[Tweeters] Thick-billed Fox Sparrow

SGMlod at aol.com SGMlod at aol.com
Sat Feb 26 13:01:51 PST 2005

Greetings All

Dennis Duffy and I had a Thick-billed Fox Sparrow near Snohomish the morning.
This was not one of the more northerly races, in which the bill approximates
Slate-colored and Sooty Fox Sparrow bill size. This was a bird with an
obviously enlarged bill, all gray excepting a bright yellow, sharply demarcated, base
to the lower mandible.

Beyond the large bill, the bird had a plain gray face and back contrasting
with brown wings (no wingbars). The spotting underneath was relatively sparse,
much like a Slate-colored. There was some dusky smudging on the rear flanks and
a small central breast spot. The center of the belly was white.

If you have Rising's excellent photo guide, the bird mostly resembled 40.1 on
p. 183, but the gray was paler and duller like the 40.3.

The illustration in the Sibley guide is close, except the bill was shorter,
giving more of a grosbeak like appearance, and it had the yellow base to the
lower mandible, and the wings were brown, not rusty.

This is a totally unexpected find, especially in winter.

To get to the spot, take US-2 to the Home Acres Road exit. Turn right onto
Home Acres road, which winds around south briefly, then west briefly, then turns
to the south for a mile or two and then to the east. You'll pass over Ebey
Slough (there's a sign denoting this); after going over Ebey Slough, take the
first right. This road goes south until it hits the Snohomish River and then
parallels the river. Take this road to the point where the power lines cross the
river. We stopped here and pished at the blackberries on the north side of the

The road is kind of narrow, and the local landowners don't like people
parking on the river side of the road because they feel it contributes to erosion,
so parking isn't easy.

Steven Mlodinow
Everett WA

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