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Grasshopper Sparrow

North America's most endangered bird teeters on the edge of extinction, with perhaps as few as 10 pairs left in the wild. This ground-nesting songbird, endemic to central Florida's dry prairie, is a sentinel species for an ecosystem in peril. Habitat conversion, climate change, fire ants, environmental contaminants and disease have driven the sparrow's collapse over the past two decades. 

The Project

Much like the California condor effort of 40 years ago, captive breeding is now the only option to avert extinction and garner hope for long-term recovery. In collaboration with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation holds the largest, most genetically diverse population, and has successfully raised the sparrow in captivity for two consecutive years. Building a sustainable population of parent-reared birds is top priority for recovering this flagship species for central Florida’s dry prairie ecosystem.

The Impact

Without an aggressive captive breeding program, this songbird will disappear forever. As we breed sparrows and unravel the pathogens driving the species’ decline, we’ll buy time to develop long-term recovery options. Ultimately, the goal is to restore the sparrow to central Florida’s dry prairie.