11 Most Common Backyard Birds You Should Know About

Most common backyard birds

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According to the Audubon Society, there are 2,059 bird species in North America. But did you know what most common backyard birds are living in your area?

If you want to attract the birds in your backyard, it’s crucial to identify them and learn about their diet and feeder preferences.

So, in this article, we’ve compiled the most common backyard birds you might have encountered in your day-to-day life and give you a bit of a background about their:

  • appearance
  • habitat
  • nesting behavior
  • and frequency

If you’re a new birder who wants to know what kind of bird perches at the tree in your backyard, we bet you’d enjoy this list we’ve curated for you.

Let’s get right into the first songbird who’s literally everywhere in the US without further ado.

Top 11 Most Common Backyard Birds 

Most common backyard birds- Top 1 Mourning Dove

1. Mourning Dove – The Gentle Songbird

This bird tops the list for most common backyard birds because it’s everywhere and widely spread in the US.

You can find Mourning Doves in almost all of the lower-48 states of North America.

Their plumage isn’t as flashy as other birds.

But their gentle personality and sweet voice are enough reasons to make you swoon for them.

Some believed that their visit was from dead loved ones. Hence they’re called Mourning Doves.

This bird vocalizes a lot and has a unique sleeping position.

Unlike other birds, they rest their head between their shoulder instead of tucking their heads under the shoulder feathers.

Their wings are long and pointed, which looks like falcon’s, while their tail is longer than a dove.

That explains why mourning doves are quick flyers. They can fly as fast as 55mph.

To help you identify them, here are some details that reveal their background.

Scientific name: Zenaida macroura

Frequency: Year-round: 35%, Winter: 29%, Summer: 40%

Standard Appearance of a Mourning Dove

This dove features beautiful buff coloration with black spots and dark wingtips.

The back of its wings looks gray-tinged, while its neck boasts an iridescent patch.

It has a small and slender bill, plump body, tiny round head, and white edges on its tail.

This dove measures about 12 inches long from the bill tip to its tail tip.

It’s as small as Northern Flicker but larger than American Robin.

Habitat, Range & Behavior of This Common Backyard Bird

This backyard bird prefers to live in urban areas, farmlands, and woodlands. They usually perch on wires and fences and are widespread across lower-48 states and Mexico.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

Mourning Doves mainly feed on seeds like black oil, sunflower, millet, and milo.

All you ever need is to put some of these seeds on a large tray feeder or the ground if you want to attract them and get a sight of them.

2nd most common backyard bird- Northern Cardinal

2. Northern Cardinal – Northern US’s Most Common Backyard Bird

This mid-sized bird is among the most common backyard birds.

You might have witnessed it singing its heart out while perching on a tree.

But they can’t be held captive in a cage, according to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

They’re one of the best songbirds, and their bright red color screams courage and bravery.

They owe their red plumage to the red pigment that comes from carotenoids in their food.

Without pigment-triggering foods like berries, their feather’s red color may fade and turn into a brown hue.

Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Frequency: Year-round: 34%, Winter: 32%, Summer: 31%

Standard Appearance of Northern Cardinals

Male versions of this songbird have bright red coloring in its plumage and black face.

But its females look grayish with hints of red in their wings, crest, and tail.

They have a short, heavy, and conical pink bill, plump body, long tail, and feathery crest. 

They’re a little tinier than American Robins yet almost similar to Red-winged Blackbirds in terms of size.

Habitat, Range & Behavior of This Common Backyard Bird

Cardinals live in shrubby woodland borders throughout the year.

You can usually find them in the eastern part of the United States, Texas, Arizona, and south into Mexico.

Male Northern Cardinals are usually protective of their nesting territory, and they sing and attack intruders aggressively. 

Sometimes, they go as far as attacking their reflection in windows and mirrors.

They hide their nest somewhere in dense shrubs, vines, or low trees, about 3 to 10′ above the ground or sometimes higher.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

This common backyard bird feeds on insects such as beetles, flies, true bugs, grasshoppers, caterpillars, & ants.

They also eat grasses, flowers, leaf buds, waste grain, berries, and other fruits and seeds like safflower and black oil, sunflower seeds, and white Milos.

3rd most common backyard bird- American Robin

3. American Robin – Most Common Backyard Bird During Summer

This bird is the most common backyard bird during summer and pretty much through spring.

American Robins are the harbingers of spring which means that you’ll know when spring is coming because they’ll sing their song. 

It’s the official bird in Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Male robins often belt out melodious songs to attract lady robins, shake their wings, fluff their tail feathers, and puff their white-striped throats during courtship.

These birds lay sky blue eggs, which take 24 days to hatch.

Scientific name: Turdus migratorius 

Frequency: Year-round: 33%, Winter: 21%, Summer: 44%

Standard Appearance of an American Robin

You can easily recognize this breed with its rusty orange breast, striped throat, gray back, and wings.

Its bill is straight and a bit slender while its body is plum and its tail is relatively long.

Its size is similar to Blue Jay, measuring about 10 inches from bill tip to tail tip.

Habitat, Range & Behavior of This Common Backyard Bird

Some American robins migrate, but others stay in their place during winter if they have enough food.

You can find them anywhere in the lower 48 American States, usually in woodlands, farmlands, lawns, and urban parks.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

Their favorite preys are worms and other invertebrates on the lawn.

Others eat small berries and other fruits from the feeder or the ground.

4th Most Common Backyard Bird- American Crow

4. American Crow – The Black Predator

This passerine bird is an intelligent predator who can mimic its ower’s voice and count aloud up to seven if trained to do so.

It’s also a clever prankster who can find its way to steal unattended objects and attack your chicken coop.

Crows are also cooperative breeders who help one another in raising their offspring.

With this technique, offspring can receive care not just from their parents but also from their ‘helpers.’

Here’

Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos

Frequency: Year-round: 32%, Winter: 31%, Summer: 29%

Standard Appearance of Crows

Crows look similar to ravens, but there are subtle differences that set them apart. Crows usually have long, thick, black bills, glossy feathers, large heads, long legs, and square or fan-shaped tails. 

Habitat, Range & Behavior of This Common Backyard Bird

Crows often reside in trees, farms, fields, and cities with trees they can perch on and roost in large flocks. 

They’re anywhere in the lower 48 of the United States, except in the desert southwest part of the country.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

This backyard bird is omnivorous, which explains why they are fascinated with eating giant insects, small mammals, carrions, and grains.

5th Most Common Backyard Bird- Blue Jay

5. Blue Jay – The Handsome Bullies

Blue Jays are intelligent and playful, but they tend to scare other birds away from feeders and raid other nests.

The name jay comes from the bird’s boisterous, chatty nature.

And it has been applied to other members of the same family who are equally social.

These birds have the habit of mimicking hawks, especially the Red-shouldered ones.

They also have this bizarre behavior called “anting,” which is the habit of rubbing ants on their feathers.

It is to drain the ant’s formic acid before they devour them.

Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata

Frequency: Year-round: 28%, Winter: 24%, Summer: 24%

Standard Appearance of Blue Jays

Blue Jays boast a beautiful blue feathering with white and black coat patches across its wings.

It also sports a long black and stout bill, black collar, a large, crested head, extended tail, and large, strong legs. 

Habitat, Range & Behavior of Blue Jays

These birds may be small, but they are very aggressive towards other birds. 

They prefer to live in woodlands and towns in the eastern half of the US.

But they travel in flocks to the Southern part of Canada during summer.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

They are also omnivorous, like crows.

And they mostly prefer tray feeders and hopper feeders to hanging feeders.

Peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet are their top favorite foods.

backyard bird- Song Sparrow

6. Song Sparrow – The Most Common Backyard Bird

These backyard birds may not be as visually striking as other species, but it deserves to be this list and our attention.

You can find them anywhere in North America, maybe singing their song or tending their nests.

Adult male song sparrows can sing about 6 to 20 different melodies.

And each tune is a bit different from the basic sparrow song.

Some sparrow songs only have four notes that last less than 2 seconds, while others have about 20 or more notes that last over 5 seconds.

As for females, they’re usually attracted to males who can sing a wide variety of songs.

Additionally, males can reproduce more and successfully defend their territory if they have an extensive repertoire of songs.

They can sing a song every 8 seconds during the dawn of a spring season.

And on average, they can perform 2,300 songs in an entire day.

Sadly, these songbirds are preyed upon by different predators like domestic cats, snakes, and hawks.

Scientific name: Melospiza melodia

Frequency: Year-round: 25%, Winter: 19%, Summer: 29%

Standard Appearance of Song Sparrows

These birds are medium in size. It ranges between the size of a White-crowned Sparrows and a chickadee and goldfinches.

It has a rounded head and tail, dark streaks on its chest, with a russet-gray color on its body.

But, in different areas, it looks different.

In Desert Southwest, these birds look pale, while they are heavily and dark-streaked in the Pacific Northwest.

Males and females tend to have the same color, though males are more significant than females.

Habitat, Range & Behavior of Song Sparrows

Song Sparrows resides in the western and northeastern United States and western Canada and coastal southern Alaska.

They’re usually spread across the lower-48 states during winter.

But they move to mid-Canada and the US’ northern half during summer.

And they specifically prefer to live in thickets near water and shrubs in the backyard. 

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

Their diet mainly consists of insects and seeds near the ground, consuming grasses and berries.

They often forage in the ground for food and visit tray feeders and hoppers to have mixed birdseed.

Red-winged Blackbird

7. Red-winged Blackbird – The Sociable Passerine

This species is among the most abundant birds in North America, and the distinctive feature in its wings makes it easily distinguishable.

But they can either show off their red epaulets when singing to defend their territory or trying to attract a female or hide them if they wish to do so.

They’re highly protective of their territory, and males are polygamous, with others having around 15 different females.

Scientific name: A. phoeniceus

Frequency: Year-round: 25%, Winter: 12%, Summer: 32%

Standard Appearance of a Red-winged Blackbird

It’s a medium-sized bird with a stocky build, a flat head, a long, rounded tail, and a medium-sized, straight, conical bill.

This bird possesses a glossy black plumage with a red patch and yellow border on its wings. 

In many areas, people believe that this bird brings delightful omens.

Habitat, Range & Behavior of Red-winged Blackbird

This common backyard bird prefers living in cattail marshes or wetlands. 

But during winter, they move into agricultural fields, cattle feedlots, and shopping center parking lots.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

25% of their diet consists of insects and other animals, but they also feed on seeds.

They usually visit feeders in large flocks.

So, it’s not advisable to put up a feeder in your backyard.

Most Common backyard Birds- European Starling

8. European Starling – The Invasive Species

These birds are the pain in other birds’ necks because they tend to push native birds away and steal their nests.

Starlings are detrimental to bluebirds and woodpeckers since they tend to act aggressively on them.

Their song is a repertoire of rattles and whistled notes that sometimes mimic other birds, and their flight call sounds like “prurrp.”

These common backyard birds are boisterous, and they prefer to live in large flocks.

Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris

Frequency: Year-round: 25%, Winter: 23%, Summer: 22%

Standard Appearance of a European Starling

They’re about the same size as the Red-winged Blackbird we mentioned earlier, measuring up to 8 and a half inches from bill tip to tail tip.

This bird has a stocky build with a large head and a long and sharp yellow bill.

It shows off grayish-brown plumage with a glossy and iridescent glow.

Habitat, Range & Behavior of This Common Backyard Bird

These backyard birds can thrive in urban and suburban areas where they can forage for food and put up their nests.

Others reside on the coast of Southern Canada and northern Mexico.

These birds are may be tiny, but they can bully other birds and drive others away.

They also tend to steal nest activities from smaller, native birds.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

Stallings usually prefer insects they find on the ground. Since they have weak feet, perching on a tube is difficult for them.

So, it’s best to keep them away from tree feeders and prevent them from feeding on table scraps.

American Goldfinch Perching on a tree

9. American Goldfinch – Most Common Backyard Every Summer

This brightly-feathered bird rightly deserves to be on this list for most common backyard birds because it’s present on every coast throughout the lower-48 states. 

It’s one of the most desirable backyard birds for its undeniable charming look.

These goldfinches usually molt twice a year and are late breeders.

They wait for the thistles and milkweeds to seed in late June and early July before creating nests because they use them for their nest and food for their young ones.

These birds have a distinct four-syllable call when they’re all set to take a flight.

If you’d listen to it closely, it sounds like “po-ta-to-chip.”

Yes, you heard it right. It’s po-ta-to-chip!

The reason for such phenomenon is unknown but what’s sure is every Goldfinch pair have the same calls.

It’s believed that these identical calls help other flock members distinguish one pair from the other.

Scientific name: Carduelis tristis

Frequency: Year-round: 24%, Winter: 20%, Summer: 27%

Standard Appearance of an American Goldfinch

This tiny but plump bird only measures about 5 inches from the bill tip to the tail tip. 

Therefore, it’s about the same size as a chickadee but smaller than house finches.

It has a short, conical, pink bill, more prominent head, and short tail.

When it comes to feathering, there’s a significant difference between male and female American Goldfinch.

Males often show off vivid, yellow lemon color with black forehead, wings, and tail.

On the other hand, females’ feathers look olive-colored with brown tails and wings.

But, winter birds feature grayish-yellow feathering with tan and brown wings and tails.

Habitat, Range & Behavior of This Common Backyard Bird

This bird species refers to weedy fields and similar environments with thistles and similar plants.

You can find it in every middle lower-48 states’ coast throughout the year. 

But it migrates to the Canada border during summer and moves to Mexico’s border during winter.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

Goldfinch’s favorites are nyjer seeds, weed, and thistle seeds.

They may also take some sunflower seeds from the tube feeder and drink from birdbaths.

They’re also fond of seed-bearing flowers and will occasionally pluck out seeds and seed fluff for their nests when the summer is about to end.

Canada Goose

10. Canada Goose – The Second-most damaging Bird in the Air

This herbivore is the largest species of true geese, and they’re aggressive, which explains why they’re rarely attacked.

Canadian Geese’s main predators are humans, but they’re also preyed upon by coyotes, owls, eagles, and gray wolves.

Their scientific name means black or burnt goose from Canada.

They’re the second-most damaging bird next to turkey vultures for airplane strikes in the US and Canada.

Due to their large size, ability to fly extremely high, and tendency to fly in flocks, they’re very dangerous when they bump into an aircraft engine.

Scientific name: Branta canadensis

Frequency: Year-round: 23%, Winter: 21%, Summer: 13%

Canadian Goose’s Standard Appearance

Canada Gooses have a black head and neck, a distinctive white chinstrap, a brownish-gray body, and a white belly.

They boast a powerful chest and large, pointed wings.

Their size ranges from 30 to 45 inches from bill tip to tail tip, so they’re typically bigger than ducks but smaller than swans.

Habitat, Range & Behavior of This Common Backyard Bird

These common backyard birds are found in marshes, grassy fields, and tundras of Alaska, Canada, and the northern part of the US. 

But during winter, they’re spread across throughout the USA.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

Canada Gooses are mainly herbivorous.

You’ll rarely see these birds visiting feeders because they prefer aquatic vegetation, grain crops, and grasses over seeds.

Top 11 Most Common Backyard Bird- House finch

11. House Finch – The Rosy-chested Backyard Bird

House finches are the most common backyard birds in North America and are the Purple Finches’ competitors to the latter’s detriments.

They’re colorful, adaptable, and cheery-voiced.

Fun fact, if you want to attract this type of bird to your backyard, all you have to do is provide them water.

They can drink up to 40% of their body weight.

Scientific name: Carpodacus mexicanus

Frequency: Year-round: 23%, Winter: 23%, Summer: 21%

Standard Appearance of House finches

House finches display varying colors depending on their diet, ranging from gray to bright crimson.

Females and immature finches wear brown plumage with blurry streaks that run down the belly.

On the other hand, adult males have rosy red feathering around their faces and upper breast.

And it blends well with streaky brown coloring along their back, belly, and tail.

They measure about 6 inches from bill tip to tail tip, so they’re bigger than goldfinches and chickadees.

Habitat, Range & Behavior of This Common Backyard Bird

These finches originally lived in deserts, open woods, and the western United States and Mexico grasslands.

But they’re now residents of rural areas and towns in most lower-48 states and southern Canada.

You’ll usually see them in small flocks on wires, short treetops, and bushes in city parks, farms, backyards, and urban centers.

Food and Feeder Preference of This Common Backyard Bird

House finches are certified vegetarians.

97% of their diet mainly consists of vegetables, but they also eat buds and flower parts in spring, berries, and other tiny fruits.

 

CONCLUSION

So that wraps our list for the most common backyard birds in the US.

As you’ve noticed, they vary a lot in size and color, and they have different food preferences.

Therefore, if you want to extend a little help on these tiny creatures by providing them food, it’d be best to learn about their diet first.

That can help ensure your effort will not go to waste.

So, the next time you visit them, why not try to observe them, their features, and behaviors?

That’d help you get a grasp on their identity and diet.

So, what type of bird do you have in your backyard?

Share it with us in the comment section below so we’d know if they belong to our list of the most common backyard birds.

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