Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies
Scientific Name: Passerculus sandwichensis princeps
Other/Previous Names: "Ipswich" Savannah Sparrow
Taxonomy Group: Birds
Range: Nova Scotia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2009
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
Image of Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies
The Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies is paler, greyer, and larger than any other eastern race of the species. It has greyish-brown upper parts streaked with white, black and buff; a distinctive yellow stripe over and in front of the eye (which is very faint in the autumn and winter); whitish under parts streaked with greyish- brown; and a dusky, slightly forked tail.
Distribution and Population
The Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies nests almost exclusively on Sable Island; a few have nested on beaches in Nova Scotia. This bird winters in the Middle Atlantic States, between Nova Scotia and northern Florida; a small number winter in Nova Scotia. The population of the Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies fluctuates irregularly from about 1250 to 3400 birds in spring and increases to about 5000 to 14750 in late summer after the young have fledged. The population can fluctuate considerably from year to year but appears stable over the long term.
The Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies nests in heath-dominated terrain and in dense marram grass on coastal dunes and upper beaches. The heath areas are preferred by the birds and also result in better nesting success. The birds prefer outer dune beaches with good grass cover and some topographical relief during the winter.
Female Savannah Sparrows princeps subspecies can have three or even four successful broods in one season. Nests of grass and other vegetation are built in hollows scratched in the ground, usually under the shelter of a shrub, small tree or tussock of grass. Clutches usually contain 4 or 5 eggs. The Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies is known to interbreed occasionally with the mainland race of the Savannah Sparrow.
Because the Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies has a limited breeding range, it is vulnerable to short-term changes in other limiting factors. The migration of this bird is greatly dependent on the weather, which makes it vulnerable to weather-related catastrophes. Cold weather, as well as predation and lack of food, on its wintering grounds can also adversely affect the population, and winter mortality is an important constraint on the population. Beaches on the wintering range have been destroyed or have become heavily used by humans, but this does not appear to be having a long-term effect on the sparrow's population. Predation on eggs and chicks on the breeding grounds can cause serious damage in years when the population is already low. However, all these factors affect the sparrow in the short term. The main factor limiting the overall population size of the subspecies seems to be the limited amount of available habitat on its breeding grounds.
Federal ProtectionMore information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
The Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies is protected by the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act. Under this Act, it is prohibited to kill, harm, or collect adults, young, and eggs. Sable Island, which provides breeding habitat for this species, is a federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
6 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Management Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 (2010)Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. During the past year, COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings and reviewed the status of 79 wildlife species (species, subspecies, populations). During the meeting of November 2009, COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of the status of 28 wildlife species. COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of an additional 51 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations) during their April 2010 meeting. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2009-2010 reporting period include the following: Extirpated: 6 Endangered: 39 Threatened: 16 Special Concern: 17 Data Deficient: 1 This report transmits to the Minister the status of 46 species newly classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern, fulfilling COSEWIC’s obligations under SARA Section 24 and 25. A full detailed summary of the assessment for each species and the reason for the designation can be found in Appendix I of the attached report. Since its inception, COSEWIC has assessed 602 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 262 Endangered, 151 Threatened, 166 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated. In addition, 13 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct. Also, to date, 46 wildlife species have been identified by COSEWIC as Data Deficient and 166 wildlife species were assessed as Not at Risk. This year has been a particularly productive year for COSEWIC’s Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee. In April 2010 COSEWIC approved the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Process and Protocol Guidelines, providing clear and agreed principles for the gathering of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to carry out COSEWIC functions as required under Section 15(2) of SARA (See Appendix III of the attached report). We are grateful for the rich and enthusiastic contribution made by community elders and experts in helping the ATK Subcommittee prepare the ATK protocols.
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