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Fox sparrow

Passerella iliaca

Photo by Simon Barrette (Wikipedia)

Common name:
fox sparrow (en); escrevedeira-fulva (pt); bruant fauve (fr); sabanero rascador (es); fuchsammer (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

This species is found breeding in most of northern and western Canada, as well as in Canada and in the western United States as far south as northern California, Utah and Colorado. Most population migrate to winter along the Pacific coast of the United States, in most parts of the eastern United States and in southern Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico.

One of the largest American sparrows, the fox sparrow is 15-19 cm long and has a wingspan of 26-30 cm. They weigh 27-49 g.

These birds breed in coniferous or mixed forests with dense undergrowth in both the boreal and temperate zones, but also in dry scrublands, chaparral and riparian woodlands. Outside the breeding season they are found in a wide range of forested habitats, especially along forest edges and areas with dense undergrowth.

They forage on the ground, among the leaf litter and in bare ground, taking insects such as beetles, fly larvae, caterpillars, ants, bees, and scale insects, other invertebrates such as spiders, millipedes and molluscs, and the seeds, fruits and buds of a variety of plants such as strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, sedge, cinquefoil, buttonweed, serviceberry, pokeweed, red cedar, grape, witch hazel, ragweed, smartweed, and sorrel. During the breeding season, invertebrates make up most of their diet, while outside the breeding season they eat a similar portion of animal and plant foods.

Fox sparrows tend to be monogamous, solitary nesters. They breed in May-July, nesting in a cup made of twigs, dried grass, stems and bark, and lined with grass, animal hairs and feathers. The nest is typically placed on the ground, or in low branches, never more than 2 m above the ground. The female lays 2-5 pale bluish-green eggs with reddish-brown markings, which she mostly incubates alone for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 9-11 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 16 million individuals. The population has has a stable trend over the last 4 decades.

made out of twigs, dried grass, stems, and bark.
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