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Saltmarsh Sparrow

Ammodramus caudacutus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Vulnerable

A secretive bird with skulking habits and a barely audible song, the Saltmarsh Sparrow is restricted to salt marshes of the Atlantic and upper Gulf coasts.

ML Essential Set
Merlin Bird ID app

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
4.3–5.1 in
11–13 cm
Weight
0.5–0.7 oz
14–19 g
Other Names
  • Sharp-tailed Sparrow (in part) (English)
  • Bruant [Pinson] à queue aiguë (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow is nonterritorial and promiscuous, and only females provide parental care. Males occupy large overlapping home ranges, and the mating relationship features forced copulations by males.
  • Breeding success in many Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow populations seems limited by storms and especially “spring” (high) tides, which often flood nests. The most successful pairs in these populations are those that renest soon after the flood tides of the new moon.
  • The Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow formerly was considered as the same species as the Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, collectively known as the Sharp-tailed Sparrow. The two forms have separate breeding ranges that barely overlap in Maine. They differ in genetics, songs, and subtle plumage characters.

Habitat


Marsh

Salt marshes.

Food


Insects

Insects, spiders, marine invertebrates, and some seeds.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Egg Description
Greenish, covered with dark speckles.
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

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

Forages on ground in dense grass or edges of shallow pools.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Vulnerable

Common, but some populations affected by development.

Credits

  • Greenlaw, J. S. and J. D. Rising. 1994. Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus). In The Birds of North America, No. 112 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union.

Range Map Help

Saltmarsh Sparrow Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings