Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Despite Million Dollar Effort, Florida Grasshopper Sparrow Nears Extinction

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Amy Green/WMFE
The Florida Channel
Erin Ragheb of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission aims to catch a Florida grasshopper sparrow as the sun rises over the central Florida prairie.

A central Florida bird that scientists say is North America’s most endangered is near extinction.

The Florida grasshopper sparrow’s population in the wild this year is projected to be fewer than 40, a record low.

Scientists say it’s possible the Florida grasshopper sparrow will be extinct within two or three years. It would be the nation’s first bird extinction in three decades.

Larry Williams of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the small sparrow is threatened by disease and a loss of the central Florida prairie, the only place on Earth where it is found.

“It’s really a symbol of things not being healthy within that ecosystem, and it’s really sad because these sparrows have probably lived in that part of Florida for more than 10,000 years.”

The Florida grasshopper sparrow is the subject of a million-dollar effort to stave off its extinction. Scientists have successfully raised 50 sparrows in captivity.