Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus)

Seaside Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Ammodramus maritimus | [UK] Seaside Sparrow | [FR] Pinson maritime | [DE] Strandammer | [ES] Sabanero marino | [NL] Kweldergors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Ammodramus maritimus NA e, s USA coasts
Ammodramus maritimus fisheri
Ammodramus maritimus juncicola
Ammodramus maritimus macgillivraii
Ammodramus maritimus maritimus
Ammodramus maritimus mirabilis
Ammodramus maritimus nigrescens
Ammodramus maritimus pelonotus
Ammodramus maritimus peninsulae
Ammodramus maritimus sennetti

Physical charateristics

Very dingy looking. A dark, olive-gray, sharp-tailed sparrow of salt marshes, with a short yellow piece before the eye, and a whitish streak along the jaw. Shares marshes with Sharp-tails. The “Cape Sable” Seaside Sparrow
i (A. m. mirabilis) is a very local race of coastal prairies and brackish marshes in southern Florida. The extinct “Dusky” Seaside Sparrow (A. m. nigrescens) resided near Titusville, Florida.

Listen to the sound of Seaside Sparrow

[audio: Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 18 cm wingspan max.: 20 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 15 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 12 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 10 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : East, South USA coasts


Salt marshes. Lives in tidal marshes alon
g coast, favoring areas with dense tall growth above level of highest tides and with openings and edges for foraging. Habitats often feature spartina, rushes, and saltgrass. In Florida, extinct “Dusky” Seaside Sparrow nested in fresh or brackish marsh in
some areas, and “Cape Sable” form still does so in parts of extreme southern Florida.


During courtship, male follows female, frequently raising his wings and singing. In non-migratory southern populations, members of pair may remain together on nesting territory all year.
Site is in low marsh vegetation, a few inches above level of highest tides. Nest (built by female alone) is an open cup of grass, lined with finer grasses. Usually has at least a partial cover or canopy built by bird or provided by surrounding plants.

Eggs: 3-4, sometimes 2-5. Bluish white to very pale gray, with blotches of brown often concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female only, about 12-13 days.
Young: Both parents bring food for the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9-11 days after hatching but are unable to fly well for at least another week. Parents may feed young for 2-3 weeks after they fledge. 1-
2 broods per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects, other invertebrates, and seeds. Diet varies with season and location, but major items include grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, spiders,
small crabs, snails, amphipods, and marine worms. Also eats many seeds, especially in fall and winter, including those of cordgrass and saltbush.
Behavior: Forages on the ground at edge of water, and in low growth such as cordgrass and salicornia. May probe in mud or pick items from surface of vegetation.


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.
One of the numerous subspecies of this bird, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow (A. m. nigrescens), has recently become extinct, and the Cape Sable subspecies, A. m. mirabilis, is endangered. Occurring in a restricted range but of uncertain validity is Scott’s Seaside Sparrow, (A. m. peninsulae). Those were formerly considered a separate species.
Seaside Sparrow status Least Concern


Coastal marshes from southern New England to Florida and along Gulf Coast to Texas. Migration:
Many birds probably non-migratory, although some depart in fall from northernmost part of breeding range, and a few spend the winter south of known breeding areas in Florida and Texas.

Distribution map

Seaside Sparrow distribution range map

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