Song Birds

Primary Reference Resources:

"Audubon Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States" by Peter Alden and Brian Cassie

Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter       Bird Watcher's Digest

Howard County Bird Club


Grosbeak Family

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovcianus): Female much more drab with white eyebrows and chestnut chest. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis): Male red with black mask and top notch. Female olive drab with red hues. Winters over. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea): Female Brown with lighter brown underparts and hints of blue in the wings. Prefers wood edges,, pipeline and powerline swaths. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Thrush Family 

American Robin (Turdus migratorius): rufous orange breast, white rump, brownish/gray wings and back, black head and tail with white corners. Feeds mostly on earthworms and fruit in the spring and summer. Photo by Anita Mueller.


Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedorum): Grows up to 7 inches. The black eye mask is edged in white. Breeds sporadically in the mountains. Gets its name from the bright red wing feathers not visible here. Photo by Anita Mueller.


Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor): This is actually a Canadian bird that winters in New England. However, recent reports have found this bird as far south as the Carolinas. Regionally, the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike is more common. This one is larger and has a thinner mask that does not extend above the eye. It catches insects, reptiles and small mammals and impales them on thorns to eat at their leisure. Dark gray upper body, light gray under body, black wings and tail outlined in white. Photo by Anita Mueller


Common Nighthawk(Chordeiles minor): In the nightjar family with Whip-poor-Wills. Prominent white wing bars and notched tail revealed in flight. Photo by Anita Mueller.


Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea): Female olive green above and yellow below. A canopy dweller. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Chickadee Family

Black-Capped Chickadee - male (Poecile atricapilus): Its primary call is its name. Acrobatic when feeding, often in family groups. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolphus bicolor): In the Chickadee family. Grows to 6 inches. Very active.  Photo by Anita Mueller.


Mocking Bird Family

Northern Mocking Bird (Mimus polyglottos): Up to 10 inches. Mimics the calls of other song birds. May include several impersonations in one call. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis): Totally slate gray except for black cap and rust vent. Often mimics other birds and "meeows" like a cat. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Brown Thrasher (Taxostomas rufum): Bright yellow eyes. Rufus above with white wing bars. White chest and bellie with brown stripes. Mimics other birds; repeats song 3X. Photo by Anita Mueller.


Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor): Male dark, iridescent teal green above, snowy white below. Female duller. Eats flying insects but also relies more on seeds and vegetable matter than other swallows, allowing it to stay longer in its home range. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Barn Swallow (Hiruno rustica): Back dark blue. Forehead and chest orange. Thin blue necklace. Nests are cups made of mud and grass under roof eves or bridges. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Cliff Swallow (Hirundo pyrrhonota): Blue back and head, black flight feathers, brown face and vent. Whitish - gray belly. Declining as house sparrows usurp their nests under bridges and eaves. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis): Frequents ponds and rivers, often in solitary pairs. Dull brown back and head, light ash brown sides and white chest w/notched tail. Feeds on flying insects. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Tyrant Flycathers

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe): Lives along water's edge and forest edges. Nests in roof overhangs and under bridges. Call: a hoarse "Feee - bree". Photo by Anita Mueller.

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus): Black head, dark brown back and wings, black tail with white tip, white neck, chest and belly. Perches on wires and outer tree branches. Easil spotted along the edge of clearings. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Great Crested Flycather (Myiarchus crinitus): Back, wings and crown olive-brown. Throat and chest gray. Belly bright yellow. Canopy dweller. Photo by Anita Mueller

Alder Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum): Inhabits low lying shrubs around bogs and swamps. Photo my Anita Mueller.




 Finch Family

American Goldfinch - male -winter plumage (Carduelis tristis): Second photo shows changing plumage. Bottom photo male in full summer breeding plumage. Female dull olive green with hints of a yellow hue in the throat, chest and belly. Photos by Anta Mueller.

Purple Finch - male (Carpodacus purpureus): Male has red/purple head, chest and back. The common House finch has red mostly around the head. Females are drab, lacking red with white stripes throughout the head, wings and body. Photo by Anita Mueller.

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanis): Recent introduction from w U.S. and Mexico. Very common in urban and suburban area across the states. Male has less red than the similar Purple Finch. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus): A finch. Can be mistaken for a female house finch or a sparrow until its flight reveals distinct yellow patches on its wings. Prefers coniferous forest in mountainous areas. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Red Crossbeak (Loxia curvirostra ): Usually a more northern bird but has been found as far south as N. Carolina when pine seed harvests fail in their native zone. Uses its odd bill to open pine cones and its flexible tongue to extract the seeds. Females are a duller gray. Photo by Anita Mueller.


House Sparrow (Passer domesticus): Common Street Sparrow. An English transplant found mostly in urban settings and farms. Not typically found in large plats of woodlands. Majority of its food comes from livestock and animal feed, bird feeders, some weed seeds and bugs. Male has a lot more black on his face in the spring/summer. Known to take over Bluebird nesting boxes, killing the young in the process. Photo by Anita Mueller.

American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea): May be confused with the Field Sparrow (S. pusilla). Key identifiers - Grey face, cheeks and throat with heavy red band through eyes and red cap, white wing bars. Upper beak gray, lower beak yellow. I don't know if this is a trademark of this species or not. Photo by Anita Mueller.

More Sparrows

White - crowned Sparrow (Zonothricia leucophrys): Brown back and nap of neck. Gray throat and chest. Distinctive white and black bands on crown. Forest edges, thickets, old fields. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Fox Sparrow (Passerella ilaca): Mostly rufous with gray washing on back and head and white stomach, chest and throat streaked with rufous. Found in woods and thickets.

Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis): In the American Sparrow family. Flight reveals outer white tail feathers. Easy to spot. Juveniles will have a brown patch on the back.  Photo by Anita Mueller.

Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza geogiana): Lives along pond and swamp edges. Prefers thick vegetation like Cat Tails. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Field Sparrow (Prefers weedy fields and hedge rows. Always in small flocks. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina): Red cap, white eye brow and black eye line sets this off from other sparrows. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Rufous-sided or Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) male: White belly, black chest and upper parts, outer tail feathers white, orange chest sides. Female upper parts brown. Song: Drink your teeee. Photo by Anita Mueller.

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis): Key markings - grey belly and chest, white throat outlined in black, white eye stripe, distinct yellow eye brow between beak and eye, dark brown or black cap with white line. Photos by Anita Mueller.

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia): Key identifiers - mottled brown and white chest and belly, alternating black and white cheek "bars", Dark brown cap with white line across the middle, red eye bars, white throat. Photo by Anita Mueller.









Pine Warbler (Dendroica pinus): Inhabits pine forests of the east coast. Prefers insects but will eat seed in a pinch. Very adaptable.  Photo by Anita Mueller.

Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia): Male (shown here) has bright yellow body with olive drab wings and rusty streaks on chest. Habitat - shrubby areas along watersides. Song: rapid sweet, sweet, sweet, I'm so sweet! Female has no streaks and is darker. Photo by Anita Mueller.

American Redstart - male (Setophaga ruticilla): Female dull, olive-drab with white underparts. Yellow patches where male has orange patches. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata): Female upper body parts brown with dark brown mask. Prefers coniferous and mixed woods. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas): A very pretty wood warbler with soft olive body, bright yellow throat and vent, black mask with a white stripe above it. Habitat swamps, wet meadows, thickets. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Prairie Warbler (Dendroica discolor): Habitat brushy fields and pine barrens. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Oven Bird (Seiurus aurocapillus): Walks on forest floor - bobbing his head. Habitat Mixed Broad-leaf forests on coastal plains. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Chestnut-sided Warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica): Obvious color pattern. Inhabits the forest understory. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Black and White Warbler (Mniottilta varia): Forages along branches and tree trunks like Nuthatches. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Canada Warbler (Wilsonia canadensis): Forages in understory. Prefers water-side shrubs and thickets. Photo by Anita mueller.


Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus): Gray with slight olive cast, white below, white eye brow. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus): Olive wings, back and tail, white underparts, black cap and line through eye. Photo by Anita Mueller.


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