Seaside Sparrow

Seaside Sparrow by Tom Finnie
© Tom Finnie
Ammodramus maritimus
No species of bird is more appropriately named than the Seaside Sparrow. Except where our coastal marshes are very broad and deeply indented with wide saltwater bays, around which these little birds occur, the Seaside Sparrow is synonymous with the pounding of the surf. It occurs as an abundant permanent resident mainly in densely matted and usually sharp-pointed grass and sedges that line our shores in places where the ground just back of the beach is flooded at high tide. Here they run about on the ground, or on masses of debris washed up by the waves, and would escape detection if we did not know that by making a squeaking noise we can cause them to mount the taller stalks of grass and even fly toward us from every direction. It is then that we see the Seaside Sparrow and are able to note its sober gray and dark olivaceous coloration, its massive bill, and, possibly, the yellow spot in front of its eye and the yellow on the bend of the wing. Young birds in juvenal plumage are dark brown above and dingy buff below, with numerous fine streaks of dusky on the breast. Individuals that have passed through the postjuvenal molt resemble full adults but have a stronger wash of buff on the breast and about the face.
In spring the weak, buzzing song of the Seaside Sparrow pours forth from all quarters of the marsh, and occasionally the observer will see one of them jump into the air a few feet above the top of the grass to sing in midair. The notes have been perfectly described by Peterson as cutcut, zhé-eeeeeeee. The nest is made of coarse grasses, lined with fine material, and is placed close to the ground, often a foot or so high in a mangrove bush. The three or four whitish eggs are spotted finely with brown.
--George H. Lowery, Jr., 1974, Louisiana Birds

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