|Vesper Sparrow © Jim Livaudais
Vesper Sparrows (Pooecetes gramineus) are found throughout the northern half of North America and Canada. In the Pacific Northwest, breeding populations of Oregon Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus affinis), one of four subspecies, historically spanned from southwest British Columbia, western Washington and Oregon, to northwestern California. Breeding Oregon Vesper Sparrows have been extirpated from British Columbia and northwestern California. Due to these dramatic declines, the subspecies has been petitioned for listing as endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The population is estimated to be fewer than 3,000 individuals.
Collaborators are conducting field research to determine why this species has been in decline, and what can be done to turn these negative trends around. Klamath Bird Observatory, American Bird Conservancy, Center for Natural Lands Management, and a master’s student from Southern Oregon University (SOU) are tackling this unique opportunity to study Oregon Vesper Sparrows together, throughout the subspecies’ breeding range, in order to develop strategies for stabilizing and recovering populations.