Fox Sparrow

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Fox Sparrow

Fox sparrow photo
Passerella iliaca
Emberizidae (sparrows, longspurs, buntings) in the order Passeriformes

Large rusty red and gray sparrow. Streaked breast and flanks; some streaks look like an inverted V. Upper tail surface distinct rusty red. Visible eye ring. The fox sparrow is the largest of our sparrows. The name is derived from the bird's foxlike color. Sometimes fox sparrows are confused with the hermit thrush when seen flying away, exposing the reddish tail.

The loud, beautiful song has several clear introductory whistles followed by trills and buzzes. The call is variable.

Length: 7 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail). Large for a sparrow.
Habitat and conservation: 
Uncommon migrant in weedy fields, brushy edges and woodland thickets. Look for these birds under shrubs around your backyard or at the edge of the woods. Fox sparrows are not the most common sparrows in Missouri, yet a few can usually be seen each winter, especially in southern Missouri.
Like the eastern towhee, fox sparrows kick back leaves on the ground as they search for insects and seeds.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide, though populations are highest in the southeastern part of the state.
Common transient in the eastern part of the state; uncommon transient in the west. Uncommon winter resident in the southern part of the state; rare winter resident in the north.
Human connections: 
Fox sparrows are entertaining to watch as they rustle through the leaves and seeds underneath bird feeders. This style of feeding may remind you of chickens, but fox sparrows kick with both feet at the same time. They are one of our most musical sparrows, with a loud, beautiful song.
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