January 22, 2015

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow:
Has Science Failed Florida’s Rarest Bird?

Speaker: Jim Cox
Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy
Tallahassee, FL
Gainesville, FL

Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015
Social: 7:00 p.m.
Program: 7:30 p.m.

Grasshopper Sparrows in hand for banding

Grasshopper Sparrows in hand for banding

The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is a critically endangered subspecies that inhabits the distinctive prairie ecosystem of south central Florida.  Public lands collectively supported over 1000 individuals as recently as 2001, but populations on public lands soon began to decline and today have fallen by more than 90%.  The steep declines occurred despite intensive research and monitoring efforts and may relate in part to changes in how prescribed fire was used to manage sparrow habitat.  The plight of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow points to the critical need for research that carefully assesses the effects that changes in the use of fire may have.  At the same time, the decline of the sparrow also underscores the need for managing any lands that we purchase.

Read more about Tall Timbers’ involvement with the Grasshopper Sparrow.

Jim Cox heads up the Stoddard Bird Lab at Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy and serves on the Board of Apalachee Audubon.  The Stoddard Bird Lab continues a 50-year tradition of investigating the use of prescribed fire in managing habitat for birds associated with southern pinelands.  Frequently fire is absolutely essential for maintaining stable populations for species such as Bachman’s and Florida Grasshopper sparrows, Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Meadowlark, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Red-cockaded Woodpecker.  Jim also taught a popular bird-watching class at Florida State University and continues to try to lure new bodies into the birding community.

Our program meetings are held at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 2810 North Meridian Road.