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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 03, 2021

Red Fox Sparrow: 19 Facts You Won’t Believe

Check out these amazing red fox sparrow facts.

These thick-billed sparrows are one of the largest sparrows belonging to the family of Passerella widely distributed in North America. There are around 18 races of sparrows which all complied in three large groups, including the eastern birds, the southern Rocky Mountain and California-Sierra birds, and the northern Pacific coast birds and south of Washington. Red fox sparrows are brightly colored North American birds that also resemble their subspecies the slate-colored sparrow and the sooty sparrow found at the pacific coast. Fox sparrows are present throughout the world, the slate-colored sparrows migrate from the northeast of Washington to the Wallowa Mountains of southeast Washington. The North American sparrows breed to the east of the Rocky Mountains.

The description of the Slate-colored sparrow has a plain gray face without any patterns, with brown plumage unlike the red fox sparrow with rustic brown color and beautiful striping pattern over its gray head. The life of these birds is very rich in dense thickets and forests. In the summer and springtime, fox sparrows have a melodious high-pitched song that is very noticeable in the forest area.

Read more about some interesting birds including the Eurasian tree sparrow or, Eurasian collared dove.

Red Fox Sparrow Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a red fox sparrow?

The red fox sparrow is a passerine bird (song sparrow) that belongs to the family of Passerellidae, which is a group of New World sparrows. They are seed-eating birds with uncommon head patterns.

What class of animal does a red fox sparrow belong to?

A red fox animal belongs to the class of Aves, like many other songbirds

How many red fox sparrows are there in the world?

The population size of the red fox sparrows is extremely large at present. Therefore, no estimated number can be given but it has been observed that these species have been decreasing in number for a few decades now.

Where does a red fox sparrow live?

A red fox sparrow lives in the woods or the forest with dense trees and shrubs or near the ground thickets. Consequently, we can usually see these birds in the northern part of America.

What is a red fox sparrow's habitat?

Fox sparrows prefer surroundings like coniferous trees or dense thickets, scrubs, and chaparral. During the winter season or breeding season, they move towards dense undergrowth forest areas or woodland habitats.

Who does the red fox sparrow live with?

These species of birds prefer a solitary life and do not live in flocks though many similar species can be found, like the slate-colored fox sparrow, sooty fox sparrow, and thick-billed fox sparrow are all found in close range in the time of winter season.

How long does a red fox sparrow live?

The lifespan of fox sparrows is said to be around nine years in the wild. The oldest fox sparrow has been recorded to live for around 10 years and four months which was captured in California in 2003. However, these birds live significantly shorter lives compared to red-tailed hawks that can live for around 30 years or a pink cockatoo that can live for over 80 years!

How do they reproduce?

Red fox sparrows can breed twice a year. The breeding season starts from May up to July. In each season, red fox sparrows lay three to five eggs per clutch range. The color of the eggs is pale green or blue with dark brown blotches or cloudy reddish-brown markings. The height of the nests made by these birds is very low or at the ground level. The nest is typically made by the female sparrow in around two to three days, which is cup-shaped lined with twigs, seeds, dry grass, feathers, animal hair rotting, or shredded wood. In the denser range, of western North America fox, sparrow birds nest in or under conifer trees and the chaparral. The incubation period is done for 12-14 days, usually by the female, and fed by both the parents once the eggs are hatched. The hatchlings are said to take flight 10-12 days after hatching.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the fox sparrow is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. 

Red Fox Sparrow Fun Facts

What does the red fox sparrow look like?

Learn about some extremely interesting red-fox sparrow facts here

Red fox sparrows are rustic red or dark brown in color, the length of their body is 6-8 in (15-20 cm) and their wingspan is 10-12 in (27-29 cm). There are various fox sparrows and most of them are long-tailed, bi-colored, and have dark brown streaks near the breast area. The eastern and northern species have gray heads with rustic or red stripes with reddish-brown blotches with messy central spots. The belly is white with gray streaks at the back with a dull gray rump. Males are larger in length as compared to females.

How cute are they?

These little gray-headed birds are very cute due to their rustic red color and dark brown blotches. They are typically seen to be foraging seeds off the ground or building nests.

How do they communicate?

This thick-billed songbird communicates through calls and singing. The voice of this bird is said to be similar to the dark brown thrasher found in the eastern range of the U.S. It is observed that the male sings or calls around the nesting area to protect it from predators.

How big is a red fox sparrow?

Red fox sparrows are small birds, the length of these birds can range from 5-8 in (15-20 cm). They are almost the same size as an American tree sparrow or a lark sparrow.

How fast can a red fox sparrow move?

These birds are said to fly 24-30 mph (38-50 kph). The sooty subspecies are among the fastest flying sparrows. They spend their winter in Northern U.S and stop in for migration in South Canada. Red fox sparrow migration period in the west (California) starts in February up to May as they reach their breeding ground, they are also said to be diurnal so they migrate during the nights as well.

How much does a red fox sparrow weigh?

The weight of the red fox sparrow range can be from 0.95 - 1.73 lb (26-50 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

These thick-billed birds do not have any sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby red fox sparrow?

Once any fox sparrow bird is done with the hatching period, it is termed as a hatchling. The young bird species are called nestlings or chicks.

What do they eat?

Red fox sparrows feed on leaf litter, seeds left on the ground through the double scratch technique in which they hop forward and immediately hop back, this behavior is quite common among the subspecies of fox sparrows. The young are fed small worms or larvae and fed by both the parents. They also eat invertebrates like spiders, millipedes, beetles, and larvae, as they can be easily picked up from the ground. During the winter and migration period, they tend to eat a mixture of plants and insects.

Are they dangerous?

No, fox sparrows aren't dangerous, though males are quite protective of their habitat during the breeding season. The song that they produce is usually to alarm the group of birds of predators.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, they can make a good pet if cared for since they are young they also tend to come back to their feeders. They would mostly reside in a backyard with dense shrubs or be held captive. As they feed on berries, plants, and leaf litter it is easy to take care of them.

Did you know...

A slate-colored female fox sparrow was once recorded to build a nest at the start of sunrise and was ready to hatch eggs till the time for sunset! Within a day's time, fox sparrows breed and establish their territories in the forest.

These thick-billed birds have an extra bone placed between their tongue which makes it easier for them to pick up seeds from the ground.

Fossils of fox sparrows are said to be found in northern California that is about 11,000 years old.

Red fox sparrows vs. sooty fox sparrows?

A sooty sparrow is considered a backyard winter song sparrow in the northwest region of the Washington coast and Pacific coast. They can be found in areas including woodland edges, shrubby forests, streamside thickets. Red fox sparrows are boreal species found in eastern areas of the Rocky mountains. The subspecies of the sooty group have blackish upperparts with any patterns or striping like the red fox sparrow. The breeding range of sooty overlaps with that of a red fox sparrow. These song sparrows can also be confused with other sparrows but one can identify them by their thick-billed shape and colors.

Is the red fox sparrow endangered?

They are not endangered at all, there are millions of fox sparrows found in different habitats. A few subspecies usually overlap with each other like the slate-colored sparrow and the sooty sparrow.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these seaside sparrow facts and grasshopper sparrow facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable little sparrowhawk coloring pages.

Main image by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren.

Second image by Factumquintus.

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