Dusky Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus nigrescens)
The Dusky Seaside Sparrow was a non-migratory bird native to the marshlands of the St. John’s river and Merritt Island on Florida’s mid-Atlantic coast. The Dusky’s dark coloration and unique birdsong separate it from other seaside sparrows and marked it as a distinct subspecies.
The Dusky was categorized in 1872 and recognized as a subspecies in 1973. Its population saw a rapid decline throughout the 1940s and 50s due to the intense use of DDT on Merritt Island. The Dusky’s population was further damaged when the Island was flooded and then its marshlands drained. By 1979 only six specimens were known to exist.
The last six specimens were all captured with the hope that the subspecies could be saved through an intense breeding program, but all six of the specimens were male. These male Duskys lived out the remainder of their lives on Disney’s Discovery Island. The last Dusky Seaside Sparrow died in 1987.