LEO Logo

Small Birds

Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus (Troglodytidae)

Cool Fact- Carolina Wrens are more ancestrally suited for southern temperatures. Because of this harsh winters can cause a crash in this wren's population. Carolina Wrens can raise up to three broods in one breeding season, however and their populations have been known to rebound within a few years.
Field Marks- This bird often perches with its tail held in an erect position. This wren's coloring is a reddish brown above and a light buff-brown below. The distinct white line above the eye is another key characteristic.
Occurrence Status- Resident

 

 

Call

 

Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens (Picidae)

Cool Fact- Woodpeckers have variety of adaptations that allow it to feed. The birds have spongy tissue at the base of the bill which prevents the brain from being damaged by the impact of the birds drilling. They also have an extra long tongue which wraps up into the skull which allows them to fish out insects they uncover. Their tail is made of stiff feathers for balance, and their nostrils have a covering of hair-like whiskers to prevent sawdust from being inhaled. They also have their toes aligned with two facing backwards for stability when they perch vertically.
Field Marks- The wings of this bird are black with white flecks. The back is dominantly white. The bird is short billed, and small red patch on the back of the head is seen only in males. Is usually seen feeding upright on the sides of trees in typical woodpecker fashion. This is the smallest woodpecker in our area.
Occurrence Status- Resident

 

 

Call

 

Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum (Bombycillidae)

Cool Fact- The Cedar Waxwing is a fruit-eating bird. They are social all year round and are often seen in large numbers feasting in fruiting trees. Their habit of feeding on cedar berries, in combination with the waxy look of their markings gives them their name. They nest very late in the year because they need the ripe fruit of late summer to raise their chicks. If Cedar Waxwings eat certain varieties of fermented fruit they can become drunk and must sober up before they are able to fly off again.
Field Marks- Overall color is a mix of brown and yellow. Wing tips are marked with waxy red, and the tail has a band of waxy yellow. Markings over the eyes give the bird a blindfolded or sunglasses look.
Occurrence Status- Resident

 

 

Call

 

Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica (Apodidae)

Cool Fact- Chimney swifts traditionally nested in tree cavities, but with the decrease in old trees with hollows they have taken to nesting in chimneys and other human made nest sites. These birds are very abundant in the Lehigh area during the nesting season, most likely due to the abundance of nesting sites in the Bethlehem Steel buildings. The nests of chimney swifts are made from twigs picked up while in flight and glued to the side of the nesting cavity with dried saliva. They also have especially sharp claws which allow them to perch on the sides of chimneys and other vertical surfaces.
Field Marks- Almost never seen perched, these birds are best identified by their dark silhouette. In flight these small birds use rapid, stiff wing beats which makes them look mechanical. The body is streamlined, showing little impression of a tail. It has been described as looking like a cigar with wings. Often chatter noisily overhead.
Occurrence Status- Breeding Bird

 

 

Call

 


Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapilla (Paridae)

Cool Fact- Chickadees are brave and curious little birds. If you make sounds that arouse their interest they will often come extremely close to humans. They are even known to feed from a hand in some cases. Despite this inquisitive nature they are more often killed by harsh winters than by predation. They avoid predators by being extremely alert, quick, and small. The "chick-a-dee-dee" call which gives the Black-capped Chickadee its name has been found to be extremely complex. Variations in the call allow it to send a great variety of messages.
Field Marks- This small bird has a distinct black "cap" that come down over the eyes; it also has a black "bib" on the throat. These two dark black features contrast with the white cheeks of the bird.
Occurrence Status- Resident

 

 

Call

 

Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor (Paridae)

Cool Fact- The Tufted Titmouse can be quite acrobatic as it searches for insects. It is often seen hanging upside down from branches. This non-migratory bird's range has expanded north possibly due to the popularity of bird feeders. The Tufted Titmouse is often seen around feeders with its close relative the Black-capped Chickadee
Field Marks- A small gray bird with a crest. Sides of the bird are rusty tinged. Behavior is very energetic and vocal.
Occurrence Status- Resident

 


Call

 

White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis (Sittidae)

Cool Fact- These birds cling to the sides of trees like woodpeckers, but they hang on sideways or upside down. They are usually seen descending tree trunks in a spiral pattern. This behavior is done in search of insects, and by going in the opposite direction of woodpeckers (who cling upright and search up the trees) they find food woodpeckers would miss. The White-breasted Nuthatch has also been known to "bill sweep" a behavior where the birds brush the outside of its nesting cavity with something (a plant etc.). Bill sweeping is thought to the birds way of covering it's scent from predators.
Field Marks- This bird has a black cap like a chickadee, but the cap here extends further down the back. There is also no black bib in this bird. Nuthatches are also larger and have longer bills than chickadees.
Occurrence Status- Resident




Call

 

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis (Emberizidae)

Cool Fact- The Dark-eyed Junco is found at more feeders across America than any other bird. There are a variety of races and subspecies of this bird, but all are still considered Dark-eyed Juncos. The variety of Junco seen around the Lehigh Campus is the eastern variety "Slate Colored" Dark-eyed Junco.
Field Marks- A two-tone bird, slate gray above and dusty white below. These birds are usually found on the ground and when flying away display white outer tail feathers.

Occurrence Status- Winter Visitor

 


Call

 


White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis (Emberizidae)

Cool Fact- There are two color morphs of the White-throated sparrow. The "White-striped" morph has distinct white striping in the crown and a distinct white throat. The "Tan-striped" variety has tan striped on the head and the throat is light gray often blending with the birds breast coloring. Each variety occurs in equal numbers, and oddly nesting pairs are almost always made up of a "white-striped" and a "tan-striped" bird. "White-striped" females and "Tan-striped males" are more attractive among the species. This then leaves the less attractive morphs to mate together, once again in mixed pairs of a white and a tan variety.
Field Marks-
A brown backed sparrow with a slight gray breast. The are well marked in the head; with black and white striping on the crown and a white patch below the bill. Also a small yellow dot is found between the eye and the bill. The two morphs are described above.
Occurrence Status- Winter Visitor

 

 

 

Call

 

House Sparrow (alien) Passer domesticus (Ploceidae)

Cool Fact- In the 1850s one hundred House Sparrows were released in Brooklyn New York. These birds are well adapted to living among human habitations and have spread throughout North America. They are originally native to and are widespread in Europe and Asia. This bird is called a "sparrow"based on its overall appearance but is not closely related to other North American sparrows. These birds can be observed chattering and picking up food outside the University Center year round.
Field Marks- Males are dark brown winged and dull gray chested. Most distinguishing features are the gray cap, black "bib," and chestnut patch behind the eye. Females are all over brown with a faint line through the eye.
Occurrence Status- Resident

 


Call

 

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia (Emberizidae)

Cool Fact- Northern populations of Song Sparrows do not all migrate, the birds apparently chose individually whether to do so. Because this bird is so widespread and common it has more subspecies than any other North American bird (39 are known). These birds are aptly named and are known to sing their pleasant song in all weather conditions and even at night.
Field Marks- A streaked breasted bird with a prominent dark spot in the middle of the breast. The head has darker streaks of brown against a gray/brown background.
Occurrence Status- Resident

 


Call

 

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina (Emberizidae)

Cool Fact- Once among the most common birds in North America this bird declined sharply in the early 20th century. This was most likely due to competition House Sparrow which was becoming more common. Also increase agricultural activity created more habitat for cowbirds which then increasingly parasitized the nests of these birds. Chipping Sparrows have been known to steal hair from dogs and horses to use in their nests.
Field Marks- A tiny, gray-breasted sparrow (significantly smaller than Song and House sparrows) with a bright rufous cap, a white line above the eye, and a black line through the eye.
Occurrence Status- Breeding Bird

 

 

Call

 


House Finch (alien) Carpodacus mexicanus (Fringillidae)

Cool Fact- The House Finch is yet another introduced species. They were introduced in Long Island NY in the 1940's. They have since spread to most of the US and Canada Male House Finches can range from yellow to red. The amount of red is due to carotenoid pigment levels in the bird's food sources. Female House Finches prefer bright red males. Recently, House Finches have suffered a decline in populations in some areas due to a contagious conjunctivitis. These birds are social and often crowd at feeders. Dirty feeders promote the spread of this and other avian diseases.
Field Marks- Males are streaked one the sides and belly with red found on the upper breast up into the face. The bird's back is dull gray. Females are all over dull gray and heavily streaked with dark vertical streaks. Easy to confuse with native Purple Finch, but house finches are far more common. Purple Finch males are less streaked and lighter red. Female Purples have a well defined facial patterning.
Occurrence Status- Resident

 

 


Call

 


American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis (Fringillidae)

Cool Fact- The American Goldfinch is a native relative of the House Finch. This bird is a favorite of many people and is the state bird for New Jersey, Washington, and Iowa. Their bright coloring and cheery song give them the nickname "wild canary." In flight they chirp and bob in an undulating pattern, again making these birds seem exceedingly cheery. American Goldfinches are rarely seen far from thistle plants. They use thistle as a primary food source food and also line their nests with thistle down.
Field Marks- Breeding males are brilliant yellow with black wings and black on the front of the head. Winter males and females are a dull olive color with black wings. The white bar on the wing often aids identification.
Occurrence Status- Resident



Call

 

Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa (Sylviidae)

Cool Fact- Golden-crowned Kinglets are one of the smallest North American birds. Despite their fragile appearance they can survive in temperatures far below zero. They keep moving constantly and search for food to keep body heat up. They will also roost together to retain body heat. They are renowned for being active and a good view is often hard to capture as these birds flit from branch to branch. .
Field Marks- The crown coloring is often hidden, but black border of head and white line above the eye are easy to see. Also note very small size (3 ") and two strong white bars on the wings.
Occurrence Status- Resident

 


Call

 

Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata (Parulidae)

Cool Fact- The Yellow-rumped Warbler can nest much further north than other Warblers, in part due to their ability to digest fruits that are unavailable to other warblers. They can digest the tough waxes found in the fruits of wax myrtle and bayberries for example.
Field Marks- These birds have a blue-gray overall back, with an upside down U of black found on the breast. Yellow patches are found on the crown, in front of each wing and on the rump of the bird.
Occurrence Status. - Winter visitor and Migrant. Although this bird will visit in winter, the most common occurrence of this bird is during the spring and fall migrations as it passes through our area. They are one of the first warblers to pass though in spring.

 


Call

Untitled Document

Back