Cute Birdorable Chipping Sparrow

Today's new Birdorable species is a small New World sparrow: the Chipping Sparrow!

Chipping Sparrows have a widespread range across much of North America, and into Central America. Chippies are migratory through much of their range; some birds in Central America appear to be year-round residents.

Chipping Sparrows usually nest low in trees but have been recorded nesting on the ground or in unusual spots like inside buildings and among decorative foliage. They typically lay 3-4 eggs per clutch.

Chipping Sparrow by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CC BY 2.0)

During the time when horses were more commonly used as transportation, Chipping Sparrows would be observed gathering horse hair to line their nests. This behavior gave them the old colloquial name of "hair bird."

Tomorrow we'll add a species of myna to Birdorable. These birds are known for their exceptional ability to mimic sounds. Do you know the species?

Cute Chipping Sparrow Gifts

The second bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a North American sparrow: the Song Sparrow!

Birdorable Song Sparrow In our clue yesterday, we indicated that the Song Sparrow is an LBJ with a lot of range. What did we mean? "LBJ" stands for "Little Brown Job", a phrase sometimes used to describe dull-colored small songbirds that may be difficult to identify. Song Sparrows are brown and streaky. They may be identified by the dark spot in the center of the breast, among other traits. When talking about range, we were referring to a few different things. Song Sparrows are found all over North America, so they have a large natural regional range. Song Sparrows are named for their song repertoire. In their voice they have a lot of range. Song Sparrows have over 20 recognized subspecies; up to 50 subspecies may exist. These differ in physical characteristics; the appearance of Song Sparrows has a lot of range.

Song SparrowSong Sparrow by Amy Evenstad

Song Sparrow joins Birdorable today as our 559th species, and our 10th species of sparrow. If you like Song Sparrows as much as we do, be sure to check out our selection of cute Birdorable Song Sparrow t-shirts and gifts. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a species that comes with its own opposite! Can you guess tomorrow's species?


Today the Birdorable Eastern Towhee makes its debut!

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhees are bulky, boldly-plumaged sparrows. They live across eastern North America; birds that breed in the north are migratory. They are ground feeders, scratching at the earth with their feet to reveal seeds or insects to eat.

Eastern Towhee
Eastern Towhee by Kelly Colgan Azar

Male towhees have a varied repertoire of songs and calls. One familiar song sounds like the phrase "Drink Your Tea!" The following recording includes this phrase, and a few others.

Cute Eastern Towhee t-shirts and gifts

Tomorrow's bird is a common continental corvid. Can you guess what it will be?

Birdorable Bonanza Preview
Birdorable Dark-eyed Juncos in the snow

Dark-eyed Juncos are small migratory songbirds that live across parts of North America. Here are some cool facts about the Dark-eyed Junco: 1) Because of their high population (estimated at 630 million individuals!), their relative tameness, and their affinity for back yard bird feeders, the Dark-eyed Junco is one of North America's most recognized birds. 2) The oldest known wild Dark-eyed Junco lived to be at least eleven years old! The average lifespan for a bird that survives to fledge is about three years. 3) The Dark-eyed Junco is a species of sparrow, closely related to White-crowned Sparrows, Harris's Sparrows, and others. 4) Up to 15 different subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco are recognized. These are usually divided into five (sometimes six) major groups: Slate-colored Junco; White-winged Junco; Oregon Junco; Pink-sided Junco; and Gray-headed Junco.

5 major groups of Dark-eyed Juncos

5) The four-letter code that banders and birders use for the Dark-eyed Junco is DEJU. 6) Many Americans consider Dark-eyed Juncos to be "snow birds" because they appear at backyard feeders during the winter months. However, DEJUs live year-round in other parts of the USA, including across parts of the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. 7) Most Dark-eyed Junco nests are comprised of four eggs; incubation takes about 12 days. Baby juncos begin life totally helpless but are able to leave the nest just 10 days after hatching! They are completely independent from their parents after just 26 days. 8) Dark-eyed Juncos are susceptible to nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds. 9) Dark-eyed Juncos move in flocks during the winter, numbering from a handful to 30 or more individuals. A complex hierarchy based in part on testosterone levels exists within the group, with adult males dominating over juvenile males, adult females and juvenile females. The flock usually remains in a territory of about ten acres during the entire season. 10) Dark-eyed Juncos are known for eating seeds at feeding stations, but they also eat insects. During the summer, nearly half of their diet may consist of insects. If you can't get enough of Dark-eyed Juncos, you're in luck! We have the five most common sub-species of DEJU on Birdorable. We also have some cute designs featuring these loveable birds: Three Christmas Songbirds; Snow Birds; Junco Junkie; and J is for Junco.

Birdorable Dark-eyed Junco t-shirt designs
Birdorable White-crowned Sparrow

The White-crowned Sparrow is a beautiful sparrow that can be found across most of North America, where it breeds roughly in Alaska and northern Canada and spends the winter in most parts of the USA. The birds that breed in Alaska will migrate about 2,600 miles to winter in southern California. They are easily recognized by their bold black-and-white stripes on the head and pale grey chest. They'll come to backyard feeders to eat sunflower and other seeds, although they often prefer to stay on the ground eating seeds dropped by other birds.

White-crowned Sparrow
Photo by Ananda Debnath (source: Flickr)

Tree Sparrows in the U.K.

Back in June we introduced the Birdorable Tree Sparrow. The Eurasian Tree Sparrow is a small passerine bird related the the House Sparrow. Tree Sparrows live across much of Europe and Asia, although numbers are declining in some parts of western Europe.

Birdorable Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrows are unfortunately on the decline in the United Kingdom - up to 50% in some areas. Research is being done to determine the cause of the decline as well as track current successful sparrow habitat and breeding grounds. Sightings of Tree Sparrows can be submitted to researchers online at The website's newsletter provides updated information on the research project and national sightings. Swag to show your support is also available.

Introducing the Birdorable Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Cute Birdorable Eurasian Tree Sparrow

We've added a few new Birdorable birds this week, the first one being this Eurasian Tree Sparrow. In eastern Asia this cute little bird is widespread in towns and cities, but in Europe, where the House Sparrow is occupying the cities, it is a bird of wooded areas and open countryside. It is not an endangered bird globally, but it is declining in western Europe due to change in farming practices and use of herbicides. There is also a small population of about 15,000 birds in the United States, around St. Louis and parts of Illinois and Iowa. These birds, believe it or not, are descendants of 12 birds taken over from Germany that were released in 1870 in an attempt to enhance the North American avifauna. The birds were set free in Lafayette Park in St. Louis by a local bird dealer. Other European birds were also released, including Goldfinches and Chaffinches, but only the Eurasian Tree Sparrow successfully established a breeding population. If you're ever in St. Louis and want to find a Eurasian Tree Sparrow you can find some good instructions here.

Photo of Eurasian Tree Sparrow

From Europe to Everywhere: The House Sparrow's Remarkable Expansion

Birdorable House Sparrows in Brooklyn, New York

House Sparrows in Brooklyn, New York

Welcome to the world of the House Sparrow, the latest adorable addition to the Birdorable family! This small but mighty bird holds the title of the most widely distributed wild bird on Earth, and its journey alongside humans is a fascinating tale of adaptability and survival. Originally native to Europe and much of Asia, the House Sparrow has made itself at home across the globe, from the bustling streets of New York to the distant shores of New Zealand and Australia.

The introduction of the House Sparrow to the Americas did not happen by natural migration; rather, it was a direct result of human intervention. In the mid-19th century, European settlers, nostalgic for the sights and sounds of home, decided to introduce the House Sparrow to North America. The first successful introduction occurred in Brooklyn, New York, in 1851, where several pairs were released with the hope that they would control insect pests. By the end of the 19th century, they had spread as far as the Rocky Mountains, evidence of their remarkable ability to thrive in new environments. But what exactly propelled their rapid expansion across North America?

The answer lies in the urban lifestyle of the time. The 19th century saw cities teeming with horses, the primary mode of transportation, which in turn meant an abundance of spilled grain on the streets. For the opportunistic House Sparrow, this was a banquet laid out in their honor. These adaptable birds quickly learned to exploit this new food source, aiding their proliferation across the continent. 

Birdorable House Sparrows in Sydney, Australia

House Sparrows in Sydney, Australia

After its introduction to North America in the mid-19th century, the House Sparrow's journey didn't stop there. These birds have an uncanny ability to thrive in urban and rural areas alike, making the most of the opportunities provided by human alterations to the landscape. This adaptability has facilitated their spread to other regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and various islands around the globe. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, House Sparrows have thrived by exploiting grain stores and feeding on the scraps of human settlements. Their presence in these areas is often seen as an indicator of human impact on natural environments, as they typically flourish in areas where traditional bird species might struggle due to habitat loss and changes in land use.

But the House Sparrow's adaptability isn't just about exploiting food sources. These birds have a an exceptional capacity to live in close quarters with humans, thriving in urban areas where other species might struggle. From the eaves of houses to the nooks of buildings, House Sparrows make their nests, always staying close to the hustle and bustle of human activity. Their cheerful chirping and social nature have made them a familiar and often beloved presence in cities and towns around the world.

House Sparrows photo

House Sparrows by hedera.baltica (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

What about Europe, the birthplace of the House Sparrow? Despite being native to this region, House Sparrows in Europe have faced significant challenges in recent decades, leading to a notable decline in their populations in many areas. This decline is attributed to a combination of factors, including urbanization, loss of traditional nesting sites due to modern building renovations, reduced insect food sources for chicks due to increased pesticide use, and competition for nesting spaces. Urbanization, in particular, has led to the loss of green spaces and gardens where sparrows once thrived, feeding on insects and seeds. In some cities, conservation efforts are underway to halt their decline, focusing on creating sparrow-friendly environments by preserving green spaces, planting native vegetation, and installing nest boxes to compensate for the loss of natural nesting sites. 

It's intriguing that while House Sparrows flourish in human-altered landscapes outside of Europe, their populations face challenges within their native European habitats, highlighting the complex interplay between wildlife, humans, and changing environments.

Do you have House Sparrows visiting your yard or nearby areas? How do they adapt to the environment where you live? Share your observations and experiences with these feathered voyagers and join us in appreciating the global journey of the House Sparrow.

Cute House Sparrow Gifts