Birds come in all sorts of colors and patterns, but there’s something special about the simplicity of brown and white birds. With their earthy brown tones mixed with clean white feathers, they may not be the flashiest birds around, but they have a unique charm that’s worth exploring.
In this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at these understated yet elegant birds. We’ll discover what makes them interesting, where they make their homes, and what they like to eat. So, join us on this journey as we celebrate the subtle beauty of brown and white birds in the avian world.
List of 16 Brown and White Birds
- Scientific name: Nucifraga caryocatactes
- Lifespan: Up to 16 years
- Size: 12 inches
- Native to Scandinavia right across northern Europe, Siberia and eastern Asia, including Japan
The Nutcracker gets its name from its extremely adapted bill which enables the bird to break nuts open.
The adult nutcrackers have dark brown plumage that is strongly speckled and streaked with white on the majority of the body. Brown on the crown and nape are significantly deeper than the rest of the body.
On the scapulars, breasts, and flanks where they form confluent lines, the white dots are bigger and more spread apart. furthermore, the lower belly and undertail coverts are white, while the rump and upper tail coverts are dark browns. The feathers on the upper wing are glossy black. The tips of the coverts have a little white mark.
The bill of a Nutcracker is rather long, powerful, straight, and black in color. With the help of its specialized bill, it can open nuts, but it can also hold cones and nuts beneath its foot and smash at them with its powerful bill.
Pine nuts, namely Siberian pine nuts, are the primary source of nutrition for the Spotted Nutcracker. But it needs other nuts, particularly hazelnuts, and seeds from many conifer species. It consumes a wide variety of invertebrates, including insects and spiders, throughout the spring and early summer. Small birds and rats may also be caught by it. In its winter habitat, it stores vast amounts of food in caches at the bases of trees.
2. Asian koel (Female)
- Scientific name: Eudynamys scolopaceus
- Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
- Size: 15 inches
- Native to: tropical southern Asia from Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to southern China and the Greater Sundas
The Asian koel is a sizable member of the cuckoo family and, like many of its related cuckoo relatives, is a brood parasite that lays its eggs in the nests of hosts like crows and other birds that then take care of its young.
The male Asian koel has grey legs and feet, a red eye, and a glossy brownish-black body with a light greenish-grey beak. The female has rufous stripes on her head and a brownish crown. With white and buff markings, the back, rump, and wing coverts are dark brown. Even though they are strongly striped, their underparts are white. Young birds have a black beak and top plumage that is more similar to that of a male bird.
The Asian koel is an omnivore and eats a range of insects, caterpillars, eggs, and tiny vertebrates. Fruit is the major food for adults. On occasion, they may protect the fruit trees they forage in and drive off other frugivores. They have been reported to have a significant role in the spread of the Indian sandalwood tree. Small-seeded fruits are eaten by koel and are more likely to be deposited further away from the parent tree than large-seeded fruits, which are sometimes immediately regurgitated close to the parent tree. They can consume huge fruits, including the hard fruit of palm trees like Arenga and Livistona, thanks to their wide mouths. It has been reported that they sometimes steal little bird eggs.
4. Mistle Thrush
- Scientific name: Turdus viscivorus
- Lifespan: 3-5 years
- Size: 11 inches
- Native to: Europe
The mistle thrush is a significantly bigger songbird that is often seen in parks, gardens, woodlands, and scrub. It presumably got its popular name because it loves mistletoe and eats the berries since they are sticky.
Mistle Thrush in turn promotes the growth of mistletoe by unintentionally ‘planting’ its seeds when wiping its bill on the tree bark to remove the sticky residue. It also disperses the seeds in its droppings.
The mistle thrush has a white belly covered in circular, black, and white patches and has a light greyish-brown color on top. In comparison to the Song or Wood Thrush, it is bigger and greyer.
The mistle thrush is often referred to as the “Rain Bird” because, following significant spring rains, it may frequently be heard singing loudly from the tops of tall trees.
These iconic small birds are widely distributed, however they are not found on the highest mountains or on all of the Scottish islands.
5. The Wood Thrush
- Scientific name: Hylocichla mustelina
- Lifespan: up to 8 years
- Size: 7 inches
- Native to: deciduous and mixed forests in the eastern U.S
The Wood Thrush is often heard before it is seen. From the lower canopy of mixed eastern woods, the male sings his ee-oh-lay song, which has a melancholy yet lovely flute-like quality.
If you want to see Wood Thrushes, look for them quietly scrounging through leaf litter and foraging on the forest floor. They make the most of any surrounding rubbish since they are the ideal small scavenger birds.
A songbird like the Wood Thrush needs 10 to 15 times more calcium to lay eggs than others would require to care for its young at the same developmental period.
Snail shells and other calcium-rich dietary supplements are thus essential for their effective reproduction. The population of Wood thrushes is decreasing because of the presence of these vital nutrients in soils damaged by acid rain.
6. White-headed barbet
- Scientific name: Lybius leucocephalus
- Lifespan: 10 years
- Size: 7.1-7.7 inches
- Native to: Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Another bird in our list of brown birds with white spots is the White-headed barbet. The woods of Central Africa are home to the black and white white-headed barbet. They have a big, white head and a powerful beak, and they are around 7 inches long. Their feet are gray-black, while the majority of their underparts are white.
These white-headed barbets like to eat Insects and seeds. They use mud to make their nests, which are lined with leaves. Because they are monogamous, both parents assist in raising the young. These little white-headed birds are sociable and often seen in groups. Therefore, be sure to capture this species in a high-quality photograph on your next trip to Africa while birding.
- Scientific name: Numenius phaeopus
- Lifespan: 12 to as much as 24 years
- Size: 15–19 in
- Native to: Alaska and northwestern Canada.
- Beak length on average is 4-6 inches (10.2-15.2 cm).
Long-beaked birds from the beach and from relatively wide countryside include the Hudsonian Whimbrel.
North America is the home of the Hudsonian Whimbrel, also known as Numenius Phaeopus Hudsonicus. They often hang out as near to shallow water as they can, where they will frequently wade. They are often seen standing on one leg in their natural environment. Its body is grey with a darker neck and tail, and some of its wings are white.
The long-beaked birds inhabit grasslands where they mostly feed on insects and crustaceans while building their ground-based nests, often close to sources of water. After the baby birds hatch, both parents assist in feeding them. This bird is sometimes hunted for its delectable flesh, but because of legislation protecting it, this doesn’t happen as often as it once did!
- Scientific name: Gallinago delicata
- Lifespan: Up to 8 years
- Size: Approximately 25-28 cm (10-11 inches)
- Native to: North America
- Beak length: About 6-8 cm (2.4-3.1 inches)
The Wilson’s Snipe is a migratory shorebird found in North and Central America. With its mottled brown plumage, large beak, and small legs, it is well suited to its marshy environments. Wilson’s Snipe eats by exploring the soft mud for insects and worms. They are secretive and mix nicely with their environment. During the mating season, males undertake stunning aerial courting displays called as “sky dances” to attract females. These shows include flying high in the sky while making unusual noises. Wilson’s Snipe are good at concealing and might be tough to locate. They play a vital role in wetland habitats, although their conservation status is not covered here.
Canyon Wren (Small Brown and White Birds)
- Scientific name: Catherpes mexicanus
- Lifespan: Up to 6 years
- Size: Approximately 12.5-15 cm (5-6 inches)
- Native to: Western United States and Mexico
- Beak length: Around 1.5-2 cm (0.6-0.8 inches)
The Canyon Wren is a small songbird found in western North America, from the United States to northern Mexico. This species is known for its striking look and charming vocalizations.
With its reddish-brown color and unique white streaks on its wings, the Canyon Wren is aesthetically fascinating. It has a thin body, a long, slightly curved bill, and a downward-curving tail, which helps in its speed as it navigates rocky areas.
Canyon Wrens are well-adapted to their chosen home of valleys, rocks, and rocky hills. They build cup-shaped nests in rock crevices or slopes, giving cover from predators and the weather. Their feeding behavior involves climbing and hopping among rocks as they search for insects and spiders.
The most amazing feature of the Canyon Wren is its beautiful song. Their beautiful vocalizations consist of a number of ascending notes that change in pitch and beat. Their songs bounce through the valleys, adding fascinating music to their rocky homes.
- Scientific name: Gallinago stenura
- Lifespan: Unknown (limited information available)
- Size: Approximately 23-26 cm (9-10 inches)
- Native to: Parts of Asia, including Siberia, China, and Japan
- Beak length: About 5-6 cm (2-2.4 inches)
The Pin-tailed Snipe is a bird species found in parts of Asia and Europe. It is a medium-sized bird with a thin build and mottled brown feathers, offering good concealment in its swampy surroundings. What sets it apart is its unique long, pin-like tail feathers.
Adult Pin-tailed Snipes usually measure about 9-11 inches (23-28 centimeters) in length. They frequent marshy places such as reeds, swamps, and fields.
These snipes have a mysterious behavior, making them difficult to spot. They feed on animals, such as flies, worms, and mollusks, probing the soft ground with their long bills.
During the breeding season, males make flying shows, making a “drumming” sound with their unique tail feathers. Females build nest cups on the ground and raise the chicks.
- Scientific name: Limnodromus scolopaceus
- Lifespan: Up to 11 years
- Size: Approximately 29-32 cm (11-13 inches)
- Native to: North America
- Beak length: Around 8-9 cm (3.1-3.5 inches)
The Long-billed Dowitcher is a migrant shorebird that can be found in North America. With its unique look and hunting behavior, it sticks out among its bird peers. This medium-sized bird measures around 11-12 inches in length, with a long, thin bill that bends slightly upwards.
During the breeding season, the Long-billed Dowitcher shows a mixed brownish-gray color on its upper parts, while its underparts are a rich reddish-brown. Outside of the breeding season, both males and females show a more uniform grayish-brown coloring. In flying, their wings show a striking white V-shaped design on their backs.
Long-billed Dowitchers are often found in marshes, mudflats, and seaside places. They have an amazing hunting method known as “sewing-machine feeding.” They quickly probe the mud with their bills, stitching them in and out to search for small animals, such as insects, crabs, and marine worms.
These shorebirds perform long-distance migrations, moving between their breeding grounds in the northern regions of North America and their wintering areas in the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America
- Scientific name: Actitis macularius
- Lifespan: Up to 5 years
- Size: Approximately 18-20 cm (7-8 inches)
- Native to: North and Central America
- Beak length: About 2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 inches)
The Spotted Sandpiper is a beautiful and unique shorebird found throughout North and Central America. This medium-sized bird, reaching around 6-7 inches in length, displays a unique breeding behavior where the females take the lead in courting and area defense, while the males take on the duty of holding the eggs and caring for the young.
The Spotted Sandpiper gets its name from the noticeable spots that cover its white underparts during the breeding season. Its upper parts are a mix of brown and gray, offering excellent cover in its chosen environments of watery shorelines, rivers, and ponds. In flying, it shows a flash of white on its wings.
These sandpipers are known for their typical bobbing or wobbling movement, where they continuously dip their tails while hunting along the water’s edge. They have a wide food that includes insects, small crabs, and other animals found in the shallow seas and mudflats.
During migration, Spotted Sandpipers can be seen in varied environments, including coastal areas, marshes, and meadows. They make lengthy trips, with some people going as far as South America.
- Scientific name: Charadrius vociferus
- Lifespan: Up to 10 years
- Size: Approximately 23-28 cm (9-11 inches)
- Native to: North and Central America
- Beak length: Around 3-4 cm (1.2-1.6 inches)
The Killdeer is a small to medium-sized shorebird known for its striking look and unique behavior. Found throughout North and Central America, this bird can be easily identified by its brownish-gray plumage, bold black bands across its white chest, and noticeable double black bands across its upper breast.
One of the most recognized traits of the Killdeer is its loud and repeated call, which sounds like its name, “kill-deer.” This vocalization is often heard during its flying shows or when the bird is startled. Killdeer are highly flexible and can be found in different environments, including farms, pastures, beaches, and even urban areas.
These birds have a unique nesting technique. Instead of making nests in trees or shrubs, they make simple depressions on the ground, often lined with rocks or grass. This smart adaptation helps them fit into their surroundings and provides cover for their well-camouflaged eggs.
Killdeer are adaptable eaters, mainly eating insects, worms, small crabs, and seeds. They have a unique hunting behavior of running or walking quickly, then suddenly stopping and picking at the ground, using their long bills to snatch up food.
- Scientific name: Toxostoma longirostre
- Lifespan: Up to 13 years
- Size: Approximately 28-32 cm (11-13 inches)
- Native to: Southwestern United States and northern Mexico
- Beak length: Around 2.5-3 cm (1-1.2 inches)
The Long-billed Thrasher is a medium-sized songbird belonging to the thrasher family, Mimidae. This species is mainly found in the desert areas of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is known for its unique look and beautiful vocalizations.
Measuring around 10-11 inches in length, the Long-billed Thrasher has a long, thin bill that gives it its name. Its coloring is mainly brown, with darker lines on the upper parts and a pale belly. The bird’s long tail has white tips, noticeable in flight. It also possesses bright yellow eyes, adding to its overall striking look.
Long-billed Thrashers are highly flexible and can live in a range of dry environments, including desert scrub, chaparral, and thorn woods. They are skilled foragers, using their long bills to probe the ground for insects, spiders, small snakes, and seeds. They may also eat vegetables and nuts when available.
One of the most notable features of the Long-billed Thrasher is its singing ability. It has a diverse range of songs, including beautiful trills, whistles, and chatters. These vocalizations are used for territory defense and wooing shows, often given from prominent places.
- Scientific name: Pandion haliaetus
- Lifespan: 10 years
- Size: 20-inch
- Native to: throughout the planet, except in Antarctica, Africa, and South America,
Osprey is a large hawk with mostly white plumage, a mostly white head, a large curved bill, and a dark brown back. Ospreys are found in various regions around the world, including North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Australian coastlines, and occasionally in Africa. While they mainly feed on fish, which they catch using their talons and tear apart with their large bills, they are also opportunistic feeders and may scavenge for dead bait fish on piers.
Bald eagles (Large Brown and White Birds)
- Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Lifespan: 20 – 30 years
- Size: 28 to 38 inches in height
- Native to: North America
The Bald Eagle is a large and majestic-looking eagle with a blackish to brown body, white head, and tail. Immatures have dark brown plumage with large patches of white. Bald Eagles prefer habitats near lakes and reservoirs with plenty of fish and surrounding forests. They are well-known scavengers, eating live fish caught from the water and dead fish caught by other animals, as well as carrion. Bald Eagles are found throughout North America.
African Fish Eagle (brown bird with white head)
- Scientific name:Haliaeetus vocifer
- Lifespan: about 12 to 24 years
- Size: 25-inch
- Native to: sub-Saharan Africa
African Fish Eagle is a large eagle with chestnut and white plumage, white windows in the wings (in juveniles), and a pale dark-tipped tail (also in juveniles). It is found in Central and Southern Africa, particularly in areas near freshwater lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and the mouths of rivers and lagoons. Similar to the bald eagle, the African Fish Eagle prefers fish as one of its main food sources but will also consume other birds, reptiles, and carrion. It is known to scavenge and steal food from other birds.
Final Thoughts on Brown and White Birds
As we conclude our exploration of the avian world, we’ve uncovered the beauty in simplicity with brown and white birds. While they may not dazzle with vibrant colors, these birds hold a special place in the tapestry of nature.
Through our journey, we’ve learned to appreciate the elegance of brown and white feathers, and we’ve gained insights into their habitats, behaviors, and diets. These unassuming birds play an important role in our ecosystems, contributing to the rich diversity of life on our planet.