Plainsto Manitoba
* "P. s. brooksi" (Dwarf Savannah Sparrow), breeds in southernmost British Columbia to northernmost
* "P. s. alaudinus", breeds in coastal northern and central California
* "P. s. nevadensis", breeds in the N Great Plains and the
* "P. s. brunnescens", breeds from central Mexico south to Guatemala (includes "P. s. rufofuscus")
"P. s. wetmorei" is a doubtful subspecies which may breed in the mountains of Guatemala. It is known from only 5 specimens, collected June 11-17, 1897, in
Huehuetenango Department.Fact|date=February 2007
Formerly considered a distinct species, some post-breeding dispersal.
* "P. s. princeps", breeds almost exclusively on
Sable Island:The Ipswich Sparrow is somewhat larger and paler in colour than other eastern Savannah Sparrows. The breast streaks are narrower and pale brown. Some birds overwinter on the island; others migrate south along the Atlantic coast, usually departing later and returning sooner than mainland birds. Some birds interbreed with "P. s. savanna" in Nova Scotia. These birds frequently raise three broods in a year. This bird was first observed in winter on the dunes near the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Large-billed Sparrows
The Large-billed Sparrows proper are 2-3 dark, large and strong-billed subspecies:
* "Passerculus rostratus rostratus" (or "P. s. rostratus"), which breed on the Gulf Coast of NE
Baja Californiaand NW Sonora(some post-breeding dispersal).
* "P. r. atratus" (or "P. s. atratus"), resident on the coast of central
Sonorato central Sinaloa(resident)
The Belding's (Savannah/Large-billed) Sparrows are all-year residents of
salt marshes of the Californian Pacific coast. They are dark, rufous, and have rather long but not very hefty bills.
* "P. r. beldingi" (or "P. s. beldingi"), resident on the Pacific Coast from
Morro Bay, California, to El Rosario, Baja California (includes "P. r./s. bryanti")
* "P. r. anulus" (or "P. s. anulus"), resident around
Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay, Baja California
* "P. r. guttatus" (or "P. s. guttatus"), resident around
San Ignacio Lagoon
* "P. r. magdalenae" (or "P. s. magdalenae"), resident around
The San Benito (Savannah/Large-billed) Sparrow is a resident bird of the
Islas San Benitooff Baja California; a stray bird was observed on Cedros Islandon April 21, 1906 [Thayer & Bangs (1907)]
* "P. r. sanctorum" (or "P. s. sanctorum"):This is a large-bodied and large-billed subspecies, similar to "rostratus". They utilize different habitat and their breeding season does not seem to coincide with that of Belding's Sparrows [For late April 1906, Thayer & Bangs (1907) report nestlings, young birds molting into adult plumage, but no eggs anymore. Rising "in" Zink "et al." (2005) found no breeding activity in late April 1999. Consequently, breeding seems to take place in the winter months, with the last young fledging in April/May.] . However, their bill size is due to
convergent evolutionand their habitat choice simply to the lack of alternatives on their barren island home; altogether, it appears to be a fairly recent offshoot from the Belding's Sparrows group. It appears as distinct evolutionarily from these as does the Ipswich Sparrow from the Savannah Sparrow proper group, only that there seems to have been more gene flowand/or a larger founder populationin the case of the latter.
*|year=2004|id=53557|title=Passerculus sandwichensis|downloaded=12 May 2006 Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* (1995): "Sparrows and Buntings: A Guide to the Sparrows and Buntings of North America and the World". Houghton Mifflin, Boston. ISBN 0-395-73873-3
* (1907): Birds Collected by W. W. Brown, Jr., on Cerros ["sic"] , San Benito and Natividad Islands in the Spring of 1906, with Notes on the Biota of the Islands. "Condor" 9(3): 77-81. doi|10.2307/1361136 [http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Condor/files/issues/v009n03/p0077-p0081.pdf PDF fulltext]
* (2005): Mitochondrial DNA variation, species limits, and rapid evolution of plumage coloration and size in the Savannah Sparrow. "Condor" 107(1): 21–28. DOI|10.1650/7550 (HTML abstract)
* [http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/search/speciesDetails_e.cfm?SpeciesID=49 Species at risk - Ipswich Sparrow]
* [http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Savannah_Sparrow.html Savannah Sparrow Species Account] - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
* [http://www.sdakotabirds.com/species/savannah_sparrow_info.htm Savannah Sparrow Information and Photos] - South Dakota Birds and Birding
* [http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i5420id.html Savannah Sparrow "Passerculus sandwichensis"] - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
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