Red Fox Sparrow

Observers: Larry Arbanas, Jon Dunn
Date: 03/06/2008
Time: 09:44 PM -0500

Today as I was looking in a box for a microphone to record bird song, I came across an older little telescope of mine that used to do a decent job of terrestrial viewing (versus some other telescopes that are designed for stargazing, but yield an inverted image). Up to now I hadn't been able to pair my little digital camera and good scope that Kathy has lent me to get good pics. That's sometimes the nature of digiscoping. But when that same camera went up to the wide-angle eyepiece of the newly re-found bargain telescope, the images were better than expected. Out on the porch I started snapping pics of Cassin's, House and Lesser Goldfinches pigging out at the feeders. Suddenly there was a large, reddish sparrow on the ground. It was a Fox Sparrow for sure, but not one I'd ever seen in the flesh(feather?). I started snapping pics as fast as I could get my "new" digiscope rig on the bird. When it disappeared through the bottom of the fence, it was time to take a quick look at the photos. Gorgeous bird with a gray head, but all that rufous on the cheeks, wings and tail! Nat Geo and Sibley have different names for this bird, so it'll just go down here as a Red Fox Sparrow, on the bright side of red. Jon Dunn came to the yard for a look and didn't see the bird itself, but looked at the pics and said for sure it was Red, an unusual bird to see here at this time of year. We ventured a few hundred feet down our dirt road and Jon spotted a Fox Sparrow in his scope, a Slate-colored FS. He thought both birds were migrants. Tom Heindel said it was likely the first record in this area/county for this time of year, as this bird has been seen before in the autumn. So I'm pretty stoked about this beauty hopping around the yard, at least for one day. Have I said I love it here? Thanks Tom, Debbie Parker and Jon for sharing accurate details that have me more knowledgeable and confused about Fox Sparrows than I thought I could ever be, all at the same time.