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Documentation of Fox Sparrow (Red)

Observer Information

Reporter:  Tyler Stuart 
Other Observers: 

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Fox Sparrow (Red)
First Date/Time:  4/6/2014 8:07:00 AM
Last Date/Time:  4/7/2014 3:00:00 PM
Duration (total time in view):  25 minutes
County:  El Paso
Specific Location:  Location Not Listed
Number:  1
Age:  Adult
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Other/Unknown

Habitat

Scrub oak, juniper, ponderosa

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  8x42 binoculars
Distance:  8 meters
Light:  Good

Description of the Bird

Observed bird from inside my house, so no calls/songs were heard.
When first seen, the bird was foraging on the ground beneath several of my seed feeders.

Obviously larger size compared to surrounding Dark-eyed Juncos flagged it as something different. Bird had stout, pointed, yellow and gray bill. White belly with bold rufous streaks on sides and spots on breast. Head was primarily grey with hints of reddish streaks. Grey back with rufous wings and tail.

The bird spent approximately 8 minutes under feeders before an influx of Steller's Jays put all other birds in flight. The Fox Sparrow hid low in a nearby juniper, where it remained for an indeterminate amount of time (did not see it leave). The bird was seen hopping in the low branches of a shrub beside the previously-mentioned juniper the following afternoon (April 7), where it remained for about 15 minutes before flying into the dense scrub oak uphill.

Similar Species Discussion

Initially identified this bird as a "Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow. After discussing it with Bill Maynard and Brandon Percival, it was identified as the Rocky Mountain type of "Red" Fox Sparrow, based on the red coloring in the face.

Could be mistaken for a Song Sparrow, but this can be eliminated because this bird did not have a well-defined eyeline, crown, or clear streaking on the back. Additionally, this bird had spots rather than streaks on the breast, and no defined central breast spot. Lastly, this bird's bill was much more stout than Song Sparrow. 

Resources Used

Sibley Field Guide to Birds (Western and North America)--first editions

Cornell All About Birds online

Discussed the identification with Bill Maynard and Brandon Percival.

Previous Experience

I do not have other experience with "Red" or "Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow. I have significant experience with "Thick-billed" Fox Sparrow, monitoring its populations in the Sierra Nevada, California, for the past three summers.

Notes

Notes made DURING observation

Additional Information

Date Documentation Submitted

8/6/2014 2:52:00 PM

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