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Henslow's Sparrow



After perching on a tallgrass stalk, I settle in to sing my sweet song. I am shy around strangers, except when I’m engulfed in song. I’ve been told that singing is the only time I stay still long enough for you to catch a look at me. There are few things I love more than singing the summer nights away. I am always on the go, but running out of places to call home. I’ve lost most of my thriving tallgrass prairies and now settle in neglected pastures and fields.

This is not enough.

The Henslow’s sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) is a grassland songbird. It prefers areas with dead weeds, shrubs and damp areas. It only breeds in dense grass with standing dead vegetation, and it hides its nests on the ground near grass clumps.

The decline in Henslow's sparrow population is due mainly to loss of native prairies and changing farmlands (such as conversions of hayfields to corn or soybean).



  • The Henslow's Sparrow is often reluctant to fly and prefers to run from threats.

  • They are difficult to spot and document because they hide or fly away immediately. 

  • It was named by John James Audubon in honor of John Stevens Henslow, a botanist, good friend of Audubon and teacher of Charles Darwin.

  • The Henslow's Sparrow is listed as endangered or threatened in Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.



Support prairie restoration efforts in your community.

The major cause of population decline is habitat destruction. Efforts to restore the population revolve around restoring its natural habitat, tallgrass prairies. Learn more about prairie restoration programs and ways to get involved



Chicago Wilderness works with two lead partners, Audubon Great Lakes Region and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, to drive Henslow's Sparrow conservation efforts. The lead partners, in turn, coordinate with numerous other organizations across the region. The Henslow's Sparrow conservation effort is part of the Chicago Wilderness Priority Species Focus Area.


Sources: Audubon SocietyCornell Lab of OrnithologyThe Nature Conservancy