The Most Endangered Bird in the Continental U.S.
The fight to save the Florida grasshopper sparrow inspires all who love wildlife.
Even Harvard professor E.O. Wilson struggles with an explanation. "There is no guarantee of life after death; and heaven and hell are what we create for ourselves, on this planet," he writes. True enough, but this implies that biodiversity exists to please humans.
Maybe the only explanation for people who have to ask why the Florida grasshopper sparrow matters is this: It matters not because it is a source of enrichment for human lives (although it is), not because it is a source of medicine or agent of pest control (it is probably neither), not because it is an "indicator species" that tells us we haven't completely wrecked our habitat, not because it is anything, only because it is.
Hardened as I am from 33 years of covering such stories for Audubon, I couldn't speak for several minutes after I'd released what may be the last Florida grasshopper sparrow all but a few dozen people will ever see save as images recorded by Joel Sartore. Then we strapped on our binoculars and headed west. It was time for birding, brighter thoughts, and a celebration of everything we have left.