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Passerella iliaca unalaschcensis
The Sooty Fox Sparrow 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, and this is confirmed by analysis of mtDNA sequence and haplotype data. This group appears to be most closely related to the Thick-billed and/or Slate-colored Fox Sparrows. 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.
Thicket by lake, Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC.