This is the story of the last Dusky seaside sparrow and how Disney tried to save it.
The lasts songs from a seaside sparrow
The dusky seaside sparrow (Ammospiza maritima nigrescens) was a non-migratorysubspecies of the seaside sparrow, found in Florida in the natural salt marshes of Merritt Island and along the St. Johns River.
The last definite known individual died on Walt Disney World‘s Discovery Island in 1987. As a result, the subspecies was officially declared extinct in December 1990.
The story of the last Dusky seaside sparrow and Disney began in 1983, when the group tried to save the last living birds of the species. Because of the high decline of dusky seasides sparrows, the last four living birds of the species were taken to the Walt Disney World Resort. However, by March 31, 1986, only one bird named “Orange Band” remained. The reasons why he was named like that was because he was blind in one eye. Despite that disadvantage, he managed to live nine years. But, sadly, the story of the last Dusky seaside sparrow and Disney ended up in tragedy, as the unique songs from this bird have been lost forever.
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Causes for Dusky seaside sparrows decline
Dusky seaside sparrow populations probably declined during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, temporally linked to the applications of DDT pesticide on Merritt Island to control mosquitoes and, after 1956, to the creation of mosquito impoundments that caused loss of salt marsh.
When Merritt Island was flooded with the goal of reducing the mosquito population around the Kennedy Space Center, the sparrows’ nesting grounds were devastated, and their numbers plummeted.
Later, the marshes surrounding the river were drained to facilitate highway construction along with the sugar and oil industries; this was a further blow.
Eventually, pollution and pesticides took such a high toll that by 1979. Only six dusky seaside sparrows were known to exist, all of whom were males; a female was last sighted in 1975.
You can stop this from happening. Visit and explore our habitats in Peroles, Perú, Reserva Natural Los Magnolios, Colombia, and Tapichalaca Reserve, Ecuador.
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