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Wakulla Seaside Sparrow

Ammodramus maritimus juncicola

Listing Status

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

Appearance

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).

Behavior

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

wakulla sea side sparrow 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).

Threats

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

wakulla sea side sparrow

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.

Biological Status Review (BSR)
Supplemental Information for the BSR
Species Action Plan

References

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

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