Date: 1/31/18 2:00 pm
From: Nate Dias (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Re: Small bird mortality in NC salt marsh during harsh winters
Based on what Gilbert said, I think concluding that "all the marsh
sparrows and Marsh Wrens died" is a bit of a stretch.

Populations returning to normal levels from "zero" after only 2 years
would seem to argue against total mortality.

Who's to say they didn't temporarily relocate to a nearby marsh with
less storm damage? Or a more extensive marsh where degraded habitat
could still provide enough food and cover.

Who's to say they didn't abscond to Georgia or Florida and return
after a few weeks or months? etc.

Eventually geolocators or other technology might answer this question
with accuracy.

Nathan Dias - Charleston, SC

On Wed, 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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