18 Small Brown Birds (ID, Photos)

Sparrows or wrens are the most common little brown birds, but which ones have you seen?

Those little brown birds that are visiting your yard or out in the woods and fields will be identified in this guide.

These little birds are frequently seen in the United States and Canada, and if you don’t see them now, you’ll regret it later.

Furthermore, for each state, you may get a free printable picture ID for backyard birds.

18 Small Brown Birds

  1. Common Yellowthroat
  2. Song Sparrow
  3. Chipping Sparrow
  4. House Sparrow
  5. Golden-crowned Sparrow
  6. Carolina Wren
  7. White-throated Sparrow
  8. House Wren
  9. Great-crested Flycatcher
  10. Female House Finch
  11. Female Purple Finch
  12. Eastern Phoebe
  13. Pine Siskin
  14. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
  15. American Tree Sparrow
  16. Field Sparrow
  17. Female Brown-headed Cowbird
  18. Bewick’s Wren

18 Small Brown Birds

1. Common Yellowthroat

Little brown birds with long tails, Common Yellowthroats are small bright yellow birds. A black mask covers the face of the males. The yellows can be more olive in certain areas and brighter in others, depending on their location.

  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.3 oz (9-10 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm)

Except for Alaska and northern Canada, most Common Yellowthroats spend the summer breeding across North America. On the Gulf Coast and in the Pacific Southwest, some continue year-round.

They may be found in marshy or wetland regions and brushy fields throughout the spring and summer, living amid thick, intertwined vegetation.

They prefer to eat insects and may be seen in dense vegetation-covered yards.

2. Song Sparrow

In the spring and summer, song sparrows, although not as gorgeous as other backyard birds, sing nearly constantly to attract mates.

  • Length: 4.7-6.7 in (12-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz (12-53 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in (18-24 cm)

Song Sparrow is a year-round resident of the northern US. Certain varieties migrate to the southern United States after breeding in Canada.

They’re frequently seen perched on a low shrub and singing in open, shrubby, and damp environments. Backyard feeders are a common place to find them.

Beetles, caterpillars, midges, spiders, and earthworms are among the insects and plants Song Sparrows consume. Buckwheat, sunflower seeds, raspberries, wild cherries, blackberries, wheat, and rice will also be eaten by them.

By putting black oil sunflower seeds, broken maize, and nyjer on platform feeders, you may encourage more song sparrows to your yard.

3. Chipping Sparrow

The grayish belly and brown bracks of Chipping Sparrows are black-streaked, with a rusty crown and black eye line. They are slender, long-tailed birds. The hues are softer in the winter.

  • Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz (11-16 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.3 in (21 cm)

Before heading to Mexico and Florida for the winter, Chipping Sparrows spend their summer breeding across most of North America and Canada. In the Southern states, some are present all year.

They may be seen in small flocks on open land, and they’ll come to your yard for a variety of birdseed.

4. House Sparrow

Another imported species that has thrived is the House Sparrow, which is now one of the most widespread birds in the area.

Little brown-backed birds with black streaks and a short tail. Gray and brown heads, white cheeks, and a white neckband characterize them. Their bellies are gray in color.

  • Length: 5.9-6.7 in (15-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz (27-30 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in (19-25 cm)

House Sparrows live in all US states and down into Central America.

They may be quite domesticated and will snack out of your hand, so they may be found around houses and structures.

Grain and seed, as well as waste food, are the main foods they consume. Although they are non-native, they may be found in backyards if you do not feed them. They can be considered a pest.

Most types of birdseed, especially millet, corn, and sunflower seeds, can draw more House Sparrows to your yard feeders.

5. Golden-crowned Sparrow

The underside of Golden-crowned Sparrows is grayish-brown, and the back is streaked brown. The crown of their heads is black, while the foreskull is vivid yellow.

The colors are duller in the winter, with a brown crown and a yellow forehead that is also duller.

  • Length: 5.9-7.1 in (15-18 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-1.2 oz (30-33 g)

Before heading to the West Coast for winter, Golden-crowned Sparrows breed in Alaska and Western Canada.

They may be seen searching for dock, sumac, and geranium seeds in weedy fields during the winter.

Apples, grapes, elderberry, and olives are some of the fruits they consume. Ants, beetles, butterflies, and termites are among the insects that eat them.

With ground feeders or plant native plants that fruit, you can attract more Golden-crowned Sparrows to your backyard.

6. Carolina Wren

The dark brown top and light brown underside of the Carolina Wren make it a retiring bird. They have a loud teakettle song with a white eyebrow stripe and an upright tail.

  • Length: 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.8 oz (18-22 g)
  • Wingspan: 11.4 in (29 cm)

All year, Carolina Wrens can be found in the Eastern and Southeastern US.

These may be located in wooded or heavily vegetated locations, as well as at domestic feeders.

Suet feeders, hulled sunflower seeds, and peanut hearts in huge tube feeders or on platform feeders may all help to bring more Carolina Wrens to your outdoor diet.

7. White-throated Sparrow

The black and white striped head, brilliant white throat, and yellow between the eye and beak distinguish White-throated Sparrows. Brown on the top, and gray on the bottom.

  • Length: 6.3-7.1 in (16-18 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.1 oz (22-32 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.1 in (20-23 cm)

White-throated Sparrows migrate throughout the year, breeding in Canada before heading south to Eastern and Southern states as well as the Pacific Coast during winter.

White-throated Sparrows are frequently seen in large flocks on the ground in forests and woods, as well as along the outskirts of wooded areas.

Grasses and weeds seeds, as well as fruits such as grape, sumac, mountain ash, blueberry, blackberry, and dogwood, are the major sources of food for White-throated Sparrows. In the summer, they will also consume a considerable quantity of insects from the forest floor.

Millet and black oil sunflower seeds on platform feeders may entice White-throated Sparrows to your yard.

8. House Wren

Little nondescript brown birds with deeper barred wings and tails and a lighter neck, House Wrens are tiny little birds.

  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (10-12 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9 in (15 cm)

Before migrating to the far south and Mexico for winter, House Wrens spend their summer breeding in most states.

Backyards, parks, and open woods are all home to House Wrens, who hunting for insects and spiders.

Their cheerful song may frequently be heard as they energetically hop through tangles and low branches with their tails up.

When it comes to finding the best nest holes, House Wrens are ferocious for their size, harassing bigger birds and dragging eggs or nestlings out of a nest site they want.

Leaving piles of brush or setting up a nest box may help encourage more House Wrens to visit your yard.

9. Great Crested Flycatcher

Brown with a yellow belly and neck, Great Crested Flycatchers are a sight to see. The wing and tail feathers of these birds are crimson with a black tip. It’s difficult to see the crest.

  • Length: 6.7-8.3 in (17-21 cm)
  • Weight: 0.9-1.4 oz (27-40 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.4 in (34 cm)

Over much of Eastern North America, Great Crested Flycatchers breed, and during the winter, they migrate to southern Florida, southern Mexico, and Central America.

They wait for large insects, such as butterflies, grasshoppers, moths, wasps, and even spiders to fly up high in the trees where they sit perched. They may be found perched on fenceposts or other man-made constructions, as well as in mixed woodlands and at the borders of clearings, parks, and tree-lined areas. Berries and tiny fruit will be eaten as well.

Plant native species of plants and leave brush piles to attract insects to your backyard in an effort to attract more Great Crested Flycatchers. They readily take up residence in plant berry-producing plants, so you should put up a nest box for them.

10. Female House Finch

Females are brown-streaked little birds with a red head and breast, whereas males are red-headed.

  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (16-27 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm)

House Finches were first introduced to the eastern United States, where they have done particularly well, displacing even the Purple Finch.

Parks, farms, forest borders, and backyard feeders are all good places to look. They may be found in noisy groups that stand out.

Black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders may help attract additional House Finches to backyard feeding stations.

11. Female Purple Finch

Brown-streaked birds include the female Purple Finches.

The heads of males are reddish-purple, and their breasts are brown. They resemble House Finches in appearance.

  • Length: 4.7-6.3 in (12-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-32 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.7-10.2 in (22-26 cm)

They are found on the Pacific coast and breed throughout Canada, then overwinter in eastern states.

Black oil sunflower seeds are readily available at feeders.

12. Eastern Phoebe

The back of the Eastern Phoebes is grayish-brown, while the underside and head are whitish, with a darker head.

  • Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.7 oz (16-21 g)
  • Wingspan: 10.2-11.0 in (26-28 cm)

Before migrating to the southeast and Mexico for winter, eastern Phoebes are migratory birds that breed in northeastern and central states before moving west.

Birds that live near the southern edge of their range may stay here all year.

In quiet woodland, wild Eastern Phoebes wagging their tails from low perches are more likely to be seen alone rather than in pairs or flocks.

Flying insects are the most common prey for flycatchers, however they will also consume spiders and other invertebrates, small fruits and seeds. They build nests out of mud and grass on bridges, barns, or homes.

A nest box or native plants that produce berries are two ways to attract more Eastern Phoebes to your backyard.

13. Pine Siskin

The brown body with yellow streaks on the wing and tail makes Pine Siskins small finches. With a small pointed beak, they have a forked tail and pointed wings.

  • Length: 4.3-5.5 in (11-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz (12-18 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-8.7 in (18-22 cm)

Throughout the pine woodlands of the western United States and near the Canadian Border, Pine Siskins stay throughout the year. Before heading south for winter, some breed in Canada.

Depending on pine cone crops, they can be found across much of North America.

Pine Siskins eat mostly conifer seeds, but they will also consume young buds and seeds from grasses and weeds, as their name suggests.

Thistle and nyjer feeders, as well as black oil sunflower seeds and suet, may attract Pine Siskins to your yard.

14. Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadees are tiny black and white birds with gray wings and belly. Their heads are black and white, and their backs are rich chestnut brown.

  • Length: 3.9-4.7 in (10-12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (7-12 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5 in (19 cm)

They are frequent guests to backyard feeders and raise flocks in damp evergreen woodlands along the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Caterpillars, spiders, wasps, and aphids are the major insect species that consume them; seeds, berries, and fruit account for the rest of their diet.

Black-oil sunflower seeds, suet, nyjer, peanuts, and tube feeders, platform feeders, and suet cages are all ways to attract Chestnut-backed Chickadees to your yard. Nest boxes will also be utilized.

15. American Tree Sparrow

Long-tailed brown-streaked fat birds with rusty caps, gray faces, and a rusty eyeliner, American Tree sparrows are long-tailed fat birds.

  • Length: 5.5 in (14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.5-1.0 oz (13-28 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.4 in (24 cm)

In the United States, winter is spent with American Tree Sparrows, while summer is spent in Canada.

Except for the Pacific Coast and Gulf Coast, they breed in Canada’s far north and migrate to most US states during the winter.

In weedy fields and beneath bird feeders, they forage in small flocks.

Black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and millet can all be used to attract more American Tree Sparrows to your backyard platform feeders. They also forage for seeds dropped or discarded from above on the ground, using tube feeders.

16. Field Sparrow

Little slender brown-backed birds with black streaks on their backs, Field Sparrows are tiny. They have a crimson crown and pink beak, as well as gray undersides and heads.

  • Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.5 oz (11-15 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9 in (20 cm)

In the east, Field Sparrows live throughout the year, but those that breed in the Midwest migrate south for winter.

They prefer abandoned fields and are shy, so you may miss them if you don’t know where to look. Males will sing from a perch in the early mornings throughout the breeding season, making them easier to spot.

17. Female Brown Headed Cowbird

Brown all over with a little streaking, these female Brown-headed Cowbirds are brown.

Males are bigger and have brown heads with short tails, as compared to females.

  • Length: 76.3-8.7 in (19-22 cm)
  • Weight: 1.3-1.8 oz (42-50 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.2 in (36 cm)

Before heading south, Brown-headed Cowbirds breed in much of North America’s north and west, as well as the Eastern and Southern states and the Pacific Coast.

Since they consume the eggs of smaller birds in order to lay their own eggs in the nest and have the bird raise their chicks, they are frequently seen as a bother.

18. Bewick’s Wren

Brown-backed birds with long upright tails, Bewick’s Wrens are a kind of wren. They have a white stripe across the eye and gray bellies.

  • Length: 5.1 in (13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (8-12 g)

Bewick’s Wrens spend the year in southern and western states, with a few movements in the winter.

They may be seen hopping from limb to limb, flicking their long tails, in scrub, thickets, and open woodland.

They may visit suet, mealworms, and hulled sunflower seeds at backyard feeders and feed on insects and larvae.

This Woodlink caged feeder, because the cage is set far enough distant from the feeder to prevent bigger birds simply putting their heads through, is the greatest bird feeder for attracting little birds without bully birds like grackles.

How to Identify Birds

Here are some pointers on how to identify birds so that wherever you go birding, you’ll have the skills to record and locate the species in a guide:

  1. The most evident characteristic of a bird is its size. In guide books, birds are often measured in inches or centimeters. To be able to locate the bird later, take a note of it in terms of tiny, medium, and huge. A sparrow is the size of a little bird, a pigeon is the size of a medium bird, and a goose is the size of a big bird.
  2. The bird’s silhouette should be noted or drawn down, and it should be taken note of. Take note of the tail length, beak shape, wing shape, and overall body form.
  3. The primary color of the head, back, belly, and wings, as well as the tail, should be taken into account when designing a color pattern. Pay attention to repeated patterns such as banding, patches, or bright spots.
  4. Are they on the ground or in the trees, and are they behaving? Are they part of a flock or by themselves? Can you tell what they’re eating from the picture?
  5. Woodlands, parks, shrubs, meadows, beaches, and marshes make up the habitat.
  6. Using apps like ebird or Audubon, identify birds.

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