Henslow’s Sparrow

(Centronyx henslowii)

Conservation Status


No Image Available

  IUCN Red List

NT - Near Threatened


N3B, N4N - Vulnerable Breeding, Apparently Secure Nonbreeding

S1B - Critically Imperiled Breeding



Species in Greatest Conservation Need


Henslow’s Sparrow is a shy bird more often heard than seen, most often seen after being heard. It has a large, flattened head and a short, deeply notched tail. The face, the nape of the neck, and the central crown stripe are all olive green. A dark line from the base of the bill to the breast is a “whisker” stripe. The breast, sides, and flanks are finely streaked.




5 to 5½ in length

6½ wingspan




A two note, weak, “see-lick”, sounding much like a cricket.


Similar Species

  Baird’s Sparrow (Centronyx bairdii) has a buff-colored head and a long tail.  

Breeding: Grassy areas more than 250 acres in size with a significant litter layer of matted dead vegetation and scattered shrubs or other standing herbs












Crickets, short-horned grasshoppers, beetles, spiders, butterfly larvae, bees, and seeds.




Rarely seen migrant, uncommon, local, and irregular breeder




The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

  Class Aves (birds)  


Passeriformes (perching birds)  


Passerellidae (New World sparrows)  


Centronyx (Baird’s and Henslow’s sparrows)  

New World sparrows were traditionally combined with buntings into the family Emberizidae. Recent phylogenetic analysis (Barker et al. 2013) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis (Klicka et al. 2014) found that the Old World buntings should be separated as a sister to New World sparrows. New World sparrows have been separated into a new family, Passerellidae.

This species was formerly classified as Ammodramus henslowii. Molecular studies in 2007, 2009, 2014, 2015, and 2016 indicated that Henslow’s sparrow is closely related to Baird’s Sparrow, and neither belonged in the genus Ammodramus. The two species were recently placed in their own genus Centronyx.


Subordinate Taxa


Eastern Henslow’s Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii susurrans)

Western Henslow’s Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii henslowii)




Ammodramus henslowii

Nemospiza henslowii susurrans

Passerherbulus henslowii











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  Henslow's Sparrow
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Henslow's Sparrow  
  Henslow's Sparrow
Ed McVicker
  Henslow's Sparrow  



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Other Videos
  Henslow's Sparrow
Lang Elliott

Uploaded on Feb 6, 2010

The Henslow's Sparrow is an inconspicuous little brown bird that inhabits grassy meadows in the Midwest and portions of the East. It's song is an extremely high-pitched, metallic "tsi-di-lick" that reminds one of the chirp of a cricket. Described by Roger Tory Peterson as "one of the poorest vocal efforts of any bird," the song transforms into a delightful musical cascade when slowed down to about one-quarter speed.

© 2010 Lang Elliott & Bob McGuire
The Music of Nature

  Henslow's Sparrow
eBirdr Channel

Published on May 24, 2014

This sparrow is becoming rare and local in weedy fields. Eastern and central United States; southern Ontario. It is a short-tailed and flat-headed sparrow with a big pale bill. Breast is finely streaked. It has a striped crown and olive head. The wings are reddish.

It is secretive and may be overlooked but for its distinctive voice.
The song is a hiccuping unmusical "sslick".

  Henslow's Sparrow
Stoil Ivanov

Uploaded on Jul 11, 2010

Henslow's Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii ) singing in Goose Lake Prairie State Park Illinois . This is very secretive and unremarkable sparrow. Mostly seen when sings.

  Henslow's Sparrow on the Prairie
Danny Brown

Published on Jun 8, 2013

A Henslow's sparrow sings its simple song on the prairie at Shaw Nature Reserve in Missouri.

  Henslow's Sparrow Habitat in Georgia

Published on Apr 8, 2015

Wildlife biologist Todd Schneider talks about why Henslow's sparrow habitat is important to a variety of wildlife species and rare plants in Georgia on a recent visit to Paulks Pasture WMA. Learn more about conserving nongame wildlife in Georgia at http://georgiawildlife.com/conservation/AnnualReport,




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