All / Avian / Biology / Questions & Answers / Wildlife

Do you know what kind of bird this is?

I have this bird. It got injured, so I took it in. I know it’s wild, and I’m perfectly aware I can’t keep it. I just want to help it. I really want to know what kind it is, since I’ve never seen any like it before. I live in Oregon, if that helps. Here’s a picture of it:



Well, I am not a birdwatcher nor am I very familiar with species of Oregonian birds, but I can try to help you narrow it down a little.

Judging by the brown -grey coloring, small rounded/plump frame, and short sharp beak, this little guy or gal might belong to the Sparrow family (or the Emberizidae family) , which are Passerine birds. A quick guess would be a Sage, or Sagebrush Sparrow, which is native to the Western United States and breeds in arid, desert, or mountainous areas. However, many sparrows are multicolored, and markedly patterned. If this does indeed belong to the Sparrow family it would most likely be a female based on the blotchy, undistinguished markings. 

Another possibility is that this bird belongs to the Finch, or Fringillidae family. These birds are also seed-eating, stoutly built, short and sharped beaked Passarines. I am more hesitant to attach this bird to the Finch family simply because Finch’s (especially males) tend to be much more brightly colored, with vibrant and clear marks in yellows, oranges, reds and other bold colors. Some Finch females are darkly and obscurely colored, however, with relatively no distinguishable patterns, much like this bird.

So both are a possibility.

That being said, smaller specificity’s (outside of my range of expertise) exist in beak structure and tailshape. According to a Cornel’s Lab of Orithology, one of the biggest differences between the two is their beaks. House Finches have large, thick beaks of a grayish color. 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.

From here, narrowing down specific breeds, species, families and so forth becomes more and more complicated…or convoluted. (Just to give you an idea, here’s a snippit on Finches from Wikipedia: “Many birds in other families are also commonly called “finches”, including some species in the very similar-looking waxbills or estrildid finches (family Estrildidae) of the Old World tropics and Australia; several groups of the bunting and American sparrow family (Emberizidae); and the Darwin’s finches of the Galapagos islands, now considered members of the tanager family (Thraupidae).“)


Anyway, back to your bird.

A closer description would be helpful. How many of his toes point forward, how many point backward? How long and wide is his tail? Does he have any color under his wings or anywhere else? Is his dark just black? I see some whie/grey pathes by his wings. All this information helps classify him or her.

Either way, Sparrow, Finch and Passerine food and care is pretty similar. Stick with seeds. I’d stay on the safe side and purchase these at a pet-store, but research them first to make sure you are getting the right kind! Birds have highly sensitive stomachs/digestive systems. You can also take him to a vet, or local wildlife sanctuary.

Here’s a great source that uses your description to help narrow down wild bird species for you:

Keep her hydrated and feeling safe. Watch her closely for injury and try not to bombard or overstimulate her.

For more info regarding how to rehabilitate and handle wild birds please check out the wildlife and avian sections of my blog!

Good luck with the little one!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s