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Nelson's Sparrow

Ammodramus nelsoni ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A secretive sparrow with a brightly-colored face, the Nelson's Sparrow breeds along the edges of freshwater marshes and in wet meadows of interior North America, and in salt marshes along the northern Atlantic Coast.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
4.3–5.1 in
11–13 cm
Wingspan
7.9 in
20 cm
Weight
0.7–0.7 oz
19–21 g
Other Names
  • Sharp-tailed Sparrow (in part)
  • Bruant de Nelson (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow formerly was considered the same species as the Saltmarsh 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.
  • The oldest recorded Nelson's Sparrow was a male, and at least 7 years, 1 month old, when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Maine.

Habitat


Marsh

Freshwater marshes and wet meadows in interior and brackish marshes along coast; in winter in salt and brackish marshes.

Food


Insects

Insects, spiders, snails, and 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

Least Concern

Nelson's Sparrows are relatively common and numbers increased between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 1.1 million with 100% spending part of the year in the U.S., and 87% in Canada. They are a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species and rate a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Nelson's Sparrow are not listed in the 2014 State of the Birds Report.

Credits

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