A large (6 ¾ -7 ½ inches) bunting, the Fox Sparrow is most easily identified by its reddish-brown back, streaked breast, and gray face. Other field marks include a large conical bill, long tail, and white throat patch. Male and female Fox Sparrows are similar in all seasons. The Fox Sparrow breeds across Alaska and central Canada. In the west, this species’ range extends south at higher elevations into the United States as far south as southern California. In winter, this species migrates south to the Pacific coast from Washington south to Baja California, the eastern U.S. , and parts of the desert southwest. Fox Sparrows breed in a variety of thick shrubby woodland habitats, particularly those with low willow, fir, and spruce bushes. During the winter, this species may be found in thickets in shrub lands and along woodland edges. Fox Sparrows primarily eat insects in summer, adding seeds and grains to their diets during the winter. In appropriate habitat, Fox Sparrows may be observed foraging for food on the ground below shrubs and small trees. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of whistles and trills that is softer and more fluid than that of the Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia). Fox Sparrows are most active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.
- Weckstein, Jason D., Donald E. Kroodsma and Robert C. Faucett. 2002. Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/715
- Peterson, Roger Tory. Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. Print.
- eBird Range Map - Fox Sparrow. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ebird.org/ebird/map/foxspa.
- Passerella iliaca. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://xeno-canto.org/browse.php?query=Passerella+iliaca.
- Red Fox-sparrow (Passerella iliaca). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/red-fox-sparrow-passerella-iliaca.