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Because of its limited range and restrictive habitat requirements, the coastal plain swamp sparrow's population is vulnerable, but how can it be monitored, and protected, when only a part of its life cycle is known?
An intensive search for its winter grounds began in the winter of 2003/2004 in the center of the bird's range, where it is most abundant, the coastal marshes of Delaware. Many swamp sparrows were found, but none were of the coastal plain variety.
The wintering range of all types of swamp sparrows is more or less bounded by Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, and Missouri. Finding any coastal plain swamp sparrows in that vast area would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Modern scientific techniques were needed to help with the search.