As I stood near the top of the boardwalk, unsuccessfully attempting to photograph a squirrel stripping a pine cone of its seeds (the squirrel kept turning its back to me just as I tripped the shutter) I noticed a reddish-brown and gray colored object quickly move out from under some exposed tree roots to my right. It was a bird, a large, brightly colored sparrow. It was a Fox Sparrow.
I hadn’t seen a Fox Sparrow here at the Museum for several years and this one was within forty feet of where I saw the last one. I wasn’t swift enough to get a photo of the bird, but at least I had seen one.
Like Winter Wrens, Fox Sparrows are usually in our area each winter, but not often seen. Unlike the Winter Wrens, your best chances of seeing a Fox Sparrow is at a bird feeder during or immediately following a snow storm when the ground is covered with snow. These birds forage on the ground for seeds and need open ground to do so.
As I proceeded to the top of the walkway, I flushed a cardinal and another bird, which perched about 20 feet from where I stood. It was another Fox Sparrow. This time, I was able to squeeze off a half-dozen shots, none of which were very good, except the one below.
These fox-colored sparrows (they look like gray foxes to me) are shy and spend much of their time on the ground under shrubs and in thick brush. It’s always a bit of a thrill to see one.
Keep your eyes open as you walk down the boardwalk, especially in the brush and leaf litter on your right as you descend towards the first landing.