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Species Guide

Seaside Sparrow

Ammospiza maritima

The seaside sparrow, a modestly adorned bird, sports brownish upperparts with a touch of gray gracing its crown and nape. Its breast is a grayish-buff hue, adorned with dark streaks, and it possesses a dark face with gray cheeks. A white throat and a short, pointed tail complete its ensemble. Notably, a small yellow streak just above the eye adds a splash of color to its otherwise muted palette.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the seaside sparrow, look for the distinctive yellow streak above the eye, the grayish tones on the crown and nape, and the dark facial markings contrasting with gray cheeks. The bird's streaked breast and short, pointed tail are also key characteristics to observe.


The seaside sparrow makes its home in the salt marshes that fringe the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, from the southern reaches of New Hampshire to the balmy expanses of southern Texas.


This sparrow is a coastal denizen, breeding in the salt marshes that line the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Its range extends from southern New Hampshire all the way to southern Texas.


The seaside sparrow is known to migrate southward along the eastern coast of the United States, particularly the northern populations. It forages on the ground or amidst marsh vegetation, sometimes probing the mud. Its feeding grounds are often located some distance from its chosen nesting sites.

Song & Calls

The seaside sparrow's song is a distinctive raspy buzz, bearing a resemblance to the distant call of a red-winged blackbird.


Females construct an open cup nest within the salt marsh, utilizing tidal reeds and spartina grasses. They lay a clutch of two to five eggs, nurturing the next generation of seaside sparrows.

Conservation status

The seaside sparrow as a whole is not currently at risk, but certain subspecies face challenges. The dusky seaside sparrow has recently succumbed to extinction, and the Cape Sable subspecies is endangered. The Scott's seaside sparrow and populations near Corpus Christi, Texas, to the Rio Grande are also of concern, with potential risks to their continued existence.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the seaside sparrow is varied, including insects, marine invertebrates, and seeds. These sparrows forage on the ground or within marsh vegetation, sometimes venturing to probe the mud for their sustenance.

Similar Species

While observing sparrows in their natural habitat, one might encounter similar species. However, the seaside sparrow can be distinguished by its unique habitat preferences, specific markings, and its distinctive song.

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Seaside Sparrows on Birda


More New World Sparrows

A photo of a Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps)

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Aimophila ruficeps
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