Volunteers Study Baird’s Sparrow
After a nearly 30 year disappearance, the Baird’s Sparrow, narrowly escaped receiving “endangered species” status. The grassland bird breeds in the northern Great Plains, but overwinters in southeast Arizona. This is why Borderlands is studying the bird as part of a project funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
In January of this year, 18 volunteers headed out to the grasslands of the BLM’s Davis Pasture near Sonoita, AZ to learn more about the Baird’s Sparrow. Mist nests were erected, and birds were caught, fitted with radio transmitters, and released. “The transmitters will help researchers track them on a daily basis to find out what part of the landscape they are using and whether it was possible to identify Baird’s sparrow visually after flushing them out of the grass. The latter is important for designing surveys for Baird’s sparrow, an important part of the grassland sparrow research program,” reported Randy Moore, a lead researcher of the project.
In conjunction with monitoring the birds, BR is also monitoring grass species distribution and grass seed production used by the birds for winter forage. The results of the project will help guide restoration activities on critical overwintering habitats.