Overview

Comprehensive Description

The Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus) breeds from southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts (U.S.A.) south along the Atlantic coast to Florida and along the Gulf coast from Florida to Texas. It is closely tied to salt marshes--more so than any other North American songbird. With the exception of a few Florida populations, it is nearly always found in association with tidal marshes right along the coast. (Kaufman 1996; AOU 1998)

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Distribution

The Seaside Sparrow breeds from southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts south along the Atlantic coast to northeastern Florida (south to the St. Johns River, formerly to New Smyrna Beach) and along the Gulf coast from western Florida (south to Tampa Bay) west to southeastern Texas (south to Corpus Christi area). The winter range extends south along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts through the remainder of the breeding range (casually to southern Florida) and along the Gulf Coast throughout the breeding range and south to the mouth of the Rio Grande. The recently extinct form known as the Dusky Seaside Sparrow was resident along the coast of east-central Florida (eastern Orange and northern Brevard counties). The form known as Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow is resident in extreme southern Florida (southwestern Collier, Monroe, and southern Dade counties). (AOU 1998)

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Range Description

Ammodramus maritimus is endemic to south-eastern U.S.A. and extreme north-eastern Mexico (del Hoyo et al. 2011). The subspecies nigrescens recently went extinct, the last record coming from 1980 (Walters 1992).
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: from New Hampshire (Greenlaw 1992) and Massachusetts south along Atlantic coast to northeastern Florida, along Gulf Coast from western Florida to southeastern Texas (Post and Greenlaw 1994). Resident along coast in southern Florida and formerly in east-central Florida. In the northeastern U.S., the largest populations occur along the east shore of the lower Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Maryland, and along the Atlantic shores of Virginia, Maryland, southern Delaware, and southern New Jersey (including lower Delaware Bay) north to Ocean County; fairly large populations also occur in southwestern Long Island (Greenlaw 1992). Patchy distribution. NON-BREEDING: south along Atlantic coast to southern Florida, and west to the Rio Grande; mainly from South Carolina to east-central Florida and from northwestern Florida to southern Texas (Greenlaw 1992). Christmas Bird Count data show that Atlantic coastal birds are primarily concentrated from the central South Carolina coast (Charleston County) south to northeastern Florida (Nassau and Duval counties) (Robbins 1983, Root 1988).

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 15 cm

Weight: 24 grams

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Diagnostic Description

The long bill, yellow patch before the eye, streaked plumage, and short pointed tail are diagnostic.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Comments: BREEDING: A habitat specialist that occupies coastal tidal marshes throughout its range (Kale 1983, Robbins 1983). One (A. M. MIRABILIS) population in Florida commonly occurs in freshwater MUHLENBERGIA (M. FILIPES, a tussock grass) prairie (Werner and Woolfenden 1983), and another near Charleston, South Carolina, evidently avoids the outer coastal marshes for breeding and uses brackish, more sheltered marshes away from the coast (Sprunt and Chamberlain 1970). Northeastern birds occupy both high marsh (dominated by salt meadow vegetation including salt-meadow grass (SPARTINA PATENS), black-grass (JUNCUS GERARDI), glasswort (SALICORNIA spp.), and marsh elder (IVA FRUTESCENS)), and low marsh (mainly various ecological forms of smooth cordgrass (SPARTINA ALTERNIFLORA)) habitats (Woolfenden 1956, Post 1970, 1970, 1974, Reinert et al. 1981, Greenlaw 1983, Marshall and Reinert 1990). Descriptions of habitat elsewhere in the range can be found in Nicholson (1928, 1946), Tomkins (1941), Sprunt and Chamberlain (1970), Werner (1975), Sykes (1980), Post (1981), Kale (1983), Post et al. (1983), and Werner and Woolfenden (1983).

A patchy or discontinuous distribution on local marshes is exhibited throughout the range. The composition and physiognomic characteristics of occupied marsh vegetation are varied and reflect a behavioral opportunism in using available substrate (Greenlaw 1983, Post et al. 1983). Two biologically significant habitat characteristics evidently shared by most or all breeding populations are: (1) suitable elevated nest sites that offer protection from periodic tidal and storm-related flooding, and (2) nearby openings in the vegetation, or pool and ditch edges that permit access to the bases of rooted plants and open mud during foraging (Greenlaw 1992). Different microhabitats fulfill these divergent requirements for nesting and feeding. In low marshes in New York and New England, nests are commonly in areas of medium-height cordgrass (40-100 cm) growing densely enough to form a turf of partly clumped, semi-erect, persistent stems in the spring. Stands of dwarf cordgrass at or near mean high water level, and tall, open stands in the lower intertidal zone are avoided as nesting substrates. In high marshes, sparrows nest on IVA-dominated spoil deposits, or in IVA/salt meadow ecotones on the inner marsh, but they shun extensive areas of pure salt meadow grasses. Optimum habitat contains nesting and feeding microhabitats in close proximity, otherwise sparrows commute between a nest-centered territory and more distant undefended (but see DeRagon 1988) feeding areas (Tomkins 1941, Woolfenden 1956, Post 1974, Greenlaw 1983, 1992, Post et al. 1983, Marshall 1986, DeRagon 1988, Marshall and Reinert 1990).

NEST SITES: Typically elevated high enough in suitable vegetation to minimize the problem of normal flooding and low enough to be sheltered from predators and weather (Woolfenden 1956, Greenlaw 1983, Post et al. 1983, DeRagon 1988, Marshall and Reinert 1990). In New York, mid-summer nests suspended in new-growth cordgrass averaged 19.0 cm above the mud (Post 1974). Early nests are typically placed in clumps of residual cordgrass, but later nests are in the vegetation column between erect, live culms of cordgrass (Post 1974, Marshall and Reinert 1990). In the latter case, the tops of the grasses are often pulled over the nest to form a canopy (Greenlaw, pers. obs.). Occasionally, nests are placed one to four m above the ground in a shrub (usually IVA spp. in the Northeast) or small tree (Arnow 1906, Woolfenden 1956, Marshall 1986, Greenlaw 1992). In Florida, the activity of predatory rats influences nest site use by sparrows (Post 1981).

NON-BREEDING: Populations along the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts are nonmigratory and continue to occupy their breeding marshes during the nonbreeding season. In some of these populations, there may be local or regional dispersal as birds respond to seasonal changes in food. Near Charleston, South Carolina, young leave the brackish, subcoastal, breeding marshes shortly after they are able to fly and move into the outer coastal marshes (Sprunt and Chamberlain 1970). In New York, post-breeding birds frequent the tall stands of cordgrass along the bay edges where they harvest the rich supply of seed (Greenlaw 1992). Beyond the fact that the birds remain in tidal marshes during the winter, little is known about the characteristics of the wintering habitat of northeastern sparrows.

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The Seaside Sparrow inhabits coastal tidal marshes. In Florida, the now extinct form known as the Dusky Seaside Sparrow nested in fresh or brackish marshes in some areas; in parts of extreme southern Florida, the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow still does so. (Kaufman 1996)

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Populations in southeastern U.S. are nonmigratory or make local migrations. Northern populations are migratory and winter probably along the Atlantic coast of the southeastern U.S. Winter departures occur in populations at least south to North Carolina (Tomkins 1941).

In some years, sparrows in New York return to breeding marshes as early as mid-April, but the usual arrival time for vanguard birds in this region is the last week of April (Bull 1964, J. Greenlaw, unpubl. data). First arrival in southern New Jersey is also late April (Stone 1937, Woolfenden 1956). Early birds in Massachusetts appear during the first week of May (Marshall 1986, Marshall and Reinert 1990, Greenlaw 1992). Males arrive ahead of females, and older males before one-year-old males (J. Greenlaw, unpubl. data). The median dates of spring arrival for all sparrows in a Long Island low marsh was May 5 (early season) and May 18 (typical season) (J. Greenlaw, unpubl. data). Based on 30 years of records in Connecticut, Saunders (in Robbins 1983) found the median date of spring arrival to be 18 May.

Fall departures in the Northeast span a period from mid-September to at least mid-November, when autumn movement is essentially complete. The fall peak of migration on Long Island occurs in mid-October (Cruickshank 1942, Bull 1964, 1974). A few individuals are usually detected in early winter on Christmas Bird Counts as far north as Cape Cod (Hill 1965), but in most winters lingering birds in New York and southern New England probably leave later or succumb since marshes generally freeze over during much of January and February. The relative incidence of birds detected in Christmas Bird Counts areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts was evaluated by Robbins (1983) and Root (1988).

Winter resident birds begin arriving in Georgia and Florida as early as 3-4 October (Robbins 1983). There are no winter recoveries of sparrows banded on breeding areas in the Northeast, so it is unknown where most birds from different northern populations spend their winters. Overall, it seems that Atlantic birds winter mostly from the central South Carolina coast south to northeastern Florida (Robbins 1983).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats mainly insects and other small invertebrates, also seeds of marsh plants (Terres 1980). In north, seeds of SPARTINA ALTERNIFLORA are used heavily prior to fall migration (Greenlaw 1992). In north, forages on exposed ground, on patches of wrack, among marsh vegetation, and sometimes in shallow water; in Florida, obtains most food from vegetation (see Greenlaw 1992). In Massachusetts, the banks and exposed bottoms of mosquito ditches and tidal creeks were the principal foraging areas; also foraged in short SPARTINA ALTERNIFLORA habitats (Marshall and Reinert 1990). Northern sparrows forage mainly in open stands of cordgrass, along bay or marsh edges, on patches of wrack, along the edges of pools and ditches, and in muddy SALICORNIA spp. pannes (Woolfenden 1956, Post 1974, Merriam 1979, Delaney and Mosher 1983, Greenlaw 1983, Post et al. 1983). They obtain their arthropod prey by either walking on the marsh substrate, or by climbing through the matrix of vegetation above the ground. From the ground, they glean insects from vegetation by stretching their neck, lunging, or chasing, and they probe or peck mud and water surfaces. They also wade into shallow water. Only rarely do they hover or flycatch. Above the ground, sparrows peck at vegetation and snap at flying insects (Post et al. 1983; J. Greenlaw, pers. obs.). Both the vegetation column and the marsh substrate are significant sources of food in northern marshes, but only the vegetation is important to birds in Florida (Post et al. 1983).

There is little quantitative information on the diets of adults. Judd (1901) found that about 70% of the food consumed consisted of arthropods, mainly insects and spiders, while the balance was seeds of marsh plants. Martin et al. (1951) reported that 94%, 100%, and 40% of the spring, summer, and fall diets, respectively, were comprised of invertebrates. The following invertebrate taxa have been found in the adult diet: Annelida (marine worms), Gastropoda (small snails), Decapoda (small crabs), Amphipoda (sand fleas), Araneida (spiders), Homoptera (leafhoppers), Hemiptera (true bugs), Diptera (flies, adults and larvae), Lepidoptera (moths), Orthoptera (crickets and grasshoppers), Odonata (dragonflies), and Hymenoptera (wasps) (Judd 1901, Howell 1924, Obersholser 1938, Martin et al. 1951, Sprunt 1968). In the north, the seeds of SPARTINA ALTERNIFLORA are used heavily by post-breeding birds before migration (J. Greenlaw, pers. obs.).

The diets of nestlings in the Northeast are much better known (Merriam 1979, 1983, Post et al. 1983). In a low marsh in New York, invertebrates from at least 38 taxa were fed to nestlings, while in a neighboring high marsh, invertebrates from 25 groups were provided by the adults. The major taxa represented were Insecta (at least 37 families), Araneida (5 families), Acari, Pseudoscorpionida, Amphipoda, Isopoda, and Mollusca (Merriam 1979). Diptera were the most important food for nestlings in low and high marshes. In the ditched high marsh, the tabanid flies, TABANUS NIGROVITTATA and CHRYSOPS spp., constituted 71% of the overall diet, while in the unaltered low marsh, tabanids, stratiomyid flies (especially ODONTOMYIA MICROSTOMATA), and noctuid and pyralid moths made up 70% of the diet. Mirids (Hemiptera) also were consumed in large numbers but comprised relatively little bulk (Merriam 1979).

Nestling dietary composition changes seasonally to reflect available stocks of invertebrates (Merriam 1983, Post et al. 1983). Mud-inhabiting prey groups (e.g., stratiomyid and dipteran larvae) were taken in proportion to availability in the mud, while some prey groups in the vegetation (Diptera, Lepidoptera, Araneida) were exploited disproportionately to their availability (Merriam 1979).

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Associations

The Seaside Sparrow eats mainly insects and other invertebrates and (especially in fall and winter) seeds.

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General Ecology

BREEDING DENSITY: The territory is nest-centered and usually is enclosed within a larger, undefended home range (activity space) that includes additional feeding sites (Post 1974). Population sizes can vary from one or two territorial males isolated on a marsh to many dozens of males on contiguous or overlapping activity spaces (Post 1974, Greenlaw 1983, Post et al. 1983). Only a few studies supply information on breeding densities in the Northeast. With one exception on Long Island, densities ranged from 64-214 singing males per square km on marshes from Maryland to New York (Post 1970, Robbins 1983). Post (1970) reported an exceptionally high density of 2,000 males per square km on an unaltered low marsh on Long Island. On the same marsh several years later, Greenlaw (1983) found 982 males per square km. The two latter values are ecological densities (unsuitable habitat and a tidal pool were excluded from calculations), while most or all of the values reported elsewhere (see Robbins 1983 for summary) are crude densities. Post's (1970) value may be exceptionally high because his survey focused on a relatively small area of the marsh (2.75 ha) that contained a dense cluster of territories (see Post 1974). Densities in New England varied from two to 114 males per square km (Reinert et al. 1981, Marshall 1986, DeRagon 1988, Marshall and Reinert 1990). The mean density in the region for all types was 30.1 males per square km. These are all crude densities. Ditched and unaltered marshes usually support different densities, with highest densities in the latter habitat (Post 1970, 1974, Reinert et al. 1981, Greenlaw 1983, DeRagon 1988). In Rhode Island, mean density was 14 males per square km and 55 males per square km in ditched and unditched marshes, respectively (DeRagon 1988). On a Gulf Coast marsh in Florida, breeding densities in the race PENINSULAE varied from 158-260 males per square km between 1980-89 (Post 1981, McDonald 1982, 1983, 1984, 1989, 1990). In Massachusetts, breeding territory size was 1290-10,423 square meters (mean = 3953) (Marshall and Reinert 1990). In New York, territory size was 0.01-0.9 ha, overall home range size was 0.02-1.76 ha (Post 1974); average size of activity spaces ranged from 0.12 ha in New York to 3.6 ha in Florida (Werner 1975, Post et al. 1983, Greenlaw 1992). Space use varies between populations within and between regions (Post 1974, Werner 1975), but there is no evidence that any population is nonterritorial (Stimson 1968, Werner and Woolfenden 1983).

DISPERSION ON MARSHES: The patchy, uneven dispersion of breeding sparrows on marshes, and their absence from apparently suitable microhabitat in some areas, have led authors to describe the bird as "colonial" or "semicolonial" (e.g., Nicholson 1928, 1946, Stimson 1968, Werner 1975, Austin 1983). This is misleading since evidence suggests that clusters of territories simply reflect a common response to widespread patterns of temporal and spatial heterogeneity in saltmarsh vegetation (Post 1974, Greenlaw 1983, Post et al. 1983). The absence of breeding birds from seemingly suitable areas can be a simple consequence of low population size and poor recruitment.

SURVIVAL AND REPLACEMENT RATE: Based on cumulative return rates, adult survival was estimated to be 57-60% for a population on an unaltered low marsh in New York (Post et al. 1983). Two Florida populations had minimum return rates for adults of 85.7% (PENINSULAE) (Post et al. 1983) and 88% (MIRABILIS) (Werner 1975). Post-fledging survival to independence of birds banded as nestlings in New York was 36% (Post and Greenlaw 1982). The estimated lifetime reproductive output of an average female (replacement rate) of 2.72 (2-year average) in a New York population suggests that the population was increasing (Post et al. 1983). This population exhibited an exceptionally high breeding density (Post 1970). In Florida, the replacement rate for A. M. PENINSULAE averaged 1.11, indicating that the population was just maintaining itself. These populations were in low marsh habitats; no similar data are available for high marshes.

FIDELITY: Adults are highly philopatric, and some first-year birds in New York return to breed in their natal marshes (Greenlaw 1992).

NON-BREEDING: Remarkably little is known about the behavior and ecology of northern sparrows on their wintering grounds. Burleigh (1958) commented that northern sparrows in Georgia confined their activity to dense saltmarsh grasses where they were quiet and inconspicuous. In the Southeast, they mingle with the resident birds.

PARASITES: Do not seem to represent a serious problem. Apparently healthy sparrows often carry body loads of endoparasites (Trematoda, Cestoda, Nematoda, and Acanthocephala). Acanthocephalans are especially prevalent in the blood of birds in the Carolinas (Hunter and Quay 1953). For most endoparasite groups, immature birds have larger body loads than adults (Hunter and Quay 1953). The blood fluke PSEUDOSPELOTREMA AMMOSPIZAE (Trematoda) was originally described from the seaside sparrow (Hunter and Vernberg 1953). Ectoparasites (Mallophaga, Diptera: Hippoboscidae, Acarina) are also present (Post and Enders 1970, Greenlaw 1992), but infestations tend to be small and occasional in New York birds (Greenlaw 1992).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

The Seaside Sparrow forages on the ground and in low vegetation at the water's edge (Kaufman 1996).

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 9 years (wild)
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Reproduction

PHENOLOGY AND CHRONOLOGY: Median date of first egg-laying varies between years at given localities, depending on earliness of the season. In New York, first eggs usually appeared in nests from 13 to 16 May (Greenlaw 1992), in Rhode Island about 23 May (DeRagon 1984), and in Massachusetts from 25 to 26 May (Marshall and Reinert 1990). The average date of initiation of first clutches in New York was 19 May, whereas it was 20 July for last clutches (Post et al. 1983). Egg dates ranged seasonally from 17 May to 25 July in New York (Greenlaw 1992), from 27 May to 21 August in Rhode Island (DeRagon 1984), and from 25 May to 30 July in Massachusetts (Marshall and Reinert 1990).

Incubation begins with the laying of the last or next to the last egg (Greenlaw 1992). Incubation period varies from 11-14 days (mean = 12.2 days in New York, 12.4 days in Massachusetts) (Worth 1972, Marshall and Reinert 1990, Greenlaw 1992). Young are tended by both parents and leave nest at 9-11 days, unable to fly. Adults continue to feed young out of the nest for an additional 20 days (DeRagon 1988, Greenlaw 1992). In New York, nestlings started appearing as early as the end of May and the first few days of June, while nests containing young occurred as late as 14 August (Greenlaw 1992). The length of the nesting cycle from start of nest construction to fledging averaged 28.7 days (range = 27-30 days) (Marshall and Reinert 1990).

Two broods are reared successfully by some pairs in New York (Greenlaw 1992), but Marshall (1986) felt that only one brood was attempted in Massachusetts. In New York, the interval between renesting and nest failure was 5.5 days (Post et al. 1983), and in Massachusetts, it was 6.0 days (range = four to eight days) (Marshall and Reinert 1990). The interval in a Florida population was 7.6 days (Post et al. 1983). The time from fledging to the initiation of a new clutch on Long Island was 17.5 days (Greenlaw 1992). Breeding season length varied between years from 67-88 days, averaging 76.8 days in New York (Post and Greenlaw 1982). In contrast, total season length averaged 96 days in a Florida population (Post et al. 1983). In Massachusetts, spring tide flooding commonly destroyed early nests; birds renested after nest loss and after fledging young from a previous nest (Marshall and Reinert 1990). In the north, an average of about one-third of eggs yielded fledglings; in Florida, fledging success was only 3% due to high rate of predation, especially by rice rats (ORYZOMYS PALUSTRIS) (Post et al. 1983).

MATING: Monogamous, territorial, and altricial. No cases of natural polygyny are known, although males can be induced to accept more than one mate (Greenlaw and Post 1985). Mates remain paired throughout the breeding season (Greenlaw and Post 1985). The female alone builds the nest, incubates eggs, and broods young. On average, males and females provide parental care about equally to dependent young (Post 1974, Post and Greenlaw 1982).

DISPLAY AND SONG: The display repertoire has been examined in New Jersey (Woolfenden 1956), Florida (Werner 1975, McDonald 1983, Werner and Woolfenden 1983), and New York (Post and Greenlaw 1975). Repertoire composition appears to be very similar in all these populations. Northern sparrows employ 14 visual displays and 15 vocal displays in their social system (Post and Greenlaw 1975, Greenlaw 1992). The male's primary song is short (about one second in length) and low-pitched (Borror 1961, Post and Greenlaw 1975). Song structure varies in some details between populations, but not markedly (Hardy 1983, McDonald 1983, Werner and Woolfenden 1983). In the Northeast, song begins with a brief series of sharp notes, and sometimes a short trill phrase, followed by a longer, buzzy trill that is highly frequency modulated. This wheezy, unmusical song and associated behavior commonly receive incidental attention in general accounts (e.g., Howell 1924, 1932, Forbush 1929, Stone 1937, Saunders 1951, Bull 1974, Lowery 1974, Peterson 1980). McDonald's (1989) experimental study in Florida confirmed that primary song contains information that permits the male to establish and hold a territory (agonistic function) and to attract and retain a mate (sexual function). The male also performs a towering flight display that incorporates a complex song vocalization (Post and Greenlaw 1975).

CLUTCH SIZE: In northeastern populations, varies from three to six eggs. Two-egg clutches are very rare and are perhaps incomplete (Post and Greenlaw 1982, Post et al. 1983, Marshall and Reinert 1990). Mean clutch size in populations from New Jersey to Massachusetts was 3.7 eggs (Woolfenden 1956, Post and Greenlaw 1982, Marshall 1986). Average clutch size varies seasonally. Modal clutch size on Long Island in early nests was four eggs, while it was three eggs in later nests (Greenlaw 1992). Clutch size also averages larger in northern than in southern populations; mean clutch size in two Florida populations was 3.2 eggs, about 0.5 eggs smaller than clutches of northeastern sparrows (Post et al. 1983, Werner and Woolfenden 1983).

BREEDING SUCCESS AND PRODUCTIVITY: Reproductive success has been studied in New York (Post 1972, 1974, Post and Greenlaw 1982, Post et al. 1983), Massachusetts (Marshall 1986, Marshall and Reinert 1990), and Florida (Post et al. 1983). Nest mortality is high in all populations, but especially in Florida. The average (all 2-year averages) egg had a 34.4% chance of becoming a fledgling in New York (Post and Greenlaw 1982), a 32.4% chance in Massachusetts (Marshall and Reinert 1990), and only a 3% chance in Florida (Post et al. 1983). However, there is considerable variation between years in average breeding success within a region. In New York, the extremes were 19.8-47.7%, and in Massachusetts 22.1-42.6%. These differences reflected variation in predation (New York) and flooding risks, which are the main causes of nest failure in the Northeast (Post et al. 1983, Marshall and Reinert 1990).

Occasional storm-driven high tides and heavy rain in New York, and monthly spring high tides in Massachusetts, sometimes caused catastrophic mortality in poorly elevated nests still active at the time of flooding. Sparrows suffering nest loss responded by quickly renesting. The first egg in the replacement nest is laid as early as three to four days following destruction of a nest (Marshall and Reinert 1990, Greenlaw 1992). Habitat differences in overall breeding success are evident as well. Post (1972, 1974) found in New York that 47.0% of sparrow nests in a low marsh fledged young, while in a high marsh nearby, the average was 66.1%. In New York, annual productivity averaged 4.41 young per female and ranged between 3.38-5.57 young per female in different years. The only comparative data are for a Florida population for which productivity was 0.58 young per female per year (Post and Greenlaw 1982, Post et al. 1983).

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In non-migratory southern populations of the Seaside Sparrow, members of a pair may stay together on the nesting territory year-round. The nest, which is built by the female alone, is constructed in marsh vegetation just a few inches above the highest tides. Three to four eggs are typical (range two to five). The eggs are bluish white to pale gray and incubation (by female only) is 12 to 13 days. Both parents feed young. Young leave the nest 9 to 11 days after hatching, but cannot fly for another week or so. After fledging, young may continue to be fed by their parents for several weeks. (Kaufman 1996)

Hill and Post (2005) used genetic markers to estimate the prevalence of extra-pair paternity in a population of Seaside Sparrows in South Carolina. They concluded that about 11% of chicks were sired by a male other than the (behaviorally) putative father and that these chicks occurred in just 17% of the broods studied. This is an unusually low rate of extra-pair fertilization based on comparison with related species.

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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

Systematics and Taxonomy

As a result of the patchy distribution of its habitat, several forms of Seaside Sparrow with distinctive appearance evolved in relative isolation. One, the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, was not discovered until 1918; another, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow, became extinct in the late 1980s despite extreme (if belated) conservation efforts. (Kaufman 1996)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Ammodramus maritimus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 3 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CCTATACCTAATCTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGAATGGTGGGTACCGCCCTAAGCCTCCTCATTCGAGCTGAACTAGGCCAACCCGGGGCTCTCCTGGGAGACGACCAAGTATACAACGTAGTCGTCACAGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTCATACCAATTATAATCGGAGGATTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTAATAATTGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATAAATAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCCCCATCTTTCCTCCTCCTCCTAGCATCCTCTACCGTTGAAGCAGGTGTCGGTACAGGCTGAACAGTATACCCCCCACTAGCCGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCCGGAGCCTCAGTCGACCTTGCAATCTTCTCCCTACACTTAGCTGGTATTTCCTCAATCCTAGGAGCAATCAACTTCATCACAACAGCAATCAATATGAAACCCCCCGCTCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTTGTATGATCAGTCCTAATTACCGCAGTCCTCCTCCTACTATCTCTCCCAGTCCTTGCTGCAGGAATCACAATACTTCTCACAGATCGTAACCTCAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCCGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCCGTCCTATACCAGCACCTATTCTGATTCTTCGGACACCCAGAAGTTTACATCCTAATCCTC
-- end --

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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ammodramus maritimus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2015

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • 2012
    Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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Source: IUCN

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