Baird’s Sparrow – Accepted

1. 28 Sep 1969


Southeast Farallon I. SF



ph., CAS 68476

2. 05–10 Oct 1981


Pt. Loma SD



Fig. 296, ph., AB 36:220, Farrand (1983), Pyle & Sibley (1992), Dunn (2001), Beadle & Rising (2002)

3. 07 Sep 1991


Southeast Farallon I. SF




4. 28 Sep 2003


Southeast Farallon I. SF



ph., San Miguel & McGrath (2005)


Baird’s Sparrow – Not accepted, identification not established

18 Sep 1987


Lake Talawa DN




12–13 Jan 2000


Pt. Reyes MRN





Baird’s Sparrow – Not submitted

03 Oct 1958


Joshua Tree NM RIV



AFN 13:67, Pyle & Small (1961)

31 Dec 1963


Redlands SBE



AFN 18:315

13 Oct 1969


Pt. Reyes MRN



AFN 24:95








Figure 296. A Baird’s Sparrow is among the rarest of finds in California. This first-fall bird, photographed on 6 October 1981 on Pt. Loma, San Diego County, is molting into formative plumage. Useful visible marks include the strongly “scaled” pattern on the upperparts, muted orange nape and crown, lack of a postocular streak, a pair of black spots at the rear corners of the auricular, and a dark moustachial stripe; the dark malar that creates a “double whisker” is obscured in shadow (1981-053; Herbert Clarke).







Baird’s Sparrow

BAIRD’S SPARROW Ammodramus bairdii (Audubon, 1844)

Accepted: 4 (67%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 2

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 3

Large color image: see Figure

This secretive sparrow breeds in limited areas of suitable prairie habitat in south-central Canada, from southern Alberta east to southwestern Manitoba, and in the north-central United States, from central Montana east to eastern North Dakota and north-central South Dakota, casually to northeastern Wyoming and western Minnesota. The wintering grounds comprise an even smaller area of grasslands and overgrown fields from southeastern Arizona east to western Texas and south to central Durango. The species occurs casually or accidentally in southwestern British Columbia (e.g., NAB 60:126), northwestern Ontario, around the Great Lakes (several records in various states and eastern Ontario), Illinois (Green et al. 2002), New York, Maryland, West Virginia, and Oklahoma.

California’s first Baird’s Sparrow was a first-fall bird collected on 28 September 1969 at Southeast Farallon Island (DeSante and Ainley 1980). Three more have been found in the state between 7 September (an individual in complete or near-complete juvenal plumage; cf. the Le Conte’s Sparrow account) and 10 October. As with so many skulking passerines, Southeast Farallon Island accounts for a remarkable proportion of the state’s records—in this case, three of four. The exception refers to a first-fall bird that remained for nearly a week at Pt. Loma in San Diego County (Figure 296), an extended stay that allowed many California birders to enjoy this elusive sparrow.

Texas lies at the edge of the species’ winter range and within its normal migratory pathway, yet this state claims only 42 acceptable records (Lockwood and Freeman 2004). Given southeastern California’s proximity to the wintering grounds, and considering the extreme difficulty of detecting a silent Baird’s Sparrow, it is possible that this sparrow winters very rarely in the state (see the Sprague’s Pipit account). Dunn (2001) reviewed the identification and vagrancy of this species.