How to Tell a Baby Sparrow from a Baby Starling?

Baby sparrows and baby starlings look similar but possess subtle differences. Though small, these birds have unique traits. Let’s explore how to tell them apart.

Baby sparrows have plump bodies with brownish feathers blending in. In contrast, baby starlings have sleek bodies with black feathers that sparkle in the sun.

These birds also differ in their behavior. Baby sparrows sing soft melodies like a lullaby. On the other hand, baby starlings make lively chirps like a busy street.

Mr. Johnson found an abandoned bird’s nest one sunny morning. He saw that some chicks had longer beaks, a trait more prominent in baby sparrows.

He spent hours researching and gained a newfound appreciation for these birds and their hidden differences.

Characteristics of Baby Sparrows

Sparrows are tiny, agile birds that captivate us with their melodious chirping. It can be tough to tell baby sparrows apart from baby starlings. Here’s how:

  • Size: Baby sparrows are much smaller. They have a dainty build.
  • Feathers: Young sparrows are covered in soft, gray feathers that keep them warm.
  • Coloration: Baby sparrows are brown with white or cream undersides.
  • Nesting Habits: Sparrows create intricate nests in tree holes or man-made structures, unlike starlings which nest in cavities or crevices.
  • Vocalizations: Sparrows are softer and less harsh than starlings.

Plus, baby sparrows have bright eyes and small beaks. Appreciate these small wonders! Admire their miniature size, delicate plumage, and sweet melodies. By embracing nature’s small marvels, we can experience the joy and magic they bring.

Characteristics of Baby Starlings

Baby starlings have features that set them apart from other birds. Notable traits include:

  • grayish-brown feathers
  • a tufted crest
  • yellow beaks
  • gape flanges
  • muscular wings

Additionally, they make loud vocalizations. Furthermore, they grow quickly.

To identify a baby starling or sparrow, observe feather colors, beak colors, vocalizations, and nesting habits. Baby starlings have grayish-brown feathers and bright yellow beaks, whereas sparrows have more uniform brown feathers and duller beak colors. Baby starlings make louder vocalizations. Sparrows typically nest in wall cavities, while starlings prefer tree holes or man-made structures.

Enjoy birdwatching and tell them apart with confidence!

Physical Differences between Baby Sparrows and Baby Starlings

Distinguishing baby sparrows and baby starlings can be done by looking at their physical characteristics. Here’s a table summarizing the main differences:

Physical Characteristics Baby Sparrow Baby Starling
Size Small and plump Slightly larger
Feather Color Dull brown or grayish Dark black with speckles
Beak Shape Shorter Longer and pointed

Besides these traits, there are other signs that can help tell them apart. Baby sparrows have paler bellies and rounder bodies. Plus, their wings are not as developed.

Contrastingly, baby starlings stand out for their ability to mimic sounds. They learn and repeat noises from other birds and even humans. This skill helps them better converse with their social groups (National Geographic).

Behaviors of Baby Sparrows and Baby Starlings

Baby sparrows and baby starlings show different behaviors which can help you tell them apart. Here are 3 main points to think about:

  • Feeding habits: Baby sparrows mainly eat insects, while baby starlings eat insects, fruits and even garbage. This difference in diet can help you identify them.
  • Nesting behavior: Baby sparrows stay in their nests more, while baby starlings leave their nests earlier. Observing this can help you distinguish between the two.
  • Vocalizations: Baby sparrows have softer and less diverse chirps, while baby starlings have louder and more complex sounds. Listening to these can help you identify them.

Plus, baby sparrows usually stay close to their nests, while baby starlings don’t. This could be because of their cautious nature or because of their parents. To tell them apart better, watch them for some time.

If you find a young bird whose identity is unclear, here are 3 tips:

  • Observe parental interaction: Look at how adults interact with the bird to tell what species it is. Notice the feeding, vocalizing and protective behaviors of adults.
  • Consult field guides or experts: Get help from books or people who know a lot about birds. These resources can provide info about baby sparrows and baby starlings.
  • Seek online communities: Ask birdwatching and ornithology groups. Sharing photos or observations with experienced people can help you identify the bird.

Knowing the behaviors of these young birds can help you tell them apart. By paying attention to their diet, nesting, and vocalizations, and getting help when needed, you can learn to identify baby sparrows and baby starlings.

Tips for Distinguishing Baby Sparrows from Baby Starlings

Sparrows and starlings may look alike, but there are clear differences which can help you identify them. Here are some clues:

  • Plumage: Baby sparrows have fluffy feathers with faint streaks and spots, while starlings have sleek feathers with white spots.
  • Bill shape: Sparrows have short, stout bills; starlings have longer, slender bills.
  • Behavior: Baby sparrows usually stay near their nests, hopping on the ground. Starlings are more daring and may explore other areas.
  • Vocalization: Sparrows have soft chirps, while starlings have louder, harsher calls.

To tell them apart, consider other details – sparrows usually have dark brown eyes, while starlings have pale yellow eyes. Plus, baby sparrows are slightly smaller than baby starlings.

To improve your identification skills:

  1. View the birds from afar using binoculars or a camera with zoom lens.
  2. Learn more with reference guides or online resources.
  3. Note down habitat preferences; sparrows nest near human dwellings, while starlings nest in tree hollows or nest boxes.

By following these tips and noting the physical features and behaviors, you will be able to tell sparrows and starlings apart. This knowledge can help you enjoy birdwatching and better understand these birds.


Do you want to know how to tell a baby sparrow from a baby starling? Here’s a helpful summary:

  • Feathers: Baby sparrows have brown feathers, and baby starlings are grayish-brown.
  • Beaks: Sparrows have shorter and rounder beaks, but starlings have longer and thinner ones.
  • Wings: Sparrows’ wings are shorter than their bodies, while starling wings are longer.
  • Tails: Sparrows have shorter tails, and starling tails are longer and pointed.
  • Vocalizations: Sparows’ sounds are softer, but starlings make louder and more varied noises.

As they age and develop, these differences become more obvious.

Fun fact- both baby birds need their parents for food until they can fly.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I tell a baby sparrow from a baby starling?

A baby sparrow can be identified by its small size, brownish color, and distinct markings on its wings and back. In contrast, a baby starling is slightly larger, has a black color with white spots, and a shorter tail.

2. What are the differences in their physical appearances?

A baby sparrow has a plump body, a round head, and a yellowish beak. It also has brown feathers with streaks and markings. On the other hand, a baby starling has a slender body, a pointy head, and a black beak. Its feathers are black with white spots.

3. Are there any differences in their behaviors?

Yes, there are some behavioral differences between baby sparrows and baby starlings. Baby sparrows tend to stay close to their nests and make soft chirping sounds. They may hop around and flap their wings while learning to fly. Baby starlings, on the other hand, are more adventurous and tend to explore their surroundings. They make loud squawking noises and may even imitate other bird calls.

4. How can I determine their habitat preferences?

Baby sparrows are commonly found in urban or suburban areas, nesting in trees, shrubs, or even in cavities of buildings. They prefer open spaces with access to insects, seeds, and grains. Baby starlings, on the other hand, are adaptable and can thrive in various habitats including urban settings, farmlands, and forests. They often build their nests in tree hollows or crevices.

5. Do baby sparrows and baby starlings have different diets?

While both baby sparrows and baby starlings primarily feed on insects, their diet preferences may slightly differ. Baby sparrows rely more on seeds and grains as they grow, while baby starlings have a more varied diet that includes fruits, berries, and even small vertebrates.

6. How long does it take for these birds to reach adulthood?

The time it takes for baby sparrows and baby starlings to reach adulthood can vary. On average, baby sparrows take around 15-20 days to fledge and become independent. Baby starlings generally fledge and leave the nest after 20-25 days. However, it’s important to note that individual growth rates can differ.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.