Our next streaky sparrow is a bird of open fields, like the Savannah Sparrow, and like the Savannah Sparrow, is a bit like a more finely-streaked, and lighter-appearing Song Sparrow.  There are some differences, though.  Remember, the Savannah Sparrow,

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usually has yellow lores above and in front of the eyes.  This is a pretty good field mark.  You can also see a good eyestripe and usually two good moustache stripes framing the white malar stripe down from the bill.

The Vesper Sparrow, by contrast, has very little, if any, eyestripe, a good white eyering, and a pronounced dark-rimmed cheek patch, bordered by white, below the eye.  The key field marks, of course, are the very visible white outer tail feathers when it flies, but these are not always easy to pick out when it’s on the ground or in weeds.  The chestnut shoulder is a nice mark, if it’s showing.  These sparrows are a lot less common in much of our area than the Savannah, but it’s worth knowing what to look for during migration – especially in the spring.

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The last sparrow we’ll look at is really dramatic – like a big, red-and-gray Song Sparrow on steroids.  Fox Sparrows are pretty variable across the country, but here in the east, your first impression is going to be “Big!” followed by “So red and gray!”  When you see one under your feeders among the White-throated and Song Sparrows, these look really hefty – almost like a Towhee in size.  I’ve seen very reddish Song Sparrows, but once you see a Fox Sparrow, you don’t mistake the Songs any more.

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