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bachman's sparrow question


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any experts on these?

I'm trying to decide if I should go hunt for one. Several "known" birders in AR have gone to find them in a place they know to look for them. One guy by himself, saw one very briefly. Then two other people went to the same area and had the same experience... the bird showed up and then, gone.

I'm looking for advice on specific habitat and behavior... favorite plants?

This is a big pine forest where the red-cockaded woodpecker has been re-established, by the people that do that sort of thing, including a local birder and audubon field trip leader/organizer.
A nice long road with NO traffic...  trees set up specifically for the woodpeckers help you know where to look for those. I've been there twice and got the woodpeckers one of the times, briefly...  Apparently, this time of year they're feeding young so it's a good time to watch their trees to see them going back and forth. That alone would be worth the trip(I think it's 2.5 hours, ish)
That bachman's sparrow though...  that's the only location anywhere near me where I know I COULD track one down.
Although, there is a campground a little ways off(from that spot) where someone reported one about 13 years ago...  so theoretically, they could be anywhere in that general area. But knowing EXACTLY what kind of habitat or plants(etc) to look for would be necessary. Around here we have horned larks... but if you don't know where to look... good luck. Same with grasshopper sparrows. The ONLY place I've had grasshopper sparrows happened to be in some lots where they had roads put in but not houses... I don't know what kind of plants grew in... LOTS of fields around LOOKED like they'd be good for grasshopper sparrows but, they're HARD to find here. So, something made that place appealing to them.

I figure, by the sound of it, the bachman's might be similar in being rather picky about where it hangs out.

So, any "experts" on them??? 
If I do make the trip down(I should get my transmission looked at first, I think) it would be quite beneficial for me to get photographs for evidence... 

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Was hoping someone would have some thoughts...  though, I was planning on making that trip this week...  and now, I'm having my van looked at so that's not happening.
I think if I do go this summer, I'm going to miss the red-cockaded woodpecker feeding and fledgling stages... which would be the best time to try and photograph them...
but maybe I can still pursue the sparrows. We'll see...  how much traveling will I feel like doing after my Louisiana trip next week?
Still... any thoughts on these sparrows are appreciated.

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Hey, sorry for the late response, I have been busy with life.

 

I did my master's on habitat preferences of Bachman's Sparrow at the western extent of its range (which theoretically includes Arkansas!).

 

Where you'll find them will be in shortleaf pine stands with mature trees that are spread apart, enabling sunlight to reach the forest floor. This promotes the growth of herbaceous plants like grasses and forbs. Bachman's Sparrow builds its nest entirely out of grass, so a prominent ground layer of grass is necessary for their occupancy.

 

If you're searching for BACS habitat, look for relatively open mature pine stands with lots of grass in the understory. Too much woody vegetation will shade out the grass, so you don't want to look in stands that have a lot of early succession (e.g., sweetgum, yaupon saplings).

 

They are very responsive to playback (but obviously don't overdo it) and will sing from January to September. Peak singing season is March-July. They'll sing any time of day, but are most active during the early and mid-morning hours.

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