Scotts seaside sparrow

Scotts-Seaside-Sparrow.jpg

Scotts seaside sparrow: Ammodramus maritimus peninsulae

Taxonomic Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class:  Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Emberizidae
Genus/Species: Ammodramus maritimus
Subspecies: Ammodramus maritimus peninsulae
Common Name: Scott’s seaside sparrow

Listing Status

Federal Status: Not Listed
FL Status: State Species of Special Concern
FNAI Ranks: G4T3/S3 (Globally: Apparently Secure, Sub sp. Rare/ State: Rare)
IUCN Status: Not ranked

Physical Description

The Scott’s seaside sparrow is a larger member of the Genus Ammodramus that can reach a length of six inches (15 centimeters) with a wingspan of 7.9 inches (20 centimeters) (Kale 1996).  Scott’s seaside sparrow has a grayish-brown or grayish-olive upper body, a brown breast, a long bill, and short pointed tail (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).

Life History

The diet of the Scott’s seaside sparrow consists of crustaceans, insects, spiders, and seeds mainly from marsh floors.  The bill is used in foraging for prey in the mud on the marsh floor.

Seaside sparrows nest in clumps of fallencordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) andblack needle rush(Juncus roemarianus).Nesting is unique because two different types of nests are built.  Open nests are built deep in vegetation while more complicated domed nests are built in less dense vegetation.  They will form a canopy over the nest by pulling down blades of grass.  During one nesting, three to four eggs will be laid with incubation lasting for 12 to 13 days.  Young seaside sparrows are able to fly at nine to ten days of age.

Habitat and Distribution

Scotts Seaside Sparrow Distribution Map

Seaside sparrows primarily inhabit tidal marshes in Florida.  Scott’s seaside sparrow can be found from Pasco County to Pepperfish Keys in Dixie County, Florida (M. Delany pers. comm. 2011). 

Threats:

The Scott’s seaside sparrow faces many threats to its population, with habitat loss and fragmentation being the main threats.  Salt marshes are vulnerable to the practice called “dredge and fill” which involves dredging salt marshes and filling them with sediment.  This practice is done to provide increased areas for human development such as coastal housing.  Dredge and fill also causes the decrease of available prey for the seaside sparrows.  Salt marshes are also threatened by dam operations, chemicals and toxins, invasive plants, road and bridge construction, industrial/oil spills, and shoreline hardening.  Seaside sparrows will desert their salt marsh habitat when woody vegetation becomes too dominant.  Other threats include increased predation and nesting site competition with rice rats (Post 1981, Post et al. 1983). 

Conservation and Management

The Scott’s seaside sparrow is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and as a State Species of Special Concern by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule External Website.

Biological Status Review (BSR) Adobe PDF
Supplemental Information for the BSR Adobe PDF

Other Informative Links

Birds of North America External Website
Encyclopedia of Life External Website
FWC Breeding Bird Atlas Adobe PDF
Florida Natural Areas Inventory External Website
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology External Website

 

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References

Florida Natural Areas Inventory.  2001.  Field guide to the rare animals of Florida. http://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Ammodramus_maritimus.pdf External Website.

Kale, H.W., II. 1996.  Seaside Sparrows. Pages 608-615 in J.A. Rodgers, Jr., H.W. Kale II, and H.T. Smith (Eds.).  Rare and endangered biota of Florida, Vol. V:  Birds. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Post, W.  1981.  The influence of rice rats Oryzomys palustris on the habitat use of the seaside sparrow Ammospiza maritima.  Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 9:35-40.

Post, W., J. S. Greenlaw, T. L. Merriam, and L. A. Wood.  1983.  Comparative ecology of Northern and Southern populations of the seaside sparrow.  Pgs. 123-136 In, The Seaside Sparrow, Its Biology and Management. North Carolina Biological Survey and North Carolina State Museum.


Image Credit Photo courtesy of John Mangold



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