The dry prairies of central Florida are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the United States with much of the historic extent having been converted to orange groves and cattle pastures over the past century. This has resulted in a fragmented landscape with few remaining large patches of highly-suitable dry prairie habitat remaining. With a distribution restricted entirely to these rapidly diminishing prairies, the Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodrammos savannarum floridanus) is one of the most critically-endangered birds in North America. This subspecies is currently protected by the Endangered Species Act, but populations in the wild are so small the threat of extinction is real. At present there may be fewer than 150 individuals remaining in the wild. Conservation efforts center around acquiring, protecting and restoring critical habitat and finding ways to reestablish populations in areas formerly occupied by the sparrow.
In 2015, Ecostudies Institute began studying the Florida grasshopper sparrow contributing towards the ongoing conservation efforts to keep this subspecies from extinction. Our efforts included an attempt to reestablish populations at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park through the use of artificial song playback to attract sparrows to formerly occupied breeding habitat. As part of our experiment, we also tested the use of remote recorders as a monitoring method to detect singing male sparrows.
In 2016, we conducted follow-up surve