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The songbirds comprise the largest of all bird groups in the world. Also known as Passeriformes or perching birds, because of the arrangement of their toes that allows them to grip a twig or power line, the songbirds come in many sizes. Among the largest are the ravens and crows, while thrushes such as the American robin and the raucous blue jay are medium-sized songbirds in terms of length. Many of the songbirds are small, falling between 5 and 7 inches in length.
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The warblers are a group of famed songbirds that have a variety of calls and songs. In North America this group includes the Arctic warbler, black-and-white warbler, yellow warbler, black-throated warbler, Bachman’s warbler, pine warbler, prairie warbler, hooded warbler and others. Warblers named after the states of Kentucky, Connecticut and Louisiana live in parts of the nation.
Wrens, Kinglets and Chickadees
The wrens are small and highly energetic songbirds that live in different regions. The wrens include the Carolina wren, the sedge wren, the house wren, the marsh wren and the sedge wren. Kinglets are another group of tiny songbirds represented by birds like the ruby-crowned kinglet and the golden-crowned kinglet—named for the colors that appear on the tops of their heads. The chickadees, titmice and nuthatches are also small songbirds, frequently seen in close proximity to one another, with the black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch and tufted titmouse all popular with people who provide birdseed in feeders.
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The sparrows comprise a huge family of diminutive songbirds. They are very difficult to distinguish from one another in many cases, with certain markings on their bodies the key to identification. The sparrows include the field sparrow, vesper sparrow, tree sparrow, Savannah sparrow, fox sparrow, swamp sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, chipping sparrow and white-throated sparrow.
Vireos such as the warbling vireo, yellow-throated vireo, blue-headed vireo and white-eyed vireo definitely fall into the petite songbird category. The house finch and the purple finch do as well. The American goldfinch, the pine sisken, the Eastern phoebe, the Eastern kingbird and the Eastern wood pewee are all little birds. The flycatchers are another bunch of small songbirds, among them the least flycatcher, the olive-sided flycatcher and the willow flycatcher.
- Familiar Birds of North America: East; Alfred A. Knopf; 1995
John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.