East Coast’s saltmarsh sparrow disappearing, scientists say

The saltmarsh sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus) is disappearing from its home on the East Coast and could be headed for extinction in as little as 50 years, say scientists whose work could help protect the little birds. The sparrows, which weigh about half an ounce, live in coastal areas from Maine to Virginia during the breeding season and migrate farther south in the winter. Researchers with a group of universities have been tracking them for several years and reported this week that eight out of every 10 of the birds has disappeared in the past 15 years. The birds still number in the tens of thousands. But University of Maine professor Brian Olsen, one of the researchers studying the sparrow, said their population has dropped about 9 percent annually since 1998. They mainly eat insects, aquatic invertebrates and seeds.

Boston.com, May 21, 2016