Fox Sparrow

Because they can be challenging to identify, birdwatchers may use the term LBB (Little Brown Bird) as a catch-all phrase when they cannot positively identify a particular bird species. However, even in the rain and fog, I was able to identify this LBB as a Fox Sparrow. Not rare, but not all that common, either. He’s a bit dirty from scratching in the mud for bugs and seeds.

The Fox Sparrow is a medium-sized bird with a plump body and a rounded head. Its wingspan can reach up to 11 inches, and its tail is relatively short. This LBB has a reddish-brown back, speckled with black and white, and a grayish-white breast with brown spots. Its beak is strong and pointed, perfect for digging in the ground for food. I watched as the Fox Sparrow hopped around in the muddy forest floor, occasionally pausing to tilt its head and listen for any potential prey. Despite its nondescript appearance, I found myself captivated by this little bird’s determined foraging. It was a reminder that even the smallest, most unassuming creatures can be fascinating in their own right.

Per the Cornell Lab: “Typically seen sending up a spray of leaf litter as they kick around in search of food, Fox Sparrows are dark, splotchy sparrows of dense thickets. Named for the rich red hues that many Fox Sparrows wear, this species is nevertheless one of our most variable birds, with four main groups that can range from foxy red to gray to dark brown. Since they breed primarily in remote areas, many people see them in winter when the birds move into backyard thickets.”

Thought in Memory Of Thomas Brown

To keep our hearts open is probably the most urgent responsibility you have as you get older.”

Leonard Cohen