Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Passerellidae
  • Polytypic: 19 subspecies
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Photos from this Account

Adult (Red)

Large, chunky sparrow with a rounded head. Plumage varies; eastern form is rich reddish brown with coarse, blurry streaks. Face is gray; bill is black and yellow.

Adult (Sooty)

Large, chunky sparrow with rounded head. The "Sooty" form lives along the Pacific Coast. Upperparts are dark brown; face is grayish; bill is gray and yellow.

Adult (Thick-billed)

Large sparrow with very thick bill. The "Thick-billed" form lives mainly in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains of California and Oregon. Slate gray head and back with brown wings and tail; heavily spotted underparts.

Adult (Slate-colored)

Large, chunky sparrow. Head and back are gray; wings and tail are bright rufous. The "Slate-colored" form breeds in interior western North America and winters mainly along the Pacific Coast.

Adult (Sooty)

Large, chunky sparrow with gray-and-yellow bill. All forms of Fox Sparrow are heavily spotted or blotched on the underparts. In the "Sooty" form these spots are dark brown to deep reddish brown.

Adult (Sooty)

Some "Sooty" Fox Sparrows are a more flat gray brown without the reddish tones. The heavy spots (often chevron shaped) coalesce into larger patches on the breast.

Adult (Slate-colored)

The "Slate-colored" form shows strong contrast between the flat gray head and back and the reddish brown wings and tail.

Adult (Red)

Most Fox Sparrows have yellowish bills with gray tinges to the upper mandible. The "Red" form has a mostly gray face with variable reddish brown on the cheek.


Found on or near the ground in thickets, overgrown fields, spruce-tamarack bogs, woodland edges, willow and alder tangles, chaparral, manzanita, and other dense brushy areas.

Recommended Citation

Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: