This large, boldly marked bird is named for its fox red coloration, but not all Fox Sparrows are reddish-some western birds are gray or even dark brown. Sexes are similar, and coloration does not vary seasonally.
Fox Sparrows have a beautiful song that starts with several sweet whistled notes, then a trill, and ends with a short warble: sweet-sweet, chee-cheechee-tititititi-chew-wee! Call note is a loud chip! or smak!
Though similar in size, Fox Sparrows appear stockier than Song Sparrows. The fox red coloration is brighter than the Song Sparrow’s earth tones, and the breast of the Fox Sparrow is spotted with rusty brown (the Song Sparrow’s breast is streaked with brown).
Fox Sparrows prefer to forage on the ground, often in dense, brushy cover, scratching for food like a towhee. They do not normally winter in flocks, but they will join other birds in a thicket or feeding below a bird feeder.
The various forms of the Fox Sparrow (red, gray, sooty, and largebilled forms) appear very different and may one day be split into separate species.
Listen to the fox sparrow: