The APEC Florida Grasshopper Sparrow program started in 2020, when APEC entered into an agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Florida Fish and Wildlife to be one of only three institutions to breed the Critically Endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow.
The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus) is an endemic species that only occurs in the dry prairie habitat in South and Central Florida. Approximately 95% of this habitat has been lost to human development. This species declined swiftly over the last decade for reasons not well understood.
Florida grasshopper sparrows are North America's most endangered bird. A few years ago only 60 to 80 individual birds were left in the wild. The decision was made to bring a few birds into captivity to start a captive breeding program. APEC received birds in 2020 from an FWC holding facility to start our program. We constructed large aviaries measuring 8 feet by 24 feet long and 8 feet high for each pair of birds. We then planted the aviaries with Florida dry prairie plants to mimic their natural habitat. The Grasshopper Sparrows produced at our facility are released into the wild by FWC biologists to bolster the wild population. For the first time in years the wild population has started to increase thanks to these conservation efforts.
Offspring raised at APEC were transferred to release sites for integration into the wild population.
These are eggs from an abandoned wild nest that were brought to be fostered by sparrows at APEC.