small gray birds...what are they?

donnas_gwMarch 20, 2009

I have several at the feeder that are small, maybe 4-5 inches, and I'd love to know what kind of birds they are. They are a slate gray on the top and white underneath. I thought of a titmouse, but these birds don't have the tuft on their heads. They are agressive, fighting off other birds and even sometimes their own species. Maybe all birds are this way, but these little gray ones seem more agressive than others at the feeders. Does anyone know what it might be? I do have a digital camera, it's not an expensive one, so it's impossible to get a picture of any birds. I am in zone 7, if that helps. Thank you.

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mtnester

I'm guessing they might be juncos, although the ones I've seen don't seem particularly aggressive.

Sue

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 8:15PM
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rachel_frome_ky

The only birds I know that fit that description are Blue-gray Gnatcatchers but they're not back yet, and I've never seen one at a feeder. Maybe you can get a photograph?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 8:36PM
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jeanner

My first thought was junco too. And breeding season is not far off and all the birds are more aggressive now.

My only other thought was a female American redstart. The timings a little early perhaps but it has been a warm spring (here in Ohio at least). They are not typical seed eaters but they will eat seed on occassion. They can be aggressive towards other birds, usually fly-catchers but I did witness them chasing other birds last fall.

I wish I had better pictures but this might give you an idea of what the female looks like ...

And as Rachel suggests, even a small blurry picture can sometimes show field marks.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 10:32PM
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hawkeye_wx

It could be a junco, but the ones around here are not aggressive at all and they also eat on the ground and rarely/never use the feeder.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 1:39AM
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feather_z9_ncacoast

What about Pine Siskin or Bushtit?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 5:02AM
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rachel_frome_ky

Gracious, Jeanner..lovely shots!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 9:35AM
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donnas_gw

I do have a book called North American Wildlife by Reader's Digest. Looking at the junco in this book, that's what the bird looks like. The white continues from it's breast on down to the underside of the tip of it's tail feathers. I've also noticed that it feeds on the ground below the feeder, not actually on the feeder. There's a bunch of them out there right now.

Jeanner, great pictures!! I'm confused though....are they pictures of a junco or American Redstart, or both? The bottom one looks like an American Redstart according to this book. Is the top one a junco?

Rachel, I'd love to get a picture of it. I wanted to get pictures of the hummers last year, but I think you have to have one of the more expensive cameras to get a good picture, where you can be far away enough without scaring the birds off. There's no way I could take one that is as good as jeanner took with my little digital camera (unless someone has any advice). Hey, maybe I'll go out and hide underneath the picnic table and get a picture since it's very close to the feeder. My neighbors would probably be ready to call the men in white coats to come and get me LOL.

Feather, the bushtit doesn't look dark enough to be this bird. The Pine Siskin lead me to a picture of the Common Redpoll, but no picture of the PS itself.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 7:05PM
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feather_z9_ncacoast

donnas, may I recommend National Geographic's Field Guide to the Bird of North America? I personally have three editions, but recommend the fifth for clarity of its paintings, range maps next to the text, and overall descriptives. . .it's very handy :)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 7:21PM
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gor-gor

Juncos don't have bright colors, pretty much just gray/white. :) Beautiful bird though! I'm now looking in my book. :)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 10:02PM
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luc_quebec

Hi Donna,

Small digitals cameras change each years. Now there are some with a 18X and 20X optical zoom not bad at all. Not a DSLR of course but good.

Just read about this one for example :

http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=144&modelid=17630

I have an Canon PowerShot S3 IS. I cannot take good pictures as Feather, Rachel and others, but I have a lot of fun using it : taking pictures, recording birds songs in stereo, made small videos, panoramic scenery, etc. Small enough to take it with me everywhere.

Luc

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 12:32AM
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donnas_gw

ok, I managed to get a picture of one of the small gray birds, although not the best with my small digital camera. They are always either on the ground under the feeder, on my picnic table, or on the patio like this one. I also got a good one of a robin under my white pine trees. They don't seem to be as afraid of people as other birds, so I was able to get fairly close to it.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 7:31PM
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donnas_gw

feather, I will look for that book. We have a book fair in the area that runs 2 weeks each month from March-December. They have many books. Wonder if I could find it there?

luc_quebec, I enjoy mine also. I bought it to take pics of the grandkids, flowers, etc. I will check out that camera. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:02PM
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renee_2006

Your little gray bird is a Junco. We've always call them snowbirds. They left my area early last week. One day they were all here the next gone. They are one of my favorite birds.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:13PM
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blake1112

The gray bird is a male junco, one of my favorite winter visitors. The females aren't as slate gray as the males, they have more of a brownish color to them.

And the other picture sure looks like a female American Redstart to me.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 3:43PM
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donnas_gw

blake1112, I hope you're referring to the other picture that jeanner posted, and not mine, because the one she posted definitely does look like a female American Redstart.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 3:51PM
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feather_z9_ncacoast

donnas, your top shot is definitely a junco and the bottom shot is an American Robin.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 1:22PM
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feather_z9_ncacoast

And of course, jeanner's shots are definitely female American Redstarts *lol*

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 1:23PM
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gor-gor

My post was also referring to the redstarts, lol.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 9:34PM
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blake1112

Donna, yes I was referring to Jeanner's female American Redstarts. But you also posted two pictures - one of a male Junco (the small gray bird) and the other a Robin. I have Juncos all winter long, they are still in my yard but will be leaving soon to head back north.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 1:44PM
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LindaMA

Donna, they're definetely dark eyed juncos, I have many in my back yard, they eat more off the ground under the feeders and yes, they chase each other around all the time, at least mine do. They are very pretty birds, funny, I didn't have any last year but this year they arrived at the beginning of November, along with the white throated sparrows and have been here since. They should be getting ready to go north soon. The white throated sparrows left a while ago.

~Linda

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 11:32AM
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cracker_jax

Hello All,

I too am having problems with Junco's being very aggressive. It started several weeks ago when they stopped eating from the ground and starting eating from the feeders (nyger and black oil seed). I barey see chickadees or titmice anymore. Any ideas why they got so agressive?

Jennifer

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 12:55PM
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rebeccah_2009

Thanks for the photo of the Junco. This is also one of my mystery birds. You just saved me some investigating work!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 12:29PM
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