Monday, February 9, 2015

Common Backyard Birds of the Eastern US

When I first started feeding the birds a few years ago, I had no idea which birds were which.  With the Great Backyard Bird Count coming up (Feb. 13 - 16!), I thought I would post a list of birds commonly seen in yards and at feeders to help new bird watchers identify them.  

Here are ten birds that are frequently seen here in the Eastern US:

1. Chickadee
If you put out a new bird feeder, this is usually one of the first birds you will see!  This is the little round bird with the black and white head.

There are two slightly different species.  In the North, it's a Black-capped Chickadee. In the South, it's a Carolina Chickadee.  If you live in the small band in the middle where there is overlap, you'll have to look a little more closely.  The Sibley Guides website has a good article about the differences.

2. Tufted Titmouse
The Tufted Titmouse is the gray-backed bird with a little tuft of hair on top.  So cute!

3. American Goldfinch
The American Goldfinch is a small finch that comes to feeders in flocks.  In winter, they only have a little yellow on them, but in spring, the males turn flamboyantly golden yellow!

4. Northern Cardinal
Most people can spot a Northern Cardinal pretty easily. The female has more brown on its body, but still has the signature red bill, wings, tail, and crest.

5. House Finch
A male House Finch is fairly easy to spot, with a red face and chest.  The female is harder, being one of those nondescript brown birds with a brown-and-white streaked chest.  I usually can tell it's a House Finch from the beak, which is wide, much like a Cardinal's.  
(I call this the bird with the 'chompy' beak.)

6. Downy Woodpecker
One of my favorites, the common Downy Woodpecker is a teeny-tiny woodpecker that loves bird feeders.

7. White-breasted Nuthatch
Much like Woodpeckers, you will see Nuthatches scrabble up and down tree trunks.  They crane their head up at an astonishing angle and then zoom to the bird feeders.  The common White-breasted Nuthatch has a blue-gray back and a white face and breast.

8. Dark-eyed Junco
You'll often see flocks of little white-bellied Dark-eyed Juncos hopping around on the ground in search of food.

9. Mourning Dove
photo source - Wikipedia, photo by Almaden Lake
See a large bird strutting around on the ground making sad cooing sounds?  It's most likely a Mourning Dove.  

(Don't get confused!  A similar looking, though less common bird is the invasive Eurasian Collard-Dove, but it has a distinctive black 'collar' around the back of its neck.)

10. American Robin 
American Robins are large birds that you often see hopping around on lawns looking for earthworms. 

I hope that helps get some new bird watchers started!
For more visual aids, the Great Backyard Bird Count has a great list of the most common birds, and Project FeederWatch has an even more extensive chart.

So what is the most common bird in your backyard?  
Happy bird watching!

31 comments:

  1. We did the Great British Bird Watch in January. It's such a wonderful opportunity to relax and watch what is in your garden. I didn't see anything like your birds though; and I am slightly scared by the size of the American robin!

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    1. They aren't too large, compared to the crows and ravens. THOSE are big birds!

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  2. We're amazed with the selection of birds you have in your area, and they are all beautiful birds too!

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    1. Thank you! I always love seeing birds that live in different areas than mine - they always look exotic!

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  3. Now to my garden in winter arrives a lot of birds.
    These are the tits, but other varieties. Woodpecker and pigeons - 9 picture.
    I've never met Cardinal nor American Robin ...
    All the birds that you showed are beautiful.
    Greetings from Polish.
    Lucia

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    1. It's fascinating how different parts of the world have birds that look rather similar to ours, but differently colored. Cardinals are one of our prettiest birds, I think!

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  4. All little cuties, Indie. Nice captures too. I find all the same regular garden visitors here too. I find counting them almost impossible though with the numbers at the feeder. I also get distracted taking their pictures.

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    1. You do have a lot of birds! I don't think my two feeders would support those numbers :)

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  5. Excellent photos, Indie. There was a flock of robins around the pond yesterday -- didn't manage a picture. Some think robins are a sign of spring, but mine hang around all winter. My most common bird in my backyard this winter is the American goldfinch. I'm looking forward to the count. P. x

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    1. Thanks! My robins hang around all winter, too, though I probably wouldn't see them as much if I didn't have my heated bird bath. They love that!

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  6. I didn't know there was more than one 'black capped chickadee'. I'm going to have to pay more attention to my bird book :)

    Thanks for the post. You've got me pumped for Backyard Bird Count.

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    1. Living in North Carolina, I had Carolina Chickadees, so I was rather surprised to find I had Black-capped Chickadees when I moved to Massachusetts. They look so much alike!

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  7. most? The little flocks of either white eyes or wax bills.
    Wonderful pictures you have today!

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  8. Those are all very common birds in my garden, too. For some reason, the Great Backyard Bird Count always happens when birds are the sparsest in my garden. It's too warm here for Juncos now, and many other songbirds are either wintering in the south or hanging out by the lake. Looking forward to March and the return of some of these beauties. :)

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    1. Oh that's too bad! With all our snowstorms we've been having lately, I'll likely still have quite the group at the bird feeder. I've been going through quite a lot of bird seed the past few weeks!

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  9. This is a great list Indie. I will not see many of these birds until the snow melts so it was great to see them here...and a great start to the GBBC that starts Friday.

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    1. Thanks! I'm surprised so many of the birds do overwinter here. I certainly wish I was going further south for the winter!

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  10. These are all common birds in our garden except for the titmice. In summer we get lots of Baltimore Orioles visiting the grape jelly feeder, and for a brief period in May and June we see Red Breasted Grosbeaks.

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    1. Oh so lucky! I spotted a couple Orioles in my yard once and put out a jelly feeder for them, but they never came to it. It did attract a Gray Catbird, though.

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  11. Great pictures of the garden birds in your part of the world. Your goldfinch is so different from the one we have in the UK.

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    1. Thanks! That's funny how we have similar birds, but with such different colors!

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  12. These are all common birds in our area, too, Indie--central Illinois. A few years ago I wouldn't have been able to identify any of them except the cardinal and robin:) But blogging and participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count has helped me differentiate between most of them. The most common bird, though, in my backyard is the sparrow. They have been raiding the feeders--along with a pesky squirrel--so much that I can't keep up with them! I was hoping we would have more snow cover this weekend; I always see more birds at the feeders when the snow is flying.

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    1. Oh no! Are these the invasive House Sparrows? Usually the only sparrows I see are the little Chipping Sparrows, and there aren't too many of them. I'm getting quite a few birds today, as we have yet another snow storm coming in!

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  13. Great post.... I had 7 geese here today looking for food in this horrible cold... I fed them..

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    1. I feel bad for all the critters lately. I haven't even been chasing the squirrels away, they've probably had such a hard time with all the blizzards we've had.

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  14. Dear Indie.
    Lucky me that I met you.
    I wish I had virtually.
    Happy Valentine's Day.
    Greetings.
    Lucia ♥♥♥

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    1. Happy Valentine's Day! So great to have 'met' you at least virtually, as well!

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  15. I counted birds this morning and submitted 15 species. I have all the same birds you've listed in this post. :o)

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    1. Wonderful! That's a lot of species! One of the kids and I counted this morning, and, sure enough, most of these were on the list.

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  16. Beautiful photo's Indie. You have so many different birds in your garden. And all slightly different from our birds.

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