Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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WORLD BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  LeConte's Sparrow
 
 

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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Passerida (Superfamily Passeroidea)
         Nine-primaried Oscines
            Family Emberizidae - New World Sparrows, Towhees, Juncos

  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Passeroids include the Nine-primaried Oscines, pipits, Old World sparrows, and weavers.
Nine-primaried Oscines include New World warblers, icterids (New World blackbirds), emberizines (buntings), tanagers, cardinalines (cardinals), and fringillines (finches).
Emberizines are primarily New World seed-eaters with a conical bill and dull, streaked plumage. They belong to our nine-primaried assemblage of families. When they forage on the ground, they are able to scratch using both legs at once ("hopping" to clear leaves or debris to reach food). They have loud songs that aid in their location and identification.
Short-tailed Sparrows  (Ammodramus). This genus has 9 species, 7 reaching the United States. They are best identified during the breeding season when males sing from exposed perches. They forage on the ground in dense grass and are only seen if flushed, perching momentarily then diving back into dense cover. They are silent when flushed. They typically do not flock. They have relatively flat heads, large bills, and short tails. They are slightly smaller than Savannah Sparrows but have a short tail and appear chunky. Their songs are wheezy or whispering.
 
Henslow's and LeConte's Sparrows
 
     
  LeConte's Sparrow, Ammodramus leconteii
 
    Cornell     USGS     Wiki     EoL
        WINTER - Uncommon (local) / Occasaional
            MOIST GRASS OR SEDGE MEADOWS, TANGLES (marsh edge, bogs),
            BROOMSEDGE AND CATTAILS (migration)
 
 
   LeConte's Sparrow is small with a fine (small) bill. In flight, there are bold stripes on the back and an orangish rump. The tail is rounded. Sitting, the lores and auriculars are gray, contrasting with a buffy side to the throat and area above the eye. There is a thin lateral throat (malar) stripe. The sides are streaked and there are purplish spots on the back of the neck. Below the lighter throat, there is a breast-band of find streaks. LeConte's Sparrow is secretive and is difficult to see. It may run on the ground rather than fly when disturbed.
Leconte's Sparrow
     
LeConte's Sparrow. Santee NWR.
Photo by Ed Konrad
       
  RANGE: This species breeds across central Canada from western Quebec to northern Alberta and south into North Dakota, upper Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan. It winters along the Atlantic coast from South Carolina to northern Florida and west to southern Texas.
   Note that the ranges of Henslow's and Le Conte's do not overlap. Le Conte's range north and west of Henslow's during breeding but both winter along the south Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
  BREEDING: The female builds a nest on or just above the ground, concealed by rushes, grass, or sedges. It is interwoven with standing materials and lined with fine materials. She lays 4 (3-5) eggs which she incubates for 12-13 days. Young are altricial. They are fed by the female (and male?). Age of fledging unknown.
  DIET: Their diet includes insects and spiders plus a variety of seeds. Young are fed insects. They forage on the ground, often under dense cover and sometimes amid low vegetation. Almost always forages alone.
  VOICE: The song of Le Conte's Sparrow is a hissing, unmusical buzz - softer, higher, and more hissing than the Grasshopper Sparrow's song. It is not likely to sing here.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Coastal - uncommon (local) winter visitor. Hilton Head - rare winter visitor. Cape Romain - accidental. Huntington Beach - rare January.
      ACE - accidental.
   CBC: ACE 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0; Charleston 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 9;
            McClellanville 0, 0, 0, 0, nc, 0, 1, 0; Litchfield/Pawley's 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0.
   P&G: Rare winter visitor. 25 October - 27 April. They occur irregularly and several winters may pass before they are seen. This species may be have declined over the past 50 years - lack of suitable winter habitat? However, both Henslow's and Le Conte's Sparrows are extremely secretive.
   M&P: Immediate coastal records include one captured on James Island, 17 November 1990. Additional sightings are not verifiable.
   Avendex: 23 reports. November - January, April. Maximum: 19, Savannah spoil area, December 16, 2000.
   Potter: Elusive, marsh-loving sparrow. Winter resident along most of the SC coast from late October to late April. In some seasons, it is fairly common in salt marshes and broom-sedge fields around Charleston but at other times it is impossible to find.
  ●  Occasional/accidental?
       
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