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Sue Vasey

West Des Moines, IA, United States


I noticed this little guy on the deck with no tail!


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Species: House Sparrow

Tail-less House Sparrow

House sparrow without a tail.

43 replies on “Tail-less House Sparrow”

Diane Rogers says:

I’m in Michigan and have one feeding out of my bird feeder.

Melissa Searcey says:

I have a weird looking young sparrow. It can fly poorly and mostly runs on the ground (like a robin). It’s feathers are mangey looking and it has no tail. It has been this way all summer and doesn’t seem to grow or mingle much with other birds. I haven’t been able to get a picture of it. I wonder if a cat got a hold of it or if it is actually sick. Does anyone have any ideas? I’m in Nebraska.

Nicole Keshav says:

I just searched for a bird meeting this description and found this posting. I, too, now have such a house sparrow; it is without a tail, is fluffy with down (and it is January) and has a very different expression on its face from the others. I’m guessing it was simply born different?

SirPatrick says:

I have a little sparrow with no tail as well. I have put a water dish on the ground under the feeder and sprinkled some seed there as well. Is there anything else that I can do to help the little guy? Why is he without a tail? Still young or is this genetic?>

Fallon says:

Found one couple under bush in my brother’s yard, howevet, these look fairly healthy.

Rachel says:

I also just spotted a very puffy, down feathered (November 27th in CT,USA) house sparrow that is much more reddish brown than the usual chestnut with almost no black markings. He’s much darker than the females though. He had no tail, the tips of his wings went long past his rump. I’ve heard that the House, Tree, Song, and many similar looking sparrows have begun to cross species mate and have perfectly healthy offspring. I’d imagine that not only would their markings be random, but that there would be deformities present as well. These puffy, copper, bobtail, little sparrows are clearly the result of some specific species combination. It’s one thing to see a House sparrow with normal markings and feather texture with no tail because that can easily be the result of an escape from a predator. But for it to be unique not only for the lack of tail, but also the specific copper coloring and markings, and the texture seeming to be much more fluffy and similar to down feathers, along with the fact that there’s been so many sightings of this oddly specific combination of features could really have no other explanation. I’ll try to get a picture and upload!

Kathy says:

I also have a tailless sparrow in my yard in Hull, Massachusetts. It has been here all summer and seems to fly around just fine.

Bonnie Adams says:

We have one again this year. We have had them a couple different years in the past 4 years. I’m from Ludlow, VT

Steve says:

I have a birdfeeder outside my window, where tons of sparrows come to to feast. It’s like a little house with roof and windows. When they leave, a little tailless guy stays. He hangs out, looking in the window at me. Looks very much at home. But I feel sorry for him. He’s looks like the loner kid with no friends (me as a kid?) He does fly, I have seen him leave a few times. Glad I found this site with the comments. I don’t have to feel bad for this little one any more. Hi just likes his own private little home. Probably loves it. I’m in Wyoming.

Lenore says:

I have one at my feeder he or she is very fast it fly fine but doesn’t really glide it kind of flies in a swinging circle motion. It does seem to be alone.
Brown with white stripes on it’s outside of the throat

Monika G says:

There is tailless male sparrow at my feeder, Hoffman Estates, Illinois,

Marti says:

I’m in Encinitas California. I just saw 2 tailless sparrows. Are they adolescent or what? So strange, but cute.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Marti, young birds often appear tail-less when they first leave the nest. Their tails normally grow in the days following their fledging event. Alternatively, some older birds may lose feathers in an interaction with a predator.

James Reimneitz says:

I’ve seen these little tail-less sparrows around my feeder all year round. They seem healthy and can fly remarkably well. Amherstburg Ontario Canada.

LanaLynn says:

I saw one of these tail less sparrows last week. She looked so cute without a tail, kind of reminded me of a tiny compact car with its rounded backend. I only so it once so far but she seemed to fly away fine.

hildegarde curtis says:

Mary Hildegarde Curtis, Kelowna, British Columbia
11:00 a.m.

We have at least three of these little tailless sparrows here now in our birdbaths.
They have no problem flying. Will watch for growing tails.

Jessica says:

I’m in Oceanside CA. I’ve read that no tail feathers are due to an injury or escape from a predator. I have a bird feeder in my backyard and a Jay flew into the feeder full of birds feeding and he caused the birds to fly away, an adolescent house sparrow flew into my window. I ran outside to make sure it was ok, he was alive but stunned and I noticed he lost half of his tail feathers. He allowed me to pick him up. It’s day 2 and he’s sitting on the perch In a makeshift birdcage I made with a box with holes in it and wood kebob skewer for a perch. Hopefully he will recover in a few days and I can release him back into my yard.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Jessica, It’s imperative that you contact a wildlife rehabilitator in these types of situations. Possessing most wild birds is against federal law; a certified wildlife rehabilitator should be called for advice before taking any action. House Sparrows are a non-native and invasive species, and so are not protected by this federal law, but it’s still a good practice to ensure the bird is recovering properly. Birds have specific nutritional requirements as well, and deficiencies can often cause problems. If you’re not sure who your local wildlife rehabilitator is, contact your state’s wildlife department, who should keep a list of those that have the proper federal permits.

Lydia says:

Some “rehabbers” use non-native “pest” species ( house sparrows, starlings, pigeons, quakers, ringneck doves) to feed their raptors. If you love these birds be careful what facility you give them to.

Gogogramma says:

I also have a little sparrow-like bird with no tail feathers. It will doesnt fly, but runs around under the plants. I’ve put out millet and water for it. I hope its ok

Helen Quinton says:

I rescued a little sparrow from my cat. It was unharmed except that he had lost his tail feathers. At first he found it difficult to get his balance but I put him on a high branch and after a while he was able to fly away. Reading this site, I am hopeful that he has adjusted to his tail-less state and will survive OK. Do tail feathers eventually regrow ? I do hope so

Kent, UK

MrsK says:

Each of your descriptions have a tiny tidbit of a picture of my little extremely feisty friend with no tail. He/she has been spending lots of time on the thistle seed bird feeder and in hedges ferns and plants close to bird baths. It is a loner. Flicks and flits around with real fast movements. Other backyard birds have great respect when it monopolizes the feeder!! What fun to watch nature. I think what I have is a wren! Western pacificus or also called Winter Wren. Dark brown coloring without much variation. None of the sparrows look at all close in markings.
We live in suburbs of Seattle near foothills of Cascades.

KellyB says:

I have 3 or 4 of these tailless little guys in my yard. At first we thought is was just one, but this morning there were 3 around the thistle feeder, I would love clarification of what they are. I’m located south of Seattle.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Kelly, birds can lose tail feathers for many reasons – predators are most likely, though many birds are also molting at this time of year; some molt before migration and others molt after. Also, it takes time for some young birds to grow in tail feathers. Rest assured in most cases the feathers will grow in within a few weeks.

Laura says:

We have a small bird here without a tail. Looks mostly all one shade of light brown with a dark pointy beak. Told my son it reminds me of a wren except no tail and straight pointed beak and not curved. It was hopping around our deck as we watched from our kitchen window.

Chuck says:

Similarly, I just noticed a tailless Song Sparrow in Hartford VT. Fledgling from a second season brood, adult molt or result of predator attack? Hope the little fellow can grow new feathers quickly.

Dorinda says:

We live in deep woods near Chapel Hill, NC. I have a ball looking at the big variety of birds right outside our breakfast/dining room window. Just now, for the first time, I saw this chubby little bird with no tail feathers at the feeder. I try to put out the best seeds for a big variety, so he was happy and seemed not to be alarmed by the others at my platform feeder. Maybe he’ll come back with his wife and kids. Hope so!

Ceceoh says:

Have what looks like a tailless female house sparrow at my feeder in central Ohio. Not sure if it is a fledgling or not. Of course if she grows her tail back I’ll never know, since then she’ll look like everyone else. 🙂

Eva Kristina Lambert says:

I have been feeding a tail less sparrow together with the rest of the colony. Didnt see him for some days and now he is back with tree fledgings and all three have no tail? Puzzled!

CPK says:

I have noticed a tail less bird at my feeder. It’s chest has a speckle or strips similar to a house finch. He (or she) mainly feeds from the ground, but I did see it fly up to a perch on the feeder. I am not sure where he is staying but he comes back every few days.

CPK says:

Sorry…forgot to say that I was in Southeast Michigan.

Ginger Rose says:

I’ve been watching a tailless bird also it’s slightly bigger than a sparrow and darker, it hops and flits around so fast I can’t examine it’s markings it isn’t a fledgling, it’s very active a clownish sort of bird fatter legs than a sparrow maybe some sort of starling mix ? But I’ve never seen starlings here. I’m in Texas Hill country. He is certainty fun to watch but flys into and out of feeder fast doesn’t let me get a good look at him.

Katy Hughes says:

I have a tail less frequent feeder that looks like a different kind of sparrow at my house on feeder daily for 2 years now. Will watch his/her markings to see if there is more than one of this perky little kind.
So glad to see your postings. Will send a picture. I was concerned that maybe a cat got his tail feathers or that it is very young…he flies from feeder to near by tree and runs very quickly across the de k.Seen
In Bangor, Maine on the Penobscot River.

Jim says:

Im just outside of pittsburgh and have one feeding from my feeder. It has been here all year. Just wondering if its tail is going to grow back or if it was born that way?

Teresa says:

I also have a little house sparrow with no tail feathers , just a little feather about a half inch long that flips up at the tip , he or she is by itself, I live in Rough and Ready CA .

Kathy says:

I live in PA, and this little house sparrow with no tail feathers keeps showing up. He cowers away from the bigger birds ( blue jays woodpeckers etc) he is just adorable.

Sarah says:

I’ve had two house sparrows without tails in different moments coming to my feeders, they both look fine but I’m curious about how this happens

Kathy odell says:

Be aware if a bird is caught by a cat, there can often be teeth punture wounds the untrained eye can’t see. We at bird rescue always give 3-5 days antibiotics before releasing a bird- CBC – caught by cat. They can get infected & die. If yu have a bird or wildlife rescue somewhere yu can reach, take the bird there. Or call them also. Kathy. Napa, Ca.

Sara says:

I also have a male house sparrow without tail in my feeders

Rose says:

I have a sparrow with the shortest rounded tail (definitely not a wren) I’ve ever seen on a bird. Very plump, fluffier than usual. It seems to be fine. She(?) likes to hang out at the birdbath under my window. Until I saw this feed I was perusing bird guides trying to figure out what it was.

Sue says:

So glad to find this feed. I just spotted a brown tailless plump bird at my feeder. I have never seen a tailless bird before. It looks like a baby chick. I am in Virginia.

Angelica says:

I am also in Virginia and have a tailless sparrow. It’s darker than all others and it didn’t have a flock to join. It would stay in my little bird feeder all by itself at night. It can’t fly like all the rest. Additionally, it would let me scratch her little head and would mind when I changed the feed in the feeder. So, one day, a hawk came and all the birds flew away except for Chicky, what I named her. I brought her in one night because of a freeze. The next day, I released her. She was fine. I saw her hanging by the feeder again. The following morning, when I was getting I was getting ready for work, I looked out the window. I saw Chicky drowning in the bird bath. I immediately ran downstairs and saved her. She’s been with me ever since, about 1 1/2 months now. She’s doing great and very healthy. Not sure if I should try to release her next spring since she can’t fly well.

Heidi Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hello Angelica, thank you for reahcing out. Only veterinarians or federally licensed wildlife rehabilitators can legally treat wild birds. If you see a bird that appears to be compromised in some way, perhaps due to sickness or injury, do not try to care for the bird yourself. It is illegal for you to possess most wild birds unless you are under the direction of someone licensed for their care.

Whenever a sick bird comes to your feeder, we recommend that you remove the feeders the sick bird is using for a couple of weeks to ensure that disease is not being spread at your feeders and to give birds a chance to disperse. While the feeders are down clean your feeders and feeder area thoroughly. Remember that prevention is the key to avoiding the spread of disease. Regularly clean your feeders even when there are no signs of disease.

For more information on diseases affecting wild birds, contact the National Wildlife Health Center in the U.S. or the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre in Canada. If you find a bird that you believe needs intervention to survive, contact a wildlife rehabilitator in your area. The Humane Society website provides contact information for rehabilitators in the U.S. by state. The Nature Canada website provides contact information for rehabilitators in Canada by province.

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