Ammodramus savannarum
Grasshopper Sparrow
(Ammodramus savannarum)
Photograph: Courtesy of photographer Brad Sillasen

Interesting facts:
The female Grasshopper Sparrow incubates its eggs in the nest for 12 days. Meanwhile, the male protects their territory of 2-3 acres by singing from his position on a post, tall grass or other perch. Nine days after the young hatch, they leave the nest, which is on the ground under shrubs and grass.

Both sexes of Grasshopper Sparrow have a similar plain brown body. They measure 4 1/2 to 5 inches long with a short tail and flat-topped head. They have yellow eyebrows and a yellow line at the curve of the wings.

Habitat and behavior:
Open grasslands, including hayfields, golf courses, and airports, as well as prairies, are homes for Grasshopper Sparrows. They inhabit Illinois from mid-April to early October and spend the winter in the southern United States and Central America.

Grasshopper Sparrows, living up to their names, eat insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, and cockroaches. A small portion of their diet is seeds.

The Grasshopper Sparrow is a common migrant in Illinois. Hay fields and other habitats are decreasing, making this sparrow a declining species. New housing developments have destroyed its habitat. The mowing of grasslands early in the spring destroys nests.