Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)

The Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) is a winter resident on South Fidalgo Island, but they do not breed here.  Their breeding range is coastal British Columbia and Alaska.  Ours are the western "Sooty" races, fuliginosa and unalaschensis.  The wings, back and head of local birds are solid dark brown with brown speckled white breasts.  There may be some gray on the cheeks.

Across North America, there are wide variations in colors and markings locally.  These fall into three color groups, Sooty, Red and Slate-colored.  Among the largest of the family, Fox Sparrows are common feeder visitors during the winter.  They accept most commercial seed including safflower.  It is possible to confuse them with Song Sparrows which are year-around residents.  The local "morphna" Song Sparrow race is smaller and distinguished by gray streaking and mottling and slightly redder coloration:

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)