Monday, May 17, 2010

Western Race Fox Sparrow in Central Park NY...

Sooty Fox Sparrow
Last Thursday, I had initially planned to join a group of birders from Queens and Brooklyn on a big day, but then had to back out because I was asked by NYC Audubon to cover a bird program. My NYC Audubon walk was in the afternoon, but I decided to make it a day in Manhattan and bird Central Park in the morning. As luck would have it, a Western race Fox Sparrow was found in Strawberry Fields and I was able to get there and see the bird. I did get some photos of the bird which were not very good due to light and other conditions. However, there were photographers there that were able to get good shots - for really good photos of the bird, check out Lloyd Spitalnik's.

Six subspecies are usually recognized in the Sooty Fox Sparrow complex, ranging from unalaschensis in the Aleutians to fuliginosa in extreme northwestern Washington. Most birders seem to agree that the Id of the Fox Sparrow was likely a Sooty Fox Sparrow. My friend Shai Mitra, one of the first birders to weigh on the Id of the bird supported Sooty Fox Sparrow unalaschensis and referenced the bird that Paul Buckley mistnetted at Fire Island Lighthouse in 1971 (Bulls birds of New York State) that was determined to be a Fox Sparrow of the subspecies altivagans, which was collected as a specimen studied and debated over the years. Having adequate photographs and documentation of this bird would definitely aid in the discussion, as I expect this bird to be debated as well. I may return to update this post as I receive more information.

Birders & photographers observing the bird in Strawberry Fields.

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