Ammospiza leconteii

Status:  Fairly common regular spring and fall migrant east and east-central, rare west-central, accidental west. Rare casual winter visitor.

Documentation:  Specimen: UNSM ZM7313, 20 Apr 1901 Havelock, Lancaster Co.

Taxonomy:  This species and Nelson’s Sparrow were moved from Ammodramus to the new genus Ammospiza based on genetic studies that indicated former Ammodramus was paraphyletic (Chesser et al 2018).

No subspecies are currently recognized (Pyle 1997).

The correct spelling “LeConte’s” was discussed by Chesser et al (2017).

Spring: Apr 19, 19, 19 <<<>>> May 19, 20, 20

Earlier dates are 5 Mar 2000 Clay Co (Jorgensen 2012), 9 Mar 2016 Peru Bottoms WMA, Nemaha Co, 13 Mar 2010 Rowe Sanctuary, Buffalo Co, 17 Mar 1909 a specimen (UNSM ZM10448) taken in Lancaster Co, 18 Mar 2018 Saunders Co, 23 Mar 2018 Buffalo Co, 31 Mar (Swenk, Notes Before 1925), 2 Apr 1909 Lancaster Co (specimen, UNSM ZM12194), 7 Apr 2013 Saunders Co, 10 Apr 2019 Douglas Co, 12 Apr 2019 Buffalo Co, 15 Apr 2017 Lancaster Co, and 15 Apr 2020 Lancaster Co.

Earlier dates may be of very early migrants or birds that wintered nearby; arrival of migrants in Kansas is in mid-Mar (Thompson et al 2011). Migration is from mid-Apr through mid-May. See Winter.

Westerly reports are of one at Avocet WMA, Grant Co 17 May 2010, one at Frye Lake, Grant Co 15 May 2009, and one in Blaine Co 19 May 2021.

Fall:  Sep 17, 18, 18 <<<>>> Nov 3, 4, 5

Earlier dates are 27 Aug 2011 Lancaster Co (photo), 13 Sep 2018 Rock Co, and 13 Sep 2020 Lancaster Co.

Later dates are 7 Nov 2000 Madison Co, 7-12 Nov 2016 Sarpy Co, 10 Nov 2015 Clay Co, 14 Nov 2016 Lancaster Co, 15 Nov 2015 Lancaster Co, and 26 Nov 2016 Douglas Co.

Migration is from late Sep through late Oct.

Westerly were one at Crescent Lake NWR, Garden Co 19 Sep 1968, the only Panhandle record for the species, one in Lincoln Co 28 Sep 1934 (Tout 1947), two juveniles in Custer Co 1-8 Oct 2012, one in Red Willow Co 7 Oct 2002, and one in Custer Co 10 Oct 2009.

  • High counts:  158 at Harvard Marsh 19 Oct 2009, 50 at Spring Creek Prairie 18 Oct 2008, 40 at Jack Sinn Memorial WMA, Lancaster Co 27 Oct 1998, and 40 at Kirkpatrick Basin North WMA, York Co 18 Sep 1999 (Jorgensen 2012).

Winter: The only winter (Dec-Feb) records are 17 Dec 2020 Branched Oak-Seward CBC, Lancaster Co, 30 Nov-5 Jan 2020-2021 Douglas Co (photo), and 12 Feb 2013 Douglas Co (Silcock 2013).

This species winters regularly in southeast Kansas (Thompson et al 2011) and there are several Dec-Feb reports for Kansas on eBird, all within the last few winters (eBird.org, accessed April 2018), suggesting that wintering birds may soon be expected in southeast Nebraska. 



UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum
WMA: Wildlife Management Area (State)

Literature Cited

Chesser, R.T., K.J. Burns, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W. Kratter, I.J. Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen, Jr., J.D. Rising, D.F. Stotz, and K. Winker. 2017. Fifty-eighth supplement to the American Ornithological Society’s Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 134: 751-773.

Chesser, R.T., K.J. Burns, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W. Kratter, I.J. Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen, Jr., D.F. Stotz, B.M. Winger, and K. Winker. 2018. Fifty-ninth Supplement to the American Ornithological Society’s Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 135: 798-813.

Jorgensen, J.G. 2012.  Birds of the Rainwater Basin, Nebraska.  Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Silcock, W.R. 2013. Winter Field Report, December 2012 to February 2013. NBR 81: 2-20.

Swenk, M.H. Notes before 1925. Bird notes from A.M. Brooking of Hastings, C.A. Black of Kearney, and B.J. Olson of Kearney, based chiefly on their collections, up to January 1, 1925. Typed manuscript in the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union Archives, University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Thompson, M.C., C.A. Ely, B. Gress, C. Otte, S.T. Patti, D. Seibel, and E.A. Young. 2011. Birds of Kansas.  University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

Tout, W. 1947. Lincoln County birds. Published by the author, North Platte, Nebraska, USA.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2021.  LeConte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 11 Jun 2021