Sparrows, Juncos, and Towhees of Columbia County, Oregon

New World Sparrows are small brown seed-eating birds with conical bills. They include the sparrows, juncos, and towhees. The House Sparrow, despite having a similar name and appearance, is actually introduced from Europe and part of a different family more closely related to finches.

English House Sparrow european invasive northwest oregon columbia county
House Sparrow – Males have brown-and-gray head with black mask/bib. Females have brown head with tan eyestripe. Bill is heavy and black. An introduced species common in city areas. (photo © cgates326)
Harris's Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Harris’s Sparrow – Outside of the black crest and bib, head is uniform brown (non-breeding) or gray (breeding), not both. Bill orange and conical. Breeds in coniferous forest. (photo © Jack Cochran)
Golden-crowned Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Golden-crowned Sparrow – Gray face with black cap and yellow patch. Bill is grayish and conical. Found in brushy semi-open areas, often in brush piles. (photo © jayras)

White-crowned Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
White-crowned Sparrow– Gray head with distinct white-and-black stripes. Bill is small and orange. Found in brushy areas, often hiding in dense shrubbery. (photo © jayras)
White-throated Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
White-throated Sparrow – White throat, Gray bill, yellow eyebrow, and generally messier appearance than White-crowned Sparrow. Found at forest edges and clearcuts. (photo © Brodie Cass Talbott)
Clay-colored Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Clay-colored Sparrow – Clear gray chest and neck without streaking. Pinkish bill is dark on top. No yellow eyebrow. A dry brushland sparrow rarely seen in our region. (photo © RJ Baltierra)
Chipping Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Chipping Sparrow – Brown cap and narrow black eyestripe on otherwise plain gray face. Bill is dark. Found in open dry woodland edges. Uncommon here. (photo © Jim Johnson)
American Tree Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
American Tree Sparrow – Cap and narrow eyestripe are rufous-brown. Bill black above and yellow below. Black smudge on chest. A rare visitor found in willows and thickets. (photo © Ken Chamberlain)

Lincoln's Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Lincoln’s Sparrow – Head striped brown and gray with pale eyering. Fine streaking across body. Slight buffy color on chest. Hides in grass and weeds in brushy areas. (photo © Jack W. Booth)
Swamp Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Swamp Sparrow – Similar to Lincoln’s Sparrow but with less chest streaking and more chestnut wings. Found in dense vegetation in wetlands. Uncommonly seen here. (photo © Ken Chamberlain)
Song Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Song Sparrow – Brown and gray with generally thick messy streaking. Long tail. Very common and adaptable, found in brushland, agriculture, and marshes. (photo © Jonathan Eisen)
Savannah Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Savannah Sparrow – Yellow eyebrow. Lines on head are less distinct. Chest is finely streaked. Short tail. Tend to perch on fences or tall vegetation in open areas. (photo © Patty Teague)
Brewer's Sparrow northwest Oregon columbia county
Brewer’s Sparrow – Small gray-brown sparrow with indistinct facial stripes. Tiny orangish bill is dark on top. Frequents shrubland. An Oregon Sensitive Species rarely seen in our area. (photo © jayras)
Vesper Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Vesper Sparrow – Large mottled-brown sparrow with no distinct facial markings other than eyering. Found in open grassland. A Sensitive Species rarely seen here. (photo © Ken Chamberlain)
Fox Sparrow northwest oregon columbia county
Fox Sparrow – Our “sooty” form is dark brown with some gray on face and wings and a black-mottled belly. Bill is gray and yellow. Found in wooded areas. (photo © Patty Teague)

Oregon Dark-eyed Junco northwest oregon columbia county
Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco – Entirely black head and throat with brown bill. Brown and gray body with no streaking. Can be seen in diverse habitats, including gardens. (photo © Zach)
Spotted rufous-sided Towhee northwest oregon columbia county
Spotted (Rufous-sided) Towhee – Much larger than other sparrows. Black head, back, and tail with white-spotted wings and rufous flanks. Ground-dwelling bird found near brush. (photo © Andy Bridges)

Other species seen extremely rarely in our county include the Black-throated Sparrow, the Lark Sparrow, and the Lapland Longspur

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