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Possible "Sooty" Fox Sparrows at Double Springs - Printable Version

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Possible "Sooty" Fox Sparrows at Double Springs - jawilder - 3 Oct 2018

I ran across two Fox Sparrows this morning at Double Springs foraging in the damp willow thicket near to where the stream crosses under the main road. Though my first instinct was to call them our regular migrant/winter "Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow, I never was able to see the expected contrast between the gray back and rufous wings and tails. Looking at photos back on my computer, I'm fairly certain these are "Sooty" Fox Sparrows. Today's birds were uniformly dark gray-brown on the tail, wings and back. The only spot of contrasting color is a reddish patch on the uppertail coverts. I don't see any hint of wingbars. Spotting on the breast and flanks is dense (though apparently less so than shown in Sibley, but similar to many photos of "Sooty" Fox Sparrows online - they are quite variable).

Thoughts welcome on these birds. There are only a small handful of AZ records of "Sooty" Fox Sparrows, so these would be quite unusual. My photos aren't great, but the birds were decidedly uncooperative!

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Jason
Flagstaff, AZ