American Robins are gray-brown birds with warm orange underparts and dark heads. In flight, a white patch on the lower belly and under the tail can be conspicuous. Compared with males, females have paler heads that contrast less with the gray back.
Male Spotted Towhees have jet-black upperparts and throat; their wings and back are spotted bright white. The flanks are warm rufous and the belly is white. Females have the same pattern but are grayish brown where males are black. In flight, look for white corners to the black tail.
Large sparrow with a thick bill and a long tail. Grayish brown overall with a rusty brown patch under the tail and around the bill.
These pretty blackbirds have beautiful, obvious coloring. Males have glossy black heads with flamey orange hues on the belly and lower back. Females have varying degrees of orange on the belly as well, but can appear to be more yellow—not uncommon with younger birds.
Juncos vary across the country (see Regional Differences), but in general they’re dark gray or brown birds brightened up by a pink bill and white outer tail feathers that periodically flash open, particularly in flight. Dark-eyed Juncos are birds of the ground.
Common Grackles are blackbirds that look like they’ve been slightly stretched. They’re taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird, with a longer, more tapered bill and glossy-iridescent bodies. Grackles walk around lawns and fields on their long legs or gather in noisy groups high in trees, typically evergreens.
Small, nondescript brown bird with a short tail, thin bill, and dark barring on wings and tail with a paler throat.
The appearance of this bird varies in different parts of the country. Male Towhees are 7 to 9 inches in length, the eastern birds have dark heads and backs, rufous sides, a white belly, and a red eye. In the West they have a similar appearance except that they also have white spots on their dark wings and back.
Measurements. At a distance, starlings look black. In summer they are purplish-green iridescent with yellow beaks; in fresh winter plumage they are brown, covered in brilliant white spots.
Juncos represent positive movement, as messengers to the restful, quiet, festive winter months. Dreaming about a junco during the winter season signals excited anticipation for the season.
Chickadees tend to have dark “caps” on their heads with white faces, and they also boast black bibs. In general, their coloring is typically a cloudy gray as compared to the dark-eyed junco’s slate black, and their breast is more cream-colored than the junco’s white.
The clues to identifying any bird are basically the same: shape, size, coloring, unique field marks (wing bars, white outer tail feathers, eye lines), behavior, habitat, voice and geographic location. For backyard birds, start by comparing the visitor to an American robin, which nearly everyone knows.
Common Grackles are larger than Brewer’s Blackbirds with a longer tail and a heavier bill. Female Common Grackles are darker brown overall than female Brewer’s Blackbirds.
Many birds earn the catch-all label “black birds.” Black-colored–or at least mostly black-colored–birds in the yard tend to be one of these: European Starling, Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, and Brown-headed Cowbird. In most places, the most common black-colored of the birds in the yard is likely the starling.
Common Grackles are larger with a longer tail than European Starlings. They also have dark legs, a dark bill, and yellow eyes whereas starlings have pinkish legs, a yellow bill (breeding birds), and a dark eye.
White-breasted Nuthatches are gray-blue on the back, with a frosty white face and underparts. The black or gray cap and neck frame the face and make it look like this bird is wearing a hood. The lower belly and under the tail are often chestnut.
House Sparrows have a much more conical bill that is smaller than finches’, and the bill is black or yellow, depending on the bird’s gender and breeding stage. House Sparrows’ color pattern is generally darker than that of House Finches, with deeper browns and more black in the back and wings.
Coloration and color patterns: Warblers come in two basic varieties; one type is relatively plain brown with some subtle streaking (like ovenbirds and waterthrushes) and the other type is brightly colored and patterned, with varying amounts of yellow, red, blue, white and black (like the Prothonotary Warbler or the …
Wrens: Similar in color to sparrows, wrens show more barring on the wings and tail than sparrows typically have. Their bills are long and thin for plucking insects, and while their tails may be long like sparrows, wrens typically hold their tails cocked sharply upward while sparrows do not.
The black-throated wren (Pheugopedius atrogularis) is a species of bird in the family Troglodytidae. It is found in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Far more than spotted, but a towhee it is. The fiery red eye of the bird, his active movements and challenging call give a suggestion of vigor and energy. A quick glance might suggest possession by malevolent spirits, or at least glaring and unyielding resentment.
Eastern towhees are not listed as threatened or endangered, but their numbers have been declining over the last few decades.