The fox sparrow is a large, chunky sparrow that is found throughout much of North America. Adults measure between 6.5 and 7.5 inches in length, with a wingspan of approximately 10 inches. They typically weigh between 1.3 and 1.6 ounces, making them one of the heaviest sparrows in North America.
One of the most distinguishing field marks of the fox sparrow is its rusty-red coloration, particularly on its wings and tail. This bird has a gray-brown head and back, with a heavily streaked breast and belly. Its bill is relatively large and conical in shape, perfect for cracking open seeds and insects. Female fox sparrows tend to have less vibrant plumage than males, but are still easily recognizable by their rusty coloration.
The fox sparrow is a migratory bird, with different populations traveling different distances. Birds that breed in Alaska and northern Canada migrate to wintering grounds in the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. Other populations, such as those that breed in the Pacific Northwest, may only travel as far south as California during the winter. Migration typically occurs in the spring and fall, with birds gathering in large flocks to make their journey.
During the breeding season, fox sparrows can be found in forested areas, particularly in the understory of deciduous and mixed forests. They breed throughout much of Canada and Alaska, as well as in mountainous regions of the western United States. In the winter, they can be found in a wider variety of habitats, including scrublands, fields, and suburban areas.
The fox sparrow is known for its beautiful and complex songs, which can vary significantly between populations. Males sing throughout the breeding season, using their songs to establish territories and attract mates. The fox sparrow’s distinctive coloring, impressive size, and beautiful songs make it a popular target for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts throughout North America.