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Seaside Sparrow Ammodramus maritimus


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Seaside Sparrow
credit: David A. La Puma/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Emberizidae, New World Sparrows view all from this family

Description ADULT "Atlantic coast" form has gray-brown plumage overall, with rufous on wings; white throat is bordered by dark malar stripe above, which is pale, and yellow-washed submustachial stripe; note also the yellow line above and in front of eye. "Gulf Coast" form is similar, but with more striking black markings on head and blackish streaks on back and breast. "Cape Sable" (Florida) form has less rufous on wings and cleaner-looking underparts (not visible in this picture): whitish with black streaks. JUVENILE Similar to respective regional adult, but warmer buff overall.

Dimensions Length: 6" (15 cm)

Endangered Status The Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, a subspecies of the Seaside Sparrow, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Florida. Another Florida subspecies, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow, is now extinct. The Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow has suffered population losses as a result of damage or destruction of its habitat by fire, changes in vegetation, water management practices, and development. Additionally, hurricanes have devastated this species; Hurricane Andrew of 1992 may have killed more than half the population. The vegetation changes wrought by a hurricane can change the habitat so much that it can no longer support the species.

Habitat Restricted to grassy salt marshes and generally scarce, threatened by loss and degradation of habitat. Present year-round in many parts, but northern breeders move south in winter.

Observation Tips Less tricky to see than other coastal Ammodramus sparrows.

Range Southeast, New England, Florida, Texas, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada

Voice Song is a wheezy t'zup-bree'erzz; call is a soft t'zup.

Discussion Long-billed salt-marsh sparrow with rather dark plumage. Feeds on seeds and salt-marsh invertebrates. Sexes are similar, but three distinct groups are recognized.