Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
31 Jan 2017, 7:03 PM,
#1
Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
No fewer than two Slate-colored Fox Sparrows were in chaparral at 5,200 ft along Iron Springs Rd this afternoon. This general area west of Prescott and northeast of Skull Valley has recently been found to host wintering Fox Sparrows into the dozens. Also in the area were two Slate-colored Juncos.

Felipe Guerrero


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27 Feb 2017, 10:17 PM,
#2
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Over the last couple of years I've found Fox Sparrows to be fairly common in chaparral east and west of Prescott, favoring diverse, medium-large stature communities of manzanita, mountain mahogany, scrub oak, ceanothus, catclaw, and buckthorn, generally along drainages or in otherwise relatively varied terrain. 

Felipe Guerrero


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28 Feb 2017, 4:33 PM,
#3
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
I think if people were to look systematically they would be found fairly common/regular  in the chaparral around Sedona and Mingus Mountain bordering the Verde Valley as well...Roger Radd and I saw several in Boynton Canyon maybe 10+ years ago and I saw 3-4 there this fall. This fall I was really struck by how similar the species/genus composition and structure of the habitat in Boynton Canyon was to the breeding habitat I saw SC Fox Sparrows in last June west of Bend, Oregon.
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28 Feb 2017, 5:17 PM,
#4
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Agree completely with Chuck, have long figured it was lack of coverage in the preferred chaparral for why Fox Sparrows were considered uncommon in Az. Given how much habitat there is especially in central Az and how few birders cover it in the late fall and winter I imagine they are more common and more widespread than currently thought.

David Vander Pluym
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28 Feb 2017, 5:59 PM,
#5
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Is there any of this habitat in the Hualapai Mountains?
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28 Feb 2017, 6:26 PM,
#6
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
(28 Feb 2017, 4:33 PM)Chuck LaRue Wrote: I think if people were to look systematically they would be found fairly common/regular  in the chaparral around Sedona and Mingus Mountain bordering the Verde Valley as well...
Quail Springs on the east side of the Black Hills was another regular spot for FOSP before the public was fenced out, and there are surely other pockets of similar vegetative composition along that "bathtub ring" at around 5000'.
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28 Feb 2017, 7:44 PM,
#7
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
(28 Feb 2017, 5:59 PM)Chuck LaRue Wrote: Is there any of this habitat in the Hualapai Mountains?

Yes, there is definitely the chaparral veg type there.  It is also found in the Cerbats.  It has been several years since I've been in these areas but I seem to recall that there is more scrub oak (Quercus turbinella) and less manzanita.
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1 Mar 2017, 7:27 AM,
#8
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Fox Sparrows are regular in the Hualapai Mountains in chaparral in moderate numbers. Monson and Phillips also noted that nearby mountains also in some years hold more than very small numbers.
David Vander Pluym
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1 Mar 2017, 7:50 AM,
#9
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Thanks. Have been wanting to go snuffle around in the Cerbats for 35 years....
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1 Mar 2017, 8:45 AM,
#10
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
(1 Mar 2017, 7:50 AM)Chuck LaRue Wrote: Thanks. Have been wanting to go snuffle around in the Cerbats for 35 years....

Chuck,
I spent a lot of time up there when I was growing up and have only been back a handful of times since then.  Perhaps a spring trip up there is in order...

Joe
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1 Mar 2017, 8:50 AM,
#11
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Felipe and I were discussing a potential AZFO field expedition up the Cerbats...

David Vander Pluym
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1 Mar 2017, 11:42 AM,
#12
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
(1 Mar 2017, 8:45 AM)jocrouse Wrote:
(1 Mar 2017, 7:50 AM)Chuck LaRue Wrote: Thanks. Have been wanting to go snuffle around in the Cerbats for 35 years....

Chuck,
I spent a lot of time up there when I was growing up and have only been back a handful of times since then.  Perhaps a spring trip up there is in order...

Joe

I'm in!
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1 Mar 2017, 12:07 PM,
#13
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
I found one at South Gateway Visitor Center near the Village of Oak Creek on 11/12/11. 

Every time I go there (the last time was last Saturday), I always keep my eyes open for Fox Sparrow, but alas, I have not seen one since.

Gary


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1 Mar 2017, 12:14 PM,
#14
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Yeah, it's feeling like time for the Cerbat Mountains.

Micah and I checked a stretch of higher-elevation chaparral/woodland out Hwy 89 south of Prescott yesterday. In our limited surveying we turned up two Fox Sparrows, including this not-so-slate-colored we figure could be a hybrid (Slate-colored x Red). Thoughts?

Fox Sparrows probably winter regularly in chaparral habitat in west-central AZ from the Hualapai and Aquarius Mountains west to the Bradshaws, and across to the Black Hills and New River Mountains. More searching in this habitat-type will no doubt help complete the picture.

In the future I plan to check more isolated ranges containing chaparral, including the Harcuvar and Harquahala Mountains, in La Paz and Maricopa Cos., and the Poachie Range in Mohave. Perhaps another AZFO Expedition.

 I'm going to check some places in the Black Hills this weekend.

Good discussion!


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1 Mar 2017, 7:25 PM,
#15
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Other areas to check might be the Music and Peacock Mnts.  I seem to remember that a FOSP was found near Bagdad a couple years ago.  I think that is in the Aquarius Mtns.
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1 Mar 2017, 9:51 PM,
#16
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Hi Felipe (and all),

This bird also struck me as a Red x Slate-colored when I first saw your photo on eBird earlier. Definitely appears to have some Red genes due to how bright rufous, or "red", around the rump and in the tail feathers are, the brownish back, and even some reddish feathers in the ariculars. The secondaries also seem to contrast quite a bit with the back which a pure Red wouldn't normally show (iirc).

I can't see this bird being a Sooty x Red because I'd expect and overall browner/redder bird with less gray. And definitely not a pure Slate-colored.

Nice find man!

Caleb
Buckeye, AZ

Taking bird identification past gulls and empids...
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2 Mar 2017, 5:25 AM,
#17
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
Isn't there a race/form of Fox Sparrow that has a lot of rufous but isn't as bright as the typical eastern form?  I'm no foxsparrowologist but maybe I am thinking it might be altivagans???  See the discussion in The Bird of Arizona (1964, pg 211)...though in there it notes the back of this race is "practically un-streaked"...the bird in the photo does show some streaks on the mantle.

Jason is wondering if this extended Fox Sparrow discussion is due to slow February-early March birding....
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2 Mar 2017, 8:52 AM,
#18
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
I've attached a map I put together showing the vegetation found in the Cerbat Mtns.  The veg data are part of the Southwest Gap Analysis program.  It is the most comprehensive vegetation layer available but is, of course, not 100% accurate.  For example, ponderosa pine is shown to be scattered across the top of the range.  I know it exists in a very small area on Mt. Tipton in the Mt. Tipton Wilderness.  I suspect that the other areas shown are really pinyon pine.  I don't recall seeing ponderosa in the area above Chloride and Mineral Park.  There could be scattered trees in the deeper draws but they wouldn't amount to much.  Having said that, this veg layer is great for getting a general idea of what is in the area.  When I have the time, I'm planning on putting together another map showing where the chaparral veg type occurs in some of the other mountain ranges we've mentioned. Here is a link to a description of the chaparral type shown on the map: http://swregap.nmsu.edu/habitatreview/Ec...y/S057.pdf.

This past month has been slow birding for me.  The thought of getting into the Cerbats again is exciting as I've wanted to get back there and do some birding for a few years now.

Joe

   
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2 Mar 2017, 8:47 PM,
#19
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
lots of info and images on-line on this question....a simple search for "altivagans fox sparrow" produced these (I haven't read them all through):

http://ebird.org/content/nw/news/fox-spa...g-species/
 
http://thebirdguide.com/fox/fox.htm
 
http://www.pbase.com/gwalbek/image/158839988
 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8695857@N04/10736100996
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3 Mar 2017, 10:45 AM,
#20
RE: Fox Sparrows along Iron Springs Rd, Prescott
altivagans = high wanderer

From BNAOnline:
"P. i. altivagans Riley, Riley 1911 . Breeds from interior central British Columbia southeast to mountains of se. British Columbia and sw. Alberta ( American Ornithologists' Union 1957 ). Winters principally in Cascades and Sierra Nevada of California, coastal s. California, and nw. Baja California ( American Ornithologists' Union 1957 ). Plumage coloration similar to schistacea; however, middle of back brown rather than mouse gray, and wings and tail more reddish brown (burnt umber; Riley 1911 ). Although Riley ( Riley 1911 ) noted similarity between altivagans and schistacea, Swarth ( Swarth 1920b ) considered altivagans to be a member of iliaca group. However, both Rising ( Rising 1987c ) and Zink ( Zink 1994 ) classify altivagans as a member of schistacea group, as indicated by both voice ( Martin 1977 ) and mitochondrial DNA ( Zink 1994 ). Populations within altivagans have considerable variation, with some darker-colored birds, dark reddish brown above and heavily spotted below, and other lighter-colored birds, predominantly grayish above and sparsely spotted below ( Swarth 1920b ). These variants may indicate intergradation with neighboring subspecies ( Swarth 1920b ). Darker birds are probably intergrades with unalaschcensis (fuliginosa), lighter ones are intergrades with iliaca group (with P. i. zaboria). P. i. altivagans also known to intergrade with schistacea near Banff, Alberta ( American Ornithologists' Union 1957 ), and olivacea, as noted by Swarth ( Swarth 1920b ), who found some duller birds that had less reddish coloration and tail length roughly equal to wing length."
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