WatchList Species Account for Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus)

Qualifies for the list as a Red List Species

 

Photo: Bill Hubick

Photo: George Jett

The Saltmarsh Sparrow breeds in saltmarsh along the east coast of the U.S. from southern Maine to the Delmarva Peninsula, and winters in saltmarsh from coastal North Carolina to northern Florida and the Gulf Coast. Its habitat is dominated by smooth cordgrass, saltmeadow grass, blackgrass, cattail, and marsh elder. The introduced reed Phragmites australis is also frequently present in these marshes, but the degree to which it impacts the species is not known.

 

Though population trends are unknown, the species is likely declining as a result of diking and development of its saltmarsh habitat. Sea level rise due to global warming could eliminate saltmarsh where this habitat has no opportunity of moving inland. Since the Saltmarsh Sparrow is an obligate resident of saltmarsh, it will disappear along with the habitat.

 

One important conservation measure would be to identify and protect large areas of undiked saltmarsh along the Atlantic coast, especially where this habitat could move inland should the climate change.