The WLCT is pleased to partner with the Salt Marsh Sparrow research project (a multi year effort based at Jacob’s Point).
This story is by Salt Marsh Sparrow research project volunteer Deirdre Robinson:
Rare events in the natural world can inspire awe and offer hope. Such is the case with one particular Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammospiza caudacutus) who hatched on July 7, 2019 at Jacob’s Point in Warren RI. Her story is representative of the struggle of her species, which has survived as an obligate saltmarsh specialist for millennia. With rising tides due to climate change however, coastal marshes are flooding and sparrow nests are being inundated with greater frequency. This specific sparrow offers a rare glimmer of hope for members of the Saltmarsh Sparrow Research Initiative, who are bearing witness to the extinction of an extraordinary species.
Why is this species extraordinary? It demonstrates a polygamous breeding strategy, nests on the ground and escapes from predators by running rather than flying, has only a rudimentary “song”, does not defend territories, and breeds nowhere else in the world except in healthy coastal marshes from VA to ME. The female sparrow is among the hardest working of birds. She alone constructs the nests, incubates the eggs, and feeds and defends the chicks while they are nestlings– and even after they fledge. Her perseverance is rewarded only when the nesting cycle is not in synchrony with the flooding cycle.
For more about the Salt Marsh Sparrows at Jacob’s Point see the avian activities page.