Ammodramus maritimus nigrescens

Dusky Seaside Sparrow

FWS Focus


The Dusky seaside sparrow was a non-migratory songbird common in Southern Florida, in the marshes of Merritt Island and along the St. John's River. When Merritt Island was flooded in an attempt to reduce mosquito populations around Kennedy Space Center, the sparrows' nesting grounds were flooded and their numbers started to collapse. Later, the marshes surrounding the St. John's River were drained to facilitate highway construction which caused the population to collapse further. By 1979, the combination of habitat loss, pollution, and pesticides caused the population to decline to such small numbers that demographic stochasticity was able to deliver the final blow to the species: by 1979, only six dusky seaside sparrows were known to exist -- all of them were male (the last female was sighted in 1975). In 1979, five of the remaining male dusky seaside sparrows were captured and brought to the Discover Island nature reserve in the Walt Disney World Resort where they lived out their remaining days. On or about 31 March 1986, the only dusky seaside sparrow still alive was a bird named "Orange Band". Despite being blind in one eye, Orange Band reached lived at least eight years, (and perhaps as many as thirteen) before he died on 17 June 1987.

Scientific Name

Ammodramus maritimus nigrescens
Common Name
Dusky Seaside Sparrow
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers




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