Saltmarsh Sparrow – Ammodramus caudacutus
The Saltmarsh and Nelson’s Sparrows were once thought to be the same species and were known as the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Upon discovery, through DNA analysis, that the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow has two distinct populations, each merited status as a full species. Therefore, Ammodramus caudacutus was split into A. caudacutus and A. nelsoni by the AOU in 1998.
A National Audubon report states that “on top of habitat losses caused by commercial development, the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow is impacted by toxic environments and the invasion of exotic plant species.” The bird was placed on the watch list in 2007.
In southern Maine, the breeding ranges of the Saltmarsh and Nelson’s Sparrows overlap, specifically in an area known as the Scarborough Marsh. This is the only area in the US where the breeding ranges overlap. Because of this, a birder may encounter both of these Sparrows in the same marsh.
Bird Photography: Saltmarsh Sparrow
I have a few photos of the Nelson’s Sparrow, but the Saltmarsh Sparrow has eluded my camera. That is until last weekend. Sharon and I were walking along the Eastern Trail through the Scarborough Marsh on a sunny and cool Saturday morning. Just before the salt pannes on the west side of the trail, I noticed a Sparrow moving around in the marsh grasses. After a few minutes of trying to get a good look so I could identify the Sparrow, it suddenly moved out into the open, where I was able to capture the following image. Finally, a good image of a not so common bird.
The following photo was taken with a Canon 7D and a Canon 400mm f/4 L IS lens. Simply click the thumbnail below for a full-sized view. ©2011 John Briggs Photography