Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Nelson's Sharp-tailed 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.
   
     
  □ Nelson's (Sharp-tailed) Sparrow, Ammodramus nelsoni
 
    Cornell     USGS     Wiki     EoL
        WINTER - Uncommon (local) / Rare
            TALL GRASS, HAYFIELDS, MARSHES (fresh water),
         
  WEED FIELDS, FRESHWATER MARSHES, PRAIRIE (winter)
 
 
   Nelson'sSharp-tailed Sparrow has a bright face and breast with blurry-grayish streaks streaks on the flank. The transition between the buffy breast and white belly is well defined. Atlantic representatives of this species are drabber (grayer) than the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow. The bill is relatively short.
   This species often runs through the grass with the head held low, looking like a mouse. Individuals undergo two complete molts/year.
Nelson's Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow. Three subspecies -
A. n. altera -
East coast, (Canada to north Florida),
A. n. nelsoni -
western North America south to northwestern Mexico, and
A. n. subviratus
-Quebec and Nova Scotia south to northern Florida
Kiawah River Marsh. © Kiawah Island Bird Banding
     
  RANGE: They have three ranges: they breed from coastal areas of Maine to Nova Scotia and Prince Edwards Island (east), around the southern margin of Hudson Bay (central), and from North Dakota north west through Alberta to the Northwest Territories (west). Nelson's winters in coastal marshes along our Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
  BREEDING: The female builds a suspended, well-concealed nest in sedges or grass, using grass and sedge with a grass lining. She lays 3-5 (3-7) eggs which she incubates for 11 days. Young are altricial and fledge after 10 days. They are tended by the female (the male may also help at the nest).
   This species may breed in colonies of up to 20 pairs - males do not defend their territory.
  DIET: The diet is insects, spiders, other invertebrates, and a variety of seeds.
  VOICE:   The song is a weak, airy, fading hiss with lower notes at the beginning and end.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Kiawah - uncommon fall through spring.
      Coastal - fairly common winter visitor. Huntington Beach - uncommon October - March.
      Caw Caw - uncommon summer.
   Kiawah Island banding - Capn' Sam's spit - 2 2009-10; 112 2011-12.
   CBC: Charleston 0, 0, 2, 5, 0, 1, 5, 0;
            Hilton Head 4, 28, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0; Sun City/Okatie 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 2, 0;
            McClellanville 0, 0, 0, 0, nc, 0, 1, 0, 0; Litchfield/Pawley's 0, 4, 0, 0, 0, 4. 0, 0, CW.
   Avendex: 2 reports. May.
   Potter: Common to abundant winter resident of coastal salt-marshes from late September to late May.
    ●  Uncommon - rare. Look for them around our marsh edges. My impression is that they are relatively secretive.
       
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