HENSLOW’S SPARROW(Ammodramus henslowii) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Henslow’s Sparrow adult’s head cap and nape are brown with a central beige streak. Back, wings and tail are reddish beige with brown streaks. There is a yellowish beige superciliary bar from bill base extending down the nape and joined by a neck patch of same color, and bordered with a dark brown line. Throat and under parts are beige-grey with some fine brown streaks on breast and flanks. Eyes are dark. Conical bill, legs and feet are pinkish grey. Juveniles are similar but without upper part markings and under part streaks. Sexes are similar. Bird length is around 12 cm (4.5 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Ammodramus-henslowii
NAME: ‘Sparrow’ derives from Anglo-Saxon ‘Spearwa’, which means ‘flutterer’, and it has been applied to many small birds (Choate). The name ‘Henslow’s was given to that bird in honour of John Stevens Henslow, a British botanist. Latin genus name ‘Ammodramus’ means ‘sand’ and ‘to run’.
HABITAT: Unmaintained fields.
DIET: Seeds, insects, spiders.
NESTING: Nest is usually built on the ground in a well-hidden location. Around four light green eggs are laid, incubated by female. Chicks fed by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in region south of the Great Lakes, winters in southeast USA.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henslow%27s_sparrow – /media/File:Ammodramus_henslowii_map.svg
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Declined, one factor might be habitat loss. Listed as ‘endangered’ in several USA states, as well as in Canada (by COSEWIC).
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Grasshopper Sparrow
REFERENCES: http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/673/overview/Henslows_Sparrow.aspx
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/henslow%E2%80%99s-sparrow (Missouri Department of Conservation)
https://guides.nynhp.org/henslows-sparrow/ (New York Natural Heritage Program)
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Ammodramus_henslowii/ (University of Michigan)

Henslow's Sparrow - Prairie City, IA - Sept. 2012 - photo by Dominic Sherony
Henslow’s Sparrow – Prairie City, IA – Sept. 2012 – photo by Dominic Sherony