Belding's savannah sparrow is a State and Federally protected bird. It is a rare subspecies of the Savannah sparrow, however it is common on the marshes of San Diego Bay, and the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge. It is distinguished from the Savannah sparrow by having heavier and darker streaking, and a smaller beak profile. The Belding’s savannah sparrow is unique in that it represents one of only two wetland dependent avian species that reside year-round in the coastal salt marshes of southern California. Belding’s savannah sparrows nest in the pickleweed vegetation that occurs along the outer levees of the salt ponds, within the lower reach of the Otay River, and along the edges of the South Bay in remnant patches of salt marsh vegetation. As with most ground dwelling species, this bird is inconspicuous and blends well with its environment. Breeding territories can be very small and the birds nest semi-colonially or locally concentrated within a larger block of habitat.