Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Belding's Savannah Sparrow--Passerculus sandwichensis beldingi

Belding Savannah Sparrow on the railing of the Footbridge at Bolsa Chica overlooking the pickle weed.

The Belding Savannah Sparrow is an an endangered subspecies in the State of California. It is one of the 17 subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow. Six of those subspecies live at least part of the year in wetlands such as salt marshes. The Belding Savannah Sparrow is a resident of Orange County and other California counties, and does not migrate.

Belding Savannah Sparrow near the pickle weed.

The Belding Savannah Sparrow lives almost exclusively in and near the pickle weed. Look for this little streaked sparrow flitting around in the pickle weed and nearby environs. It pops up and down and sits on top of the pickle weed and posts and on the foot bridge at Bolsa Chica. A cute and fast little bird. This bird is one of the endangered birds in Orange County. It is endangered in Orange County and State-wide due to loss of habitat.

Belding Savannah Sparrow down in the mud.

The Belding Savannah Sparrow is a little brown-and-white streaked sparrow with a yellow eyebrow stripe. Males and females are similar.

Belding Savannah Sparrow in its favorite habitat--the pickle weed at Bolsa Chica.

Belding Savannah Sparrow eat seeds, insects and their larvae, spiders, and snails. There are lots of these in the pickle weed. They also eat berries, small crustaceans and mollusks. Lots of the last two in the mud. They forage mainly on the ground.

Belding Savannah Sparrow on the railing of the Footbridge at Bolsa Chica.

The female builds the nest. The Belding Savannah Sparrow builds a grass-lined nest on the ground concealed under the pickle weed or other low plants. Sometimes, the birds create a tunnel through the pickle weed or grass that leads to the nest. Generally monogamous.

Belding Savannah Sparrow on the railing of the Footbridge at Bolsa Chica.

If you want to see the Belding Savannah Sparrow, the best place to see it is at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Stand on the bridge and watch until they start popping up and you will see a true wetlands bird. Birding in Orange County is fun when you stake out the pickle weed. It is so satisfying to wait for a bird and finally see it come out in the open. Try it and see if you don't add the Belding Savannah Sparrow to your birding life list.

"Belding's" Savannah Sparrow from Don DesJardin on Vimeo.

A good one from Don Des Jardin.

OC Birder Girl Links

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve

External Links and Resources

Thorough article about Savannah Sparrows including the Belding's race.

Belding’s Savannah Sparrows Eat Eggs From Live Fiddler Crabs

Interesting article from Catherine E. deRivera of Portland State University.

BirdWeb: Savannah Sparrow

Lots of good information.

Bolsa Chica Wetlands Self-guided Tour

Includes information about the Belding's Savannah Sparrow.

Santa Barbara Audubon Society: Belding Savannah Sparrow

Good information on the status, range, and habitat of the Belding Savannah Sparrow

Reproductive Success of Belding's Savannah Sparrows in a Highly Fragmented Landscape

Good short article.

Nice article.

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