Great Basin Naturalist


I surveyed 34 meadows in California and Oregon to count Lincoln's Sparrows (Melospiza lincolnii alticola) and to identify habitat features that might influence their local, insular occurrence. Lincoln's Sparrows were most common in wet meadows with little damage by grazing. Singing males were concentrated in flooded or boggy areas near meadow edges, where pines (Pinus sp.) provided elevated perches for singing and vigilance. Patches of willows (Salix sp.) were often present nearby. Numbers of male Lincoln's Sparrows were strongly and negatively correlated with abundance of sympatric Song Sparrows (M. melodia fisherella). Lincoln's Sparrows breeding in montane meadows are potentially vulnerable to local extirpation because of their insular distribution, low population density, and fluctuating habitat conditions. Heavy damage from livestock grazing drastically increases the probability of local extirpation.