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Population Stabilizing For Critically Endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow

Photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The population of the ailing Florida grasshopper sparrow appears to be stabilizing. 

That’s after two years of a groundbreaking program aimed at rescuing North America’s most endangered bird from extinction. 

Some 300 captive-raised Florida grasshopper sparrows have been released on the Central Florida prairie, the only place on Earth where the tiny birds are found in the wild. 

Never before has a sparrow species been bred in captivity and released. Juan Oteyza of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the captive-raised birds are thriving. 

“The birds that are reared in captivity have much better survival. So in a way we’re helping them at one stage. We cannot help them at all stages, but we can help them at one stage of their life.” 

At last count the bird’s population was just over 100 -- up slightly but still low enough to illustrate the many challenges facing the Florida grasshopper sparrow. 

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.