Nelson’s Sparrow

(Ammospiza nelsoni)

Conservation Status

 

No Image Available

  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N3B, N5N - Vulnerable Breeding and Secure Nonbreeding

S3B - Vulnerable Breeding

     
  Minnesota

Special Concern

Species in Greatest Conservation Need

     
           
 
Description
 
 

The face, breast, sides, and flank are orangish-buff. The cheek, central crown stripe, and nape of the neck are gray. The chin is light buff. The back is gray with brown stripes. The underparts are finely streaked. The tail is not notched.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

5 to 6in length

7 wingspan

 
     
 

Voice

 
   
 

The song is a series of three insect-like buzzes: long high – short high – long low; entire call lasting less than two seconds. It has been compared to the sound of steam escaping under pressure.

 
     
   
 

The call is a single, insect-like, warbling buzz, lasting about a second.

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Sedge meadows, wet prairies, grass or sedge marshes with tall shoreline vegetation

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Migration

 
 

Late August to mid-October

 
     
 

Nesting

 
 

 

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Insects, spiders, and other invertebrates in the summer, seeds in the winter.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Occurrence

 
 

Rare to uncommon migrant, rare breeder

 
         
 

Maps

 
 

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Aves (birds)  
 

Order

Passeriformes (perching birds)  
 

Family

Passerellidae (New World sparrows)  
 

Genus

Ammospiza (marsh sparrows)  
       
 

New World sparrows were traditionally combined with buntings into the family Emberizidae. Recent phylogenetic analysis (Barker et al. 2013) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis (Klicka et al. 2014) found that the Old World buntings should be separated as a sister to New World sparrows. New World sparrows have been separated into a new family, Passerellidae.

This species and Saltmarsh Sparrow were originally thought to be one species, Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus). In 1998, the species was split. The Saltmarsh Sparrow retained its scientific name and this species became Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Ammospiza nelsoni). In 2009 the common name was simplified to Nelson’s Sparrow.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Atlantic Nelson’s Sparrow (Ammospiza nelsoni subvirgatus)

James Bay Sparrow (Ammospiza nelsoni alter)

Interior Nelson’s Sparrow (Ammospiza nelsoni nelsoni)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Ammodramus nelsoni

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Camera

 

     
Slideshows
   
  Nelson's Sparrow
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
 
  Nelson's Sparrow  
     
  "Interior" Nelson's Sparrow
JMC Nature Photos
 
  "Interior" Nelson's Sparrow  

 

slideshow

       
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Other Videos
 
  Nelson's Sparrow (Great Bay Blvd WMA/Tuckerton)
Brian Henderson
 
   
 
About

Published on Oct 20, 2014

Nelson's Sparrow (Ammospiza nelsoni) at Great Bay Boulevard Wildlife Management Area in Tuckerton, Ocean county, New Jersey. Shot through a spotting scope. Recorded October 18, 2014.

   
       
  Nelson's Sparrow
WIld Bird Video Productions
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 11, 2011

Nelsons sparrow singing in a Maine slatmarsh. © 2011 Garth McElroy

License at http://www.paya.com/videos/135210

   
       
  Nelson's Sparrow singing
Mike Burrell
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 29, 2013

This male Nelson's Sparrow was singing at the top of a small shrub in a sedge marsh having just arrived during the night.

   
       
  Nelson's Sparrow with song
Brian Mortimer
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 17, 2013

This is one of many Nelson's Sparrows that I found in the salt marsh behind Rushton's Beach, Nova Scotia in July 2013.

   
       
  Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow
Doug Hitchcox
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Nov 17, 2008

Taken at the Scarborough Marsh (Maine)

   
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
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