Birds

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House Sparrow

(Passer domesticus)

Size: About 6" long

Seasons: Year-round

Habitat: Anywhere there are buildings, there are house sparrows. 

Description: Ubiquitous little brown birds. Males have bold black bibs.

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House Finch

(Haemorhous mexicanus)
Size: About 8"
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia
Description: Like a house sparrow dipped headfirst into magenta ink. Sings an enthusiastic, musical, jumbled song.

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American goldfinch

(Spinus tristis)
Size: 4-5 inches
Seasons: year-round
Habitat: neighborhoods and greenspaces throughout Philadelphia
Description: Breeding males are bright yellow with black wings and black forehead. Females and males in winter have a tan background color instead of yellow and lighter forehead. Musical singers, with a call that sounds a bit like weeping

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Song Sparrow

(Melospiza melodia)
Size: About six inches long

Seasons: Year-round

Habitat: Greenspaces and greener neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia

Description: Brown bird with brown streaks on breast with a dark spot in the middle of the breast, also thick stripes coming down from beak like long moustache

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Dark-Eyed Junco

(Junco hyemalis)
Size: About six inches long
Seasons: Fall-spring
Habitat: Parks, gardens, and forests throughout Philadelphia
Description: A dark gray sparrow with a lighter beak and underparts. They forage on the ground and then flash white feathers on the outside of their tails as they fly up into trees.

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White-Throated Sparrow

(Zonotrichia albicollis)
Size: About six inches long
Seasons: Fall-spring
Habitat: Gardens, woods, and other greenspaces throughout Philadelphia
Description: Brown birds with gray underparts and bold head patterns: black stripes over the top of the head, a white throat, and small yellow patches between the eye and bill

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American Robin

(Turdus migritorius)

Size: About 10" long

Seasons: Year-round

Habitat: Nest in neighborhoods and grassy areas with some trees. Winter flocks use forests as well. 

Description: Dark gray bird with an orange breast and a white eye-ring. In winter, they tend to move in flocks. Spring-summer they spread out.

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European Starling

(Sturnus vulgaris)

Size: About 9" long

Seasons: Year-round

Habitat: Close to buildings throughout Philadelphia

Description: The most common black bird in urban areas. They walk with big steps, and their short, somewhat triangular wings make them look like fighter jets in flight.

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Northern Cardinal

(Cardinalis cardinalis)
Size: About 9"
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Neighborhoods and parks throughout Philadelphia. 
Description: Females are tan with reddish wings and tail, males scarlet red, both with a peaked crest on their head.

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Pigeon

(Columba livia)

Size: About a foot long

Seasons: Year-round

Habitat: Neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia

Description: Variable plumage, but most are gray with dark wing bars, iridescent rose, and green plumage on neck and head. Walk with strutting step. Strong flyers.

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Mourning Dove

(Zenaida macroura)
Size: About 10"
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Green spaces and neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. 
Description: A tan/gray dove looks like a smaller, more-delicate pigeon. Sing a song that can be confused with an owl, and take off with a whistling noise from their wings

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Chimney Swift

(Chaetura pelagica)

Size: About 5" long

Seasons: Spring-Fall

Habitat: Nests in buildings. Flies throughout Philadelphia. 

Description: Pointy wings in a stiff arc with a body like a cigar. Listen for chittering calls and then look up to see them. 

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Tree Swallow

(Tachycineta bicolor)

Size: About 5" long, 12" wingspan

Seasons: Spring-Summer

Habitat: Nest in holes in trees or artificial nest boxes and forage over water or open land such as fields and meadows.

Description: Malachite blue backs with white underparts.

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Rough Winged Swallow

(Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Size: About 5" long, 11" wingspan

Seasons: Spring-Fall

Habitat: Nests in burrows or human-made holes near water. Forages in open areas, often near water.

Description: Brown swallow with lighter-brown underside

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Barn Swallow

(Hirundo rustica)

Size: About 7" long with 12" wingspan

Seasons: Spring-Summer

Habitat: Build mud nests on ceilings of open human structures and forage in open areas, often fields, meadows, or over water.

Description: Shiny cobalt blue back with tawny or apricot underparts. Sharp-pointed wings with classic swallow tail (with long points at the either side)

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Gray Catbird

(Dumetella carolinensis)
About 9 inches
Seasons: Spring-Fall
Habitat: Shrubs and low tree branches in gardens, forests, and other greenspaces throughout Philadelphia
Description: A slender gray bird with a dark cap. They get their name from their mewing call, but they also are musical singers, working other bird species' songs and other noises into their compositions.

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Northern Mockingbird

(Mimus polyglottos)
Seasons: year-round
Habitat: Open areas with thickets, shrubs, and low trees. This includes neighborhoods and parks throughout Philadelphia
Description: A long-tailed gray bird with darker wings and a dark stripe through the eye. Sings from prominent locations and incorporates other birds songs (as well as other sounds) into its own.

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Blue Jay

(Cyanocitta cristata)
Size: About 11 inches long
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Throughout Philadelphia's greener neighborhoods and greenspaces
Description: Beautiful light blue bird with light underparts, black detailing on head, and a crest. Loud harsh call.

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Common yellowthroat

(Geothlypis trichas)
Size: About 4.5 inches
Seasons: Spring-Fall
Habitat: Parks and other large greenspaces with dense, low vegetation, including marshes.
Description: Active, small bird with yellow throat and top of breast and otherwise mostly tan or gray. Males have a wide black mask outlines on top with white. Females do not have the mask.

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Magnolia Warbler

(Setophaga magnolia)
Size: About 5 inches
Spring and fall
Wooded greenspaces
In spring migration males are gray and black back, black mask, bright yellow belly, black necklace and black streaks on belly. Females year-round and males in fall more-muted colors. Black tail tip when seen from below.

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

(Setophaga coronata)
Size: About 5 inches long
Seasons: spring, fall
Habitat: Greenspaces throughout Philadelphia in migration
Description: A small active bird, in spring males mostly gray, black and white with yellow patches on either side of chest, on the base of tail, and on top of head. White throat, black mask, black patch across top of belly, and black-streaked sides. Patterns of females and of autumn males very much muted.

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Yellow Warbler

(Setophaga petetia)
Size: About 5 inches long
Seasons: Spring-Fall
Habitat: Nest and forage along waterways
Description: Bright yellow bird with black eyes. Males have brown streaks on breast

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Red-Winged Blackbird

(Agelaius phoeniceus)
Size: About eight inches long
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Breed in marshes and other green, open spaces.
Description: Males are black with a large red-orange wing patch. Females are brown with darker streaks

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Common grackle

(Quiscalus quiscula)
Size: About 1 foot long
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Forages on open ground or along waterways. Found throughout Philadelphia. In winter large flocks can move through landscaped parks. Description: A black bird with iridescent feathers, white eyes, and a long tail that fans out towards the end.

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American Crow

(Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Size: About 18" long
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Throughout Philadelphia
Descriptions: Glossy black birds that loudly call "caw."

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Northern Flicker

(Colaptes auratus)
Size: About 1 foot long
Seasons: year-round
Habitat: Parks and other green spaces with trees throughout PhiladelphiaDescription: Mostly gray bird with black speckles on body, a crescent-shaped black collar at throat, a white patch visible on rump as they fly, and a small red patch on nape of neck. Males have a black moustache streak from corners of beak

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Downy Woodpecker

(Dryobates pubescens)
Size: About 6 inches long
Seasons: year-round
Habitat: Forests and wooded parks and neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia
Description: Small woodpecker, black and white back with white underparts and small red patch on back of head. Often calls with toy-like squeaks as it moves from tree to tree

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Red-Bellied Woodpecker

(Melanerpes carolina)
Size: About 10 inches long
Seasons: year-round
Habitat: Neighborhoods, parks, and other green spaces with trees throughout Philadelphia
Description: Tan belly through face, black-and-white speckled back and wings, red from nape of neck over head to base of beak. Call is a short, quavering, "churr"

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Great Blue Heron

(Ardia herodias)
Size: About four feet tall
Seasons: year-round
Habitat: Wetlands and the edges of waterways throughout Philadelphia
Description: Tall gray wading bird with long neck and dagger-like bill, dark cap

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American Coot

(Fulica americana)
Size: About 16 inches long
Seasons: winter
Habitat: shallow water and marshes
Description: Mostly black with a light beak (more like a chicken's than a duck's). Swims with pronounced forward and back motion of head and neck.

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Canada Goose

(Branta canadensis)

Size: A large goose, about 3' with a long neck

Season: Year-round

Habitat: Bodies of water and mowed grass throughout Philadelphia. 

Description: Tan/gray goose with long black neck and white stripe across the face. Fall-spring fly overhead in large V-shaped formations, honking/calling as they fly. 

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Mallard Duck

(Anas platyrhynchos)
Size: About 2' long
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Bodies of water throughout Philadelphia
Description: Females are brown, males are gray with a bright green head and neck. Both have a royal blue wing band. Our most common duck.

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Wood Duck

(Aix sponsa)
Size: About 20 inches long
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Wooded wetlands and bodies of water
Description: Small duck that looks like it has a helmet. Females mostly light gray with white eye ring extending back a tiny bit, smaller helmet than male's. Dark back, cinnamon breast and neck, tan flanks, dark back, and green head, all marked with bold white detailing.

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Green-Winged Teal

(Anas crecca)
Size: About 14 inches long
Seasons: winter
Habitat: Shallow marshes and ponds
Description: Small duck. Males gray with cinnamon heads and wide green stripe back from eyes to back of head. Females tan with dark mottling.

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Pintail Duck

(Anas acuta)
Size: About 2 feet long
Seasons: winter
Habitat: Ponds and marshes
Description: Elegant duck. Females mostly gray, males gray bodies with chestnut head, white breast with pinstripes up back of neck, white base of tail, and long, whip-like black tail feathers.

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Bufflehead

(Becephala albeola)
Size: About 14 inches long
Seasons: winter
Habitat: Deep water, particularly the Delaware River
Description: Females brown with lighter front and small white patch below the eye. Males white sides and front, dark back, neck, and, and head with large bright white head patch.

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Lesser Scaup

(Aythya affinis)
Size: About 16 inches long
Seasons: Winter
Habitat: Deeper water (particularly rivers) around Philadelphia
Description: Females brown with black bill and white band at the base of the bill. Males have a gray back, white sides, black chest, neck, and head. The head has a little bit of a point/peak

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Greater Scaup

(Aythya marila)
Size: About 20 inches long
Seasons: Winter
Habitat: Deeper water (particularly rivers) around Philadelphia
Description: Females brown with black bill and white band at the base of the bill. Males have a gray back, white sides, black chest, neck, and head. The heads are rounded, unlike the lesser scaup.

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Ringneck Duck

(Aythya collaris)
Size: About 16 inches long
Seasons: Winter
Habitat: Shallow water, particularly marshes like at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Description: Females brown and gray with peaked head and lighter eye ring, base of bill, and a small white ring around the bill. Males are dark with light gray wings/sides, and with narrow white rings around bill and at base of bill.

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Gadwall

(Mareca strepera)
Size: About 20 inches long
Seasons: winter
Habitat: Shallow marshes and ponds
Description: Mostly gray/brown little ducks. Males have dark bill, females yellow.

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Hooded Merganzer

(Lophodytes cucullatus)
Size: About 18 inches long
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Bodies of water in Philadelphia
Description: Thin-billed duck with large crest. Females cinnamon brown, males boldly marked: black backs with thin white stripes and a black head with large white patch behind the eye

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Double-crested cormorant

(Nannopterum auritum)
Size: About 2.5 feet long
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Rivers in Philadelphia
Description: Dark, swimming waterbird with a long neck, thin hooked beak, yellow flesh at base of beak, and short legs, often seen sitting near water.

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Ring-billed Gull 

(Larus delawarensis)
Size: About 3.5' wingspan, about 20" long
Seasons: Fall-Spring
Throughout Philadelphia
Description: Mostly white gull with gray wings with black tips and a black ring around bill

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Turkey Vulture

(Cathartes aura)
Size: Huge. Wingspan nearly 6 feet
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Soars above green spaces and neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.
Description: Large black birds that soar with wings tilted up slightly. Naked heads.

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Cooper's Hawk

(Accipiter cooperii)
Size: 15-17 inches (females larger than males)
Seasons: Mostly winter
Habitat: Throughout Philadelphia in winter
Description: slender hawk with relatively long tail. Adults gray cap and back with small orange bars on breast and red eyes. Immature hawks mostly brown backed with brown-streaked breast and yellow eyes. Acrobatic flyer. Closely resembles slightly smaller sharp-shinned hawk

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Bald Eagle

(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Size: Wingspan of about 7.5 feet

Seasons: Year-round

Habitat: Near water throughout Philadelphia

Description: Large raptor with white head and tail. Juveniles uniformly dark brown.

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Red-Tailed Hawk

(Buteo jamaicensis)
Size: About 2' long with 4' wingspan
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Parks and neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia
Description: A beefy raptor with dark spots on underparts patterned into a band across the belly. Often seen soaring or perched in trees or on buildings.

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Osprey

(Pandion haliaetus)
Size: Wingspan about 5 feet
Seasons: Spring-Fall
Habitat: Near and over water
Description: A large bird of prey dark brown above and white underneath, with a dark stripe running through eye and down neck.

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American Kestrel

Falco sparverius
Size: About 10 inches long
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Open spaces including fields as well as rowhouse neighborhoods. Often seen perched on telephone wires or TV antennas
Description: Small falcon, about the size of a mourning dove but with a bigger head. Marked with dark vertical bars on face. Males colorful with dark-spotted apricot breast and apricot tail, blue-gray cap and wings. Females more muted and without the blue-gray color. Calls a series of high Kiy! Kiy! Kiy!

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Peregrine falcon

Falco peregrinus
Size: About 14-19 inches long (males smaller than females)
Seasons: Year-round
Habitat: Throughout Philadelphia
Description: Slate gray back, light underparts with fine, short, black horizontal lines (immature birds with densely streaked breast and underparts). Dark helmet/mask. Fierce vibe. Common call is a series of high, rising kak, kak, kak