Photo Credit: Eric Soehren
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ammodramus maritimus (
STATUS: Breeder. Fairly common and local in all seasons in Gulf Coast region. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.
DESCRIPTION: Medium-sized (13-15 cm [5-6 in.]), dark, short-tailed sparrow. Resident subspecies of Alabama more variable in color than other races, but generally has a dominant back color of grayish olive rendered darker by dark brown streaks; underparts grayish white, with distinct buff or ochre breast band, striped brownish black on breasts, sides, and flanks. Has distinct yellow spot in front of eye, and blackish moustache stripe set off by white throat and buffy malar stripe. Some individuals slightly to distinctly paler. Song, not significantly different from most other subspecies, a short series of one or more buzzy notes punctuated with a few weak chips (Post and Greenlaw 1994). As many as nine subspecies described, including now-extinct dusky seaside sparrow, endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow , and the subspecies resident in Alabama, the Louisiana seaside sparrow (A. m. fisheri) (Post and Greenlaw 1994).
DISTRIBUTION: Seaside sparrows breed in Atlantic coastal marshes from
HABITAT: Salt and brackish marsh savannas. Along
FEEDING HABITS: Forages primarily by walking on ground, or less frequently by hopping or climbing through vegetation. Uses relatively long, slender bill to probe in mud and glean vegetation for insects, spiders, decapods, amphipods, mollusks, marine worms, and seeds (Post and Greenlaw 1994).
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: Nonmigratory except for northeastern population (Post and Greenlaw 1994). In Southeast, males establish territories in March and April using song and visual displays. Has monogamous mating system, and pairs remain together throughout breeding season and possibly throughout year in nonmigratory populations. Nesting begins primarily in April and can extend to late June. Females construct an open cup nest of grasses at heights ranging from zero to four meters (zero to three feet) in a variety of substrates, including cordgrass, rushes, shrubs, and tidal debris. Spring tides can affect nest placement. Two to five bluish or grayish white eggs with dark blotches laid and incubated by female for 12 days. Only female broods, but both parents feed nestlings; usually leave the nest nine to 11 days after hatching. Fed by both parents approximately 20 days after fledging. In northern
BASIS FOR STATUS CLASSIFICATION: Vulnerability of species varies widely in different regions (Post and Greenlaw 1994). In
Author: Richard L. West