Date: 1/31/18 9:41 am
From: \Shultz, Steven\ (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: RE: Small bird mortality in NC salt marsh during harsh winters
I tromped through the marsh at Ft. Fisher last weekend during the CBC winter meeting. Went out about a hundred yards, and then back along a slightly different route. Kicked up 2 Seaside, 3 Sedge Wren, and 3 sharptail sp. that would not perch up for species-specific identification.

This is pretty much "normal" based on my efforts at the same spot over different years. I'll also note that the tide was low, which is not the most productive for looking at marsh sparrows/wrens.

I looked on eBird to see if there appeared to be any significant difference in reports of Saltmarsh Sparrow for January 2018 vs. 2017 and 2016. 2016 had the fewest reports in NC, with 2017 and 2018 being about the same. Saltmarshs are wintering on Cape Cod, which I presume to have a more severe winter (and winters in general) than here, but without apparent reduction in presence (i.e. eBird shows pretty consistent sightings in January year over year).

So not sure that I'm convinced that the marsh sparrows were taken out in one fell swoop, but certainly an interesting conversation.

Steve Shultz
Apex, NC


-----Original Message-----
From: <carolinabirds-request...> [mailto:<carolinabirds-request...>] On Behalf Of Christopher Hill
Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 12:10 PM
To: Gilbert Grant
Cc: <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Re: Small bird mortality in NC salt marsh during harsh winters

Gilbert,

Before the storm, how common were the sparrows and wrens in the marsh? Were any other species, such as Clapper Rails, affected?

Chris Hill
Conway, SC

> On Jan 31, 2018, at 8:06 AM, Gilbert Grant <carolinabirds...> wrote:
>
>
> I was conducting bird surveys in a 14 hectare marsh (mostly Spartina and Juncus) near Surf City, NC, for 4 winters during the late 1980’s. The blizzard of 1989 that John Fussell referred to deposited a record 38 cm of snow in the area on 22-23 December 1989. Temperatures remained below freezing from 22-26 December with the extreme low of -19 C recorded in nearby Jacksonville during this time. Populations of both Sharp-tailed Sparrows (before AOU split this species) and Marsh Wrens plummeted to zero in this marsh and did not recover over the remaining winter months. However, populations returned to normal levels by 1991. In case anyone is interested Bill Kirby-Smith and I published a note on this in the Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 108(3):145-148, 1992. I did not encounter any dead individuals of these species which was not surprising due to their small size and the dense marsh vegetation.
>
> Gilbert S. Grant
> Sneads Ferry ,NC
> Sent from my iPhone

 
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