Wakulla Seaside Sparrow


Wakulla seaside sparrow: Ammodramus maritimus juncicola

Taxonomic Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Emberizidae
Genus/Species: Ammodramus maritimus
Subspecies: Ammodramus maritimus juncicola
Common Name: Wakulla seaside sparrow

Listing Status

Federal Status: Not Listed
FL Status: State-designated Threatened
FNAI Ranks: Not ranked
IUCN Status: Not ranked

Physical Description

The Wakulla seaside sparrow is grayish-brown or grayish-olive on the upper part of their body with a brown breast, long bill, and short pointed tail (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).

Life History

The diet of the Wakulla seaside sparrow primarily consists of crustaceans, insects, spiders, and seeds mainly from the marsh floor.  Foraging acts include searching through the mud with their bill (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology 2011).

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

Habitat and Distribution

Wakulla Seaside Sparrow Distribution Map

The Wakulla seaside sparrow is endemic to Florida and can be found in tidal marshes from Taylor County to St. Andrews Bay (Kale 1983).


Habitat destruction and fragmentation are the main threats to the Wakulla seaside sparrow population.  Salt marshes are vulnerable from the practice of “dredge and fill”.  Dredge and fill involves the dredging of salt marshes and filling them with sediment.  This practice is performed to provide increased areas for human development, including coastal housing.  Dredge and fill also causes a decrease in the availability of 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 shore 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, 1983). 

Conservation and Management

The Wakulla seaside sparrow is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and as a State-designated Threatened species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule External Website.

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

Species Action Plan Adobe PDF

Other Informative Links

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



Printable version of this page Adobe PDF


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.  1983.  Distribution, habitat, and status of breeding seaside sparrows in Florida.  Pgs. 41-48 In, The Seaside Sparrow, Its Biology and Management.  North Carolina Biological Survey and North Carolina State Museum. 

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.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (2011). Seaside Sparrow. Retrieved March 18, 2011, from All About Birds: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Seaside_Sparrow/lifehistory External Website

Image Credit Photo courtesy of Larry Gridley

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