[Tweeters] 11/19: Tenino red Fox Sparrow continues

Paul Hicks PHicks at accessgrace.org
Fri Nov 19 16:18:01 PST 2004


Great start to my day before work: A close view in full sunshine of the truly striking "red" Fox Sprarrow on Mull Rd east of Tenino. The bird was first sighted Nov. 13 and seen again Nov. 15 by Bob Sundstrom & me. Directions and description follow. My view this morning provided more detail regarding the striking colors and contrasts. The white throat is framed by bold brown-red-brown lateral throat stripes; in turn bordered by a broad white malar stripe that's nearly long enough to form a half-collar; in turn bordered by a somewhat rusty stripe or patch under the eye (roughly the cheek area) that is fringed with a narrow bright rust edge against the white malar. A second striking feature is the "glowing," saturated red-brown uppertail covert (bright enough to see at considerable distance without binocs!) book-ended by a brown-red-brown tail below and clean gray rump above, with the back streaked with distinct red-brown stripes on a gray background. The third striking feature is the clean white underparts streaked with well differentiated red-brown spots. Overall there is far more white than dark on the underparts, and close to half-and-half on the breast. From roughly the "shoulder" area up through the head the bird appears to me slightly browner than the red/taiga illustrated in "small" Sibley's, but otherwise nearly identical.
Bob Sundstrom (previous post) observed: "The bird corresponds well to what Sibley depicts as Red (Taiga), which is to say it appears to be a strongly marked Red Fox Sparrow (zaboria or iliaca, which may not be separable from one another in the field) rather than a drab altivagans which is overall much closer in appearance to some of the brighter Sooty types. This Fox Sparrow's face is strongly marked with rusty and gray, the underparts are truly white with rusty markings, the wings and tail are nicely rusty, and the back is gray streaked with rust. The state bird records committee includes some distinctive subspecies (and potential species splits) as review birds, such as Red Fox Sparrow and Bewick's Swan, and is looking for good and thorough documentation of such sightings to help establish their pattern of occurrence in Washington."
Directions: Just east of Tenino via SR 507 (toward Rainier), turn left (north) on Mull Rd. The best place to park is probably on the right-hand shoulder as you approach the bridge guard rail, right up against the two survey stakes there (the shoulder is solid).
Location: about 150 feet north of the bridge, just past the large trees on the left and back in the fenced-off rose/snowberry brambles. It hangs out anywhere from behind this grove of trees to north and westward as far as the second snowberry patch north of the adjacent fenceline. Best chance of viewing the bird is when it rises into the isolated small trees growing up through the brambles. If it is not foggy, my guess is the best time is 8:30 to 9:30-ish, after it warms up a bit.
Good birding!

Paul Hicks
phicks AT accessgrace.org
(off-line emails on weekends may also be sent to: hickshouse AT thurston.com -- no attachments)

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