Fox Sparrow?

Unknown Sparrow, possibly Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)

The sparrows in the park are driving me crazy. I keep seeing sparrows I can’t identify. Case in point, this one. Clearly a sparrow, not a finch. On the large side for a sparrow. Has orange-yellow beak, which points to a small group of sparrows, including the locally common White-crowned Sparrow. But nothing else resembles white-crowned. Crown is uniformly brown. Breast is heavily checked, unlike white-crowned. There’s an eye ring. I’ve spent more time than I care to admit perusing photos online trying to ID it. The Merlin app was no help. The nearest match I’ve found is the Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca). According to the Audubon website map, they do exist in California, and are even said to be common — an adjective I’ve learned to take with a grain of salt. Common or not, no one on eBird has ever claimed to see one in Chavez Park. So, do I have a first find here? Or am I being an idiot not recognizing that this is a bird everybody knows and I’ve seen dozens of times but it’s in eclipse plumage in its third winter, and how come I didn’t know that?

Unknown Sparrow, possibly Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)

More about Fox Sparrows: Audubon Cornell Wikipedia

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