How to Identify Sparrows
If you look out at your feeder on a winter's morning, you might see several little brown
birds nearby. At first, they all look alike. Then you realize that one has stripes on its
breast, and another has a touch of red on its crown. There could be several different species
of sparrows by your feeder, but it takes a sharp eye to see what kind they are. Here are a few
tips to help you identify the LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) in your yard.
Common Identifying Features
Markings to look for on sparrows are streaks or spots on the breast, wing markings, tail
characteristics (length, shape, and color), as well as the color of the legs, feet, and
Sparrows with Streaks on the Breast
Vesper Sparrows: These birds have white outer tail feathers.
Harris's Sparrows: They have uniform tails and black bibs and crowns.
Other streak-breasted sparrows without the distinctive features mentioned above could include
Fox Sparrows and Song Sparrows.
Sparrows without Streaks on the Breast
Dark-eyed Juncos. They have a gray and white color pattern.
American Tree Sparrows and Field Sparrows: They have reddish caps.
White-Crowned Sparrow: They have boldly striped crowns.
Swamp Sparrows: Their crowns are faintly striped.
Build your Bird Library
Watching birds that visit your feeder is fun. Having a couple of reference books handy, as
well as an inexpensive pair of binoculars, can make watching birds even more enjoyable.