Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

10 Common Types of Sparrows (with Pictures)

Last Updated on

Field Sparrow

Sparrows are a common sight all around the world. Their species can be found in various habitats, including urban areas, forests, and grasslands. While there are many different types of sparrows, they all share some common characteristics.

Most sparrows are small birds with compact bodies and short tails. Their wings are typically brown or gray, and their plumage is usually dull in color. Sparrows are typically seed eaters, but some species will also consume insects.

Below, we look at some common types of sparrows. You’ll learn about their habitats and behaviors in this guide.

binoculars 3 divider

Top 10 Types of Sparrows:

1. House Sparrow

a house sparrow on a tree branch

Image Credit: KnipsKaline, Pixabay

Size: 15 – 17 centimeters
Weight: 27 – 30 grams
Wingspan: 19 – 25 centimeters

House Sparrows are among the most common types of sparrows. They’re found in urban areas all over the world. House Sparrows are small birds with gray and brown plumage.

These birds are social creatures that live in small flocks. They build their nests in trees, bushes, and other sheltered areas. House Sparrows typically eat seeds and insects.


2. Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Eurasian Tree Sparrow sitting on a branch

Image Credit: Daniil Komov, Pexels

Size: 14 – 15 centimeters
Weight: 18 – 28 grams
Wingspan: 20 – 22 centimeters

Eurasian Tree Sparrows are found in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Adult Eurasian Tree Sparrows have a chestnut crown, a black ear patch, and a black throat.

They forage in flocks on the ground for seeds and insects. Like House Sparrows, the male Eurasian Tree Sparrows also chirp during the breeding seasons. They also fluff their plumage to attract mates.

These birds forage in villages, lightly wooded areas, parks, and farmlands. However, you can often find them near human habitation.


3. Baird’s Sparrow

Baird's Sparrow on the ground

Image Credit: Dave Menke, USFMS, Pixnio

Size: 12 – 14 centimeters
Weight: 15 – 22 grams
Wingspan: 22 – 23 centimeters

Baird’s Sparrows are medium-sized sparrows found in North America. They’re brown above and white below, with a streaked back and breast. They have an ear patch and a buffy eyebrow.

Adult Baird’s Sparrows sing a song with ringing notes. You can hear them singing atop small shrubs and grass clumps.

They typically hide near or on the ground. When Baird’s Sparrows fly, they hold their tails up and their wings down. If a predator threatens them, they do not fly away. Instead, they walk on land to escape.

During the breeding season, these birds go to native prairies. However, they are also found in un-grazed pastures and hayfields.


4. Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Image Credit: Peter Klopp, Pixabay

Size: 15 – 17 centimeters
Weight: 24 – 33 grams
Wingspan: 28 centimeters

Lark Sparrows are larger than House Sparrows, with streaked brown upper parts, pale eyebrows, and buff underparts with dark streaks on the breast and flanks. The wings are brown with two white bars. The tail is long and brown with white outer feathers.

They usually stay close to the ground, searching for insects and trees. However, if they are disturbed, they fly off to trees and shrubs.

Like most other sparrow species, the male birds have a distinct song. They sign from high perches to attract mates and proclaim their territories.

The Lark Sparrow breeds in open habitats across North America, including prairies, farmland, and pastures. You can also find them along roadsides and in scattered shrubs.


5. Song Sparrow

song sparrow bird

Image Credit: u_z4q28nbq, Pixabay

Size: 12 – 17 centimeters
Weight: 12 – 53 grams
Wingspan: 18 – 24 centimeters

As the name indicates, Song Sparrows are known for their melodious singing. The song is a series of short trills and buzzes.

Adult Song Sparrows have rounded heads with rounded tails. Their breasts have coarse streaks, while the crown has russet stripes. These sparrows also have fluttering and short flights with bounding wingbeats.

Their breeding habitat is open areas across much of Canada, the United States, and Mexico. They reside in overgrown fields, forest edges, and backyards.

You can attract them to your backyard by providing them with food and water. You can also put up a nest box to give them a place to build their nests.


6. Yellow-Eyed Junco

Yellow-eyed Junco

Yellow-eyed Junco (Image Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

Size: 14 – 16 centimeters
Weight: 16 – 23 grams
Wingspan: 24 – 25 centimeters

The Yellow-Eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow with yellow eyes and a rusty back. It resides in New Mexico and southern Arizona. The males have a trill-like song that they sing from perches at the top of trees.

The Yellow-Eyed Junco is a social bird and can often be seen in small flocks foraging on the ground. It feeds on insects and seeds.

The Yellow-Eyed Junco is not currently considered threatened or endangered. However, its populations have declined in some areas due to habitat loss. The natural habitat of the Yellow-Eyed Junco is ponderosa pine forests and mountain pine oak.


7. American Tree Sparrow

american tree sparrow bird perching on a tree branch

Image Credit: Canadian-Nature-Visions, Pixabay

Size: 14 centimeters
Weight: 13 – 28 grams
Wingspan: 24 centimeters

American Tree Sparrows have a rusty eyeline on their gray heads, buff breasts, and streaked brown backs. Both males and females have reddish-brown plumage. They forage in flocks on the ground for seeds, insects, and berries.

During the breeding season, males sing a buzzy trill from elevated perches to attract mates. Females build nests of grass and twigs lined with hair and feathers in trees, shrubs, or on the ground. Both parents help raise the young. American Tree Sparrows are found in open habitats with some trees or shrubs.


8. California Towhee

California Towhee on the ground

Image Credit: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay

Size: 21 – 25 centimeters
Weight: 37 – 67 grams
Wingspan: 29 centimeters

California Towhees are large sparrows with rounded wings, thick beaks, and long tails. They are matte brown all over their bodies with a rusty patch under their tails. The patch is called a crissum. Males and females look the same.

California Towhees stay close to trees and shrubs for protection but otherwise hop or run on the ground. If they’re not looking for food on the ground, you’ll find them in backyards or on rooftops.

They typically like in dry habitats, such as chaparral. If you live in California, you can also spot them in your garden or neighborhood, as they are year-round residents in the state.


9. Field Sparrow

field sparrow perching

Image Credit: Frode Jacobsen, Shutterstock

Size: 12 – 15 centimeters
Weight: 11 – 15 grams
Wingspan: 20 centimeters

Field Sparrows are small birds with rounded heads, long tails, and conical bills. They have gray faces with white eye rings. The crown and eyeline are a rusty brown. Some adult Field Sparrows may have rust-colored chests too.

Field Sparrows sing loud songs from elevated perches, sounding like bouncing balls. You can hear the males singing this song in spring and summer.

Field Sparrows forage individually or in flocks. They stay close to the ground, looking for seeds. Their common habitats include tall grass and thorny shrubs, including briars and roses.


10. Saltmarsh Sparrow

Saltmarsh sparrow standing on a branch

Image Credit: Grayson Smith USFWS, Rawpixel

Size: 12 – 13 centimeters
Weight: 17 – 24 grams
Wingspan: 16.5 – 19.5 centimeters

Saltmarsh Sparrows are flat-headed and have round bellies. Their orange eyebrows and breast streaks make them recognizable.

Like most other sparrows on this list, the Saltmarsh Sparrow also forages on the ground. You’ll find it near marsh vegetation or muddy openings, where it searches for insects. The birds also eat seeds from marsh plants.

As the name suggests, the bird’s habitat is tidal salt marshes. They prefer marshes with extensive grasses and reeds.

How to Attract Sparrows to Your Backyard

Some sparrow species, such as the House Sparrow, are attracted to bird feeders. Others, like the White-Crowned Sparrow, prefer natural foods like insects and seeds.

You can attract sparrows to your backyard by providing a variety of food sources, along with nesting and roosting sites. Here are some tips to attract sparrows to your backyards:

  • Keep the bird feeders away from feral cats and other predators.
  • Offer a variety of foods, including seeds, insects, berries, and fruits.
  • Provide nesting sites, such as birdhouses or nesting boxes.
  • Make sure there is plenty of cover from predators and the elements.
  • Keep your backyard free of pesticides and herbicides.

Sparrows are social birds, so the more birdhouses and nesting boxes you have, the better. You can also try putting out several bird feeders to increase your chances of attracting these feathered friends.

hummingbird divider

Summing Up

As evident, there are plenty of sparrow species. They all share some similarities but also have several differences. The House Sparrow is the most common species and is found in many different parts of the world. Other types of sparrows include Towhees, Field Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and more.

Though they might seem small and insignificant, sparrows play an important role in the ecosystem and are worth our attention. You can attract them to your backyard by providing food and shelter.


Featured Image Credit: InspiredImages, Pixabay

About the Author Jeff Weishaupt

Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.

Jeff Weishaupt Profile Picture