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Fox Sparrow

Posted on Apr 23, 2017

Any time we see snowfall from mid-March on, we might notice an increase in the number and species diversity of birds at our backyard feeders. Those who pay close attention might also have the opportunity to view more elusive birds – those that would otherwise just be passing through or returning to the area relatively unnoticed – that are driven out of their preferred habitats by the extreme conditions in search of food. One such bird that can seem to appear out of nowhere is the Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca).

These large sparrows really enjoy scratching at the ground with both feet, though that can be difficult when it is covered in several inches of snow. The bird shown here kept snatching sunflower seeds and then dashing for cover, which made capturing it with the camera quite challenging. Fox Sparrows are shy and apparently comfortable even when crowds of other sparrows species like the White-throated Sparrow or Dark-eyed Junco are feeding all around them. On a couple of occasions, this individual was exposed enough that I was able to take these photos. I was glad to be able to provide it with food so that it could refuel and resume its journey in spite of Mother Nature’s curveball!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator