Friday, November 06, 2015

Friday's Foto

Brooklyn's Plum Beach during the fall migration is the Big Apple's (and possible NYS) best place to find Nelson's Sparrows. Formerly considered the same species as Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow (and known as the "Sharp-tailed Sparrow"), their different songs, subtle plumage differences, different breeding ranges, as well as, distinct genetics ultimately had the AOU split the two into Saltmarsh and Nelson's Sparrows. This is a sparrow of freshwater marshes, wet meadows and brackish marshes.

Three separate subspecies are recognized based on regional distribution (Ammodramus nelsoni nelsoni, Ammodramus nelsoni alterus and Ammodramus nelsoni subvirgatus). One population resides around Hudson Bay in Canada. The other two inhabit both Canada and the United States: one population ranges along the north Atlantic Coast from Quebec down to Maine and the other is in the center of North America, ranging over Minnesota and northwest North Dakota to Alberta and southern Mackenzie River basin in Canada. Identifying the different subspecies is difficult, but not impossible. Here is a good identification essay from the ABA website.

The IUCN lists the Nelson's Sparrow status as Least Concern.

The scientific name is Ammodramus nelsoni. Ammodramas means "desert or sand racer". Nelsoni refers to Dr. Edward William Nelson (1855–1934) US zoologist, collector in US and Mexico, first President of the AOU 1908, and Chief of the US Biological Survey 1916–1927.

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