NELSON’S SPARROW – (Ammodramus nelsoni)
The Nelson’s Sparrow has a faded orange face and breast, and are streaked brown overall. There is an orange line above the eye, and the crown is brown. The bill is grey and the legs pinkish. The nape and under parts are grey and back and wings brown. The bird is about 121 cm (5 in.) long.
This sparrow was given its name in memory of American naturalist E.W. Nelson, a past president of the American Ornithologists’ Union. The Latin name ‘Ammodramus’ comes from the Greek and means ‘sand’ and ‘to run’.
This bird feeds mainly on insects and other invertebrates that it forages on plants and on the ground, sometimes digging them up in the mud. It also eats seeds.
The Nelson’s sparrow breeds on PEI, and is common on the island in spring, summer and fall. This sparrow has a peculiar overall breeding range – coastal areas of Hudson’s Bay and the Maritimes, and the Canadian prairies. That’s because it looks for salt and fresh water marshes including the Prairie Potholes for breeding.
Nelson’s sparrows build their cup-shaped nest attached to vegetation above marsh water. As opposed to other bird species, this sparrow does not claim a territory and both sexes mate with others, so in a nest the eggs come from different fathers.
‘Nelson’s Sparrow’ is the title of an episode of the American TV series ‘Criminal Minds’.