This was no National Geographic photo shoot: there I was, on my belly on the pantry counter, camera lens stuck out the open window into the 11°F early morning air, trying to focus on the RED FOX SPARROW just outside. Two of my cats were trying to squeeze their way out of the slightly open window, while my husband traipsed back and forth in the nearby driveway, crunching noisily on the ice and snow. I admit, the photo probably shouldn’t be published, but hey, a Red Fox Sparrow, five feet from my kitchen is newsworthy in my opinion.
What a beautifully colored bird. The Red (or Taiga) Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca iliaca) is our eastern subspecies of the Fox Sparrows. “Slate-colored”, “Sooty”, and “Thick-billed”, the other three of the four main subspecies, are all found in specific western areas of the United States. I have seen Fox Sparrows before, but not this closely and I think this one was a perfect specimen. Just look at those lovely cheek patches and thick streaking on breast and flanks! Another interesting thing is the coloring of the beak- all yellow on the bottom, and yellow turning to black on the top of bill. Not a bird commonly seen during breeding season, winter is the time we get to spot them scratching about in the leaves on the ground, searching for food. This little bird was hanging out with several White-throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) here in my yard, a fairly northernmost part of it’s winter range. How nicely it blends in with the snowy winter landscape.