The Most Endangered Bird in the Continental U.S.

The Most Endangered Bird in the Continental U.S.

The fight to save the Florida grasshopper sparrow inspires all who love wildlife. 

By Ted Williams
Published: March-April 2013

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. 

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Ted Williams

Ted Williams is freelance writer.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine



The only species that should be poisoned is the ignorant and irresponsible human animals that treat their pets like disposable garbage when they do not want them anymore! Again, animals pay the price for the stupidity and ignorance of human beings who think they can kill off whatever species they want! What kind of human being who is supposed to possess humanity and compassion would poison cats when it is NOT their fault! People like you are pathetic. I have no use for so called human beings who think another animal can just be killed off because humans don't think they have a place here. I could say the same for the human animal, cull those that are ignorant, arrogant and think they are the only species that matters!!! I don't see a problem with that since we are just animal ourselves, something that many seem to have forgotten!

Conservation reports represents the best of Audubon

I appreciate the efforts, it may be too little too late, but at least there is some action instead of indifference. I rarely hear of good conservation work by USFWS. Too often their actions benefit the ranchers and hunters to the detriment of native wildlife. Kudos to Paul Miller of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Sandra Sneckenberger of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Thank you Ted Williams, conservation reports represents the best of Audubon.

Please send the message to

Please send the message to prioritize treating EVERY possible fire ant mound in their breeding territory. I observed the increase in number of fire ant mounds seemed to correspond with the decrease in sparrows over the past 20 years.

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow

Thank you for your efforts to save the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. Interesting article.

Thank you

I do certainly care if we lose this lovely bird. Thank you so much for what you are doing. I pray it is enough.

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