Local landowners and rural residents are being asked to keep an eye out for a threatened species that calls southwest Saskatchewan home.

Sprague's pipit is an elusive at-risk species that prefers prairie grass that isn't too tall or too short, earning it the nickname the 'Goldilocks bird'.

Emily Putz, habitat stewardship coordinator for Plovers on Shore, Shrubs for Shrikes, and the Stewards of Saskatchewan banner program at Nature Saskatchewan, encourages community members to watch for these special birds.

"It's one of our grassland specialist birds," she said. "They can only be found in large unbroken tracts of native prairie, over a quarter section in size."

Putz noted that Sprague's pipits are smaller than a robin but larger than a sparrow, at about six inches tall with brown and white plumage. 

"They have a very distinct call, they're hard to spot because they stay in the grass and they're kind of streaky grass-coloured," said Putz. "When the males do their flight display, it's described as a descending trill, and they'll do that for hours." 

Since these birds nest on the ground, Nature Saskatchewan recommends to not begin haying until after July 15 to avoid crushing or injuring the chicks.

Those who spot Sprague's pipits are encouraged to report the sighting by calling Nature Saskatchewan's HOOTline at 1 (800) 667 - 4668, call Emily Putz at (306) 780 - 9832, or email outreach@naturesask.ca.

"If anybody has these birds on their property, they can look up their call and if they recognize it, I would love to hear from them and talk to them about our stewards of Saskatchewan banner program," she added. "It's a program for landowners that have these species on their land and helps us monitor their population throughout the province."