Song Sparrow

All Brown Birds in California with Pictures

At this time, we will be showcasing the most common brown birds native to California with vivid images and essential facts. All of our data has been obtained from reputable sources as well as verified by an Ornithologist for accuracy.

Most Common California Brown Birds:

Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves

(Zenaida macroura) is a medium-sized bird found in many parts of North America, including California. They are easily identified by their distinctive soft ‘coo’ call, as well as their long pointed tail and wings with white spots. Mourning Doves can reach up to 33 cm in length and have a wingspan of up to 50 cm.

The Mourning Dove primarily feeds on seeds, but will supplement its diet with insects when available. It builds messy, flimsy nests to lay its eggs in, which are usually constructed from twigs and grasses and lined with feathers. These can be found in trees or shrubs near open habitats like fields and farms.

Mourning Doves are highly social backyard birds, often gathering in large flocks to feed. They are also extremely territorial and will defend their nesting sites aggressively if threatened. During courtship, male Mourning Doves perform a ‘dive display’ where they take flight, ascend quickly, then dive back down to the ground.

In California, Mourning Doves can be found in many areas, including parks and gardens. They are also commonly spotted near agricultural fields and around residential homes. With their beautiful soft cooing call, they make a wonderful addition to the Western landscape.

Red-winged Blackbird (female)

Red-winged Blackbird

(Agelaius phoeniceus) is a medium-sized passerine bird found in North and Central America. It’s recognized by its brown body, yellow shoulder patches, and red-and-yellow wing bars. The male of the species has a glossy black head and face with bright red epaulets on each side of the shoulders. Female Red-winged Blackbirds are duller and have a spotted brown back and yellow shoulder patches.

Red-winged Blackbirds inhabit open fields, wetlands, agricultural areas, and other habitats with access to standing water. They feed mainly on insects, grains and fruits. Males may eat substantial amounts of seeds during the winter when insects are scarce.

These birds are small, measuring around 7-9 inches in length and weighing approximately 0.8 ounces. They have a wingspan of 11-13 inches and can reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour when flying.

Red-winged Blackbirds usually form large, gregarious flocks with other species during the day. At night, they roost in trees and shrubs in large numbers. During the breeding season, males often perch on low structures like fence posts or utility wires to sing their raucous songs and stake their territories.

In California, female Red winged Blackbird is a common sight in wetlands, farmlands, and other open habitats. They are typically seen in family groups during the non-breeding season, but during breeding season they become more territorial and may chase away other birds from their nesting sites. Their populations tend to increase over the years due to habitat protection efforts and successful management of wetlands in California.

House Finch

House Finch

Carpodacus mexicanus are easily identified in California by their bright red or pink heads. The females have a brown head and an overall duller coloring. These birds are small compared to other finches being approximately 5 to 6 inches long with a wingspan of about 8 inches.

The House Finch is mainly granivorous, meaning they primarily eat grains and seeds. They also feed on fruits, buds and insects.

The House Finch inhabits open woodland areas near human dwellings, where it can be seen in shrubbery or trees. They are aggressive at birdfeeders but will also forage for food in fields and gardens.

House Finch are generally considered to be quite social and very active birds. They form large flocks of several dozen finches, usually in the winter months. During mating season they prefer to pair off into smaller groups. Many House Finches will return each year to the same nesting areas if conditions are favorable. They often nest in bushes, small trees, and on window ledges of buildings.

The House Finch is a common songbird in California and can often be heard singing its distinct melodious warble from trees or bushes. It is also known for its distinctive call which has been described as a ‘tchup-tchup’ sound.

House Finch range map

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

(Molothrus after) is a small blackbird with a chocolate-brown head, gray wings and tail, and yellow eyes. It typically measures 9 to 11 inches in length (23-28 cm). They can be found in open agricultural lands, villages, grasslands, parks and other semi-open areas across North America including California.

These birds have a distinct behavior of laying eggs in the nests of other species, usually smaller birds, such as warblers and sparrows. The young cowbirds are then raised by the adoptive parent bird and receive more care than their own nest mates.

Brown-headed Cowbirds feed mainly on various insects and grain. They can often be seen walking along the ground in search of food. During breeding season they may also eat insects, berries and other fruits.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are considered a nuisance species as they compete with other birds for food sources, causing their numbers to increase at the expense of native populations. As such, their presence is often reduced by various conservation and management practices.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern mockingbirds

(Mimus polyglottos) is a brown bird native to California. It has brown plumage with white patches on its wings and tail, bright yellow eyes, and long legs. Northern Mockingbirds mainly feed on insects and fruits, but they also consume some seeds and earthworms.

The average length of the Northern Mockingbird ranges from 8.7 – 11.8 inches, and they typically weigh between 1.6 – 2 ounces. In California, Northern Mockingbirds can be found in shrubland or woodlands with dense underbrush near water sources such as rivers, streams, and wetlands.

They are often seen perched atop fences or trees while singing their melodious song which frequently has up to 10 different syllables. Northern Mockingbirds also display territorial behavior and can be seen chasing other birds away from their territory. They are also known for mimicking the songs of other birds as well as noises from cars and mechanical objects.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

(Setophaga coronata) is a species of birds native to North America. They have brown upperparts and yellow undertail coverts on the rump, which gives them their name. Its broad white wing-bars are visible in flight. The adults measure about 14 cm (5.5 in) long with a wingspan of 21 cm (8.3 in).

The diet of the Yellow-rumped Warbler consists mainly of insects, berries, and nuts. They are also known to eat nectar from flowers during migration periods.

These birds can be found in deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as shrublands, farmland edges, and urban areas. In California, they are most likely found in coastal forest, riparian woodlands, and chaparral habitats.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are active foragers that typically hop along branches and trunks searching for food. They also feed on the ground and fly into foliage to search for insects. During breeding season, they are known to become very territorial and make use of a variety of song types.

These birds migrate south for the winter months and often form large flocks in areas such as parks, wetlands, and meadows. In the summer months when breeding season begins, they can be found alone or in pairs.

Yellow-rumped Warbler range map

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

(Melospiza melodia) is a medium-sized brown bird found in California. It has a distinct streaked pattern on its back, wings, and tail that make it easy to identify. Song Sparrows have a varied diet and feed mainly on black oil sunflower seeds, but also eat insects as protein sources. They grow to about 5 – 7 inches in length and have a wingspan of about 8 to 12 inches.

Song Sparrows are found in a variety of habitats such as shrublands, grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands. They nest near the ground in dense vegetation or shrubs, which makes them difficult to spot. The birds are quite vocal and active during the day, and will often sing from treetops or other high points.

They are known to be territorial and will defend their nests against predators. Song Sparrows typically mate for life, forming a pair bond that can last for more than one breeding season. In the winter months, they migrate southward in large flocks in search of food.

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

(Sayornis nigricans) is a small brown bird native to the American Southwest, California, and Baja California. It has a distinctive black face, head and throat. Its back, wings, tail and belly are dark grey-brown in color with lighter underparts. The Black Phoebe has a stout body measuring between 13 to 15 cm in length, and a wingspan of 21-25 cm.

The Black Phoebe is found near streams, rivers, wetlands or other areas with water such as irrigated fields and residential yards. It eats insects such as flies, bees and wasps by flycatching or hovering over the water to pluck them off the surface. It also eats small fish and occasionally fruits.

The Black Phoebe is a territorial bird and often defends its nesting area from other birds or animals. It builds a cup-shaped nest of mud on rocks, trees, buildings or even bridges near water bodies. The nest is lined with fur, grasses or feathers for insulation and comfort. It lays three to five eggs at a time and both the male and female take turns incubating them.

The Black Phoebe is an insectivore, meaning it feeds on insects. It forages for food during the day by flycatching or hovering over water bodies to pick off insects from their surfaces. The bird also eats small fish and occasionally fruits. The Black Phoebe is known to be a social bird, often seen in small flocks or groups of up to ten birds. It calls out with its low-pitched “fee-bee” song as it flies around, usually during the breeding season but sometimes throughout the year.

Black Phoebe range map

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

(Passer domesticus) is the most common bird species in California. It is a small-sized bird with brown, gray and black feathers and white cheeks. Its diet consists mainly of seeds, grains and insects such as grasshoppers and crickets. House Sparrows can be found living in habitats near to humans such as farms, parks, gardens and cities.

They are sociable birds and usually flock together in large groups. Some interesting behavior that they exhibit is that they typically use the same roost sites year after year and can even recognize individual birds in their group. They also have special alarm calls to alert other birds of danger nearby.

House Sparrow range map

California Scrub-Jay

California Scrub-Jay1

(Aphelocoma californica) is a species of bird belonging to the Corvidae family. These birds are characterized by their grey and blue coloring, with a distinctive crest on the top of their head. California Scrub-Jays measure between 28 and 33 centimeters in length, and weigh approximately 70 grams.

The diet of the California Scrub-Jay includes a variety of nuts and seeds, supplemented by insects and small lizards or snakes. They are also known to scavenge for human food items in urban areas.

California Scrub-Jays typically inhabit dry scrublands, oak savanna, and grassland habitats at elevations ranging from sea level to 3,000 meters. They are also known to inhabit areas around human settlements, such as farms, parks, and gardens.

California Scrub-Jays are social birds that typically live in family groups and form large flocks outside of the breeding season. They are inquisitive by nature and can be frequently seen foraging on the ground in search of food. Males are known to be highly territorial and will defend their territories from intruding birds, including other members of the same species. They are also known to use a variety of calls and songs to communicate with each other.

California Scrub-Jays typically breed between April and August, during which time pairs construct nests in trees or shrubs. The female typically lays two to five eggs, which are incubated for 14-18 days before hatching. Both parents help care for the young after hatching.

California Scrub-Jay range map

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow1

(Zonotrichia leucophrys) is a common and widespread bird found in California. It has a distinctive white crown with black stripes, gray back, and yellowish-brown breast. The White-crowned Sparrow is typically 6 to 7 inches long with a wingspan of 8 to 10 inches.

White-crowned Sparrows primarily feed on insects, seeds and berries. They can often be seen in grassy areas, shrubs, forest edges, gardens and fields. During the breeding season they typically inhabit higher elevations such as alpine meadows and coniferous forests. In winter, they migrate to lower elevations like chaparral and riparian woodlands.

White-crowned Sparrows are social birds, often seen in small flocks outside of the breeding season. The males and females have similar plumage and can be difficult to tell apart. They communicate by a variety of sounds such as chipping and singing. They are also known for their complex courtship rituals which involve ground-bobbing movements and the elongated display of their white crown feathers.

White-crowned Sparrow range map

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee1

(Pipilo maculatus) is a species of brown birds native to the western United States and parts of Mexico. It is most commonly found in California, where its diet consists mainly of insects and foraged seeds.

This bird has a distinctive black head with white spots on its back, wings, and sides. The breast is rufous, and the tail is black with white outer feathers. Its wingspan typically ranges from 22-25cm, and its body length is about 16-21cm.

Spotted Towhees are found in a variety of habitats including woodlands, chaparral scrub, marshes, and suburban gardens. They prefer to stay near the ground and are known to hop along the soil as they search for food. Although they can be found alone or in pairs, these birds of California often gather in large flocks while migrating.

These birds are not particularly territorial, but they do give loud calls when disturbed or threatened. They also have a characteristic “drink-your-tea” imitation which is often heard in the early mornings and evenings.

Spotted Towhee range map

California Towhee

California Towhee

(Melozone crissalis) is a species of brown bird that can be found in the state of California. They are easily identified by their characteristic reddish-brown coloring, darker back and wings, white throat, and two white spots near their bill. It also has short legs, a short tail, and a long curved bill. California Towhees have a diet that consists mainly of seeds and insects. They measure about 8-10 inches in length and weigh between 1.3 to 2 ounces on average.

California Towhees are found in chaparral, oak woodlands, agricultural fields, urban parks, and any other areas with an abundance of brushy cover. They are non-migratory birds and tend to stay in the same area all year long. California Towhees are solitary or can be found in pairs, but they do not usually form flocks. They can often be heard singing their characteristic song of multiple chip notes as they forage on the ground or low shrubs. Although they are primarily ground-dwelling species, they can be seen perched in trees from time to time.

California Towhee range map

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

(Carduelis psaltria) is a small brown bird found in California. It can be identified by its bright yellow crown, black forehead and back, white wing bars and undersides, white patches on its shoulders, and orange-colored rump. This species usually feeds on thistle seed and other small seeds or insects. It has an average length of 4 inches and weighs only 10-15 grams.

The Lesser Goldfinch prefers open fields, parks, orchards, pastures, and areas with water sources nearby. It is also known to inhabit gardens and backyards in California’s Central Valley. In the winter it migrates to central Mexico for the season.

The behavior of the Lesser Goldfinch is quite interesting. It tends to form flocks out of family and other small groups that travel together in search of food sources. Its flight pattern consists of rapid wing beats interspersed with glides, making for a very efficient way to move from one area to another. The Lesser Goldfinch is also known to have a cheerful song that sounds like its name.

Lesser Goldfinch range map

American Robin

american robin

(Turdus migratorius) is a brown bird native to California. It has a distinctive red-orange breast, gray and white wings, black head and tail with white eye ring, and an overall length of around 10 inches.

The American Robin typically feeds on fruits like cherries, earthworms and insects. They are known to inhabit gardens, yards and woodlands across the state.

American Robins are highly social birds that live in large flocks of up to 100 individuals during the winter months. They tend to make nests high up in trees, often near human homes and buildings, and they are quite vocal.

They fly south when temperatures drop too low, and then return to California in the spring and summer. Their migration pattern follows a north-south route along the western side of North America.

American Robin range map

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Junco

(Junco hyemalis) is a species of small brown bird that is commonly found in California. It has a slate grey upper body with white outer tail feathers, along with small spots or streaks on its chest and wings. Its head and underbelly are usually lighter shades of grey.

This bird typically eats seeds, fruits, and insects. It prefers to feed on the ground in open meadows and clearings, but will also visit backyard bird feeders.

Dark-eyed Junco are small birds typically measuring between 5 – 7 inches (12.7 cm – 17.8 cm) in length with a wingspan of 8 – 10 inches (20.3 cm – 25.4 cm).

This species is most commonly found in open woodlands, thickets, and mountain passes. They often build their nests on the ground hidden beneath low shrubs. Dark-eyed Junco are usually quite timid but may form flocks when feeding or roosting together during winter months. During breeding season, they are more active, often singing and chasing one another in the air. They are also very territorial during this time, defending their territory from other birds.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

(Spinus tristis) is a species of small passerine bird native to California. It has an easily recognizable appearance, with a bright yellow body, black wings, and a white-tipped tail. The male American Goldfinch also has red or orange feathers on its forehead. This bird grows up to 4-5 inches long and lives mainly in grasslands, shrublands, and other open habitats.

American Goldfinches feed primarily on seeds and insects. They often flock together in large numbers to forage for food. This species is known to be active during the day and can usually be seen flitting from one seed source to another. During the nesting season, the male American Goldfinch builds a cup-shaped nest in an open area, usually near the top of a tree.

The American Goldfinch is abundant in California and can be seen throughout most of the year. It is an important species for native bird-watchers to observe. Its song is often described as a pleasant and cheerful trill. Due to its distinct coloration and diet, it is relatively easy to spot and identify in the wild.

American Goldfinch range map

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

(Regulus calendula) is a small brown bird found in North America. It has an easily recognizable crown of bright red feathers on its head and yellowish-white wing bars. This species can be identified by its white eye-ring and a distinctive call which sounds like “zip-zee” or “pik-see”.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets feed mainly on insects, but they will also take advantage of small fruits and seeds when available. They tend to forage in the canopy of coniferous trees or shrubs, often hopping along branches and leaves to find food.

These birds are relatively small, measuring only 4 to 5 inches in length and weighing only 8 to 10 grams. They have a wingspan of 4–5 inches, so they are excellent fliers.

In California, Ruby-crowned Kinglets can be found in coniferous forests and woodlands at elevations up to 7500 feet. They prefer moist environments with dense shrubs and thickets for protection. In the winter, they move to lower elevations where food is more available.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is an active bird that is constantly on the move. They often take short flights in search of food or when threatened by predators. During courtship, males perform a variety of courtship displays, including bowing and flicking of their wings. When nesting, they build cup-like nests in shrubs or trees. They are monogamous birds, with the same pair staying together year after year.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet range map

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

(Zonotrichia atricapilla) is a medium-sized bird found in California and some parts of Oregon, Washington, Baja California and Siberia. It has a narrow bill with the male having a bright yellow crown stripe on its head. They have grayish-brown upperparts and white underparts speckled with black streaks. They weigh between 1.2 and 2 ounces (36 to 57 grams) with a wingspan of 7 to 8 inches (18 to 20 cm).

Golden-crowned Sparrows prefer open woodlands, grassy fields, wetlands, scrubby areas, and residential yards. They forage for food on the ground or in low vegetation, eating mainly seeds and insects. They are active during the day, but can be heard singing at night when they form flocks which can still remain present until the following spring.

Golden-crowned Sparrows breed in North America from Alaska and Canada south to California, where they summer in higher elevations and winter along the coast. They are also found in isolated areas in Europe, Asia and South America. During the winter they will migrate as far south as Mexico, where they form loose flocks of 15-100 birds.

Golden-crowned Sparrow range map

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinals

(Cardinalis cardinalis) is a species of small brown bird found in California. This type of cardinal has distinct red and black face markings, a grayish-brown body, and bright red conical bill. It measures approximately 20cm in length and weighs about 30 grams. The Northern Cardinal lives in wooded areas, thickets, forest edges, suburban gardens and parks.

It mainly feeds on seeds and insects which it obtains by foraging on the ground or in shrubs and trees. The Northern Cardinal is usually quite active throughout the day and tends to be territorial in nature. This type of cardinal has a distinctive loud song that can be heard from some distance away.

Oak Titmouse

Oak Titmouse

(Baeolophus inornatus) is a small, brown bird native to California. It has a distinctive black tuft of feathers on its forehead, which gives it its name. Its back is paler and more streaked with gray than its belly. The Oak Titmouse is 8-10 centimeters long and weighs 17-25 grams.

Oak Titmouse inhabits open oak woodlands and chaparral in California, primarily from the central coast to the southern Sierra Nevada. They are usually found foraging on trees or shrubs for insects and other small invertebrates like spiders, as well as occasionally eating nuts and seeds. They often make their nests in cavities or in old woodpecker holes.

Oak Titmouse are social creatures and often forage in flocks of up to 10 individuals, with each bird chirping excitedly as they hunt for food. They will often use the same nest site year after year, but may move if their original spot is disturbed or no longer suitable. They are also known to occasionally fly around and sing during the day, which may help them establish their territory.

Oak Titmouse range map

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

(Passerculus sandwichensis) is a small brown bird native to North America. It has a distinctive yellow breast with two dark stripes on either side and its wings are marked with grey, orange and white patches. The Savannah Sparrow typically measures between 15–17 cm in length and weighs around 17–24 g.

The Savannah Sparrow prefers open grassy habitats, such as meadows, fields and marshes. It feeds mainly on insects and seeds. During the breeding season, the Savannah Sparrow is highly territorial and has a characteristic song that it uses to defend its territory from other birds.

Outside of the breeding season, the Savannah Sparrow can occur in large flocks with other seed-eating birds. The Savannah Sparrow is a long-distance migrant, wintering in the southern United States and Mexico. It nests on the ground, usually near tall grass or shrubs. Its eggs are typically greenish-blue with dark markings. These birds are monogamous, meaning they mate with one partner each year. They lay up to three clutches of eggs per year.

Savannah Sparrow range map

What are the little brown birds in California?

The most common little brown bird found in California is the House Finch. These birds are native to western North America and can be seen throughout the state. They have a brownish-streaked chestnut back, tail and wings with a bright red head, face, throat and breast.

Other species of little brown birds that can be found in California are the American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, and California Towhee. All of these birds can be found in open woodlands, parks, and gardens throughout the state.

What are the little brown birds you see everywhere?

These birds are called sparrows! Sparrows are small and have brown and black feathers. They eat a variety of foods including grains, insects, fruit, and more. They often flock together in large groups called flocks. Sparrows can be found all over the world.

What kind of bird is all brown?

The most commonly seen type of all-brown bird is the sparrow. Other popular species include towhees, brown thrashers, quail, juncos, and larks. Many species of ducks, including mallards and teal, are also often completely brown in color.

Additionally, some owls have entirely brown plumage, such as barn owls, long-eared owls, and screech owls. Many types of hawks are species with entirely brown feathers, including Cooper’s hawk, harris’s hawk, and red-tailed hawk.

There are also a variety of small songbirds that are typically brown in color, including wrens, warblers, vireos, and thrushes. Even some parrots can be entirely brown in color, such as the Double-eyed Fig Parrot. Ultimately, there are many species of birds that can be entirely brown in color!

What birds are common in California?

California is home to a wide variety of birds. Some of the most common species include California Quail, Red-tailed Hawk, American Crow, Black Phoebe, Anna’s Hummingbird, Northern Flicker, Western Scrub Jay, Acorn Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, and Barn Owl.

Other popular species include all three California Condor subspecies (Gymnogyps californianus, Vultur gryphus and Geranoaetus melanoleucus), California Towhee, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bushtit, Brown Creeper and Western Bluebird.

Additionally, many migratory birds visit the state during certain times of the year, such as Turkey Vulture, White-throated Swift, and Brown Pelican. California is also home to hundreds of other bird species making it a great place for bird watching!

The list below focuses on common brown birds that visit bird feeders in California:

– Downy Woodpecker

– White-breasted Nuthatch

– Brown Creeper

– House Finch

– Dark-eyed Junco

– American Tree Sparrow

– Song Sparrow

– White-crowned Sparrow

– Spotted Towhee

– California Towhee

– Fox Sparrow

– House Wren

– Lincoln’s Sparrow

– Golden-crowned Sparrow

– Western Scrub Jay.