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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow

The Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Ammodramus nelsoni) is a small sparrow. This bird and the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow were once considered to be a single species, the Sharp-tailed Sparrow.

Adult birds have brownish upperparts and grey on the crown and nape. The breast is cream-colored with light or indistinct streaking and a white throat and belly; they have an orange face with grey cheeks and a short pointed tail.

Their breeding habitat is mainly marshes located on the Atlantic coast of Canada and Maine, central Canada and the north central United States. They build their open cup shaped nests attached to vegetation and close to the ground. Males will compete for females but will not actively defend specific territories. They even sometimes help feed the young.

These birds migrate to the southeastern coasts of the United States.

These birds forage on the ground or in marsh vegetation, sometimes probing in mud. They mainly eat insects, aquatic invertebrates and seeds.

The call is a raspy trill, almost a mechanical sound. It may be given in flight during the nesting season.

PHOTO CREDIT: USDA Forest Service

Nelson8217s Sharp-tailed Sparrow