These birds have strong feet and gripping toes to perch. Sometimes called “songbirds”, most of this group sings to establish territory or attract mates. This is a diverse group of birds. Look below to discover which ones you might find at the refuge.
Perching birds with large heads and broad, flattened bills, flycatchers are mainly insect eaters. Their large bills increase the chance that they will catch flying insects. Members of this family have distinctive calls and feeding behaviors which can aid in identification.
Crows, Ravens and Jays
Bold, noisy and gregarious birds, the corvids have strong bills and feet. Known for their smarts, the corvid family includes ravens, crows and jays.
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Primarily a ground dwelling bird, the horned lark tends to hop or run rather than fly. Horned larks have a yellow face, a black mask and breast band, and black horns.
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Aerial acrobats, swallows and martins have long, pointed wings and a long tail. They use their broad bills to gather insects from the air. Several species nest here, returning in late spring to fields and wetlands throughout the refuge.
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Chickadees, Nuthatches, Creepers and Kinglets
Small and energetic forest foragers, nuthatches, creepers and chickadees often travel together as they hunt for insects. Red-breasted nuthatches most often forage by moving upward on tree trunks. Brown creepers generally travel down tree trucks. Chickadees have strong feet and forage on outer limbs, sometimes hanging upside down. Kinglets are tiny, rounded birds that often hover to reach insects on the very tips or undersides of branches.
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Highly vocal with bubbly song, wrens are frequently heard in most habitats of the refuge. Wrens have a long, slender, and curved bill, an eyebrow stripe, and a long tail they generally hold up. Listen for marsh wrens near wetlands and sedge-dominated salt marsh. Bewick’s and Pacific wrens live in refuge forests.
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Various members of the thrush family nest at the refuge and delight listeners with their melodic, sometimes haunting, songs. Hermit and Swainson’s thrushes inhabit riparian areas and young forests in summer months. American robins are found in open areas and grassy fields. Varied thrushes are most often associated with coniferous forests and are abundant during winter months.
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Gregarious and silken in appearance, waxwings are often on the move looking for ripe fruits to eat. Listen and look for cedar waxwings near wetlands, hedgerows and areas with wax myrtle.
Vireos and Warblers
Small, foliage gleaning birds, the warblers and vireos can easily be confused. Vireos have bigger heads, thicker bills and more deliberate movements. Warblers are generally brighter in color. There are several species of warbler and vireo in residence at the refuge.
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Although brightly colored, the western tanager is more likely to be heard than seen at the refuge.
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Towhees and Sparrows
Smallish songbirds, sparrows generally make their homes in the shrubs and grasslands of the refuge. Sparrows primarily use their conical beaks to eat seeds, but feed their young insects. Some sparrows live on the refuge year round, while others migrate.
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A chucky songbird with a large conical beak, black-headed grosbeaks nest along forest edges in the refuge. Listen for their lazy robin-like song during summer months.
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Blackbirds and Meadowlarks
Strong flight and pointed bills are characteristics of the blackbird family. These birds are often quite vocal.
Read more about the blackbirds and meadowlarks that live at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge…
Finches are seed-eating birds with stout conical bills and undulating flight. In winter, finches often gather in mixed flocks with other types of finches.
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Page Photo Credits Song sparrow - ©Rollin Bannow, Western kingbird - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Common raven - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Streaked horned lark - NPS, Barn swallow - © Rollin Bannow, Chestnut-backed chickadee - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Bewick's wren - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Varied thrush - ©Minette Layne, Cedar waxwing - © Rollin Bannow, Yellow-rumped warbler - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Western tanager - ©Rollin Bannow, Golden-crowned sparrow - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Black-headed grosbeak - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Brewer's blackbird female - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach
, American goldfinch - © Rollin Bannow
Last Updated: Apr 14, 2014