18 Types of Brown Bird Species in North America

Brown birds are typically sparrows or wrens, but there are so many distinct species; which have you seen?

This article will assist you in identifying the brown birds that may be approaching your garden or outside in the woodlands and countryside.

These brown birds, all of which are 9 inches or less overall size, are regularly sighted in the United States and Canada, so don’t wait to go watch.

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat
The Song SparrowThe Song Sparrow
Chipping SparrowChipping Sparrow
House SparrowHouse Sparrow
Golden-crowned SparrowGolden-crowned Sparrow
Carolina WrenCarolina Wren
White-throated SparrowWhite-throated Sparrow
The House WrenThe House Wren
The Great Crested FlycatcherThe Great Crested Flycatcher
Female House FinchFemale House Finch
Female Purple FinchFemale Purple Finch
The Eastern PhoebeThe Eastern Phoebe
Pine SiskinPine Siskin
Chestnut-backed ChickadeeChestnut-backed Chickadee
American Tree SparrowAmerican Tree Sparrow
Field SparrowField Sparrow
Female Brown-Headed CowbirdFemale Brown-Headed Cowbird
Bewick’s WrenBewick’s Wren

Types of Brown Birds

1. Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

Yellowthroats are small brown birds having long tails that are brilliant yellow undersides. The male yellowthroats are wearing black masks over their faces.

The intensity of the yellow varies widely, and it could be more olive in the areas below.

With the exception of northern Canada and Alaska, almost all of North America’s common yellowthroats spend their summers mating. Some stay throughout the year near the Pacific Southwest and the Gulf Coast.

They may be found in marshes or water bodies areas, in addition to wooded grasslands, where they thrive in thick, entangled vegetation throughout the spring and summer seasons.

They usually eat invertebrates and are frequently found in large backyards with thick flora.

Scientific Name Geothlypis trichas
Length 4.4 to 5.1 in (11 to 13 cm)
Wingspan 5.8 to 7.5 in (15 to 19 cm)
Weight 0.2 to 0.3 oz (9 to 10 g)

2. Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Singing sparrows might not be as visible as many other garden birds, but they use their practically constant singing to attract females throughout the summer and spring months.

Song Sparrows may be seen in the northern United States all year. Several breeds across Canada before migrating to the southern states.

They may be seen singing among open, shrubby, and moist regions, usually perched on a small plant. They are frequently seen at backyard feeders.

Beetles, spiders, earthworms, caterpillars, and midges are among the insects and plants that Song Sparrows consume. Additional favorites include buckwheat, sunflower, raspberries, wheat, blackberries, wild cherries, and rice.

Put cracked corn, nyjer, and black oil sunflower seeds on feeders to entice many song sparrows toward your yard feeders.

Scientific Name Melospiza melodia
Length 4.7 to 6.8 in (12 to 17 cm)
Wingspan 7.1 to 9.4 in (18 to 24 cm)
Weight 0.4 to 1.9 oz (12 to 53 g)

3. Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows are thin, long-tailed birds with a grey stomach and black-streaked brown bracks, a black eye bar, and a scarlet head. The shades are often more muted during the winter.

Chipping Sparrows spend the entire summer breeding across most of Canada and North America before wintering across Florida and Mexico. Several stay inside the southern states most of the year.

They might well be spotted in small groups flying throughout open spaces and visiting back gardens in looking for various varieties of bird food.

Scientific Name Spizella passerina
Length 4.7 to 5.9 in (12 to 15 cm)
Wingspan 8.3 in (21 cm)
Weight 0.4 to 0.6 oz (11 to 16 g)

4. House Sparrow

House Sparrow

The House Sparrow is yet another immigrant species that had already flourished and evolved into one of the most common birds.

They are little brown-backed birds having black stripes on their backs. Their heads are brown and grey, with white faces and a white line around the neck. Their stomachs are grey.

House Sparrows may be found in all 50 states as well as Central America. They may be spotted near buildings and homes and are fairly friendly, eating out of your hand.

They primarily consume seeds and grain, along with leftover food. They are a nuisance considering that they are non-native; however, they will appear in the garden regardless if you do not feed them.

Most types of bird seed, including sunflower seeds, millet, and maize, can entice many House Sparrows to the yard feeders.

Scientific Name Passer domesticus
Length 5.9 to 6.7 in (15 to 17 cm)
Wingspan 7.5 to 9.8 in (19 to 25 cm)
Weight 0.9 to 1.1 oz (27 to 30 g)

5. Golden-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow
Credits – ebird

The underbelly of Golden-crowned Sparrows appears grayish-brown, with brown streaks on the back. Their heads are black with brilliant yellow foreheads.

The tones are duller during the winter, having brown mostly on the crown and yellow on its forehead.

Prior to actually migrating towards the West Coast for the winter, Golden-crowned Sparrows breed across Western Canada and Alaska.

During the winter, they may be seen scraping for seeds such as geranium, dock, and sumac in weedy areas.

They also consume grapes, olives, apples, and elderberries. Insects such as beetles, termites, ants, and butterflies are also part of their diet.

You may entice additional Golden-crowned Sparrows to the backyard by placing seeds in lawn feeders or planting fruit-bearing native plants.

Scientific Name Zonotrichia atricapilla
Length 5.9 to 7.1 in (15 to 18 cm)
Wingspan 24.75 cm (9.74 in)
Weight 1.1 to 1.2 oz (30 to 33 g)

6. Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Golden-crowned Sparrows are gray-green mostly on the lateral side and brown-streaked upon that back. They have quite a long tail, a white-brow band, and a booming teakettle song.

Carolina Wrens live throughout the entire year across the Eastern and Southeastern United States.

They may be spotted throughout densely forested regions and always visit backyard feeders.

Peanut hearts, suet feeders, or hulled sunflower seeds in on-platform feeders or big tube feeders might entice more Carolina Wrens to the yard feeders.

Scientific Name Thryothorus ludovicianus
Length 4.7 to 5.5 in (12 to 14 cm)
Wingspan 11.4 in (29 cm)
Weight 0.6 to 0.8 oz (18 to 22 g)

7. White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrows are distinguished by their dazzling white throats, white and black striped heads, and yellow between the eyes and beak. Their backs appear brown, while their undersides are grey.

White-throated Sparrows species are migratory birds that nest primarily in Canada while migrating south during the winter towards the Southern and Eastern United States, as well as the Pacific Coast.

White-throated Sparrows may be seen in huge groups on the grass around woodlands and forests, as well as around the boundaries of forested regions.

White-throated Sparrows eat mostly weed and grass seeds and fruits, including blackberry, mountain ash, sumac, blueberry, grape, and dogwood.

They may also consume a significant amount of insects off the forest floor, particularly during the summer.

White-throated Sparrows may be attracted to your yard feeders by using black oil sunflower seeds and millet using platform feeders.

Scientific Name Zonotrichia albicollis
Length 6.3 to 7.1 in (16 to 18 cm)
Wingspan 7.9 to 9.1 in (20 to 23 cm)
Weight 0.8 to 1.1 oz (22 to 32 g)

8. House Wren

House Wren

House Wrens are all little brown species having darkly banded tails and wings and a paler throat.

Most states have House Wrens spend their summers mating before migrating towards the extreme south and Mexico for the winter.

House Wrens may be seen scavenging for insects and spiders around parks, open woodlands, and backyards.

They are frequently spotted leaping across tangles and low trees, tails up, occasionally stopping to sing their cheerful song.

House Wrens are violent for their size when it starts to gain the best nesting sites and often regularly bother larger birds, sometimes snatching eggs or hatchlings away from a nest location they desire.

By maintaining brush piles or creating a nesting box, you might attract more House Wrens to the garden.

Scientific Name Troglodytes aedon
Length 4.3 to 5.1 in (11 to 13 cm)
Wingspan 5.9 in (15 cm)
Weight 0.3 to 0.4 oz (10 to 12 g)

9. Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher
Credits – Wikipedia

The Great Crested Flycatchers have a yellow belly, a brown back, and a grey neck. The tail and wing plumage exhibit crimson flashes and the crest isn’t quite visible.

Great Crested Flycatchers spend their winters across southern Mexico, southern Florida, and Central America after breeding throughout most of Eastern North America.

They are frequently encountered in grassy plains, parkland, mixed woods, and tree-lined neighborhoods, in addition to sitting on wooden poles and other man-made structures. Berries and tiny fruit can also be consumed.

Plant native plants and leave brush heaps to attract insects to entice further Great Crested Flycatchers towards your garden. Plant berry-producing plants and build a nest box since they will happily live in them.

Scientific Name Myiarchus crinitus
Length 6.7 to 8.3 in (17 to 21 cm)
Wingspan 13.4 in (34 cm)
Weight 0.9 to 1.4 oz (27 to 40 g) 

10. Female House Finch

Female House Finch
Credits – ebird

Male House Finches get a red head and chest; however, females are brown-streaked little songbirds.

Initially discovered exclusively in the western states, House Finches were brought to the eastern states and have thrived, almost displacing the Purple Finch.

They may be seen around farmland, woodland edges, forests, and garden feeders. They might appear in big, boisterous groups that are impossible to miss.

Using Nyjer seeds or black oil sunflower seeds in tube or platform feeders may lure additional House Finches towards your backyard pots.

Scientific Name Haemorhous mexicanus
Length 5.1 to 5.5 in (13 to 14 cm)
Wingspan 7.9 to 9.8 in (20 to 25 cm)
Weight 0.6 to 0.9 oz (16 to 27 g)

11. Female Purple Finch

Female Purple Finch

Female Purple Finches have brown bands on their plumage.  Males possess chests and heads that are reddish-purple. They have the same appearance as House Finch.

They breed across Canada and spend the winter mostly in eastern states; however, they can be seen all year long on the east coasts and Pacific coast north.

They flock to feeders in search of black oil sunflower seeds.

Scientific Name Haemorhous purpureus
Length 4.7 to 6.3 in (12 to 16 cm)
Wingspan 8.7 to 10.2 in (22 to 26 cm)
Weight 0.6 to 1.1 oz (18 to 32 g)

12. Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebes have plump sparrows with gray to greenback sides and a dark crown.

Eastern Phoebes are migratory birds specie that produce offspring primarily in the central and northeastern United States and also in Canada until wintering in Mexico and the southeast.

Many birds might spend the entire year in the south of their habitat.

Eastern Phoebes are frequently observed fluttering their tails from small perches within tranquil forests rather than in pairs or flocks.

Even though they are flycatchers, they eat mostly flying insects; however, they will also eat spiders and many other invertebrates, in addition to seeds and small berries. They often construct muddy and grassy nests atop barns, bridges, and apartments.

Build a nesting box or natural berry-producing plants to entice more Eastern Phoebes towards the yard.

Scientific Name Sayornis phoebe
Length 5.5 to 6.7 in (14 to 17 cm)
Wingspan 10.2 to 11.0 in (26 to 28 cm)
Weight 0.6 to 0.7 oz (16 to 21 g)

13. Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskins are tiny brown birds having yellow bands on their wings and tails. Their tail is forked, their wings are sharp, and they possess a small pointed beak.

Pine Siskins may be found in pine woods across the western states and near the Canadian border throughout the year. Some breed across Canada before migrating south for the winter.

They are widespread in most of North America and depend on pine cone crops.

Pine Siskins, as the name implies, eat mostly pine seeds, although they also consume early buds and seeds from weeds and grasses.

Pine Siskins are drawn to back gardens by thistle and nyjer feeders, as well as suet and black oil sunflower seeds.

Scientific Name Spinus pinus
Length 4.3 to 5.5 in (11 to 14 cm)
Wingspan 7.1 to 8.7 in (18 to 22 cm)
Weight 0.4 to 0.6 oz (12 to 18 g)

14. Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadees are little birds having chestnut brown backs, black and white heads, and grey wings and bellies.

They are common visitors to garden feeders and reside in groups in damp, evergreen woods along the Pacific Northwest Coast.

The majority of their food consists of insects such as wasps, aphids, caterpillars, and spiders, with the remainder consisting of berries, seeds, and fruit.

Using platform feeders, tube feeders, or suet cages, you may entice Chestnut-backed Chickadees feeding suet, peanuts, nyjer, black-oil sunflower seeds, or mealworms. They might also make use of nest boxes.

Scientific Name Poecile rufescens
Length 4.5 – 4.9 in
Wingspan 7.5 in (19 cm)
Weight 0.3 – 0.44 oz

15. American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

Long-tailed brown-streaked plump birds having grey cheeks, rusty hats, and scarlet eyeliner are American Tree sparrows.

American Tree Sparrows are a winter bird inside the United States and a summer bird throughout Canada.

They breed within the far north of Canada and Alaska and spend the winter in most US states, excluding the Gulf and Pacific coasts.

In weedy meadows and beneath bird feeders, they forage in small groups.

Black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, millet, and cracked corn might be used to entice additional American Tree Sparrows towards your garden platform feeders. They also forage for seeds fallen or abandoned from above-using tube feeders on the ground.

Scientific Name Spizelloides arborea
Length 5.6 in (16 cm)
Wingspan 9.6 in (25 cm)
Weight 0.5 to 1.0 oz (13 to 28 g)

16. Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrows are tiny, thin brown-backed birds having black streaks on their backs. Their undersides and heads are grey, with pink beaks and a reddish crown.

Field Sparrows mostly in the east stay most of the year, whereas those that nest in the Midwest migrate south for the winter.

They graze silently on seeds and weeds and are frequently overlooked since they favor abandoned areas and are timid. During the mating season, the males might sing on a perch, mostly in the early mornings, making them more visible.

Scientific Name Spizella pusilla
Length 4.7 to 5.9 in (12 to 15 cm)
Wingspan 7.9 in (20 cm)
Weight 0.4 to 0.5 oz (11 to 15 g)

17. Female Brown-Headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed female Cowbirds are typically brown, having mild striping all over. Males are bigger and blacker in color, having short tails and brown heads.

Brown-headed Cowbirds breed throughout most of North America’s north and west before migrating south, although they stay in the Southern and Eastern states, as well as along the Pacific Coast, throughout the year.

They are often seen as a nuisance even though they harm the eggs of little songbirds in order to hatch their eggs in the nest and allow the bird to raise their young.

Scientific Name Molothrus ater
Length 76.3 to 8.7 in (19 to 22 cm)
Wingspan 14.2 in (36 cm)
Weight 1.3 to 1.8 oz (42 to 50 g)

18. Bewick’s Wren

Bewick Wren

Bewick’s Wrens have long erect tails and brown backs. They possess grey stomachs and a white band across the top of their eyes.

Bewick’s Wrens spend the whole year throughout the southern and western states, with very minor migrations, mostly in winter.

They may be seen jumping from branch to branch, flicking their long tails, in the scrub, thickets, and open forest.

They eat insects and larvae and might even visit yard feeders searching for mealworms, suet, and hulled sunflower seeds.

Scientific Name Thryomanes bewickii
Length 5.1 in (13 cm)
Wingspan 18 cm (7.25 in)
Weight 0.3 to 0.4 oz (8 to 12 g)


This article focuses on the many types of brown bird species found across the globe.

This Woodlink caged feeder seems ideal for attracting tiny birds without aggressive species such as grackles gobbling all of the food that’s because the fence is set back far enough from the feeder to prevent bigger birds from simply forcing their heads over.


What exactly is a brown bird?

Brown birds are Brown-colored birds that may be spotted in most bird groups, including creepers, thrashers, sparrows, and even the females of many members of the bunting family.

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

Leave a Comment