The small population size of Oregon Vesper Sparrow is well-documented, but the causes of its at-risk status remain speculative. As with most migratory birds, declines may be caused by habitat factors on their breeding grounds, wintering grounds, or migration stopover areas.
In 2018, Klamath Bird Observatory began in-depth monitoring of the survival, nest success, and habitat preferences of Rogue Basin birds located near Howard Prairie, east of Ashland, Oregon. This research is being replicated by partners in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and the Puget Lowlands in Washington to get a picture of Oregon Vesper Sparrow population health across its entire range.
Vesper Sparrows are a medium-large sparrow approximately 15 cm long. They are grayish brown above and buffy below with brown streaks. They have a narrow white eye-ring, white outer tail feathers, and a rufous shoulder patch. The Oregon Vesper Sparrow subspecies cannot be determined by plumage or vocalization, but by geographic range.
The Vesper Sparrow is sometimes affectionately referred to as a “little brown job”. This is what birdwatchers call those streaky brown sparrows and dull-colored females that we all struggle with identifying. But if no one knows about this subtle songbird, how can it ever be protected?
Short Film Documentary – From the Field: A Study of the Oregon Vesper Sparrow
Daniel Thiede, a multimedia artist, put together a short-film documentary, “From the Field an Oregon Vesper Sparrow Study”. The documentary is an engaging way to educate the public about this declining species.