Technical ReportPDF Available

DRAFT Survey Protocol for Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) in Ontario Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Species at Risk Branch

Authors:

Figures

Content may be subject to copyright.
DRAFT
Survey Protocol
for
Henslow’s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii)
in Ontario
March 2013
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Species at Risk Branch
i
Recommended Citation:
OMNR. 2012. DRAFT Survey Protocol for Henslow‟s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii)
in Ontario. Prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough,
Ontario. ii + 19 pp.
Cover illustration: Photograph by Scott Hulme, 2011
ii
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.0 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................. 1
1.1 Objective ............................................................................................................. 1
1.2 Rationale ............................................................................................................. 1
1.3 Authorization ...................................................................................................... 1
2.0 SPECIES INFORMATION .................................................................................... 2
2.1 Identification ....................................................................................................... 2
2.2 Distribution ......................................................................................................... 3
2.3 Seasonal Movements and Timing of Behaviours ............................................. 7
2.4 Habitat ................................................................................................................. 7
3.0 PROTOCOL ......................................................................................................... 8
3.1 Technique Overview ........................................................................................... 8
3.2 Qualifications ...................................................................................................... 8
3.3 Records Review .................................................................................................. 9
3.4 Identification of Survey Sites ........................................................................... 10
3.5 Equipment Required ......................................................................................... 10
3.6 Survey Period and Timing ................................................................................ 11
3.7 Environmental Conditions ............................................................................... 11
3.8 Pre-survey ......................................................................................................... 11
3.9 Conducting the Survey: ................................................................................... 12
3.10 Repeat Visits ..................................................................................................... 14
3.11 Additional Considerations .............................................................................. 14
4.0 DOCUMENTATION AND REPORTING ............................................................. 14
4.1 Documentation ................................................................................................. 14
4.2 Reporting .......................................................................................................... 15
5.0 REFERENCES ................................................................................................... 16
FIGURES
Figure 1. Breeding Evidence for Henslow‟s Sparrow. ...................................................... 4
Figure 2. Summer and winter North American range of Henslow‟s Sparrow. ................... 6
TABLES
Table 1. Survey Requirements for the Henslow‟s Sparrow ........................................... 12
APPENDICES
Appendix 1. Point Count and Transect Survey Data Sheet
Appendix 2. Breeding Bird Evidence Codes
1
1.0 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Objective
The purpose of this survey protocol is to describe the methods for conducting a
presence/absence survey for Henslow‟s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii). Data from
the surveys may be used to determine if Henslow‟s Sparrow are likely breeding in an
area and can indicate their relative abundance. Surveys will aid in the identification of
habitat protected under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA).
The survey protocol uses standardized methods, which include strategically placed point
counts with listening and playback periods, and walking transects. The standardized
field methods allow for consistent and repeatable surveys.
1.2 Rationale
When a species is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an extirpated,
endangered or threatened species, it receives protection under section 9 of the ESA. A
species that is listed as an endangered or threatened species also receives habitat
protection under section 10 of the ESA. Effective protection and recovery of species at
risk and their habitat under the ESA requires a complete and up-to-date knowledge of
the species throughout the province. For example, local species observation data is
required to make an assessment of whether or not an activity in a specific area will affect
a species at risk or its habitat.
However, systematic, province-wide surveys or inventories have not been conducted for
many of Ontario‟s species at risk and the local distribution of these remains unknown.
Consequently, the lack of data at a particular site does not indicate that the species is
likely absent from the site; it may simply mean that surveys have never taken place,
previous surveys were not adequate to detect the species or no one has reported
observations even if the species has been encountered.
In the absence of detailed observation data throughout the province, field surveys in
potentially suitable habitat are necessary to determine if a species is present at a
particular site. However, many species at risk are inherently rare, occur at low densities
and are very cryptic, making their detection difficult. Furthermore, the detection
probability of some species varies considerably with time of year, weather, search
method, etc. As a result, surveys shall be carried out according to a very specific set of
conditions in order to reduce the risk reporting a false absence. This Species at Risk
Survey Protocol was developed in response to the need for standardized, systematic
surveys for species at risk in Ontario.
1.3 Authorization
Species at Risk
The Henslow‟s Sparrow is protected under the ESA as an endangered species. The
ESA prohibits harming or harassing endangered species, or damaging or destroying the
2
habitat of an endangered species. Under some circumstances, surveys for threatened
or endangered species in Ontario may require a permit under the ESA. For example:
the collection of voucher specimens;
capturing and handling an animal;
repeatedly searching under the same cover object(s); and
any activity that damages the habitat.
Applications for permits if required must be initiated at least five months in advance of a
proposed survey start date. Contact the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR)
to determine if a permit is required under the ESA.
Federal authorizations may also be required under the Species at Risk Act or the
Migratory Bird Convention Act, if working on federal lands or if you are likely to
contravene protection afforded under these Acts and their Regulations.
Work in Provincial or National Parks
A permit from Ontario Parks or Parks Canada Agency is required to carry out work in a
provincial or national park, respectively, regardless of other authorizations that have
been obtained. Applications to conduct research in Ontario provincial parks usually take
up to two months for review and approval.
Landowner Authorization
Permission to carry out work on private property is required from the property owner
prior to accessing the property, regardless of other authorizations that have been
obtained.
2.0 SPECIES INFORMATION
2.1 Identification
Appearance/Characteristics
The Henslow‟s Sparrow is a small grassland sparrow (13 cm, 10 to 15 g) characterized
by a large, flat-topped head, a large grayish (sometimes flesh-coloured) bill and a short,
narrow and pointed tail (Herkert et al. 2002, Rising 2008). The head and nape are olive-
green with a black lateral crown stripe, black subauricular (moustache) and lateral throat
lines, blackish postocular mark and a whitish eye-ring (Herkert et al. 2002, Rising 2008).
The back, wings and tail are dark chestnut and the breast and flanks are lightly streaked
and buffy in colour (Herkert et al. 2002, Rising 2008). All other underparts are whitish.
Sexes are alike and plumages are similar throughout the year.
Juveniles resemble adults with the exception of their weaker facial markings (stripes are
sometimes absent) and reduced streaking on their underparts (Herkert et al. 2002).
The song of the Henslow‟s Sparrow has been described as one of the most unmusical of
any North American songbird (Rising 2008). The most common rendition of this two-part
insect quality song is “tsi-lick”, “flee-sic or te-slick” (Peterson 1947, Herkert et al. 2002,
Rising 2008).
3
Similar Species
Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)
Grasshopper Sparrows lack the olive-green head, are larger, have relatively unstreaked
underparts, have weaker facial markings and a buffy white breast, flanks and yellow loral
spot (Vickery 1996, Herkert et al. 2002, Rising 2008). Their song is thin, high-pitched,
and insect-like, and starts with two to three notes followed by a high trill, chip chip
scheeeeeeeeeeee, tzick tzick tzrrrrrrr, or a chit zhu zeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, with the trill on
a higher pitch; sometimes a more musical zeeee sic-a-zeedle sic-a-zeedle sic-a-zeedle-
zeeee is given (Vickery 1996, Rising 2008). The Grasshopper Sparrow song may be
given without the accompanying insect-like trill (D. Sutherland pers. comm. 2013).
Surveyors should be aware of the similarity between the introductory notes of the
Grasshopper Sparrow and the Henslow‟s Sparrow song.
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
The plumage of Savannah Sparrows varies throughout their range; however, they can
be most readily distinguished from Henslow‟s Sparrows by the presence of a bolder
postocular line as well as their behaviour. Savannah Sparrows are less secretive and
usually flush, often in small groups, when approached (Wheelwright and Rising 2008).
Their song is a lisping tzip-tzip-tzip streeeeeeee-ip (Rising 2008).
2.2 Distribution
The Henlsow‟s Sparrow is believed to have expanded its breeding range into Ontario
following the clearing of forests for agriculture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
with their population size reaching a peak in the 1950s (Tuininga 2007, Weir 2008). This
species has been observed within south-central Ontario, south of the Canadian Shield,
from Ottawa to Windsor (Tuininga 2007). Henslow‟s Sparrows have been observed
exhibiting a variety of breeding behaviour from possible to confirmed in core areas
including the Dundalk uplands, Walpole Island, Carden Plain, Prince Edward County,
Oak Ridges Moraine, City of Kawartha Lakes, Oro-Medonte Township, Simcoe County
and the Napanee Plain in the vicinity of Kingston (Knapton 1987, Tuininga 2007).
However, recent evidence indicates that Henslow‟s Sparrow populations have
experienced a notable decline and have disappeared from across much of their former
range in Ontario (Knapton 1987, Tuininga 2007).
The majority of breeding records from the last 20 years have included single
observations of lone territorial males from the Carden Plain, Halton Regional
Municipality, Manitoulin Island and Prince Edward, Bruce and Peterborough counties.
Areas where Henslow‟s Sparrow formerly bred, but where no breeding evidence has
recently been reported include the Dundalk uplands and Napanee Plain (Figure 1)
(Tuininga 2007).
Similar declines in the breeding range of Henslow‟s Sparrows have been noted within
the adjacent northeastern United States (Sauer et al. 2011). Interestingly, in the last 20
years, their range has experienced an expansion in midwestern United States potentially
as a result of the creation of undisturbed grassland habitat through conservation
programs (Herkert et al. 2002). The North American distribution of Henslow‟s Sparrows
based on data collected over the years from 1900 to 2012 is presented in Figure 2 (eBird
2012).
4
Figure 1. Breeding Evidence for Henslow’s Sparrow from the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, 2001-2005
(Tuininga 2007).
6
Figure 2 a) Figure 2 b)
Figure 2. Summer (Figure 2 a); June August) and winter (Figure 2 b); December February) North American range of Henslow’s Sparrow (eBird 2012).
7
2.3 Seasonal Movements and Timing of Behaviours
The Henslow‟s Sparrow is a temperate migrant that typically returns to potential
breeding sites in Ontario by mid to late May (eBird 2012, Ontario Bird Records
Committee 2012). Individuals arrive along the north shore of Lake Erie as early as mid-
April, and in one extreme case, in late March (Peck and James 1987, James 1991,
Curry 2006, Weir 2008, eBird 2012, OBRC 2012). Henslow‟s Sparrows appear to
wander during May and the early breeding season, and are often not found to be
breeding until early and mid-June (James Herkert pers. comm. 2012). The majority of
Henslow‟s Sparrows depart from Ontario by late September for their wintering grounds
in the southern United States (Curry 2006, Weir 2008, eBird 2012).
Nesting on breeding grounds usually begins in May and can continue into early
September (Rising 1996). Egg dates in Ontario are reported between June 2 and
August 14 (Peck and James 1987, James 1991). The production of more than 1 brood
has not yet been confirmed in Ontario (Rising 1996, Winter 1999). Territorial males
usually cease singing by late July (Weir 2008).
Based on the average arrival and departure dates for Ontario and the fact that territorial
males are known to usually cease singing by late July, the best suggested dates for
Henslow‟s Sparrow surveys are between June 1 and July 20.
2.4 Habitat
Breeding Habitat
The Henslow‟s Sparrow is a grassland species which has been historically known to
occupy sedge marshes, tallgrass prairie and wet meadows and is now also found in
upland, weedy hayfields, regenerating abandoned fields, grassy swales in open
farmland or pastures (Hyde 1939, Herkert et al. 2002, Tuininga 2007). Henslow‟s
Sparrow was first reported in southwestern Ontario in the 1890‟s and expanded to reach
a maximum range in the 1950‟s and 1960‟s (Knapton 1987). Its range has now retracted
(Tuininga 2007, COSEWIC 2011).
Henslow‟s Sparrows have highly specific breeding habitat requirements. These critical
habitat characteristics include open, relatively flat and poorly drained areas (large fields)
at least 50 ha in size with tall (>30 cm) dense grass, a well-developed litter layer,
standing dead vegetation and sparse or no woody vegetation (Herkert 1994, Cully and
Michaels 2000, Curry 2006, Environment Canada 2010). As a result of such specific
breeding habitat requirements and the constantly changing nature of this habitat,
particularly in Ontario, Henslow‟s Sparrows are known to exhibit weak site fidelity and
are unlikely to return to the same breeding habitat year after year at locations of low
habitat quality and size (Knapton 1987, Herkert et al. 2002, Curry 2006, Dornack 2010).
Henslow‟s Sparrow nests can be distinguished from Grasshopper and Savannah
Sparrow nests by their position. Henslow‟s Sparrow nests are well hidden and
positioned at the base of grass clumps, usually between ground level and a height of 0.2
m (Saunders 1908, Peck and James 1987, Environment Canada 2010). Grasshopper
and Savannah Sparrow nests are also well concealed, but are situated in depressions
on the ground (Peck and James 1987, Vickery 1996, Wheelwright and Rising 2008).
8
The structure and nest material for all three species consist of a neat cup of grasses,
lined with finer grasses (Peck and James 1987).
Migration Habitat
Migration habitats are characterized by grasslands, hedgerows adjacent to grasslands or
the edges of shrubby areas (Environment Canada 2010).
Note: Habitat information is intended to inform surveys for Henslow‟s Sparrow. This is
not a description of „General Habitat‟ as defined under the ESA.
3.0 PROTOCOL
3.1 Technique Overview
Henslow‟s Sparrow can be detected by sight and by ear up to 150 m under good
weather conditions and when song intensity of other bird species is minimal (Winter
1999, Walk et al. 2000, Herkert et al. 2002, Diefenbach et al. 2003, Blancher et al.
2007). The technique of this protocol requires the use of a combination of both point
count and transect surveys at pre-established locations in both the morning and evening
within appropriate habitat. The point counts incorporate both passive methods (e.g.,
listening and observing) and song broadcasts, whereas the transect surveys only utilize
passive methods. This protocol differs from general breeding bird surveys with respect
to the survey timing window, the requirement for both morning and evening surveys and
the use of song broadcasts.
Although the purpose of this survey is to determine the presence or absence of
Henslow‟s Sparrow within a specific area, it is suggested that all other grassland bird
species as well as other Species at Risk be recorded, such as Bobolink (Dolichonyx
oryzivorus) and Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna).
3.2 Qualifications
Surveys for Henslow‟s Sparrows shall be carried out by a qualified professional who has
received field training from species experts or has prior experience surveying for
Henslow‟s Sparrow. Surveyors must be able to distinguish Henslow‟s Sparrow from
similar species in Ontario, particularly by song.
Survey practitioners must have the ability to navigate, record the survey track, and geo-
reference observations using a GPS unit. In many cases, such as those arising in the
context of an ESA authorization, the ability to record survey results in a GIS environment
is necessary.
If the surveyor does not have prior experience surveying for the species and it is not
possible to receive field training from a species expert, the surveyor must:
have experience in ornithology and in conducting species inventories by ear;
have experience and/or expertise in grassland bird surveys;
9
have a thorough understanding of Henslow‟s Sparrow biology, behaviour and
ecology (gained through literature review or discussions with species experts)
including information contained in COSEWIC (2011) and Herkert et al. (2002);
have a demonstrated knowledge of the song and calls based on sound
recordings; and
have an expert review the proposed approach to surveying the site.
3.3 Records Review
A records review shall be carried out prior to a field survey. Existing observation records
may help to better scope the field survey or, if extensive data is already available for a
site, existing records may eliminate the need for a field survey. Lack of observation
records from an area does not indicate that the species is likely absent; suitable habitat
must be adequately surveyed before concluding that the species is unlikely to be
present.
The following sources can be consulted for information on Henslow‟s Sparrow
observations:
Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC)
http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/
OMNR district offices
http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/ContactUs/2ColumnSubPage/STEL02_179002.html
Local Conservation Authorities
http://www.conservationontario.ca
Status reports from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada
(COSEWIC)
http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/default_e.cfm
eBird
http://www.ebird.org/
Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario
http://www.birdsontario.org/atlas/index.jsp
Other information sources such as, but not limited to:
species experts;
local field naturalists and/or birders clubs;
site-related environmental impact or screening reports;
published scientific literature; and
natural history inventories.
For more information on how to conduct a records review, see Information Gathering
Form for Activities that may affect Species or Habitat Protected under the ESA
http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/lr/@mnr/@species/documents/docum
ent/stdprod_085649.pdf
10
3.4 Identification of Survey Sites
Survey sites within a larger project area should initially be identified with reference to the
preferred habitat of Henslow‟s Sparrow (see Section 2.4)... In general, survey sites must
be placed in areas of grassland habitat that can be characterized as having a distinct
litter layer, interspersed with tall dense grasses, some standing dead vegetation and little
to no woody vegetation (Cully and Michaels 2000, Herkert et al. 2002, COSEWIC 2011).
These conditions may be found in tallgrass prairie, dry fields, low wet meadows, upland,
weedy hayfields, reclaimed surface mines and in extensive amounts of uncut pasture
(Ridgway 1889, Howe 1902; Vickers 1908, Bailey 1913, Eifrig 1919, Urner 1936, Hyde
1939, Reid 1992, McWilliams and Brauning 2000, Herkert et al. 2002). Survey sites
should also be located ideally in flat or poorly drained areas and a minimum of 100 m
from treelines (Mazur 1996, O‟Leary and Nyberg 2000, Herkert et al. 2002).
While Henslow‟s Sparrows have been found to occupy relatively small territories (<1 ha)
(Wiens 1969, Robins 1971, Piehler 1987, O‟Leary and Nyberg 2000), data in the core
breeding range have suggested that habitat size is directly correlated with bird presence.
That is, as the size of the habitat increases, there is a greater probability for birds to be
present (Herkert 1994a and 1994b, Bollinger 1995, Mazur 1996, Swengel 1996, Winter
1996 and 1998, Winter and Faaborg 1999). Based on the Henslow‟s Sparrow habitat
requirements, previous studies, and the recommended fixed point count radius and
transect widths (see Section 3.8) any area selected for surveys must be ≥ 5 ha (Risley
1983).
The identification of survey sites should incorporate the use of a variety of planning
methods including examining aerial imagery, reviewing existing natural heritage reports
and site reconnaissance. At a minimum, site reconnaissance of the region/property shall
be conducted in order to best determine areas to be surveyed. Aerial imagery can be
used to identify all polygons or blocks of suitable habitat across the landscape. An outer
boundary can then be delineated around all suitable habitats/polygons. During field
reconnaissance these polygons containing suitable habitat can be confirmed.
Following the confirmation of suitable habitat, the surveyor must screen the habitat area
for the size requirement (≥5 ha). All aggregate habitats of sufficient size within the
project area must be surveyed.
Consultation with the OMNR is recommended when selecting survey sites to avoid
wasting time and resources surveying an area with low potential for Henslow‟s Sparrow
to occur.
3.5 Equipment Required
Required: Site map or aerial photo, GPS, compass, watch, headlamp/flashlight,
binoculars, pencil, audio playback device (with speakers), and audio file of the
Henslow‟s Sparrow song and survey sheets (see Appendix 1).
Optional: Spotting scope, insect repellent, flagging tape, cell phone and a camera.
11
A printed aerial photograph of the site (e.g., Google Maps) showing the point counts and
transect route is required. MP3 song recordings of the Henslow‟s Sparrow can be
extracted from online and encyclopedia sources (e.g., Xeno-Canto (http://www.xeno-
canto.org/), Macauley Library (http://macaulaylibrary.org/), Birds of North America Online
(http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/home/bna_home_view), etc.). The audio playback
equipment should be tested in advance to ensure the volume and song will be
appropriate for the survey. The song file used must consist of one minute of bird songs,
as per the guidance set out in Section 3.9.
3.6 Survey Period and Timing
Surveys for Henslow‟s Sparrows shall be conducted between June 1 and July 20. If
surveys outside these dates are required, please consult with the OMNR and/or park
zone office, as required. Negative results arising from surveys conducted outside of the
recommended timing window will not necessarily be interpreted as evidence of absence.
Morning surveys must take place between 04:30 and 09:00 and evening surveys must
take place between 19:00 and 24:00. Inconsistencies exist within the scientific literature
with respect to whether the probability of detecting Henslow‟s Sparrows is greater in the
morning or the evening. Walk et al. (2000) reports higher probabilities of detecting
Henslow‟s Sparrows in the evening survey timeframe, whereas, James Herkert (pers.
comm. 2012) recommends conducting surveys during the morning survey timeframe. In
addition, it is important to note that the song activity of other birds is known to be
relatively lower within the evening timeframe (Ridout and Austen 1993; Environment
Canada n.d.). As a result, surveys must be completed during both the morning and
evening timeframes over the course of the monitoring season (see also Section 3.9).
3.7 Environmental Conditions
Surveys shall be conducted in conditions of good visibility, little to no precipitation, and
when wind speed is less than 12 km/h (up to 3 on the Beaufort wind scale (National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2012)). Other accepted surveys have used
similar methodology (Lazazzero 2006, OMNR 2011). Severe weather conditions of rain,
fog or high winds can reduce the frequency of bird songs and the observers‟ visibility
and ability to detect singing birds, and must be avoided.
3.8 Pre-survey
The following outlines the recommended steps to take prior to conducting any surveys
for Henslow‟s Sparrow:
1. Determine the size of the habitat to be surveyed.
2. One point count (100 m fixed radius) per 5 ha of suitable habitat must be
established, as outlined in Table 1. When establishing multiple point counts,
these must be connected using a standardized transect route, with a fixed survey
width of 100 m. Multiple point counts must therefore be placed at 200 m
12
intervals and all transects must be strategically placed a minimum of 200 m from
each other to reduce the probability of double counting any observed birds.
Table 1. Survey Requirements for the Henslow’s Sparrow
Habitat Size (ha)
Number of Point Counts*
Number of Transect Segments
(Between Point Counts)*
5
1
0
6 10
2
1
11 15
3
2
16 20
4
3
21 25
5
4
26 30
6
5
>30
6
5
*Additional point counts and/or transects may be required to ensure thorough coverage of the habitat
3. Routes must be established prior to conducting any surveys and roughly plotted
on a map/aerial photo. All point counts and transect routes must be established
within the suitable habitat, wherever possible. Transect routes must be straight
lines between any two point counts, but the point counts may be arranged in
various designs in order to ensure thorough coverage of the habitat being
surveyed. Survey routes must therefore be documented appropriately to allow
for standardization between visits or monitoring years.
4. Two observers are preferred, but not required; one to listen and scan the survey
area with binoculars and one to record.
3.9 Conducting the Survey:
Surveys are required to be completed 3 times during the breeding season (June 1 July
20), and be evenly spaced 7 to 10 days apart. Should surveys be cancelled in the event
of inclement weather, the next soonest date possible must be identified to complete the
missed survey. A minimum of one survey must be completed in the morning survey
window and one in the evening survey window, with the third or subsequent surveys to
be conducted during the survey window of the surveyors choosing.
All transect and point count locations must be marked on a map/aerial image of the
property and be noted with a unique identifier (e.g., HESP-001). The established
transect route(s) shall be walked, completing point count(s) at predetermined locations
(using a GPS).
Point counts will be 10 minutes per survey location and consist of a series of song
playback and silent listening. Should song playback not be used, point counts must
consist entirely of silent listening. All observations must be recorded, as per Appendix 1.
13
The following steps are required when completing a point count survey for Henslow‟s
Sparrow:
1. Silent Observation: Record start time. Stand quietly, listen and watch for
Henslow‟s Sparrow for 4 minutes.
2. Broadcast: If the presence of Henslow‟s Sparrow has not been confirmed during
Step 1, broadcast the first pre-recorded song, for 1 minute. Should Henslow‟s
Sparrow be observed during song playback, immediately stop the recording and
continue with silent listening for the remainder of the 10 minute point count
survey.
3. Silent Observation: Continue to listen for 1 minute.
4. Broadcast: If the presence of Henslow‟s Sparrow has not been confirmed in
Steps 1, 2 or 3, broadcast the second pre-recorded song, for 1 minute. Should
Henslow‟s Sparrow be observed during the song playback, immediately stop the
recording and continue with silent listening for the remainder of the 10 minute
point count survey.
5. Silent Observation: Listen for 3 minutes. Step 5 is not required if the conditions
outlined in steps 2 or 4 have occurred and resulted in the completion of a 10
minute point count survey.
6. When survey is complete, record finish time.
Transect surveys must be started/continued following the completion of the point count
survey. Transect routes must be conducted at a slow pace. There is no set time limit for
transect survey durations, however 5 minutes spent per 200 m is recommended. It is
further suggested to pause at regularly spaced intervals (every 25 to 50 m) along each
transect route for 30 seconds to listen and watch for Henslow‟s Sparrows. All
observations must be recorded, as per Appendix 1.
If an observation of Henslow‟s Sparrow is made, the surveyor must note all relevant
information pertaining to the sighting as per the data sheets provided in Appendix 1.
Each observation must document all behaviour as well as the strongest evidence of
breeding. Observed breeding behaviour must be recorded following the breeding bird
evidence codes outlined in Appendix 2. Where possible, observations should also
include photographs and sound recordings. The surveyor must also inform the OMNR
and landowner of any Henslow‟s Sparrow observations as soon as possible.
Should observations of Henslow‟s Sparrows be recorded >100 m from the observer on a
survey location, the surveyor must take care to document this observation the same as
per conducting the point count or transect surveys. Details must be documented
following guidelines in the data sheets (see Appendix 1).
As the Henslow‟s Sparrow is endangered, every effort must be made to avoid inducing
any stress on breeding individuals during song playback. If any Henslow‟s Sparrows are
observed during surveys, the use of any song playbacks must be immediately stopped.
Song playback must not be used again during point count and transect surveys within
200 m of any observations of Henslow‟s Sparrows. Further, Henslow‟s Sparrows must
be observed from a safe distance (>50 m), however, if any individuals flush within a
close range, the surveyor is recommended to avoid any sudden movement such as
rapid retreat from the bird(s). In addition, if the completion of a transect would require
approaching any previously observed Henslow‟s Sparrow‟s within 50 m, the transect
must be dropped and an alternate route must be taken to reach the following point
count.
14
Surveyors should be aware of his or her personal safety while conducting Henslow‟s
Sparrow surveys. For instance, surveyors should be aware of any potential on-site risks
such as busy roads, electric fencing and livestock. Under no circumstances shall a
survey be carried out if the surveyor feels their safety may be threatened or in jeopardy.
Should song playback not be used (e.g., equipment malfunction) or if this is a listening
only survey, this must be noted on the field data sheet.
3.10 Repeat Visits
As Henslow‟s Sparrows are difficult to locate due to their weak song and secretive
behaviour (Herkert et al. 2002), a minimum of 3 surveys is required to ensure an
adequate investigation for the presence/absence of this species. Each survey must be
evenly spaced 7 to 10 days apart within the dates specified in Section 3.6 (June 1 - July
20).
3.11 Additional Considerations
1. If any changes from this protocol are required, contact the OMNR for advice.
2. Nest searches must not be conducted unless instructed to do so by OMNR staff.
Nests are very difficult to find and well concealed and searching for them may
inadvertently destroy the nests, increase the potential for subsequent nest
predation, harm incubating adults, or introduce unnecessary stress to breeding
birds. Surveyors must immediately leave the vicinity of any observed nests;
however, the surveyor shall record detailed notes on the nest, including its
location (mark on the map if possible).
4.0 DOCUMENTATION AND REPORTING
4.1 Documentation
Survey: It is recommended to use the suggested field data sheets found in Appendix 1.
Survey location (UTM and a general site description), start and end time, weather
(precipitation, wind, cloud cover, etc.), observer, species present, their general distance
and direction from observer and any corresponding breeding evidence (see below) must
be recorded.
All significant bird species, including all Species at Risk, identified during the survey
must be transcribed onto a map of the study area following the completion of the survey
in order to portray all observed bird locations.
Breeding Evidence: Breeding evidence for any bird species observed shall be recorded
following the codes listed for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (Appendix 2).
15
4.2 Reporting
Species at risk observation data (described in section 4.1) must be reported to the NHIC
(http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca). The NHIC is Ontario‟s conservation data centre and
maintains the provincial record of Ontario‟s species at risk observations. Information
regarding the potential absence of a species at a site is important as well, and must be
submitted to the NHIC. Data is required to be submitted in digital format (spreadsheet,
shape files with associated tabular data) as per instructions on the NHIC website. The
OMNR must also be provided with a copy of the data submitted to the NHIC.
16
5.0 REFERENCES
Bailey, H.H. 1913. The birds of Virginia. J.P. Bell, Lynchburg, VA.
Bird Studies Canada. 1994. Henslow‟s Sparrow Survey Instructions. Unpublished survey
protocol. Bird Studies Canada, Port Rowan, ON. 7 pp.
Bollinger, E.K. 1995. The effects of habitat selection and vegetation succession on the
breeding dispersion of birds nesting in eastern hayfields. The Auk 112:720-730.
Cadman, M.D., D.A. Sutherland, G.G. Beck, D. Lepage and A.R. Couturier (Ed). 2007.
Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005. Bird Studies Canada,
Environment Canada, Ontario Field Ornithologists, Ontario Ministry of Natural
Resources and Ontario Nature, Toronto. xxii + 706 pp.
COSEWIC. 2011. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Henslow‟s Sparrow
Ammodramus henslowii in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered
Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. x + 37 pp.
Cully, Jr., J. F. and H. L. Michaels. 2000. Henslow's Sparrow habitat associations on
Kansas tallgrass prairie. Wilson Bulletin 112:115-123.
Curry, R. 2006. Birds of Hamilton and Surrounding Areas. Hamilton Naturalists‟ Club,
Hamilton. 647 pp.
Dornack, L.L. 2010. Breeding patterns of Henslow‟s Sparrow and sympatric grassland
sparrow species. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 122:635-858.
eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance. eBird, Ithaca,
New York. Web site: http://www.ebird.org/ [Accessed December 2012].
Eifrig, C.W.G. 1919. Notes on the birds of the Chicago area and its immediate vicinity.
The Auk 36:513-524.
Environment Canada. 2010. Recovery Strategy for the Henslow‟s Sparrow
(Ammodramus henslowii) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy
Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. vi + 23 pp.
Herkert, J.R. 1994a. Status and habitat selection of the Henslow‟s Sparrow. Wilson
Bulletin 106:35-45.
Herkert, J.R. 1994b. The effects of habitat fragmentation on Midwestern grassland bird
communities. Ecological Applications 4:461-471.
Herkert, James R., Peter D. Vickery and Donald E. Kroodsma. 2002. In A. Poole (ed.).
Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii), The Birds of North America Online.
Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Web site:
http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/672doi:10.2173/bna.672 [Accessed
December 2012].
17
Herkert, J.R. Personal communication. 2012. Director, Office of Resource Conservation,
Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield, IL.
Howe, Jr., R.H. 1902. Notes of the summer bird of Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
The Auk 19:404-405.
Hyde, A.S. 1939. The life history of Henslow‟s Sparrow: Passerherbulus henslowi
(Audubon). University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 72 pp.
Lazazzero, S.A. 2006. A Multi-Scale Analysis of Grassland Bird Habitat Relationships
in the St. Lawrence River Valley. The College at Brockport: State University of
New York. 114 pp.
Knapton, R. 1987. Henslow‟s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii). In M.D. Cadman,
P.F.J. Eagles, F.M. Helleiner (eds.). Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 1981-
1985. Federation of Ontario Naturalists and the Long Point Bird Observatory.
University of Waterloo Press, Waterloo. xx + 617 pp.
Mazur, R. 1996. Implications of field management for Henslow's Sparrow habitat at
Saratoga National Historic Park, New York. Master's Thesis. Thesis, State
University of New York, Syracuse.
Lowther, P.E. 2005. Le Conte‟s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii). In A. Poole (ed.). The
Birds of North America Online. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Web site:
http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/224 [Accessed December 2012].
McWilliams, G.M. and D.W. Brauning. 2000. Birds of Pennsylvania. Cornell University
Press, Ithaca, NY.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2012. Beaufort Wind Scale. Web site:
http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/beaufort.html [Accessed December 2012].
O'Leary, C. H. and D. W. Nyberg. 2000. Treelines between fields reduce the density of
grassland birds. Natural Areas Journal 20:243-249.
Ontario Bird Records Committee. 2012. Published Accepted Records. Ontario Field
Ornithologists. Compiled by Mike Burrell.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. No Date. Henslow‟s Sparrow: Guidelines for
Population Monitoring and Habitat Management in Ontario. Internal document.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2011. Draft Survey Methodology under
the Endangered Species Act, 2007: Dolichonyx oryzivorus (Bobolink).
Peterson, R.T. 1947. A field guide to the birds. Houghton Mifflin Co. Cambridge, MA.
Piehler, K.G. 1987. Habitat relationships of three grassland sparrow species on
reclaimed surface mines in Pennsylvania. M.S. thesis. West Virginia University,
Morgantown, West Virginia. 78 pp.
18
Reid, W. 1992. Henslow‟s Sparrow. Pp 386-387 in D.W. Brauning (eds.). Atlas of
breeding birds in Pennsylvania. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA.
Ridgway, R. 1889. The ornithology of Illinois. Vol. I. Illinois State Lab. Natural History.
Springfield.
Ridout, R. and M. Austen. 1993. Report on the 1993 Henslow's Sparrow survey
conducted in Prince Edward County and Walpole Island, Lambton County.
Unpublished report prepared by the Long Point Bird Observatory for the
Endangered Species Recovery Fund and the Canadian Wildlife Service-Ontario
Region.
Risley, C.J. 1983. Results of a survey for Henslow‟s Sparrows in Ontario in 1983.
Prepared for Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Robins, J.D. 1971. A study of the Henslow‟s Sparrow in Michigan. Wilson Bulletin 83:29-
48.
Sauer, J.R., J.E. Hines, J.E. Fallon, K.L. Padieck, D.J. Ziolkowski, Jr., and W.A. Link.
2011. The North American Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966-2009. Version
3.23.2011. United States Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center,
Laurel MD. Web site: http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/bbs.html [Accessed
December 2012].
Sutherland, D. 2012. Personal communication. Natural Heritage Zoologist, Natural
Heritage Information Centre, Peterborough, ON.
Swengel, S.R. 1996. Management responses of three species of declining sparrows in
tallgrass prairie. Bird Conservation International 6:241-253.
Tuininga, K. 2007. Henslow‟s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii). In M.D. Cadman, D.A.
Sutherland, G.G. Beck, D. Lepage and A.R. Couturier (eds.). Atlas of the Breeding
Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005. Bird Studies Canada, Environment Canada, Ontario
Field Ornithologists, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Ontario Nature,
Toronto. xxii + 706 pp.
US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1996. Henslow‟s Sparrow Ammodramus henslowii status
assessment. Published report.
Urner, C.A. 1936. Meet New Jersey‟s birds. Bird-Lore 38:327-336.
Vickers, E.W. 1908. Notes on the Henslow‟s Sparrows (Ammodramus henslowii) in
Mahoning County, Ohio. Wilson Bulletin. 20:150-152.
Vickery, P.D. 1996. Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum). In A. Poole
(ed.). The Birds of North America Online. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Web
site: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/239 [Accessed December 2012].
Weir, R.D. 2008. Birds of the Kingston Region. Kingston Field Naturalists, Brown Book
Company Ltd., Toronto. 611 pp.
19
Wheelwright, N.T. and J.D. Rising. 2008. Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus
sandwichensis). In A. Poole (ed.). The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab
of Ornithology, Ithaca. Web site: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/045
[Accessed December 2012].
Wiens, J.A. 1969. An approach to the study of ecological relationships among
grasslands birds. Ornithologial Monographs 8:1-93.
Winter, M. 1996. How does fragmentation affect grassland birds in southwestern
Missouri prairies? Missouri Prairie Journal 17:15-18.
Winter, M. 1998. Effect of habitat fragmentation on grassland-nesting birds in
southwestern Missouri. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Missouri, Coumbia,
Missouri. 215 pp.
Winter, M., and J. Faaborg. 1999. Patterns of area sensitivity in grassland-nesting birds.
Conservation Biology 13:1424-1436.
APPENDIX 1:
Point Count and Transect Survey Data Sheet
Pg __of __
Henslow’s Sparrow Point Count & Transect Data Sheet
Pt.
Count #
Start Time
End Time
UTM Easting
UTM Northing
Date:
Site Name:
1
Observer(s):
Survey #:
2
Weather
3
Temperature (°C):
Wind Speed*:
4
Cloud Cover (%):
Precipitation:
5
Comments:
Trans.
#
Pt.
Count
#
Habitat Description
Species
Time
of
obs.
# of
Ind.
Sex
(M/F/U)
Behaviour
(breeding
evidence codes)
Direction
from obs.
Distance
from
obs.
Comments
Pg __of __
Sketch Locations of All Henslow’s Sparrow
Observations
(Attach map if necessary):
100m
50m
N
APPENDIX 2:
Breeding Bird Evidence Codes
Breeding Bird Evidence Codes
Code
Observed
X
Species observed in its breeding season (no breeding evidence).
Code
Possible Breeding Evidence
H
Species observed in its breeding season in suitable nesting habitat.
S
Singing male(s) present, or breeding calls heard, in its breeding season in suitable nesting habitat.
Code
Probable Breeding Evidence
P
Pair observed in their breeding season in suitable nesting habitat.
T
Permanent territory presumed through registration of territorial song, or occurrence of an adult
bird on at least 2 days, a week or more apart, at the same place.
D
Courtship or display between a male and a female or 2 males, including courtship feeding or
copulation.
V
Visiting probable nest site.
A
Agitated behaviour or anxiety calls of an adult.
B
Brood patch on adult female or cloacal protuberance on adult male.
N
Nest-building or excavation of nest hole.
Code
Confirmed Breeding Evidence
DD
Distraction display or injury feigning.
NU
Used nest or egg shells found (occupied or laid within the period of the survey).
FY
Recently fledged young or downy young, including young incapable of sustained flight.
AE
Adult leaving or entering nest site in circumstances indicating occupied nest.
FS
Adult carrying faecal sac.
CF
Adult carrying food for young.
NE
Nest containing eggs.
NY
Nest with young seen or heard.
Source: Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (Cadman et al. 2007)
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Henslow's Sparrows (Ammodramus henslowii), formerly abundant throughout Illinois, now are rare and local in occurrence there. Analyses of distribution and abundance patterns within a representative sample of grassland fragments showed that habitat area is the most important factor influencing Henslow's Sparrows in Illinois. Henslow's Sparrows rarely were encountered on grassland fragments less than 100 ha. However, in large fragments habitat structure also significantly influenced distribution and abundance patterns. Henslow's Sparrows preferred areas having tall, dense vegetation with a high proportion of residual standing dead plant material. Prescribed burning and mowing removed the tall, dense vegetation this species prefers and significantly reduced bird densities within parts of grasslands that had been recently managed.
Article
Full-text available
The influence of area and vegetation structure on breeding bird communities associated with 24 Illinois grassland fragments (0.5-600 ha) was studied between 1987 and 1989 to document the effects of habitat fragmentation in a severely fragmented midwestern landscape. Fragment area strongly influenced bird communities within grasslands and accounted for a high percentage of the variation in mean breeding bird species richness among fragments (R^2 = 0.84). Breeding bird species richness patterns within 4.5-ha subsections of these grasslands also significantly increased with fragment size. Eight of the 15 (53%) most common bird species had distributions among fragments that were significantly influenced by habitat area, whereas six species (40%) had distributions within fragments that were significantly influenced by vegetation structure only. The Dickcissel (Spiza americana) was the only species with a distribution within fragments that was not significantly associated with either habitat area or vegetation structure. Four groups of birds were identified by an analysis of habitat area and vegetation structure preferences of individual species: area-sensitive species (5 species), edge species (3), vegetation-restricted species (6), and the Dickcissel. Estimates of minimal area requirements for the five area-sensitive species ranged from 5 to 55 ha. Discriminant analyses of habitat suitability within fragments suggests that the absence of area-sensitive grassland bird species form some small fragments may result, in part, from limited habitat availability. All five area-sensitive species, however, also regularly avoided structurally suitable habitat on small grassland fragments. As a result of the considerable extent to which native and, more recently, agricultural grasslands have declined in the Midwest, habitat fragmentation is likely to have caused midwestern grassland bird declines, especially for area-sensitive species.
Book
From Eared Grebes, Tundra Swans, and Peregrine Falcons to Lesser Yellowlegs, and Snowy Owls, Pennsylvania is home to a magnificent array of birds. In the first comprehensive summary and analysis in over a century of the birds of that state, Gerald M. McWilliams and Daniel W. Brauning provide a wealth of information for both the professional ornithologist and the amateur birder. This book treats all 428 species seen in the state, including breeding and wintering birds, migrants, and vagrants. Each entry provides the general status of a species; the locations where it is most commonly found; its natural habitat, migratory patterns, breeding habits, and seasonal status and distribution; and a summary of the bird's history in Pennsylvania. With clear descriptions of physiographic regions as well as 44 breeding distribution maps for the most commonly seen birds and 67 photographs of many rare and hard-to-find species, this volume is an indispensable resource about Pennsylvania's bird life.
Article
The fragmenting of grasslands by fencerows with trees could be a factor contributing to the decline of grassland birds, especially species that are area-sensitive. We studied the spatial pattern of bird territory and nest locations in five fields in a complex of fields, fencerows, and woodlands in 1995 and 1996. Twelve species established territories in these fields, but the bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna), savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savanarrum), and Henslow's sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) did so only in the three fields larger than 15 ha. Territories and nest locations were mapped in the centrally located 15.9-ha field. The region within 50 m of the nearest edge constituted 47% of the field, but the edge area was used much less than the interior area. Territories of the grassland species were predominantly (82%) in the interior of the field, and 20 of 21 nests were > 50 m from an edge. Based on the low usage within 50 m of woody edges, we recommend connecting adjacent fields by replacing treelines or hedgerows with grasses in order to increase habitat for area-sensitive grassland birds.
Article
Henslow's Sparrows (Ammodramus henslowii) are reported to have irregular patterns of return to breeding areas. I present data supporting these reports at rangewide extents, while testing potential biases inherent in the North American Breeding Bird Survey data. Two measures of population variability were used to show that Henslow's Sparrows are less likely to use breeding areas predictably and consistently, but have similar variance in numbers at occupied sites relative to other sympatric grassland sparrow species. I illustrate how restricting analyses to single-observer-collected Breeding Bird Survey data results in subtle but significant effects not detected in data aggregated from multiple observers through the study period. The most conservative analysis (single-observer, restricted distribution) showed that Henslow's Sparrows exhibited lower prevalence of occurrence than Grasshopper (Ammodramus savannarum) (P < 0.001) and Savannah (Passerculus sandwichensis) (P < 0.001) sparrows but no difference in variation of abundance (P > 0.05). These results suggest Henslow's Sparrows are not returning to previously used breeding habitat from year-to-year. Grassland management should consider the behavior documented in this study and attempt to incorporate this facet of Henslow's Sparrow biology into decisions that involve broad-scale landscape design.
Article
Between 1995 and 1997, we studied breeding birds in fragments of native tallgrass prairie in southwestern Missouri to determine the effect of habitat fragmentation on grassland bird populations. Data on density and nesting success collected in 13 prairie fragments of various sizes revealed three levels of area sensitivity. The most area-sensitive species, Greater Prairie-Chicken ( Tympanuchus cupido), was absent from small prairie fragments. An intermediate form of area sensitivity was apparent in only one species, Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii), which occurred in lower densities in small than in large prairie fragments. Based on census (i.e., distributional) data, only those two species were area-sensitive (i.e., negatively affected by habitat fragmentation) in southwestern Missouri. A species can be sensitive not only on a distributional level, however, but also by having lower nesting success in small than in large prairie fragments. The Dickcissel ( Spiza americana) was the only species that was area-sensitive on such a demographic level. These data indicate that we cannot rely solely on census data to describe the sensitivity of grassland-nesting species to habitat fragmentation, but that we also need to investigate demographic data (e.g., nesting success). Whereas it has previously been shown that density measures of forest-nesting birds do not reliably reflect nesting success in habitat fragments of various sizes, ours is the first study that describes this pattern for grassland-nesting species.