The Rio Grande Joint Venture recently met with partners in Monterrey, Mexico to develop a draft conservation plan for the Worthen’s Sparrow.

The meeting was led by researchers from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León and officials from the Comisión Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas. It brought together Mexican federal, state, non-profit, and academic partners to provide expert input and assist with the development of the Programa de Acción para la Conservación de la Especie (PACE) for the endemic Worthen’s Sparrow. A PACE is similar to an endangered species recovery plan in the U.S. The overall goal of a PACE is the recovery and conservation of the wild populations of the species and its habitat.

Worthen's Sparrow habitat includes

Worthen’s Sparrow is threatened by habitat loss and degradation, largely due to conversion to agriculture and unsustainable grazing. (Photo: Jesús Franco)

Meeting participants learned about the current conservation status of the Worthen’s Sparrow, including habitat threats, population size estimates, breeding, and seasonal movements. A highlight was the importance of the support provided by the American Bird Conservancy and the Alliance for Zero Extinction program to conduct some of the baseline monitoring work that has been the foundation of many subsequent efforts.

Some of the immediate needs highlighted as critical to guide future conservation actions include determination of Worthen’s Sparrow population estimates, publication of research findings to update the scientific and conservation community of the current status of the species, and establishing conservation agreements and/or incentive programs with ejidos and private landowners in known breeding and wintering areas.

Rancho el Compromiso, Galeana, Nuevo León. (Photo: Ricardo Canales)

Worthen’s Sparrow pair at Rancho el Compromiso, Galeana, Nuevo Leon. (Photo: Ricardo Canales)

The meeting included a field trip to the Llano de la Soledad breeding area. This gave a first-hand appreciation of some of the threats Worthen’s Sparrow is facing. This site is also a critical stopover/wintering area for other priority species like Long-billed Curlew and Mountain Plover.

To learn more about the RGJV’s efforts to conserve this species, contact Assistant Coordinator Jesús Franco.