Nestling Development and Aging of Arizona Grasshopper Sparrow

Articles | By Janet M. Ruth and Jason Kitting | Accepted June 02, 2018

We studied breeding Arizona Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum ammolegus) status and distribution, natural and life history, habitat use, and nest survival from 2004 through 2014 in southeastern Arizona. In this paper we present descriptions and photographs of known-age nestlings that will assist field biologists to identify Arizona Grasshopper Sparrow nestlings to species, more accurately age them for nest survival studies, and conduct more detailed nestling development studies. Our observations of developing characteristics included: eyes, ears, skin, down, major feather tracts, bill, rictal flange and gape colors and patterns, and behavior. More field data collection is required to supplement our information and to determine how broadly applicable this information is to other Grasshopper Sparrow subspecies.