Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fox Sparrows: Early April Spring Migration through Northern Illinois

Along with the American White Pelicans (yesterday's post) among the early April arrivals that I have seen are Green-winged Teals, Yellow-rumped Myrtles, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Meadowlarks, Rough-winged Swallows and Tree Swallows, and a slew of sparrow species including Fox Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, and Field Sparrows. Of this group, the Green-winged Teals, Fox Sparrows, and Myrtles are just travelling through toward more northern territories, while the rest will call northern Illinois their summer home.

A Fox Sparrow, Rockford, IL; 4/7/2011.

I was able to add to my Life List (#280) one afternoon as I returned home from school, and saw an unfamiliar sparrow-like bird scratching in the dirt and leaves in the backyard. As soon as it came into better light, I recognized it as a Fox Sparrow (Above) because they are larger and have more red on it than the usual sparrows that hang around here. I was very excited since it is the first time I have seen one close enough to identify. I hoped it stayed put long enough for me to get camera-ready, and fortunately it did. I was able to fire off several pics before it finally flew off into the bushes. The unfortunate part was that it was already late in the day and somewhat cloudy, and there wasn't good light for better photography.

Fox Sparrows' migration takes them from their winter grounds in the Southeastern States (as well as Southern California and along the Pacific Coast) through the Midwest and onto their summer grounds of extreme northern Canada and Alaska. They will also spend their summers in the Rockies extending all the way to the Pacific Coast.

A look at the Fox Sparrow's rufous coloring, Rockford; 4/7/11.
Fox Sparrows get their name from their reddish coloring which as you can see from the photo (Above), it has reddish stripes alternating with gray on its back, and much of its wings are red with black tips. Its tail is red along with heavy streaking on its breast and flanks. Its gray head is usually capped off with a red crown (though the red cap on the sparrow in the photos hasn't come in yet - you can see the beginnings of it appearing), red cheeks and eyeline extending to the back of the head. Its breast and belly are lighter (Top photo).

I was hoping it would stick around for a few days to get better pictures in better light, but I didn't see it again. It was fun while it lasted.

1 comment:

~Val said...

He's very cute! I like the shot from the back where he shows off his pretty feathers.