24 Types of Gray Birds (With Pictures & ID Guide)

Types of gray birds

Gray birds are common yet fascinating creatures found in many parts of the world. Each species has its own unique qualities, adapting to various habitats and lifestyles.

Some, like the Northern Mockingbird, are renowned for their beautiful songs. Others, like the Black-capped Chickadee, are adored for their playful nature.

This article introduces you to 24 types of gray birds from around the globe. We’ll look at their appearances, habitats, and eating habits to give you a better grasp of their lives and behaviors.

24 Types of Gray Birds

1. Bushtit

Gray Bushtit
Scientific Name:Psaltriparus minimus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:2.8–3.1 in (7–8 cm)
Weight:0.1–0.2 oz (4–6 g)
Wingspan:6–7 in (15–18 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 8 years

The Bushtit is a small, friendly gray bird that loves being around its own kind. They live in the western parts of North America, where they play and search for food together in groups.

These birds are easy to recognize with their round bodies, big heads, and long tails. They adapt their appearance slightly based on their environment.

For instance, Bushtits that live near coastal areas appear darker, but in other places, they might look a bit different.

In terms of habitat, they usually make their homes in open woods. There, they can often be seen mingling with other small songbirds like warblers and chickadees.

They are also known for building unique nests that hang from tree branches like soft pouches.

Their soft, ticking sounds and gentle calls are common sounds in their habitats. This makes them a familiar sight to those who frequently visit these regions.

2. Grey Gull

Grey Gull
Scientific Name:Leucophaeus modestus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:18 in (45 cm)
Weight:13–14 oz (360–400 g)
Wingspan:Not specified
Lifespan:Up to 20 years

The Grey Gull is a medium-sized gull that you can find along the coasts of South America. They have a soft gray plumage that allows them to blend seamlessly with their surroundings.

Unlike other gulls, they do something quite unusual: they lay their eggs and raise their babies in the dry lands of the Atacama Desert, far away from the ocean.

The reason for this is to stay away from the more dangerous and predator-filled coastlines. This unusual choice of breeding habitat shows how adaptable and resilient these birds are.

When it comes to their diet, like most gulls, they are opportunistic feeders. They usually look for food near the ocean, munching on fish and whatever else they find in the water.

3. Gray Vireo

Gray Vireo
Scientific Name:Vireo vicinior
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.1–6 in (13–15 cm)
Weight:0.4–0.5 oz (12–15 g)
Wingspan:8.3 in (21 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 5 years

The Gray Vireo is a small bird that thrives in the hot deserts of the southwestern United States and nearby Mexico. With their gray tops and whitish undersides, they blend seamlessly with the desert’s natural colors.

During the breeding season, male Gray Vireos are often heard singing continuously. However, for most of the year, these birds are busy searching for insects in thick bushes, usually near the ground.

Interestingly, despite their active nature, Gray Vireos can be a bit shy. If you want to see one, the best time is in the early spring mornings when they are singing and the weather is cooler.

Listening to their songs or trying to lure them out with gentle sounds can help spot them.

4. Gray Hawk

Gray Hawk
Scientific Name:Buteo plagiatus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:18–24 in (46–61 cm)
Weight:16.8 oz (475 g)
Wingspan:34 in (86 cm)
Lifespan:Not specified

Typically found in tropical regions but can also be seen in parts of Arizona and Texas, the Gray Hawk is a beautiful, gray-colored bird.

They like to sit quietly in trees near rivers, where they wait for the right moment to swoop down and catch lizards for food. They are smaller than most hawks, but they are fast and smart hunters.

Gray Hawks have a unique way of flying that involves a mix of flapping and gliding, which makes them fun to watch in the sky.

Although they belong to the Buteo genus, their long tails and specific flight patterns can sometimes make them look like accipiters.

5. Grey Heron

Grey Heron
Scientific Name:Ardea cinerea
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:33–40 in (84–102 cm)
Weight:2–4 oz (56–113 g)
Wingspan:61–77 in (155–195 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 5 years

The Grey Heron is a tall bird known for its gray plumage and long, graceful neck. Their grayish-white underparts contrast with their grey wings, while a distinctive black stripe runs from their eyes to their black crests.

Native to temperate Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa, they live near water bodies like lakes and rivers.

Grey Herons are skilled hunters with a preference for aquatic prey. Their sharp beaks are like nature’s spears, perfect for catching fish and frogs.

But these birds are not just about beauty and skill. They are also pretty smart. They often nest in tall trees and build big nests out of sticks, which they reuse year after year.

During the breeding season, many Grey Herons live together in colonies called heronries. Both parent Herons share the responsibility of incubating their bluish-green eggs and feeding their chicks.

If you wish to know more about other popular birds with long necks, you may check this comprehensive list I have compiled for you.

6. Canada Jay

Gray Canada Jay
Scientific Name:Perisoreus canadensis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:9.8–11.4 in (25–29 cm)
Weight:2–3 oz (58–84 g)
Wingspan:18 in (45 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 8 years

Also known as the Gray Jay, the Canada Jay is a remarkable bird found in the cold, northern forests of North America. They stay in their frosty habitats all year long. These birds are tough and smart, finding ways to survive even in the freezing winter.

Canada Jays are opportunistic when it comes to food. They eat a variety of things like berries and small animals.

In the summer, they are busy storing extra food on trees. This is so that they always have something to eat, even when it’s freezing and food is hard to find.

They are quite friendly as well and are known for their bold and curious nature. So, if you’re out in their habitat, don’t be surprised if one lands near you, hoping for a treat like a raisin or peanut.

7. Rock Pigeon

Gray Rock Pigeon
Scientific Name:Columba livia
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:11.8–14.2 in (30–36 cm)
Weight:9.3–13.4 oz (265–380 g)
Wingspan:19.7–26.4 in (50–67 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 6 years

The Rock Pigeon is a common gray bird seen in cities all around the world. They are easily recognized by their typical blue-gray color, but they can also be spotted, pale, or even rusty red.

Introduced to North America from Europe in the 1600s, these birds are quite comfortable around people and are usually found in parks or on the streets looking for food.

But they are not just city birds; they also live in rural areas. They are known for their resourcefulness, often making nests on cliffs, barns, towers, and even bridges.

Moreover, Rock Pigeons are smart birds that find food anywhere, like seeds on the ground or leftovers from people.

They are a regular part of city life, and their ability to live in many places shows just how amazing these birds are.

8. Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird
Scientific Name:Dumetella carolinensis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:8–9 in (20–23 cm)
Weight:0.8–2 oz (23–56 g)
Wingspan:8.6–11.8 in (22–30 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years

The Gray Catbird is a fascinating bird with gray feathers and a sweet sound. They are called “catbirds” because their call sounds a lot like a cat’s meow.

While their bodies are primarily covered in sleek gray feathers, they sport a black cap and rusty red feathers under their tails, which adds a subtle splash of color to their appearance.

Gray Catbirds are usually found in places with lots of trees and bushes, where they love to sing their hearts out.

And what’s super interesting about them is that they can copy the sounds of other birds, machines, and even some animals.

A particular experience that sparked my interest in Gray Catbirds was during a research expedition in Florida.

It was amidst the charming chorus of frogs that I noticed this bird effortlessly mimicking their croaks. It was a simple moment, but it made me appreciate how well Gray Catbirds blend in with their surroundings.

9. Say’s Phoebe

Gray Says Phoebe
Scientific Name:Sayornis saya
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:6.7–7.4 in (17–19 cm)
Weight:0.7–0.7 oz (21–22 g)
Wingspan:13 in (33 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 5 years

The Say’s Phoebe is a friendly gray bird that doesn’t mind being around people. They stand out from other gray birds thanks to the hint of cinnamon on their bellies.

Commonly found in open-country areas, these birds are quite versatile. They usually build their nests close to houses or buildings and seem to be unafraid of human presence.

Moreover, Say’s Phoebes are agile flyers. They are great at catching insects midair or swooping down on ground prey. They are often seen perched on low shrubs or fence posts, subtly moving their tails.

They are sometimes hard to see because they blend in with the desert, but their sweet, whistling songs make them easier to find.

10. Sandhill Crane

Gray Sandhill Crane
Scientific Name:Grus canadensis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:42–48 in (106–122 cm)
Weight:7–11 lb (3–5 kg)
Wingspan:72–84 in (183–213 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 20 years

Native to North America, the Sandhill Crane is a graceful bird that captures attention wherever it goes. These birds are tall and mostly gray, but their heads have a bright red spot that makes them stand out.

They are a common sight in open wetlands, fields, and prairies. Their loud, rolling calls can be heard from far away, which makes them easy to spot.

Moreover, they are known for their elegant dances, which they perform to show affection to their mates. They usually fly together in large groups, moving in harmony and putting on a wonderful show in the sky.

Sadly, some populations of Sandhill Cranes are having a tough time surviving in certain places like Mississippi and Cuba. Efforts are ongoing to protect these magnificent birds and their habitats.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in seeing these birds’ graceful mating dance, check out this video:

Sandhill Cranes Dancing ~ Mating Dance and Calls

11. Northern Parula

Gray Northern Parula
Scientific Name:Setophaga americana
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4.3–4.7 in (11–12 cm)
Weight:0.2–0.4 oz (5–11 g)
Wingspan:6.3–7.1 in (16–18 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 7 years

The Northern Parula is a small warbler adorned with a mix of blue and gray feathers and subtle yellow accents.

Their appearance is charming, with white eye crescents and a chestnut breast band that distinguishes them from other warblers.

These birds thrive in mature, moist forests, especially those with hanging mosses or lichens. Interestingly, the presence of mosses is crucial for them as they often nest in these suspended clumps.

When it comes to their diet, Northern Parulas are insectivores. They are always on the hunt for insects like spiders, beetles, and caterpillars.

One of the most endearing aspects of Northern Parulas is their song. They can be easily identified even when they are out of sight due to their beautiful calls, which are a blend of buzzes and trills.

 12. Tufted Titmouse

Gray Tufted Titmouse
Scientific Name:Baeolophus bicolor
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.5–6.3 in (14–16 cm)
Weight:0.6–0.9 oz (17–26 g)
Wingspan:8–10.2 in (20–26 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 13 years

A common sight in eastern deciduous forests, the Tufted Titmouse is a charming little gray bird. Known as one of the birds with brushy crests, their large black eyes and small round bills give them a curious and lively appearance.

These birds are quite resourceful when it comes to feeding. When they find a big seed, they’ll take it to a perch and break it open with strong hits from their beak.

Tufted Titmice are often seen flitting through tree canopies, hanging from the ends of twigs, or visiting bird feeders.

If you’re walking quietly in the woods, you might hear their high, whistled “peter-peter-peter” song, which signals their presence.

To attract them to your yard, consider setting up a nest box before the breeding season. These cute birds like to nest in cozy cavities, and a box could be the perfect spot for them to settle down.

13. Eastern Kingbird

Gray Eastern Kingbird
Scientific Name:Tyrannus tyrannus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.5–9.1 in (19–23 cm)
Weight:1.2–2 oz (33–55 g)
Wingspan:13–15 in (33–38 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years

The Eastern Kingbird is a striking gray bird native to the Americas. Their dark gray upper bodies and white-tipped tails make them look like they’re wearing suits. In fact, this appearance also categorizes them under black and white birds.

These birds are bold and fearless. They can often be seen chasing away larger birds like crows, Red-tailed Hawks, and even Great Blue Herons that get too close to their territory.

They are commonly found in open areas, perching on wires and waiting to swoop down to catch flying insects. In the winter, they switch to a diet of tropical fruits as they migrate to the warm jungles of South America.

When they’re not hunting, they can be seen fluttering over grassy areas. If you’re lucky, you might spot these birds in fields near forests, where they make their presence known with their distinctive calls and bold behavior.

14. Willow Flycatcher

Gray Willow Flycatcher
Scientific Name:Empidonax traillii
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.1–6.7 in (13–17 cm)
Weight:0.4–0.6 oz (11–16 g)
Wingspan:7.5–9.4 in (19–24 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 4 years

Often found in wet willow thickets across North America, the Willow Flycatcher is a modest gray bird. They are grayish-olive, with a slight yellowish tint on their bellies.

They might look plain, but they have a unique song that sounds like a sneeze, “fitz-bew,” which makes them easily recognizable.

Moreover, Willow Flycatchers travel a lot. They are migratory birds that spend winters in warm Central and South America and return to North America when it’s time to breed.

15. Dark-eyed Junco

Gray Dark eyed Junco
Scientific Name:Junco hyemalis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.5–6.3 in (14–16 cm)
Weight:0.6–1.1 oz (18–30 g)
Wingspan:7.1–9.8 in (18–25 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 11 years

The Dark-eyed Junco is a charming gray sparrow that thrives on the forest floors of the western mountains and Canada. Their small, black-and-white appearance gives them a spot on the list of birds with similar size and plumage.

These friendly birds are a common sight in backyards, especially during winter. You’ll often see them hopping around on the ground, looking for seeds to eat, or playfully fluttering their white-tipped tails.

Despite their humble appearance, they are among the most abundant forest birds in North America.

16. Clark’s Nutcracker

Gray Clarks Nutcracker
Scientific Name:Nucifraga columbiana
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:10.6–11.8 in (27–30 cm)
Weight:3.7–5.7 oz (106–161 g)
Wingspan:24 in (61 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 17 years

A remarkable gray-and-black bird known for its unique seed-burying habits is the Clark’s Nutcracker.

Inhabiting the high mountains of the West, these birds have a special relationship with pine trees, whose seeds they eat.

Clark’s Nutcrackers have sharp bills that allow them to extract seeds from pine cones easily. The seeds that they are able to collect are stored in a special pouch under their tongue.

What’s fascinating is that they bury these seeds during summer and remember where most of them are for the winter. The seeds they forget about? Well, they play a vital role in growing new pine forests.

Their hard work and smart ways serve as examples of how every creature helps nature in its own special way.

17. Loggerhead Shrike

Gray Loggerhead Shrike
Scientific Name:Lanius ludovicianus
Conservation Status:Near Threatened
Length:8–9.1 in (20–23 cm)
Weight:1.2–1.8 oz (35–50 g)
Wingspan:11–12.6 in (28–32 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 12 years

The Loggerhead Shrike is an intriguing gray bird with a fierce predatory nature. Despite being songbirds, they exhibit raptor-like behaviors by hunting insects, birds, lizards, and small mammals from utility poles and fence posts.

They have a unique way of consuming their prey. During a birdwatching trip in Texas, I watched a Loggerhead Shrike catch a lizard and then impale it on a thorn for easy eating.

Since they don’t have strong claws like hawks, they use thorns or barbed wire to hold their catch. This makes it easier for them to eat.

Loggerhead Shrikes can be found throughout the majority of North America in grasslands and other open habitats. They are quite adaptable, but their numbers have sadly declined in recent years.

18. Carolina Chickadee

Gray Carolina Chickadee
Scientific Name:Poecile carolinensis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4–4.7 in (10–12 cm)
Weight:0.3–0.4 oz (8–12 g)
Wingspan:6–8 in (15–20 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 11 years

With its black cap and bib, soft gray wings, and whitish underside, the Carolina Chickadee is a sweet little bird that is easy to identify. They are recognized accordingly in the group of black birds with white bellies.

These birds are curious and intelligent, often exploring gardens and woods or visiting backyard feeders for seeds and suet.

Carolina Chickadees are social birds and are usually seen in small flocks. They often congregate with warblers and other migrating songbirds. This makes them a gateway to spotting other species.

When it comes to nesting, Carolina Chickadees are very adaptable. They make homes in tree holes or even in bird boxes that people put up.

Watching these lively birds is always a delightful experience, as they bring a special charm to their surroundings.

19. White-winged Dove

Gray White winged Dove
Scientific Name:Zenaida asiatica
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:11–12.5 in (28–32 cm)
Weight:4.4–6.6 oz (125–187 g)
Wingspan:19–22.8 in (48–58 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 15 years

Commonly found in the southern parts of the United States, the White-winged Dove is another type of gray bird.

These birds have a grayish-brown color with neat white crescents along their wings that really stand out when they fly.

Their faces are surprisingly colorful. They have bright orange eyes with a touch of blue around them, which adds a pop of color to their otherwise muted appearance.

White-winged Doves are pretty comfortable around people, and you might see them in cities as well as deserts.

They like to eat seeds and berries, and you might spot them having a snack at bird feeders or pecking at the ground in small groups.

20. Eastern Wood-pewee

Gray Eastern Wood Pewee
Scientific Name:Contopus virens
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.3–6 in (13.5–15 cm)
Weight:0.3–0.7 oz (10–19 g)
Wingspan:9.1–10.2 in (23–26 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 7 years

The Eastern Wood-Pewee is a grayish bird that might go unnoticed until you hear its distinct call. This bird’s song, a unique “pee-a-wee,” is a familiar sound during Eastern summers.

These birds are known for their olive-brown hue and their habit of perching on dead branches in the mid-canopy. From there, they dart out to snatch flying insects in mid-air.

When trying to identify flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewees stand out due to their grayish color, longer wings, and the absence of the eyerings seen in some other species.

In wooded areas, their melodic song makes them relatively easy to find. Males, in particular, are known to sing almost nonstop throughout the day.

21. Eurasian Collard Dove

Gray Eurasian Collard Dove
Scientific Name:Streptopelia decaocto
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:11.4–11.8 in (29–30 cm)
Weight:5–6.3 oz (140–180 g)
Wingspan:13.8 (35 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 17 years

With its stocky gray body and distinctive black collar, the Eurasian Collared Dove stands out in the world of gray birds.

Originating from Bulgaria, they’ve demonstrated an impressive ability to spread across vast territories. Today, they’re found not only in their native regions but also across North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Diet-wise, these doves primarily feed on grains. They are frequent visitors to bird feeders and are notorious for chasing away other birds with their aggressive behavior.

Eurasian Collared Doves are hardy birds that can live up to 17 years in the wild. They don’t mind where they live and can easily adapt to new environments.

22. Northern Mockingbird

Gray Northern Mockingbird
Scientific Name:Mimus polyglottos
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:8.3–10.2 in (21–26 cm)
Weight:1.6–2 oz (45–58 g)
Wingspan:12.2–13.8 in (31–35 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 8 years

Known for its vibrant personality and melodious song that can be heard even in the wee hours of the night, the Northern Mockingbird is a captivating gray bird.

They fit right into this list thanks to their mostly grey-brown plumage and lighter breasts and bellies.

More than just their looks, these birds are amazing singers. Due to their ability to mimic different sounds, they are able to produce a wide variety of delightful tunes.

These incredible mimics can imitate the calls of other birds, the chirping of insects, and even mechanical sounds like car alarms or ringing phones.

In terms of habitat, Northern Mockingbirds are also quite adaptable. You can find them in gardens, parks, and many open spaces.

They have a varied diet consisting of insects, berries, and fruits, which allows them to thrive in different environments.

23. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue gray Gnatcatcher
Scientific Name:Polioptila caerulea
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4–4.3 in (10–11 cm)
Weight:0.2–0.3 oz (5–9 g)
Wingspan:6.3 in (16 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 4 years

The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a small bird with a big personality. Covered in soft blue and gray feathers, it easily stands out in the woods and scrub areas where it lives.

These birds are always on the move, flitting around with endless energy, which makes them fun to watch.

They are good hunters, too. Their diet mainly consists of insects, which they skillfully catch mid-air or pick off leaves. Their quick movements and sharp eyes help them find food in various places.

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are also known for building incredible cup-shaped nests using materials like spider silk, lichen, and plant fibers.

But these birds don’t just build their homes; they protect them fiercely. When dangers like snakes or bigger birds come near, they use a “mobbing” tactic and swarm together to chase the threats away.

24. Black-capped Chickadee

Gray Black capped Chickadee
Scientific Name:Poecile atricapillus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4.7–6 in (12–15 cm)
Weight:0.3–0.5 oz (9–14 g)
Wingspan:6.3–8.3 in (16–21 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 2 years

With its adorable appearance and lively behavior, the Black-capped Chickadee is another gray bird that has captured the attention of many birdwatchers.

These little birds are easy to spot thanks to their distinctive black caps and bibs. And their already stunning appearance is further emphasized by their gray backs, wings, and tails.

More than their looks, they are known for their curious nature. These friendly birds have a habit of exploring everything, including bird feeders and even humans.

Black-capped Chickadees can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, parks, and even backyards. They eat mostly insects and seeds, so they help keep pest populations down in gardens.

Known for their cheerful “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call, these birds bring a sense of liveliness and joy to their habitats.

Final Thoughts

In this exploration of gray birds, we’ve uncovered the unique traits and behaviors that make each species stand out. Some birds are great at making nests, while others are known for their remarkable singing abilities.

From their habitats to their diets, each aspect showcases the diversity that exists within these gray-feathered birds. It’s interesting to see how each bird is different and how they live their lives.

These gray birds serve as a powerful reminder that beauty exists in every creature, no matter how ordinary they may appear. They help us understand and appreciate nature’s hidden wonders.

What do you think about these gray birds? Feel free to share your comments below!

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