BIRD OF THE WEEK: 3/21/2014 SCIENTIFIC NAME: Spizella wortheni
POPULATION: 100-120 adults
IUCN STATUS: Endangered
HABITAT: Shrubby grasslands at elevations between 4,000 - 8,000 feet in SE parts of Chihuahuan Desert
The Worthen's Sparrow is a trim-looking sparrow with a rufous cap, pink bill, and white eye ring. It closely resembles the Field Sparrow, a much more numerous species found throughout the middle and eastern United States.
Recent data show that the Worthen's Sparrows are somewhat nomadic in their range, following annual rain patterns to take advantage of the best available breeding habitat. They form flocks after the breeding season that tend to congregate around permanent sources of water.
Major threats to this sparrow include habitat destruction and degradation caused by potato farming and livestock overgrazing, as well as global climate change, which is changing annual rainfall patterns
ABC has partnered with the Mexican conservation organization Pronatura Noreste since 2007 to work on the conservation of the Worthen's Sparrow habitat in the El Tokio (Saltillo) grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Pronatura Noreste has protected or improved management of more than 150,000 acres of grassland habitat that protect key breeding sites for the Worthen's Sparrow and wintering habitat for many Watch List species, including the Long-billed Curlew, Mountain Plover, Baird's Sparrow, Chestnut-collared Longspur, and Sprague's Pipit.