Date: 1/7/18 12:04 pm From: DAVID A LEATHERMAN <daleatherman...> Subject: [cobirds] Fox Sparrow at N. CO Environmental Learning Center, Fort Collins (Larimer) on 7Jan18
A red Fox Sparrow first found by Andy Bankert on 5January2018 was still present mid-morning today at the N. CO Environmental Learning Center on the east side of Fort Collins. This property is accessed by going e on Drake from Timberline to Environmental Drive and following the dirt road north to the ELC parking lot. Go north from the parking lot on the unpaved walking trail to the Suspension Bridge over the mostly dry riverbed. Just e of the Suspension Bridge is a trail intersection and info kiosk with a trail map. Go right (south) at this point following the trail for a few hundred meters to the junction of Alden and Wilcox Trails (both named for former professors in the CSU Fish and Wildlife Department). Andy reported originally finding the Fox Sparrow with juncos in the thickets near this trail junction. I found it south of there this morning. If you go south a few hundred meters (2-3 football fields) from the Alden-Wilcox Trails Jct to an interpretive sign that talks about "Human Homes" there is a big, round skunkbush sumac thicket nne of the sign. That is where I found the juncos and their red cohort this morning about 9:30. This flock moved slowly northward in the boxelder-fallen cottonwood log thickets east, then west, of the trail to a point where there is another interpretive sign talking about biocontrol of weeds with flea beetles. The red Fox Sparrow photos that follow are from the thicket west (toward the riverbed) from this flea beetle sign. The flock eventually worked its way northward even further and I believe went to the thicket where Andy originally saw them a couple days ago near the Alden-Wilcox Trail junction.
In short, find the big group of juncos and then be quiet, patient and hope for luck. The Fox Sparrow is VERY WARY, VERY SECRETIVE, silent, plumper and redder than the juncos, sometimes hops up in vines along tree trunks, basically never comes out in the open. Also be aware there are somewhat similar Song Sparrows in the area, although I did not see any associating with the juncos.
My hat is off to Andy and his considerable birding skills for finding this bird. The Colorado birding community is blessed with birders of all ages possessing exceptional abilities at present. I, for one, an not worried about the future of birding in CO, assuming we can keep ourselves in check, manage our saliva, use good judgment where the birds, habitats and the neighbors are concerned.