The Little Brown Jobs


I just got done talking about how the birds in my garden no longer perk my interest other than keeping them well fed. It got me thinking that many of those birds are taken for granted and not given the respect they might deserve. Imagine a birder not knowing or caring of your name calling you a Little Brown Job. How insulting if you are a sparrow, finch or wren when they use it so dismissively. Just one of the “wish you were something better” crowd.


The birds (and birders) are out there in the rain, sleet, snow, dry hot summers, all that nature throws their way. The birders prefer not to spend their time in crappy weather to identify small, plain birds that they have likely seen countless times before. Rodney Dangerfield would say “The birds get no respect,” and he would be right.


Besides sparrows, the finches are a common backyard bird, living and breeding beyond my back door. I admit like the birders, I pine for something rarely seen, but these little birds have cute personalities too.

Maybe not as flashy or impressive, maybe never have a sports team named in their honor like their bigger relatives, and just maybe overlooked more times than not, they are a faithful bunch. They never miss a feeding and are quick to let me know when the feeder is empty.


One rainy evening I was watching them getting the last seed of the evening before hitting the shrubs for the night. It was getting dark, yet there they sat in the rain. Not me, I am not that dedicated a birder to get a cold evening shower for a photo.


But it did get me thinking that birders refer to these finches as Little Brown Jobs.


If I was one of these common little birds, I would take up a protest. At least the Sparrows got stuff cooking. The High Sparrows are a pretty important bunch, I hear, plus World Sparrow Day just passed.


Now if only the finches and wrens get organized.


This entry was posted in Birds, Nature, Photography, Photos, wildlife and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Little Brown Jobs

  1. Ha ha! That is so true. I often think that I know more about animals in Africa from watching documentaries than I do about the animals in my own backyard. I feel bad because I can’t distinguish one from the other. I’m not a birder, but I feel I should know what they are and not call them all sparrows.

  2. aussiebirder says:

    I would not refer to all of those birds you displayed as LBJs, but what you say is so true. One of the problems I find is that most baby birds are brown, for protective cover till they adorn their adult plumage, so they can easily be mistaken for a common bird. I have since identified several birds as immature birds of quite beautiful adult plumage, but in their immature or juvenile plumage look very unimpressive. It is true what you say Donna that the LBJs often are passed by as common. It is interesting when I went looking for good photos of our local eastern magpie the other day, and our House Sparrow that I did not have many good photos, yet I had photos of the Western and White backed variety which live in other states. So it has made me aware of the need to enjoy and appreciate our local common birds. Visiting birders, especially from USA and Britain get quite excited when they see our common birds, such as the Rainbow Lorikeet and Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, yet we can easily take them for granted because we see and hear them all the time. You have raised a valid point.

  3. Your photos of the finches are beautiful. I first got interested in birds when I found out that swallows eat thousands of mosquitoes everyday and I wanted to attract them. And most birds, no matter how common they are, are beneficial to our environments. But you are right, it is still the unusual (and colorful) birds that attract the viewers.

  4. Beautiful photos. I wonder if the birds have the same thoughts about people?

  5. Emily Scott says:

    I think sometimes the phrase is meant affectionately too, at least in Britain. I find the little birds charming and feel I have to stick up for them as I am the ‘little brown job’ of the human world!

  6. David says:

    I’m a fan of house finch finches and goldfinches too, However I have a bit of a problem with male goldfinches sometimes because when viewed from certain angles it looks as though they are wearing a bad toupee.

  7. A bird doesn’t have to be big and bold to make me interested. I enjoy the goldfinches, house finches, purple finches, juncos, white-throated sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, etc., etc. The only bird that can make me unhappy is the House Sparrow, and that only because there are so dang many of them.

  8. My Heartsong says:

    Ilike the collection of photos you have here. Whenever I take a bird for granted, I remind myself how lonely it would be without them.

  9. Annie says:

    Love these little birds. We get a lot of goldfinches on the feeders at this time of year. It’s a lot of fun to watch as they transform from drab into their vibrant breeding plumage.

  10. alesiablogs says:

    This post was really fun to read. It reminded me of my mom telling her sister the names of birds from German to English. She called them by their color. My aunt finally caught on my mom was clueless about their real names! It was pretty funny!

  11. I actually love the little brown jobs….they serenade me with such beautiful songs…and they build the cutest little nests in my shrubs.

  12. Angie says:

    I love all the birds. Sure it’s fun to see “more exotic” or less common birds, but I love watching the antics of birds I see everyday.

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