Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Abundant in the east, local in California. Some western subspecies are listed as endangered.
HABITAT: Primarily inhabits coastal salt marshes, especially tidal marshes bordered by shallow bodies of salt or brackish water. One subspecies inhabits freshwater marshes along the Colorado River.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Dense growths of cordgrass or needlerush, with deep soft soils.
NEST: Builds nest 8 to 12 inches above ground and near water in salt marsh cordgrass, in marsh elder, or other marsh vegetation that is more than 2 feet tall, with a canopy of vegetation. Locates nest so it will not be submerged by high tide.
FOOD: Prefers to feed on mudflats or along muddy shores of creeks at low tide by probing and gleaning. Eats fiddler crabs, other small crabs, crustaceans, snails, shellfish, aquatic insects, and some seeds.
REFERENCES: Adams and Quay 1958, DeGraff et al. 1980, Johnsgard 1975a, Kozicky and Schmidt 1949, Mangold 1977, Stone 1937.