Date: 9/2/20 7:10 am
From: Joel Geier <clearwater...>
Subject: [obol] Lark Sparrows and shifting baselines
Harry Fuller wrote:

> Bill Tice informs me that the Lark Sparrow we saw at Baskett Non-slough yesterday was only the third Polk County record.

"Third record for living memory among currently active birders," perhaps. This is a formerly widespread nesting species that became extirpated from the central and southern Willamette Valley during the first half of the 20th century, likely a consequence of the long-term trend toward more intensive farming of cropland since the early post-settlement period.

Here's an excerpt from Bob Altman's 2011 paper, "Historical and current distribution and populations of bird species in prairie-oak habitats in the Pacific northwest" (URL [ | ] ):

"In the northern Willamette Valley in the 1870s, lark sparrow (Chondestus grammacus) was 'sparingly common during the summer, and breeding' (Johnson 1880:635).
However, in the late 1800s it was not mentioned by Anthony (1886) for the Portland area or Anthony (1902) for the area west of Portland. By the early 1900s it was a 'not common summer resident' near Corvallis in the central Willamette Valley (Woodcock 1902:73) and Dayton in the north-central Willamette Valley (E. F. Hadley in Woodcock 1902:72).

"During the early 1900s, Shelton (1917) did not report it as a breeding species in the southern Willamette Valley, and Gabrielson and Jewett (1940) had no breeding season records from the Willamette Valley after 1927. However, in the 1940s it was recorded 'irregularly' during the breeding season in the central Willamette Valley (Evenden 1949:265), and Gullion (1951) reported a few summer records in the late 1940s in the southern Willamette Valley near Eugene. By the early 1990s it had not been reported as a breeding species in the Willamette Valley for approximately 50 years (Gilligan et al. 1994)."

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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