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First Critically Endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrows Released From Captivity To The Wild

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. Photo by Amy Green

Wildlife managers working to rescue North America’s most endangered bird celebrated a significant milestone Thursday.

For the first time captive-bred Florida grasshopper sparrows were released to the wild.

Three sparrows were released on the Central Florida prairie, a region not far from Walt Disney World.

The captive-bred birds will supplement the last remaining population of wild birds, which live on the prairie.

Larry Williams of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service watched the birds move to their new home.

“They opened up the pen, and the birds didn’t move immediately. It took them a little while, but eventually the birds all flew out on their own and they’re out on the prairie hopefully doing what wild sparrows do now.”

More releases are planned throughout the spring and summer.

Some 80 Florida grasshopper sparrows remain in the wild. Loss of habitat and nest predation are blamed as primary reasons for the bird’s demise.


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »