Date: 10/31/18 8:06 am
From: Chris Elphick via CTBirds <ctbirds...>
Subject: [CT Birds] Interior Nelson’s sparrow identification
Hi everyone,

Recently there have been several Connecticut reports of the interior form of Nelson’s sparrow. I thought it would be useful to remind birders that saltmarsh sparrows and coastal Nelson’s hybridize over a fairly large area from northern Massachusetts into central Maine. Within the hybrid zone, maybe as many as half the birds are hybrids (including backcrosses). This means that 100s of hybrids almost certainly pass through southern New England every year, making them much more likely than interior Nelson’s.

Hybrids have variable plumage and are not easily identified. They are also likely to have characteristics shared with interior Nelson’s.

To my knowledge there are only a handful of well documented interior Nelson’s records from Connecticut, so detailed descriptions, photos, etc would be really helpful for any birds suspected to be of this form. And the identity of any bird that doesn’t fit perfectly for interior Nelson’s should be viewed with great caution.

Hope this is helpful (albeit, perhaps frustrating ...)


Chris Elphick
Storrs, CT

This list is provided by the Connecticut Ornithological Association (COA) for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut.
For subscription information visit
Join us on Facebook!