The Aguapey river basin in the Pampas grasslands of Argentina is the last refuge for a complete assemblage of globally threatened and Near Threatened birds. We evaluated the influence of landscape characteristics on the occurrence and abundance of six globally threatened and Near Threatened passerines. We used point counts to census birds and vegetation and quantified landscape characteristics 1,000 m from the count centres using remote sensing tools. Strange-tailed Tyrants Alectrurus risora were associated with higher percentages of tall-grass Andropogon lateralis in lowland areas. Saffron-cowled Blackbirds Xanthopsar flavus and Black-and-white Monjitas Heteroxolmis dominicana were associated with rolling landscape with wet lowland grasslands and marshes linked with dry upland grasslands. Marsh Seedeater Sporophila palustris and Chestnut Seedeater S. cinnamomea were associated with tall grasslands and marshes. Rufous-throated Seedeater S. ruficollis was not clearly associated with any type of habitat. The Aguapey grasslands are used mainly for livestock grazing and afforestation. Since 1995, approximately 50% of the original grassland habitat has been planted with exotic trees. If this trend continues, Saffron-cowled Blackbirds are likely to become extinct in the Aguapey river basin which currently supports the largest population of this species in Argentina. We recommend guidelines for establishing future reserves and wildlife management actions based on the landscape responses detected in this study. Future action should consider: maintaining connectivity between the Aguapey grasslands and the Ibera Nature Reserve, creating a protected area, designing a land use plan for the basin, avoiding afforestation in large blocks, removal of government incentives for large afforestation projects, and studying the viability of threatened bird populations in extensive cattle ranching areas.