Fox Sparrow

Although some species are more gray or dark brown, the Fox Sparrow is aptly named after its fox-red coloring. Its reddish streaks are particularly obvious in its chest area. It is a chunky bird compared to other sparrows.

There are four different color and appearance variations in Fox Sparrows. Red Fox Sparrows are found in eastern areas, and darker ‘sooty’ Fox Sparrows are found along the Pacific Coast. Thick-billed Fox Sparrows are found in California, and Slate-colored Fox Sparrows are found in western US states.

  • Passerella iliaca
  • Length: 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm)
  • Weight: 0.9-1.6 oz (26-44 g)
  • Wingspan: 10.5-11.4 in (26.7-29 cm)


Fox Sparrows migrate and breed in the north and west of Canada, Alaska, and down as far as California in the western US.

They spend the winter in southeastern US states and along the Pacific coast. Some remain all year on Canada’s Pacific coast, and they can be seen during migration in central and northeastern US states.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Fox Sparrows in wooded areas, undergrowth, and brush. In the winter, they migrate to similar areas, even in well-vegetated suburbs and parks. You may observe them kicking up leaf litter in the air in search of food on the ground. 

Insects and seeds are a common diet of Fox Sparrows. At times, they may also eat berries and grasses and crustaceans and marine animals if they’re near the beach. 

Fox Sparrow Sounds:

Males sing a pleasant series of whistles and buzzy notes.


Nests of Fox Sparrow are hidden under dense, low shrubs. They may also build them in low trees but not more than eight feet above the ground. The nest is covered with grass, weeds, and moss but lined with dry grass. For those above ground, twigs are used to toughen up the nest’s walls.

They lay two to five eggs, which take about two weeks to hatch. The young may leave the nest within eleven days of hatching. 

Attract Fox Sparrows

Attract them to your backyard with small seeds and berries and low native shrubs.

Fun Fact:

The female Fox Sparrow can build a nest in a flash. They can start a nest at sunrise and finish it by dusk!