Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Seaside Sparrow (Ammospiza maritima)


French: Bruant maritime German: Strandammer Spanish: Chingolo costero

Fringilla maritima

A. Wilson

, 1811,

Great Egg Harbor, New Jersey, USA


Hybrid with A. caudacuta has been described. Races mirabilis and †nigrescens have been considered to represent two separate species; latter was notably distinct, mirabilis much less so, but mirabilis and peninsulae differ vocally in having a song with a much less buzzy concluding trill than other races. Racial differences confused by individual variation and plumage dichromatism (buffy and grey morphs); proposed race pelonota (described from NE Florida) subsumed within macgillivraii. Seven extant subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. m. maritima (A. Wilson, 1811) – Seaside Sparrow – coastal E USA from New Hampshire and Massachusetts S to extreme N North Carolina; non-breeding S to NE Florida.
  • A. m. macgillivraii (Audubon, 1834) – North Carolina S to extreme SE Georgia and NE Florida.
  • A. m. sennetti (J. A. Allen, 1888) – coastal S Texas (from Aransas County S to Nueces Bay); winters S to mouth of Rio Grande.
  • A. m. fisheri (Chapman, 1899) – San Antonio Bay (Refugio County), in SE Texas, E to SW Alabama; non-breeding SW to Nueces County, in Texas.
  • A. m. juncicola (Griscom & Nichols, 1920) – coastal NW Florida from Escambia County E to Taylor County.
  • A. m. peninsulae (J. A. Allen, 1888) – W Florida from about Dixie County S to Old Tampa Bay.
  • A. m. mirabilis (A. H. Howell, 1919) – Cape Sable Sparrow – SW Florida from vicinity of Everglades SE (formerly) to Cape Sable.
  • A. m. nigrescens (Ridgway, 1874) – Dusky Sparrow – coastal EC Florida.
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5–15 cm; 18·9–28·7 g. A small sparrow with rather long and narrow conical bill, and relatively short tail with “sharp”... read more


    Song a buzzy “spitsh-sheer, tup tup zee eeeee”, or “oka-chee weeee”,... read more


    Edge and interior of saltmarsh in most of range; occupies wettest, muddiest parts of marsh, nesting... read more

    Food and feeding

    Largely animal matter, which accounts for more than 80% of diet in some places. Eats marine insects, small snails (Gastropoda) and crabs (... read more


    Season late Mar to Aug; some pairs double-brooded. Monogamous. Nest built by female alone, a cup of dry grasses, lined with finer grasses,... read more


    S populations sedentary. N populations (nominate race) move S to wintering grounds from Virginia to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Classified as “Highest Concern” in the USA (Red WatchList priority species for conservation). Race mirabilis... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. & Jaramillo, A. (2020). Seaside Sparrow (Ammospiza maritima). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 18 February 2020).