The Fox Sparrow
A Fox Sparrow is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Fox Sparrows. We have also put together a list of fun Fox Sparrow t-shirts, Fox Sparrow bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Fox Sparrows
Fox Sparrows frequent the western mountains of North America to the north as a migrant or over the winter season. It thrives in thick undergrowth and thickets foraging through the leaf litter. It has a whistling song; the name comes from its fox-colored feathers.
Description and identification
All varieties of fox sparrows are between 6 – 8 inches with a wingspan ranging within 10 –
12 inches. Along with rounded bodies, they have short round heads with small, pointed bills.
The colors of the plumages vary between the varieties of fox sparrows. Red Fox Sparrows
have gray heads with white throats that have lateral stripes on either side. They have yellow
bills and reddish-brown streaks in their breasts. Sooty Fox Sparrows vary in color but
generally tend to be shades of brown with streaks of the same color in the underparts.
Slate-colored Fox sparrows have gray heads and mantles with a russet tail, and brown
wings and breast streaks. Thick-billed Fox sparrows have a plumage that is almost identical
to the slate-colored fox sparrows, with the only difference being more extensive blueish-
gray hoods, less rusty tails, and a bill much that can be three times larger than the other
Range and Migration
Fox sparrows are large new world sparrows that are native to the continent of North
America. They are large round-bodied sparrows with stout bills and medium-length tails. Fox
Sparrows are further divided into four taxa on the basis of their plumage – red fox sparrows,
sooty fox sparrows, slate fox sparrows, and thick-billed fox sparrows. All categories of fox
sparrow are migratory birds, albeit with different durations and lengths of migratory patterns.
The four aforementioned birds all reside in different climatic regions of North America, and
thus subsequently follow different migration routes. For instance, red fox sparrows that
inhabit Alaska make long migrations towards as far as Florida during the winter. On the other
hand, thick-billed fox sparrows mainly restrict themselves to the regions of California and
Oregon in the western part of the USA. The other two varieties of fox sparrows can be found
around their breeding grounds along the pacific coast of western America during the
summers before they migrate to regions around California for winter.
Fox Sparrow Color Pattern
Adult Fox Sparrows are heavily spotted with streaks on their underside. They have a distinct feature of a messy spotted breast. Most fox sparrows in the west are gray in color or show a sooty brown color rather than the foxy-red that gives them their name.
Fox Sparrow Size
The Fox Sparrow adults are the largest type of sparrow with round bodies, short bill, and medium-length tails. Adults have a relative size of;
- Length 15 – 19 cm
- Weight 26 – 44 g
- Wingspan 27 – 29 cm
Fox Sparrow Behavior
Most of the fox sparrows time is spent scratching through leaf litter in search for insects and other invertebrates. In the breeding season, they mark territories stretching up to 2.5 acres in size. They are usually sighted alone or in small groups and interact with other species of sparrows. Adults give a metal-like chirp and pretend to have a broken wing to deter predators away from their nests.
Fox Sparrow Food
They forage through dense thickets searching for insects such as ants, fly larvae and bees. They also feed on invertebrates such as millipedes and spiders. During the winter they eat fruits such as strawberries, seeds, and buds from plants.
Fox sparrows mainly forage for leaf litters and insects on the ground under dense covers.
During the breeding seasons, their diet primarily consists of insects like beetles, caterpillars, ants, larvae, bees, and scale insects. They eat other invertebrates like spiders and
millipedes as well. They also consume seeds, fruits, or buds from various berry and garden
weed plants. During the migrations and the winter season, they tend to balance their
consumption of insects and plants.
Fox Sparrow Habitat
The fox sparrow breeds in thickets along the western mountains of North America. They winter in dense thickets from Minnesota to Texas to Florida. They generally forage in hardwood forests with open areas as well as swamp areas.
Fox sparrows breed in coniferous forests and dense mountain scrubs and spend winters in
scrubby habitats and forests. They breed in thickets and chaparral while avoiding
woodlands, grasslands, and farmlands. Red fox sparrows live in scrubby areas at forest
edges while wintering in thickly thicketed areas. Sooty fox sparrows reside in deciduous
streamside thickets while slate-coloured fox sparrows breed in dense riparian thickets. Both
the aforementioned varieties winter in the chaparral. Thick-billed Fox sparrows prefer bushy
fields at high elevations and also winter in the chaparral.
Fox Sparrow Lifecycle
The female fox sparrow usually builds the nest on her own, collecting all the materials required to build the nest taking her 2 to 3 days. She lays 2 to 5 eggs in a breeding season and incubates them for the next 12 to 14 days. The chicks leave the nest after 11 days.
Fox Sparrow Nesting
Fox sparrows nest in wooded locations on sheltered spots on the ground, or low in trees or
shrubs. They can be found under conifers, among the roots of upturned stumps, or under
shrubby vegetation. The nests can vary in size depending on the location they are based in.
While there is little data on their nesting behaviors, the females most likely build the nests
on their own. The nestling period is approximately 10 days while the incubation period is
around 2 weeks, with the clutch size of nests ranging from 2 – 5 eggs.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Box
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Fox Sparrows
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Fox Sparrows are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Fox Sparrow T-shirts
If you love the Fox Sparrow you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Fox Sparrow Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Fox Sparrow is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Fox Sparrow Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Fox Sparrow. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For Fox Sparrow
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Fox Sparrow
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.