Sooty Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca unalaschcensis) - Wiki
Sooty Fox Sparrow
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[Photo] Sooty Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca unalaschcensis). Location: Visitors Center parking lot Skagit Wildlife Area. Date 2007-01-15T12:43:23-08:00. Author Walter Siegmund http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Wsiegmund
The Sooty Fox Sparrow (Passerella (iliaca) unalaschcensis) contains the darkest-colored taxa in the genus Passerella. It is currently classified as a "subspecies group" within the Fox Sparrow pending wider-spread acceptance of species status. It has long been suspected to be a separate evolutionary lineage due to morphological distinctness (Swarth 1920), and this is confirmed by analysis of mtDNA sequence and haplotype data (Zink 1994, Zink & Kessen 1999, Zink & Weckstein 2003). This group appears to be most closely related to the Thick-billed and/or Slate-colored Fox Sparrows (Zink 1996, Zink & Weckstein 2003).
The Sooty Fox Sparrow complex varies clinally in intensity of color. The upperparts and head are a variable shade of brown with streaks on the underparts of the same color. The northernmost birds are a sandy brown while southernmost birds are a dark coffee-like color. Sooties prefer to breed in willows and alders at the edge of wet habitats. Beadle & Rising (2003) describe their call note as a sharp zitt or thik, while Sibley (2000) says it is a loud smack like that of Red Fox Sparrow.
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