Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Emberizidae

Scientific Name: Peucaea aestivalis
Species Authority: (Lichtenstein, 1823)
Common Name(s):
English Bachman's Sparrow
Aimophila aestivalis BirdLife International (1990, 1993)
Aimophila aestivalis Stotz et al. (1996)
Aimophila aestivalis Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)
Taxonomic Notes: Use of the genus Peucaea follows AOU (2010).

Identification information: 15 cm. A medium sized rufous, grey and buff Sparrow. Upperparts grey streaked brown or rufous, head with vague rufous/brown lateral crown strip and grey median crown stripe, breast buff/grey-buff becoming white on the belly, tail dark paler terminally with small white tip (western races generally paler and more rufous with more buffy breast). Juvenile darker with distinct whitish eye-ring. Similar spp. Should not be sympatric with either Botteri's Sparrow A. botterii or Cassin's Sparrow A. cassinii which are most similar, though care should be taken with out-of-range birds; both these species have a more uniform grey crowned appearance. Voice Song a whistle followed by a trill, usually given from a pine tree or bush or sometimes in a song flight. Hints Shy and secretive except when singing, mostly in the early morning and evening, which continues well into the breeding season.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Dunning, J. & Shackleford, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Capper, D., Wege, D., O'Brien, A., Bird, J.
This species has declined steadily at a moderately rapid rate. However, the rate of decline has slowed and although the species is described as rare, it may soon warrant downlisting. At present it remains classified as Near Threatened.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Near Threatened (NT)
2004 Near Threatened (NT)
2000 Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Peucaea aestivalis occurs on the coastal plain and Piedmont of south U.S.A., from extreme south Virginia to central Florida and east Texas. Occasional birds are reported north to south-central Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee, and it formerly occurred as far north as south-west Pennsylvania, south Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. Only the northern populations were migratory, reaching as far as North Carolina. In 1890-1915, its range expanded dramatically in response to the clearance of old pine forests and the abandonment of Mid-west farms. This expansion peaked in 1915-1920, and a gradual decline in the north of its range began in the 1930s, mostly occurring before the 1960s, because of forest succession. Maximum densities of singing males in South Carolina were 0.41-0.48/ha in occupied patches of suitable habitat, but many populations are isolated and prone to local extinction (Dunning 1993, J. B. Dunning in litt. 1999, C. E. Shackleford in litt. 1999). Since 1980, declines have been estimated at 1.7% per year, equating to 15.8% over a 10 year period. These declines and the contraction of the species's range are continuing.

Countries occurrence:
United States
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 762000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Upper elevation limit (metres): 900
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Rich et al. (2004).

Trend Justification:  This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant decrease over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation: 100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It breeds in early succession pine woodlands or in mature longleaf pine. Also found occasionally in open habitats with dense grasses and forbs.

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 3.7
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is now absent over most of its northern range and uncommon in most of the south because of timber harvesting practices, fire suppression and fragmentation of suitable habitat meaning many suitable patches of habitat are not occupied. It is also subject to disturbance by birdwatchers in parts of its range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Management practices for Red-cockaded Woodpecker Picoides borealis were also thought to benefit this species, but there is now evidence that this is not the case. Efforts to restore understorey plant communities in pine flatwoods have proven difficult so far and as such little suitable habitat has been restored. However, prescribed burning has been identified as a more cost-effective method of maintaining proper understorey and grass communities than mechanical or chemical control of vegetation. Furthermore, timber management changes since 2000 within the species's range may provide more habitat in future. Managing for large trees (sawtimber) is becoming increasingly viable for forest land-owners as opposed to pulpwood; in managing for sawtimber, planting densities are reduced and stand improvement activities maintain grass understorey better than pulpwood plantations (Askins et al. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Restore habitat, reinstating a natural fire regime. Continue to monitor the population and its trends. Determine the key threats to the species.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Peucaea aestivalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22721256A39940997. . Downloaded on 09 October 2015.
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