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Seaside Sparrow

Ammodramus maritimus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A drab sparrow with a short tail and a large bill, the Seaside Sparrow is a salt marsh specialist.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
5.1–5.9 in
13–15 cm
Wingspan
7.1–7.9 in
18–20 cm
Weight
0.7–1 oz
19–29 g
Other Names
  • Bruant maritime (French)

Cool Facts

  • Although territorial, the Seaside Sparrow often feeds long distances from the space it defends around its nest. In the tidal zone where it lives, nesting and feeding areas often are widely separated.
  • The Seaside Sparrow is divided into several different subspecies that look subtly different. The two most distinct forms, the endangered "Cape Sable" Seaside Sparrow and the extinct "Dusky" Seaside Sparrow were once considered separate species. The "Cape Sable" Seaside Sparrow has dark streaks on a white chest and is the palest form. The "Dusky" Seaside Sparrow was the darkest form, with a blackish back and heavy dark chest streaks.

Habitat


Marsh

Salt marshes, especially spartina grass, rushes, and tidal reeds; "Cape Sable" Seaside Sparrow in marsh prairie.

Food


Insects

Seeds, insects, spiders, marine invertebrates.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–5 eggs
Egg Description
Bluish white to grayish white, speckled and blotched with shades of brown, often more heavily on larger end.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless.
Nest Description

Open cup of grass stems and blades, lined with finer grass blades and sometimes built up on sides to form partial covering.

Nest Placement

Shrub

Behavior


Ground Forager

Walks on ground and gleans prey from surrounding vegetation; probes with bill in mud.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Common overall, but some populations vulnerable. "Cape Sable" Seaside Sparrow of southern Florida is severely endangered. "Dusky" Seaside Sparrow went extinct in the 1980s.

Credits

  • Post, W., and J. S. Greenlaw. 1994. Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus). In The Birds of North America, No. 127 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union.

Range Map Help

Seaside Sparrow Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings