Seaside Sparrow

Ammospiza nigrescens

Image of a seaside sparrow, Ammospiza nigrescens, held in someone's hand
Image by Everglades National Park on Flickr, public domain

Physical: Seaside Sparrows have a robust, yet graceful, appearance. Sporting a dark streaked chest and flanks, they have a distinct grayish face with a sharp white throat. A noticeable feature is the yellowish streak just in front of their eyes. Males and females look similar, with an overall blending of grays and browns in their plumage. They usually measure about 4.5 to 6 inches in length.

Habitat: As their name suggests, Seaside Sparrows are inhabitants of the coastal salt marshes, predominantly found along the eastern and southern coasts of the United States. Their preferred habitats are dense marsh grasses, particularly where there’s a mix of Spartina grass.

Feeding: These sparrows are omnivores with a varied diet. They primarily forage for insects, spiders, and small crustaceans among the marsh grasses. Seeds of marsh plants also make up a portion of their diet, especially in colder months.

Breeding: Seaside Sparrows craft their nests amidst the tall marsh grasses, slightly above the water line. This placement is crucial to protect the nest from tidal fluctuations. The female usually lays a clutch of 3-5 eggs, and she primarily incubates them. Once hatched, both parents take turns feeding the chicks, bringing them a mix of insects and aquatic invertebrates.

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