Should you happen to catch a glimpse of a Fox Sparrow, you’ll find a handsomely speckled bird that's fun to watch.
Here are five facts about the Fox Sparrow:
- The Fox Sparrow comes in four varieties: red, sooty, thick-billed and slate-colored. What’s more, their territories are close together. These variations add a wrinkle to the effort to identify birds, especially for citizen scientists collecting data for FeederWatch or eBird.
- Your best chance of locating one in its summer habitat is through its sound, and their songs are ringing and energetic (with slight variations between the sub-species). But like many of their fellow ground foragers, their brown speckled plumage is designed to help them blend in, so they can be difficult to spot. In order to find them in their summer habitat, it's worth getting to know their songs and calls.
- They can always be found somewhere in the continental U.S. Typically, they spend the breeding season in the mountain forests out west (and up through Canada and into Alaska). In the fall as they migrate, they make their way to the east and south to their winter grounds.
- They have distinctive ground moves. With a forwards and backwards hop, their feet will move aside leaf litter in their search of insects and seeds for their dinner.
- Many songbirds take a week, sometimes two, to build a nest. The Fox Sparrow is an exception to this rule. By comparison, female Fox Sparrows build with startling speed. One was observed starting a nest at sunrise, and by dusk it was ready to receive the first egg! They line the inside with soft things, like rootlets, sheep wool, hair from cows and dogs, feathers and moss.
Those who live in the winter territory of the Fox Sparrow may discover one on the ground beneath their feeders, scratching for spilled seed. When you fill your feeders with Lyric Supreme Wild Bird Mix, go ahead and sprinkle some on the ground beneath the feeder. It appeals to such a wide variety of birds that the Fox Sparrow and other ground foragers aren't likely to leave any behind!