Hey guys, welcome back. We’ve talked about a lot of birds over the course of this blog. Some very common, and others quite rare. Today’s bird is the latter. Out of 218 species we’ve covered so far, this one is quite possibly the rarest. The seaside sparrow is found in salt marshes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. They are almost never found outside of salt tidal marshes, and therefore are seldom seen inland. And since salt marshes are less and less common, their range has been restricted further resulting in a population that’s fragmented along the coast. So much so that 9 distinct subspecies have formed and are currently recognized, with a 10th having gone extinct in 1987.
But birds being birds, sometimes they are found in places they “shouldn’t” be. Although the Atlantic waters of NYC are within the breeding range of the seaside sparrow, Central Park is much further inland than they would tend to go, not to mention there’s no saltwater there. So when one showed up in the spring of 2018 in the Pond at the southern end of the park, it was a big deal. The bird was in an area known as the Hallett Nature Sanctuary (which is within the park but not actually a nature sanctuary) and the weather for the time it was known to be there was pretty crappy. As such, my only fleeting glimpse of the bird was on a dreary drizzly day. I could see it across the Pond hopping around, and was able to spot the distinguishing features, but never got a really good look.
And it’s too bad because the seaside sparrow is a really cool looking bird. Although each of the subspecies differ slightly, the seaside sparrow is mostly dark gray and white, with a touch of dark brown on its wings. They have large bills and a yellow eyebrow. If you’re lucky enough to see one of these birds, count yourself lucky as they are one of the more difficult to find. Next up, my last Central Park life bird; the alder flycatcher. See you then!