The Henslow's sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) is a species of high conservation concern due to long-term population declines and a small global population. Habitat loss is considered to be the most likely cause of Henslow's sparrow declines and the recent establishment of large acreages of undisturbed grasslands through the Conservation Reserve Program is considered to have the potential to benefit populations. I used data from Illinois' Spring Bird Count to estimate recent population trends and examine the association that changes in land-use, especially the establishment of Conservation Reserve Program lands, have had on local Henslow's sparrow population trends. My analysis shows that Henslow's sparrow populations have increased substantially within Illinois, USA over the last 10 years and that this population increase strongly coincides with the establishment of >400,000 ha of grasslands within the state by the Conservation Reserve Program. New rules allowing for managed haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program grasslands have the potential to reduce the suitability of program fields for this species and, thus, Henslow's sparrow use of program fields should be monitored as the new rules are implemented.
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Vol. 71 • No. 4