Re: Thick-billed Fox Sparrow in Stanislaus Co.
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Nice find. I would expect that Thick-billed Fox Sparrows breeds in the upper reaches of Stanislaus County (though I'm not sure how high it goes). They do winter in low numbers around the Central Valley (very rarely IN the Central Valley), but are most common in winter in chaparral in southern California, especially the Santa Monica Mtns west thru Santa Barbara.
This is a belated report, since I finally looked at my photos this evening - and I didn’t realize how unusual this was at the time:
On January 6th I drove up Del Puerto Canyon Road and down San Antonio Road with my college-age son - with the intention of getting out of the city and away from the news for a few precious hours - and also to look at the fire damage, which turned out to be more extensive than I'd expected.
The most notable sighting from the outing was a flock of Fox Sparrows right at Adobe Springs, which is at about Mile 19 or so on Del Puerto Canyon Road. The Sparrows were at the river right above the spring then working their way up the hill a bit. There appeared to be 4-5 sparrows of one of the interior races with gray heads and gray backs along with a couple of Sooty Fox Sparrows. I got some photos for documentation so that I could study them later, and then we got distracted. A trucker was filling up his tanker with spring water (high in magnesium) and listening to the news - something about an armed insurrection happening at the capitol building. Anyway, I digress.
I’ve attached a photo of a pretty good Thick-billed Fox Sparrow (also at https://www.flickr.com/photos/amaizlish/50851596747). Gray head and back, large conical bill with a curved culmen and a steep forehead. I wanted to get the word out belatedly now as eBird does not have any records of Thick-billed for Stanislaus County! Kind of surprising.
San Francisco, CA
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