Date: 2/12/21 11:29 am
From: Feldstein, Steven B <sbf1...>
Subject: Red Fox Sparrow/Slate-colored Fox Sparrow intergrade in State College
Hi Everyone,

There's been an interesting Fox Sparrow in mine and my neighbor's backyard here in State College for the past couple of days. This morning I had the opportunity to get very good looks at it through my binoculars and scope. To me, it looks like an intergrade between a Red Fox Sparrow and Slate-colored Fox Sparrow. (I have seen many individuals of both subspecies groups, but I have never seen an intergrade.) This confusing taxon, which is often referred to as altivagans, is often placed in the Slate-colored Fox Sparrow subspecies group, and it nests in the Canadian Rockies. Interestingly, I didn't see any eastern US records of Slate-colored Fox Sparrow in eBird.

I hope to get a photograph sometime today.

If anyone is interested, these are my detailed notes.

Red Fox SparrowXSlate-colored Fox Sparrow Intergrade

-markedly larger than the White-crowned Sparrow that was next to it, and obviously smaller than the adjacent Northern Cardinal
-feeding on ground below feeder
-background color of face is medium gray
-bill conical (both upper and lower mandible bright yellow, center of upper mandible gray)
-iris dark
-nape medium gray
-faint eye ring
-crown uniformly reddish brown, with a narrow gray median crown stripe
-narrow dark reddish line extending back from eye, a second region of dark reddish below the ear coverts, black lores
-wings uniformly dark reddish, except for two faint wingbars
-back dark reddish and grayish streaking
-rump uniformly brownish red
-background color of underparts white
-streaking on underparts extensive and thick, very dark red, almost black, covering the entire breast and flanks
-streaking on underparts coalescing into large central spot
-undertail coverts white (as the underpart background color) with small black spots
-very broad, very dark red, malar stripe
-tail uniformly rusty red, same color as wings

Steven Feldstein
Join us on Facebook!