[Tweeters] "Red" fox Sparrow and Tree Swallows at Nisqually

bill shelmerdine georn1 at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 4 12:59:54 PST 2005

This morning I decided to walk the dike trail at Nisqually, despite rather 
marginal weather.  Highlights included a Red Fox Sparrow (details below) and 
5+ Tree Swallows, the first of the year for me.  Other noticible sightings 
included 2 Northern Shrikes (an Adult along the cross over tail and an 
Immature at the middle of the outer dike), and a drake Eurasian Wigeon and 
101 Brant on the outer dike in the saltwater.  A close up encounter with a 
Mink along the river side was a nice treat also.

Details for the Fox Sparrow:
With golden-crowns along the outer dike trail along MacAllister Creek, north 
of the photo blind, just beyond the beginning of the NW pond on the inside 
of the dike.  It was at a spot where the trail bends outward (south) and 
parallels the bay at the mouth of MacAllister Creek.  There are small orange 
wire whip flags stuck into the ground here.  (This is the same area I had a 
Swamp Sparrow and a male Slate-colored Junco while scouting for the 
Christmas bird count on 12/17/04, so keep an eye out)

The bird was seen very well though the scope for a period of at least 15 
min.  A brief description is as follows:  The bird had a pale gray head, 
nape and sides of the neck (unstreaked).  There was strong contrast in the 
face from a dark reddish brown ear patch/ auricular and bold white malar 
stripe, wrapping back into the side of the neck.  The crown was streaked 
brown.  Lower mandible was pale, yellowish at base. The back was gray with 
fine red-brown streaking.  The rump and upper tail coverts were bright rusty 
red, extending well down the sides to the sides of the undertail.  The tail 
was brownish red, a shade darker that the upper tail/ rump.  The wing 
coverts and tertials were rusty red-brown with pale tips; brighter on the 
leading edge, darker on the trailing edge. The secondaries were red-brown 
with the primaries darker brown.  Underparts and throat were bright white; 
mid breast and flanks heavily streaked red-brown.  Streaking is thick, 
diffuse and coalescing at the base of the throat, top of the breast.

Good luck and good birding,
Bill Shelmerdine, Olympia

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