Sparrows are often labeled as “LBB”s (little brown birds) that go unnoticed by bird watchers. Sometimes this is due to their less-than-exciting plumage (they really can’t compete with a Painted Bunting or an Eastern Bluebird). But sparrows can be fun to observe while bird watching, and some sparrows are remarkably pretty and striking if you take the time to look. For tips on finding and identifying the sparrows of Houston, Texas, see below.
Eastern Towhee. This large sparrow is about the size of a Robin, with similar coloring to its red-breasted cousin. It has distinctive black upperparts that will help you distinguish it from a Robin while bird watching in Texas. A winter resident of Houston, it is not often found in the city but is a frequent visitor to suburban forests. Look for them foraging on the ground among the leaves, looking for insects.
Chipping Sparrow. This sparrow has a beautiful chestnut crown and white eyebrows. You can distinguish it from other sparrows while bird watching from the lack of streaking on its chest. Look for them in the open fields and forests of Houston, Texas, where you will see them foraging for seeds. This bird is another winter resident of Houston, Texas.
Field Sparrow. Identify this Houston, Texas sparrow from its coral colored bill. Also look for its white eyering and rust-colored cap while bird watching in the brushy fields of Houston, Texas. The numbers of this winter resident have been steadily declining, due to loss of habitat, but the Houston Audubon Society is working to increase their numbers through habitat management. You can distinguish these sparrows from the Chipping Sparrow because it lacks the Chipping Sparrow’s much more noticeable black eyestripe.
Vesper Sparrow. An inhabitant of the fields of Houston, Texas, identify this sparrow while bird watching from its long tail, bordered with white feathers. It also has a brown patch on its shoulder and a white eyering. Katy Prairie is a good spot to find this little bird, which is another Houston, Texas winter resident.
Lark Sparrow. A permanent resident of Houston, Texas, look for this sparrow foraging on bare ground or in short grass. They have very bold, very pretty facial patterns which make them easy to spot while bird watching. Smith Point is a good spot to look for this sparrow, which is always a delight to find.
Savannah Sparrow. This pretty sparrow has a yellow eyebrow and a short little tail. Look for it while bird watching in fields and marshes in Houston, Texas; Katy Prairie is another common spot to find them. This little bird is more likely to run than fly away if you surprise it while bird watching. It is a winter resident of Houston, Texas.
Grasshopper Sparrow. Named for its love of grasshoppers, look for it in the grasslands and dry fields of Houston, Texas, hunting its favorite snack. This little sparrow can be hard to find, but look for it on Edward’s Plateau in the spring. You can identify it while bird watching from the pale stripe down its dark head, as well as its short tail. The rest of its body is brown, with a buff-colored breast.
Henslow’s Sparrow. Look for this sparrow in the marshes and wetlands of Houston, Texas. You’ll be able to identify it while bird watching from its distinctive facial pattern and flat little head. It also has a softly streaked breast and a short tail. Brazoria National Wildlife Reserve and the Katy Prairie are good bird watching spots to look for this sparrow. This bird is a winter resident of Houston, Texas.
Le Conte’s Sparrow. This winter resident of Houston, Texas can be found while bird watching on the edges of marshes, prairies, and wet fields. This gorgeous little sparrow is brown, gray and white, but has soft orange coloring on its breast, eyebrows and face, as well as striping on its crown. Look for it while bird watching as it forages for seeds on the ground in tall grasses in Houston, Texas. It can be a secretive little bird but is a pleasure to watch once you find it. This is another sparrow that will run rather than fly away if startled.