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Howdy,

First off, I'd like to say the number of responses I've received to my
questions from just this morning has been amazing.  On several other lists,
the normal response would have been the sound of crickets.  Thanks
everybody.

I received several requests for specific location info on the sharp-tailed
sparrows I reported from Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island NWR,
so I'm posting my answer to the list because there seems to be general
interest.  When I first found the birds, I was wishing I had recorded my
mileage from some landmark -- I kind of suspected someone would want to know
where these birds were.

All birds were seen a short distance (<1/4 mile?) past the parking area for
the observation tower.  I saw the first bird, a Saltmarsh, immediately
before a 90 degree turn to the right.  In fairly heavy rain, it flushed and
landed on top of a small shrub while I was driving past -- and I thought I
was going to have to work to see some sharp-taileds!

All other sparrows were seen immediately past the next 90 degree turn to the
left.  I heard at least one of the birds call as I was driving past this
spot, so I backed up to take a look.  [Note: I'm not really good at IDing
birds by call note -- it just sounded different from all the Savannah
Sparrows along the drive. :) ]  I'd guess there were about 4 sharp-taileds
here, probably evenly split between Saltmarsh and Nelson's.  This spot also
held the cooperative Marsh and Sedge Wren(s).

If you have the Nat'l Park Service brochure, take a look at the map.  These
turns are clearly marked under the "W" in "Wildlife Drive".  After these
turns, the habitat becomes more shrubby and wooded, so basically, they were
in the last patch of suitable habitat you encounter along the road before
getting back to Hwy. 406.

In case anyone is wondering, identifications were based on color and
distinctiveness of streaking on the underparts, amount of yellow on the
breast, degree of contrast between the malar region and the breast, and
amount of white on the throat plus its contrast with the malar region.  All
Nelson's were of the interior form.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any other questions.

John Puschock
Lake County
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