The Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside, New York, is, as I have repeatedly stated, a great place to see birds.  The boardwalks through the saltmarsh get you into the habitat in a way that is usually difficult to do without wearing boots and trampling plants, and the constant presence of people there means that the big waders get somewhat accustomed to seeing humans as harmless.  I’ve had Black Skimmers barely clear my head there, Clapper Rails put on a show, and Great Egrets impress with their sheer size and beauty.  The Marine Nature Study Area is also where, back in 2007, I added both Seaside Sparrow and Saltmarsh Sparrow to my life list.

So during my recent visit there on a day spent birding across coastal Nassau County I wasn’t surprised at seeing both Ammodramus maritimus and Ammodramus caudicutus but I was rather amazed at how confiding they were.  And all three of us were astounded when, one after the other, both a juvenile Saltmarsh Sparrow and a juvenile Seaside Sparrow plopped down on the trail for us to study and photograph.  Confiding birds are one thing but when birds throw themselves at your feet, well, what can you do but smile and enjoy it?

Here, first, is the juvenile Saltmarsh Sparrow, marvelous in its orange-and-brown garb.

And here is the juvenile Seaside Sparrow in what is more typical streaky juvenile sparrow garb.

Here’s hoping both youngsters find good wintering grounds and return to the Marine Nature Study Area to raise their own offspring!

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.