Did you recently see a mystery BROWN bird in Alaska?
If so, I’m guessing you are trying to figure out how to identify the species correctly!
Well, you are in the right place. Below, you will learn about the most common brown birds found in Alaska. I’ve included high-quality pictures and range maps to help you!
But before you begin, let me give you one warning:
Trying to figure out which brown bird you saw can be difficult. First, brown is the most common color for birds because it helps them with camouflage. Second, many brown birds have few defining characteristics that make them easy to identify. Especially when you see the individual from a distance, it just looks like a “little brown bird.”
The list below focuses on COMMON brown birds that visit bird feeders in Alaska. I did not include any birds of prey or water birds. If you need help with either of these types of birds, then check out the following articles:
#1. Red-winged Blackbird (female)
- Agelaius phoeniceus
- Males are all black, except for a bright red and yellow patch on their shoulders.
- Females are brown and heavily streaked. There is a bit of yellow around their beak.
- Both sexes have a conical beak and are commonly seen sitting on cattails or perched high in a tree overlooking their territory.
While male Red-winged Blackbirds are easy to identify, females can be challenging. What helps me is their slightly larger size and streaks, which set them apart from other smaller brown birds in southeastern Alaska.
Red-winged Blackbirds are almost exclusively found in marshes and other wet areas during the breeding season. However, when it’s the nonbreeding season, these birds spend much of their time in grasslands, farm fields, and pastures looking for weedy seeds to eat. It’s common to find them in large flocks that feature other blackbird species, such as grackles, cowbirds, and starlings.
- RELATED: 9 LIVE Bird Feeder Cams From Around the World [Including MINE!]
Red-winged Blackbird Range Map
It’s possible to see these blackbirds at your feeders! To attract them, try offering a combination of millet, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds.
WATCH a male and female Red-winged Blackbird on my feeders above!
If you visit a wetland or marsh in spring, you are almost guaranteed to hear males singing and displaying, trying to attract a mate. Listen for a rich, musical song, which lasts about one second and sounds like “conk-la-ree!“ And at any time of year, you can hear males or females make a “check” call. This sound is used for many purposes, such as flying, feeding, or defending their territory.
#2. Song Sparrow
- Melospiza melodia
- The chest has brown streaks that converge onto a central breast spot.
- On their head, look for a brown crown with a gray stripe down the middle. Gray eyebrows and gray cheeks.
- The back and body are mostly rust-brown with gray streaks throughout.
These brown birds are common, especially in wet & shrubby open areas. They live in southern Alaska.
Song Sparrow Range Map
But sparrows, in general, are difficult to identify due to their abundance and how similar they all tend to look. Until you take a closer look, they all appear “small and brown.”
The easiest way to confirm you have seen a Song Sparrow is to listen for their beautiful songs. The typical one, which you can listen to below, consists of three short notes followed by a pretty trill. The song varies depending on location and the individual bird.
#3. White-crowned Sparrow
- Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Both sexes can be grayish or brownish with a long tail.
- On their head, they can have black and white stripes or brown and tan. The head is peaked on the crown.
- Beaks are orangish-yellow or pinkish.
As the name suggests, these birds are not entirely brown. The top of their head has distinctive black and white stripes!
Look for White-crowned Sparrows in shrubbery habitats with open grassy areas in the breeding season. In winter, they prefer weedy fields, thickets, and backyards.
White-crowned Sparrow Range Map
If you want to attract these brown birds to your backyard in Alaska, use sunflower seeds, cracked corn, or millet. Just make sure the food is placed on the ground, as they won’t fly up to feeders. In addition, having a brush pile will entice them to stay because it offers safety.
White-crowned Sparrows are known for their long migration journeys. This sparrow has been known to travel over 300 miles (483 km) in one night.
#4. Chipping Sparrow
- Spizella passerina
- Brown-streaked back and wings.
- Rusty crown, grayish belly, and a black-streaked eyeline.
- Both sexes are slim with a long tail and medium-sized beak.
These small brownish birds are common in southeastern Alaska.
Luckily, they’re easy to identify, thanks to their rust-colored crown. You’ll often see them at backyard feeding stations, eating sunflower seeds and other small seeds on the ground.
Chipping Sparrow Range Map
Look for them in the woods by grassy meadows. These sparrows are also common in suburban areas!
Chipping Sparrows have loud, trilling songs among the most common sounds of spring woodlands and suburbs. Their songs are long trill notes that they repeat, almost sounding mechanical. Listen below!
#5. Pine Siskin
- Spinus pinus
- Small, brown birds with dark streaks with fine yellow edging on their wings and tails.
- Sharply pointed beak and a short, forked tail and long pointed wingtips.
- Both males and females look the same.
Pine Siskins are social and search for food in flocks while chirping nonstop to each other. They don’t even stop chattering when flying!
Pine Siskin Range Map
These small brown birds mainly visit backyard feeders in southern Alaska in the winter. They prefer to eat smaller seeds without tough shells, such as sunflower or Nyjer seeds. During warmer weather, they feast mainly on insects and other invertebrates.
Listen below to the Pine Siskin’s song, a twittering warble that rises and falls in pitch. They randomly throw in a “ZZZzzzzzreeee” that rises in pitch ever so often. You will notice they sound more wheezy than other finches.
Which of these brown birds have you seen in Alaska?
Leave a COMMENT below! Make sure to mention where the brown bird was seen. 🙂