[CT Birds] "sharp-tailed" sparrows

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Fri May 18 06:27:40 EDT 2012

Although I've been holed up in my office mostly (the real life of an 
ornithologist in academia!), members of our research group have been focusing on 
trying to get a better handle on the fine details of early spring arrival in 
saltmarsh sparrows this year.  One upshot of this research is that we've had 
people out in the marsh earlier than normal, and this has resulted in the 
banding of more Nelson's sparrows than normal.  

Since the occurrence of this species, especially in spring, is not very well 
known for CT I thought others might like to know that there seem to be quite a 
few Nelson's going through right now.  So, if you're shunning all the fancy 
warblers and shorebirds in favor of sparrows, and you're at Hammonasset, East 
River marsh in Madison/Guilford, Barn Island, or any of the other sites where 
saltmarsh sparrows nest, then it would be worth taking a second look at birds to 
ensure they are not Nelson's.  Also, another word of caution - some of the birds 
our field team caught yesterday looked like they might be saltmarsh x Nelson's 
hybrids (there is a hybrid zone from n. Massachusetts into Maine), so an bird 
that doesn't look right for either saltmarsh or the subvirgatus (Acadian) 
subspecies of Nelson's sparrow should be vetted especially carefully.

>From UConn saltmarsh bird research team (via Chris Elphick):
17/05/2012 - Barn Island WMA, Stonington (and other recent dates and sites): 
Nelson's sparrows (some showing signs of hybridization)

 Chris Elphick
Storrs, CT
elphick at sbcglobal.net

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