Fox Sparrows are one of the easier sparrows to identify at a glance, but unfortunately, in much of New England, they're only present for a short time during spring and fall migration. Unlike plainer, brown-streaked Song Sparrows, Fox Sparrows have an overall rusty-red plumage. Their underparts are heavily marked, and a head-on look reveals chevron-shaped belly spots.
One day, during my first spring back in Maine, I was puzzled by a songster at a local conservation property. The song reminded me of a Purple Finch, but instead of coming from a bird perched high in a tree, as I would expect of a Purple Finch, this songster was in a thicket along a small river.
A bit of searching and much patience revealed the source as a Fox Sparrow. After a bit more observation, one Fox Sparrow became at least 10 in dense cover near the river, by far the most I've ever seen at once. More typically, I observe 1 or 2 birds near a feeder or in dense, shrubby vegetation. To learn more about Fox Sparrows visit All About Birds.