Dusky Seaside Sparrow

Extinct 1990

Animal Group: Bird
Regions: Americas
Sub-regions: Northern America
Countries: United States

Dusky Seaside Sparrows, also known as Duskies, are a non-migratory subspecies of the Seaside Sparrow founded in natural salt marshes in Florida and along some areas on the St. Johns River. They were first categorized as a species in 1873, but would later be declared a subspecies in 1973. Duskies were officially declared extinct in 1990 even though the last known one, Orange Bird, died in 1987. Despite efforts of trying to crossbreed, no other actions were taken in order to save the population of the Duskies. Creating a hybrid species was eventually declined and the last four birds were placed in a protected habitat where there lives eventually ended.

There are a few different subspecies of the Seaside Sparrow, however, none of them are like the Dusky Seaside Sparrow. Dusky Seaside Sparrows had a black-ish color back, with dark, heavy streaks on their chests. They were darker in color than all other species of the Seaside Sparrows. The Dusky Seaside Sparrows also had a distinct song that was only unique to them, no other bird sings it. Scientists believe that the reason for that is because they were geologically isolated from other species of the Seaside Sparrow.


Dusky Seaside Sparrows were only found in Florida. They resided in the salt marshes of Merritt Island as well as along the St. Johns River. The Duskies depended solely on cordgrass for their nesting sites. These suitable habitats can only be found at ten to fifteen feet above sea level. Because cordgrass can only grow in a narrow range of moisture conditions, Duskies did not have many options as to where they could live. The Dusky Seaside Sparrows were geologically isolated from all other Seaside Sparrows since they could only live in certain conditions.

Reason For Extinction

A few factors come into play as to why the Dusky Seaside Sparrows are extinct today. In order to reduce the population of mosquitos, Merritt Island was flooded which caused the Duskies habitat to be devastated. The population of Dusky Seaside Sparrows immediately started plummeting, leaving only several left behind. A few years after the flooding, marshes surrounding the river were drained in order to facilitate highway construction. This too left the Duskies with no place to reside in order to increase their population. Pollution and pesticides eventually took over, leaving only six known Duskies alive by 1979, all of which were males. The last known female was spotted years before, in 1975, but was never seen again. By 1981, there were only five Duskies known to exist, then only four by 1983. Walt Disney World Resort took the last four in and placed them in a protected habitat on Discovery Island Nature Reserve. By March 31, 1986, the only Dusky Seaside Sparrow alive was known as Orange Band. Orange Band lived at least eight years, but he possibly lived for thirteen, at the most. Orange Band died on June 17, 1987 and the Duskies were officially declared extinct in December 1990.