Have you wondered what those birds are that are visiting your backyard in British Columbia?
Well, this guide will help you to find out how to identify these birds by sight and sound and what time of year you can spot them in British Columbia. Also, get a free ID chart to print with the most common backyard birds in British Columbia.
Swainson’s Thrush and Cedar Waxwing are more common in birds in British Columbia in summer and Dark-eyed Junco and Anna’s Hummingbirds are more common birds in winter in British Columbia.
Backyard birds in British Columbia all year: Black-capped Chickadee, European Starling, House Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Anna’s Hummingbird, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pine Siskin, Steller’s Jay, American Crow, House Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Rock Pigeon
Backyard birds in British Columbia in summer: American Robin, Song Sparrow, Northern Flicker, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, Swainson’s Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Red-winged Blackbird, Barn Swallow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Goldfinch, Rufous Hummingbird, Yellow Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Sparrow
Backyard birds in British Columbia during migration: White-crowned Sparrow
These are the most common backyard birds in British Columbia that may visit your lawn or feeders. They are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists submitted by bird watchers on ebird.
This article gives you identification information and photos to help you identify and attract more of the common backyard birds that you can spot in British Columbia.
Facts About Birds in British Columbia
The Stellar’s Jay is the provincial bird of British Columbia. This bird was chosen in 1987 and was voted the most popular by the people of British Columbia.
There are 516 species of bird recorded in British Columbia according to ebird. Some of the highlight birds in British Columbia include Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Belted Kingfisher, Cedar Waxwing, Turkey vulture, Pileated Woodpecker, California Quail, Pelagic Cormorant, Horned Grebe, Osprey, Western Tanager, Northern Harrier, Red Crossbill and Yellow-headed Blackbird.
The biggest bird in British Columbia is the Bald Eagle, with a wingspan of up to 8 feet (2.5 m) for females, this white-headed bird of prey is the largest in British Columbia.
The smallest bird in British Columbia is the Calliope Hummingbird, which is only about 3 in long, but they can travel long distances from Canada to southern Mexico.
The most common bird in British Columbia is the American Robin, which is seen in 43% of recorded checklists for the state on ebird throughout the year.
British Columbia has 7 National Parks, 4 National Forests, 6 National Wildlife areas, 7 Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and 31 Wildlife Management areas, that offer excellent bird watching opportunities if you want to get out and watch birds in their natural environment.
Free Printable Backyard Birds Worksheet for British Columbia
These free bird identification worksheets have all the common backyard birds in British Columbia at different times of the year. So when you want to do some backyard birding in Canada these handy guides have pictures and space to either tick off the types of birds you have seen or keep a tally of the total number of birds.
Top 31 Backyard Birds In British Columbia:
1. American Robin
American Robins spend the breeding season in British Columbia and occur in 54% of summer checklists. They are mainly spotted from April to October, but some remain in the province all year and appear in 2% of winter checklists.
American Robins are a common sight on lawns eating earthworms. They have black heads and backs with red or orange breasts. They tend to roost in trees in winter, so you are more likely to see them in your backyard from spring.
- Turdus migratorius
- Length: 7.9-11.0 in (20-28 cm)
- Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz (77-85 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)
American Robins are residents in the lower 48 and the coast of Western Canada and Alaska. Those that breed in Canada and inland Alaska move south for the winter.
American Robins can be found in many habitats, from woodlands, forests, and mountains to fields, parks, and lawns. They eat earthworms, insects, snails, and fruit.
American Robin Song:
American Robin Call:
Attract American Robins to your backyard with sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, fruit, and mealworms. Platform feeders are best or food scattered on the ground. Also, try planting some native plants that produce berries, such as juniper, sumac, hawthorn, and dogwood.
2. Song Sparrow
Song Sparrows are frequently spotted in British Columbia during the breeding season. However, some do remain here all year along the coast. They appear in 38% of summer checklists and 43% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the province.
Song sparrows are not as remarkable looking as other backyard birds, but these predominantly brown-streaked birds use their almost constant song to attract mates in spring and summer.
- Melospiza melodia
- Length: 4.7-6.7 in (12-17 cm)
- Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz (12-53 g)
- Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in (18-24 cm)
Song Sparrows live all year in the northern US states. Those that breed in Canada migrate to southern US states for winter.
They can be found in open, shrubby, and wet areas, often perched on a low shrub singing. They are often found at backyard feeders.
Song Sparrows eat a wide variety of insects and plants, including beetles, caterpillars, midges, spiders, and earthworms. They will also eat buckwheat, sunflower, raspberries, wild cherries, blackberries, wheat, and rice.
Song Sparrow Song:
Song Sparrow Call:
Attract Song Sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.
Sparrows are known as LBJs (Little brown jobs) but if you want to know more, check out this guide to sparrows in British Columbia.
3. Northern Flicker
Northern Flickers can be spotted in British Columbia all year. They are spotted in up to 32% of summer checklists and 36% of winter checklists for the province.
Northern Flickers are large brown woodpeckers with black spots and a white patch on their rump in flight, plus a red nape of the neck in the males.
Northern Flickers have red or yellow flashes in the wings and tail depending on where they originate. Red-shafted birds live in the west, and yellow-shafted birds live in the east.
- Colaptes auratus
- Length: 11.0-12.2 in (28-31 cm)
- Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz (110-160 g)
- Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in (42-51 cm)
Northern Flickers can be spotted across the US all year and in Canada during summer. Those that breed in Canada usually migrate south for the winter.
Northern Flickers mainly eat ants, beetles, fruits, and seeds, and they can often be seen on the ground digging with their curved bill.
Northern flicker Call:
Attract Northern Flickers to your backyard with suet.
Some woodpeckers are more easily recognized than others, but with this guide, you can identify all the woodpeckers in British Columbia.
4. Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Juncos can be spotted all year along the coast of British Columbia, but they are the more frequently spotted during the breeding season across the whole state.
Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrows that are different colors depending on the state. They are generally slate-colored in the east and black, white, and brown in the west.
- Junco hyemalis
- Length: 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)
- Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-30 g)
- Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in (18-25 cm)
Dark-eyed Juncos remain resident all year in northeastern and western US states and the Appalachian Mountains. Those that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south in winter to the United States.
They can be found in open and partially wooded areas, often on the ground, and are common across the continent.
Dark-eyed Junco Song:
Attract Dark-eyed Juncos to backyard feeders with a variety of seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts. Platform feeders or scattered on the ground are best.
5. Spotted Towhee
Spotted Towhees are more frequently spotted during the breeding season in southern British Columbia, but some have also been spotted during winter in the southwest of the province.
Spotted Towhees are large sparrows that are black on their head, throat, and back in the males and brown in the females. Both males and females have reddish-brown sides, white bellies, and white spots on the wings and back. They have long tails and are about the size of a Robin.
- Pipilo maculatus
- Length: 6.7-8.3 in (17-21 cm)
- Weight: 1.2-1.7 oz (33-49 g)
- Wingspan: 11.0 in (28 cm)
Spotted Towhees live in western US states, but those in the interior of the north migrate south after breeding to Texas and surrounding areas.
You can find Spotted Towhees on the ground in dense tangles of shrubs scratching around for insects, including beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, wasps, and bees. They also eat acorns, berries, and seeds.
Spotted Towhee Song:
Attract Spotted Towhees to your yard if you leave overgrown borders, and they will visit platform feeders or ground feeders for black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, and milo.
6. Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadees are residents of British Columbia all year. They do not migrate and occur in 23% of summer checklists and 33% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the province.
The Black-capped Chickadee is a cute bird with a big round head and tiny body. These birds will happily feed at backyard feeders and investigate everything, including you!
They have black caps and beaks, white cheeks, and are gray on the back, wings, and tail.
- Poecile atricapillus
- Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
- Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (9-14 g)
- Wingspan: 6.3-8.3 in (16-21 cm)
Black-capped Chickadees do not migrate and can be spotted in the northern half of the US and Canada.
You can find them in forests, open woods, and parks. Black-capped Chickadees eat seeds, berries and insects, spiders, and suet.
Black-capped Chickadee Call/Song:
Attract Black-capped Chickadees to your backyard with suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or peanut butter. They will even feed from your hand and are often one of the first birds to discover new feeders. They will also use nest boxes, especially if you fill them with wood shavings.
7. Swainson’s Thrush
Swainson’s Thrushes spend the breeding season in British Columbia and occur in 21% of summer checklists. They arrive in April and start to migrate in October.
Swainson’s Thrushes are brown on the back and paler undersides that are spotted brown on the throat and breast. The spotting gets lighter the further down their flanks. They are medium-sized and have distinctive eyerings if you are close enough to spot them.
- Catharus ustulatus
- Length: 6.3-7.5 in (16-19 cm)
- Weight: 0.8-1.6 oz (23-45 g)
- Wingspan: 11.4-12.2 in (29-31 cm)
Swainson’s Thrushes breed in Canada, Alaska, and some northeastern and northwestern US states. They can be seen during migration over the rest of the US when heading to or from wintering grounds in Central and South America.
You can find Swainson’s Thrushes mainly in coniferous forests in breeding grounds, but during migration, Swainson’s Thrushes are found in areas of dense undergrowth. They feed on insects and fruit.
Swainson’s Thrush song:
Attract Swainson’s Thrushes to your backyard with birdbaths on the ground, protection from trees and shrubs, and not tidying or using pesticides.
8. Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwings are mainly seen in British Columbia during the breeding season, but a few also remain here all year. They are recorded in 18% of summer checklists and 1% of winter checklists.
Cedar Waxwings are elegant social birds that are pale brown on the head, chest, and crest, which fades to gray on the back, wings, and tail.
Their belly is pale yellow and bright yellow towards the tail. They have a narrow black mask over their eyes and bright red on the wingtips.
- Bombycilla cedrorum
- Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
- Weight: 1.1 oz (32 g)
- Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in (22-30 cm)
Cedar Waxwings remain all year in the northern half of the US. Those that breed in Canada migrate to the southern half of the US for winter.
They make a high-pitched call and can be found in berry bushes, woodlands, and streams.
Cedar Waxwing Call:
Attract Cedar Waxwings to your backyard by planting native trees and shrubs with small fruit such as serviceberry, dogwood, juniper, winterberry, and hawthorn. You can also try fruit on platform feeders.
There are so many yellow birds in British Columbia that you will spot, especially in spring.
9. European Starling
European Starlings are an introduced species in British Columbia that can be seen here all year and do not migrate. They appear in around 25% of checklists submitted by bird watchers for the province.
European Starlings are not native but are now one of the most numerous songbirds. They are stocky black birds with iridescent purple, green, and blue tones.
- Sturnus vulgaris
- Length: 7.9-9.1 in (20-23 cm)
- Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz (60-96 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)
European Starlings live in all of North America, except the north of Canada and Alaska.
They are considered a pest by some due to their aggressive behavior. These birds fly in large, noisy flocks and can be seen perched in groups on the top of trees or flying over fields.
European Starling Calls:
Starlings predominantly eat insects, including beetles, flies and caterpillars, earthworms, and spiders. However, they also eat fruit, including cherries, holly berries, mulberries, Virginia Creeper, sumac, blackberries, and grains and seeds.
Attract European Starlings to your backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts.
Blackbirds are a vast family of birds that have numerous family members, and why don’t you get to know all the blackbirds in British Columbia?
10. Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged blackbirds spend the breeding season in British Columbia, and while many migrate south for the winter, some remain in the province all year. They appear in 26% of checklists in summer and 15% of checklists in winter submitted by bird watchers.
Red-winged blackbirds are very common and easy to identify with the all-black coloring except for the reddish-orange wing patches. Females are rather dull in comparison with streaky brown color.
- Agelaius phoeniceus
- Length: 6.7-9.1 in (17-23 cm)
- Weight: 1.1-2.7 oz (32-77 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)
Red-winged Blackbirds remain all year in the lower 48 and the Pacific Coast of British Columbia. Those that breed in Canada and some northern US states migrate south for the winter.
They can often be spotted sitting on telephone wires, and the males will fiercely defend their territories in the breeding season, even attacking people that get too close to their nests. In winter, they roost in large numbers into the millions.
Red-winged Blackbird Song:
Red-winged Blackbird Calls:
Attract Red-winged blackbirds to your backyard with mixed grain and seeds spread on the ground. They will also feed from large tube feeders or platform feeders.
11. Barn Swallow
Barn Swallows spend the breeding season in British Columbia and are spotted mainly from April to September, but some remain until December. They occur in 20% of summer checklists.
Barn Swallows are small birds with a deep-blue back, wings and tail, and reddish-brown underneath and across the face. Their tail has long outer feathers that give a deep fork. The dark color of their back can make them look black-and-white.
- Hirundo rustica
- Length: 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm)
- Weight: 0.6-0.7 oz (17-20 g)
- Wingspan: 11.4-12.6 in (29-32 cm)
Barn Swallows breed in Canada and the US before heading to Central and South America. They can be found flying over meadows, farms, and fields looking for insects and usually build mud nests on man-made structures such as in barns.
Barn Swallow call:
Attract Barn Swallows by putting up nest boxes or cups, and they may eat ground-up eggshells on a platform feeder.
12. House Finch
House Finches are residents of British Columbia all year. They do not migrate and appear in 21% of summer checklists and 24% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the province.
House Finches males have a red head and breast, and the rest of their bodies are mainly brown-streaked. Females are brown-streaked all over.
- Haemorhous mexicanus
- Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
- Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (16-27 g)
- Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm)
Originally only in western US states, House Finches were introduced to eastern US states and have done very well, even pushing out the Purple Finch.
They can be found in parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders in noisy groups that are hard to miss.
House Finch Song:
House Finch Call:
Attract House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.
There are lots of other red birds in British Columbia that you can spot.
13. Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatches can be found in British Columbia all year and occur in 18% of summer and winter checklists for the province.
Red-breasted Nuthatches are blue-gray birds with black and white stripes on their heads and a rusty underside.
- Sitta canadensis
- Length: 4.3 in (11 cm)
- Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (8-13 g)
- Wingspan: 7.1-7.9 in (18-20 cm)
Red-breasted Nuthatches remain all year in northeastern and western states, Alaska and Canada but may move south in winter if cone crops are poor.
You can find Red-breasted Nuthatches in coniferous woods foraging for cones, and they also visit backyard feeders.
Red-breasted Nuthatch Call:
Attract Red-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds, suet feeders, peanuts, and mealworms.
14. Anna’s Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbirds can be found in British Columbia all year, mainly in the west and south of the province. They are recorded in 15% of summer checklists and 25% of winter checklists.
Anna’s Hummingbirds are tiny birds that are mostly green and gray. The male’s head and throat are iridescent reddish-pink, but the female’s throat is grayish with bits of red spotting.
- Calypte anna
- Length: 3.9 in (10 cm)
- Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (3-6 g)
- Wingspan: 4.7 in (12 cm)
Unusually Anna’s Hummingbirds do not migrate, and they are the most common hummingbird along the Pacific Coast.
You can find Anna’s Hummingbirds near large colorful blossoms during the spring, and they readily visit hummingbird feeders that you can fill with homemade hummingbird nectar.
They make a dramatic dive display during courtship as the males climb up to 130 feet into the air before diving back to the ground with a burst of noise from their tail feathers.
Anna’s Hummingbird Call:
Attract Anna’s Hummingbirds to your backyard with nectar feeders and lots of colorful plants.
If you get a buzz out of hummingbirds, then check out all the hummingbirds in British Columbia and when is best to spot them.
15. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Chestnut-backed Chickadees do not migrate and are residents of British Columbia all year. They are mostly spotted in the west and south of the province. They appear in 16% of summer checklists and 20% of winter checklists.
Chestnut-backed Chickadees are tiny birds with black caps and throats and white cheeks. They are a rich chestnut on their backs and sides and have gray wings and bellies. In California, their sides are gray instead of brown.
- Poecile rufescens
- Length: 3.9-4.7 in (10-12 cm)
- Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (7-12 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5 in (19 cm)
Chestnut-backed Chickadees live flocks in wet evergreen forests along the Pacific Coast and are regular visitors to backyard feeders.
You can find Chestnut-backed Chickadees usually in conifer forests. They eat mostly insects, including caterpillars, spiders, wasps, and aphids, with seeds, berries, and fruit making up the rest.
Nests of Chestnut-backed Chickadees are usually holes in rotten wood made either by the birds themselves, or they use old woodpecker nests. The nest is lined with moss and bark, and then softer material such as fur and grass is added. They lay up to eleven eggs, which take around two weeks to hatch and nearly three weeks for the young to leave the nest.
Attract Chestnut-backed Chickadees to your yard with black-oil sunflower seeds, suet, nyjer, peanuts, or mealworms in tube feeders, platform feeders, or suet cages. They will also use nest boxes.
16. Pine Siskin
Pine Siskins spend the breeding season in northern British Columbia and remain in the rest of the province all year. They appear in 21% of summer checklists and 14% of winter checklists for the province.
Pine Siskins are small brown finches with yellow streaks on the wing and tail. They have a forked tail and pointed wings, with a short pointed bill.
- Spinus Pinus
- Length: 4.3-5.5 in (11-14 cm)
- Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz (12-18 g)
- Wingspan: 7.1-8.7 in (18-22 cm)
Pine Siskins remain all year in the pine forests in the western states and along the Canadian border. Some also breed in Canada before heading south for winter.
Depending on pine cone crops, they can be found over much of North America. As their name suggests, Pine Siskins predominantly eat seeds from conifers, but they also eat young buds and seeds from grasses and weeds.
Pine Siskin Song:
Attract Pine Siskins to your backyards with thistle and nyjer feeders but also black oil sunflower seeds and suet.
17. White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrows breed in British Columbia, but their numbers increase during the spring and fall migration in April to May and September to October. They are spotted in around 20% of checklists in summer but up to 42% during the migration.
White-crowned Sparrows are large grayish sparrows with long tails, small bills, and bold black and white stripes on their heads.
- Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Length: 5.9-6.3 in (15-16 cm)
- Weight: 0.9-1.0 oz (25-28 g)
- Wingspan: 8.3-9.4 in (21-24 cm)
White-crowned Sparrows breed in Alaska and arctic Canada before heading south to the lower 48 and Mexico for winter. However, some may remain along the Pacific Coast and the mountainous west all year.
You can find White-crowned Sparrows in weedy fields, along roadsides, forest edges, and in yards foraging for seeds of weeds and grasses or fruit such as elderberries and blackberries.
White-crowned Sparrow Song:
Attract White-crowned Sparrows to your backyard with sunflower seeds, and they will also eat seeds that other birds drop at feeders.
18. Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warblers can be spotted during the breeding season in British Columbia, but their numbers increase during the migration from April to May and from September to October. They are recorded in 22% of summer checklists and up to 50% of checklists during migration.
Yellow-rumped Warblers are gray with flashes of yellow on the face, sides, and rump and white in the wings.
Females may be slightly brown, and winter birds are paler brown with bright yellow rumps and sides turning bright yellow and gray again in spring.
- Setophaga coronata
- Length: 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm)
- Weight: 0.4-0.5 oz (12-13 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5-9.1 in (19-23 cm)
Yellow-rumped Warblers breed predominantly in Canada and parts of the Rockies and the Appalachian mountains.
During migration, they can be seen in the Midwest before overwintering in southern and southwestern US states and the Pacific Coast and into Mexico and Central America.
You can find Yellow-rumped Warblers in coniferous forests, especially during the breeding season. During winter, they can be found in open areas with fruiting shrubs. In summer, they eat mostly insects and on migration, and in winter, they eat mostly fruit, including bayberry and wax myrtle.
Yellow-rumped Warbler Song:
Attract Yellow-rumped Warblers to your backyard with sunflower seeds, suet, raisins, and peanut butter.
19. American Goldfinch
American Goldfinches are mainly seen in the south of British Columbia during the breeding season, but some also stay all year. They are recorded in 21% of summer checklists and 7% of winter checklists.
American Goldfinches are popular birds with the males’ bright yellow and black coloring in spring. The females are duller brown, as are males in winter.
- Spinus tristis
- Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
- Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz (11-20 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in (19-22 cm)
American Goldfinches can be found in most of North America and are usually resident all year. However, those that breed in Canada and the Midwest migrate to southern US States for winter.
They can be found in weedy fields and overgrown areas foraging for sunflower, thistle, and aster plants. They are also common in suburbs, parks, and backyards.
American Goldfinch Song:
Attract American Goldfinches to your backyard by planting thistles and milkweed. They will visit most bird feeders and prefer sunflower seed and nyjer seed.
There are a surprising number of finches in British Columbia that you can get to know.
20. Steller’s Jay
Although Steller’s Jays occur in more winter checklists in British Columbia, this may be due to the lack of other winter birds in the province. They are residents here all year and appear in 7% of summer checklists and 16% of winter checklists.
Steller’s Jays are large songbirds with black triangular crests that stick up from their heads. The rest of their heads and onto their chests and back are black, with the rest of their bodies being blue.
- Cyanocitta stelleri
- Length: 11.8-13.4 in (30-34 cm)
- Weight: 3.5-4.9 oz (100-140 g)
- Wingspan: 17.3 in (44 cm)
Steller’s Jays are resident in western US states, western Canada, Mexico, and Central America.
You can find Steller’s Jays in evergreen forests in the mountains, and they will also be found around picnic tables, campgrounds, and backyard feeders.
Steller’s Jays eat most things they can forage for, including insects, seeds, nuts, berries, eggs, and nestlings, but also make a nuisance of themselves around garbage and your unguarded picnic!
Steller’s Jay sounds: They make ‘kaw’ sounds as well as fast two-toned calls, peeps, and harsh guttural sounds. Steller’s Jays can also mimic other noises such as other bird species and even sprinklers and alarms.
Attract Steller’s Jays to your backyard with peanuts and suet.
21. American Crow
American Crows are spotted all year in British Columbia. They appear in 45% of summer checklists and 42% of winter checklists for the province.
American crows are large all-black birds that make a hoarse, cawing sound.
- Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Length: 15.8-20.9 in (40-53 cm)
- Weight: 11.2-21.9 oz (316-620 g)
- Wingspan: 33.5-39.4 in (85-100 cm)
American Crows are residents all year in most of the lower 48 and the Pacific Coast in Canada and Alaska. Those that breed in Canada and the northern Midwest migrate south for winter.
They are common birds found in most habitats, including treetops, woods, fields, beaches, or towns.
They eat most things and usually feed on the ground, eating earthworms, insects, seeds, and fruit. They also eat fish, young turtles, mussels, and clams and will even eat eggs and nestlings of many species of birds.
In winter, American Crows gather in large numbers of up to two million crows to sleep in noisy communal roosts.
American Crow Call:
Attract American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts, but they can become a nuisance as they are attracted by garbage or pet food if left out.
22. House Sparrow
House Sparrows are an introduced species in British Columbia that can be spotted here all year. They do not migrate and occur in 13% of summer checklists and 16% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the province.
The House Sparrow is another introduced species that has done very well and is now one of the most common birds. They have gray and brown heads and white cheeks. Their backs are black and brown, and their bellies are gray.
- Passer domesticus
- Length: 5.9-6.7 in (15-17 cm)
- Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz (27-30 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in (19-25 cm)
House Sparrows live in the US and Southern Canada all year.
You can find them near houses and buildings, and they can be pretty tame, and they may even eat out of your hand.
House Sparrows eat mostly grain and seed as well as discarded food. They can be considered a pest because they are non-native, but they are found in backyards even if you do not feed them.
House Sparrow Song:
Attract House Sparrows to your backyard feeders with most kinds of birdseed, including millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.
23. Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckers can be found all year in British Columbia and appear in 9% of summer checklists and 15% of winter checklists.
Downy Woodpeckers are small birds that are common at backyard feeders. They are often mixed in with other birds, such as chickadees and nuthatches.
They have black and white coloring with a red patch at the back of their heads. They look similar to the Hairy Woodpecker but smaller.
- Dryobates pubescens
- Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
- Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz (21-28 g)
- Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)
Downy Woodpeckers do not migrate and can be spotted in most states and provinces, except the north of Canada.
You can find Downy woodpeckers in woodlots, along streams, city parks, and backyards, and they eat mainly insects and beetle larvae but also berries, acorns, and grains.
Downy Woodpecker Call:
Attract Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard with their favorite treat of suet, but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.
24. Rufous Hummingbird
Although considered near-threatened species, Rufous Hummingbirds are frequently spotted in British Columbia during summer and appear in 22% of checklists at this time. They can be spotted mainly from March to October, but some do remain in the province all year.
Rufous Hummingbirds are bright orange on the back and belly, a white patch below the throat and an iridescent red throat in the males. The females are greenish-brown on the back and rusty colored on the sides with a whitish belly.
- Length: 2.8-3.5 in (7-9 cm)
- Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (2-5 g)
- Wingspan: 4.3 in (11 cm)
Rufous Hummingbirds are one of the longest migrating birds relative to their size, traveling up to 4000 miles each way. In the summer, they breed in northwest Alaska and northwest Canada and migrate down to Mexico and the Gulf Coast for winter.
Migration of Rufous Hummingbirds is north along the Pacific Coast in spring and the Rocky Mountains in late summer and fall. Migration in the spring of Rufous Hummingbirds starts in February, and they usually reach Alaska by mid-April. Migration in the fall is in July and August and ends by October.
A study has shown that Rufous Hummingbirds start their migration earlier and travel north more inland than before.
Rufous Hummingbird numbers have declined by around 60% since the 1970s
Rufous Hummingbirds feed primarily on nectar from colorful tubular flowers and insects such as gnats, midges, and flies. They build a nest high up in trees using soft down from plants and spider webs to hold it together. They lay 2-3 tiny white eggs about 0.5 in (1.3 cm) long. Their habitat is mountain meadows and coniferous forests.
They are very aggressive and chase off any other hummingbirds that may appear, even larger hummingbirds or resident ones during migration. They won’t hang around long during migration but will still chase off most other hummingbirds given a chance.
25. Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warblers are frequently spotted in British Columbia during the breeding season. They arrive in April and start to migrate in October. They occur in up to 18% of summer checklists.
Yellow Warblers are small bright yellow birds with a yellow-green back, and the males have chestnut streaks on the breast.
- Setophaga petechia
- Length: 4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm)
- Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (9-11 g)
- Wingspan: 6.3-7.9 in (16-20 cm)
Yellow Warblers migrate a long distance to breed in Canada and the US, except for southeastern states, before heading back into Central and South America for winter. However, they can be seen during migration in southeastern US states.
You can find Yellow Warblers along streams and wetlands in thickets and along the edges of fields foraging for insects, including caterpillars, midges, beetles, bugs, and wasps.
Yellow Warbler Song:
Attract Yellow Warblers to your backyard with suet, oranges, peanut butter, and plants with berries. Also, plant native plants that attract insects without pesticides or being too tidy! Also, try birdbaths with fountains near secluded thickets to provide protection.
26. Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrows spend the breeding season in British Columbia and appear in 15% of summer checklists. They are mainly spotted from April until September.
Chipping Sparrows are slender, long-tailed birds with a grayish belly and brown and black-streaked back, with a rusty crown and black eye line. In winter, the colors are more subdued.
- Spizella passerina
- Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
- Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz (11-16 g)
- Wingspan: 8.3 in (21 cm)
Chipping Sparrows spend their summer breeding in the US and Canada before flying to Mexico and Florida for winter. Some remain all year in the southern states.
You can find Chipping Sparrows in small flocks on open ground and will come to backyards for many kinds of birdseed.
Chipping Sparrow Song:
Attract Chipping Sparrows to your backyard with seeds or cracked corn on open feeders such as hoppers or platforms.
27. Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeons can be found all year in British Columbia. They appear in 9% of summer checklists and 13% of winter checklists.
Rock Pigeons are blueish gray with two black bands on the wing and black on the tail tip. They have iridescent throat feathers and orange eyes.
- Columba livia
- Length: 11.8-14.2 in (30-36 cm)
- Weight: 9.3-13.4 oz (265-380 g)
- Wingspan: 19.7-26.4 in (50-67 cm)
Rock Pigeons do not migrate and can be found in all US states, southern Canada, and the Pacific Coast to Alaska.
They are common in cities and visit backyards, especially for birdseed on the ground. Some cities have ordinances against feeding pigeons as they are considered pests.
28. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglets spend the breeding season in British Columbia, but some can also be spotted in the province all year. They occur in 8% of summer and winter checklists.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets are small songbirds that are olive-green, and the males have a brilliant red crown that is usually flat, so hard to see.
- Corthylio calendula
- Length: 3.5-4.3 in (9-11 cm)
- Weight: 0.2-0.3 oz (5-10 g)
- Wingspan: 6.3-7.1 in (16-18 cm)
Ruby-crowned Kinglets breed in Canada and the mountainous west before migrating to southern and southwestern US states and Mexico for the winter.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets can be hard to spot as they are fast-moving quiet birds that flit around in the foliage of lower branches and shrubs and trees looking for spiders and insects.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Song:
Attract Ruby-crowned Kinglets with suet or platform feeders with hulled sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, and mealworms.
29. Golden-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrows can be found in British Columbia during the breeding season, but some also spend the winter in the south of the province.
Golden-crowned Sparrows are grayish-brown underneath and streaked brown on the back. Their heads have a black crown and a bright-yellow forehead.
The colors are duller and brown on the crown in winter, and the yellow forehead is also duller.
- Zonotrichia atricapilla
- Length: 5.9-7.1 in (15-18 cm)
- Weight: 1.1-1.2 oz (30-33 g)
Golden-crowned Sparrows breed in Alaska and western Canada before migrating to the West Coast for winter.
You can find Golden-crowned Sparrow in weedy fields scratching for seeds such as dock, sumac, and geranium. They also eat fruit such as apples, grapes, elderberry, and olives. Insects also make up some of their diets, such as ants, beetles, butterflies, and termites.
Golden-crowned Sparrows sounds: Their song is a sad, slow series of whistles that decrease in pitch.
Attract Golden-crowned Sparrows to your backyard with seeds on ground feeders or plant native plants that fruit.
30. Tree Swallow
Tree Swallows spend the breeding season in British Columbia and occur in 38% of summer checklists. They arrive in March and start to migrate in October.
Tree Swallows are small blue-green birds on the back and white below, with darker gray wings in the males. Females are browner in color.
- Tachycineta bicolor
- Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
- Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (16-25 g)
- Wingspan: 11.8-13.8 in (30-35 cm)
Tree Swallows breed over much of the US, Canada, and Alaska before migrating to the Gulf Coast, Florida, Mexico, and along the southern border. They can be seen during migration over southern states and can form huge flocks in the hundreds of thousands.
You can find Tree Swallows in wooded swamps, fields, marshes, and near water that provides the flying insects that they feed on.
Tree Swallow song:
Attract Tree Swallows to your backyard by placing nest boxes as they readily take to them.
31. Purple Finch
Purple Finches are spotted in British Columbia mainly during the breeding season, but some also stay all year. They are recorded in 9% of summer checklists and 4% of winter checklists.
Purple Finches males have reddish-purple heads and breasts with more brown on the back and wings, and they have a paler belly. Females are brown-streaked all over. They look very similar to House Finch but are redder, especially at the top of their back.
- Haemorhous purpureus
- Length: 4.7-6.3 in (12-16 cm)
- Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-32 g)
- Wingspan: 8.7-10.2 in (22-26 cm)
Purple Finches breed in Canada and overwinter in eastern states but can be found all year in the north-east and Pacific coast.
You can find Purple Finch in evergreen forests feeding on seeds but also buds, nectar, and berries.
Purple Finch Song:
Nests of Purple Finches are located high up in trees. They are made of twigs, barks, weeds, and moss. They usually hold three to five eggs that are incubated for thirteen days by the female.
Attract Purple Finches to your backyards with black oil sunflower seeds.
Fun Fact: Purple Finches are the state bird of New Hampshire.
Common Birds at Different Times of Year in British Columbia
The birds listed above are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird and the data is a combination of birds most frequently spotted in British Columbia in summer (June and July), winter (December and January), and throughout the year.
Birds that are not often seen at feeders or in backyards were removed to give you the birds in British Columbia you are most likely to see from home.
This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are bird-watching in British Columbia these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.
The birds that are attracted to backyards in British Columbia changes throughout the year. The lists below show the backyard birds that are most commonly seen at different times of the year in British Columbia.
Notable differences show that Swainson’s Thrush and Cedar Waxwing are more common in summer, and Dark-eyed Junco and Anna’s Hummingbirds are more common in winter.
Common birds in British Columbia all year
American Robin 43%
Song Sparrow 41%
Northern Flicker 37%
Dark-eyed Junco 33%
Northwestern Crow 31%
Spotted Towhee 31%
Black-capped Chickadee 29%
European Starling 26%
House Finch 23%
Red-winged Blackbird 20%
Summer birds British Columbia
American Robin 58%
Song Sparrow 36%
Swainson’s Thrush 31%
Northern Flicker 30%
Spotted Towhee 28%
Cedar Waxwing 27%
Northwestern Crow 26%
European Starling 23%
Black-capped Chickadee 22%
Red-winged Blackbird 21%
Winter birds British Columbia
Dark-eyed Junco 45%
Song Sparrow 45%
Northern Flicker 38%
Black-capped Chickadee 33%
Spotted Towhee 33%
Northwestern Crow 31%
European Starling 25%
American Robin 25%
House Finch 24%
Anna’s Hummingbird 23%
Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds in British Columbia
A variety of different bird feeders will attract the most species of birds
- Tube Feeders can be filled with different types of birdseed, and depending on the seed, different birds will be attracted. Black oil sunflower seeds attract Goldfinches, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Pine Siskins.
- Ground Feeders or a tray below a Tube Feeder with Black oil sunflowers tube feeders attract Cardinals, Jays, Finches, and Sparrows.
- Platform feeders with Millet or Corn attract small and medium-sized birds such as sparrows, Blackbirds, Towhees, Juncos, Doves, Grackles, and Starlings.
- Peanut feeders attract Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Jays, Juncos, Finches, and Sparrows.
- Suet Feeders are great, especially in winter, for Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Kinglets, Wrens, and Chickadees.
- Hummingbird feeders attract these tiny, fascinating birds, but they also attract other birds too.
How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in British Columbia
If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in British Columbia, here are some tips:
- Provide bird feeders for different types of birds to get the most species to visit your yard.
- Provide a water feature such as a birdbath fountain or stream. Ensure that the water is clean and not stagnant
- Grow native plants that will provide food and shelter. Plant trees and shrubs that provide fruit, berries, and nuts. Blackberries, wild grasses, elderberries, serviceberries, Oaks, Beeches, Cherries, sumacs, hemlocks, Purple Coneflowers, Sunflowers, Milkweed, Cardinal Flowers, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, Buttonbush, and Dogwoods.
- Let your grass grow long to provide cover and seeds.
- Leave a brush pile to provide food, protection, and nesting opportunities for birds.
- Don’t use pesticides and herbicides as these may be toxic to birds and prevent the natural foraging opportunities for insects and seeds that birds will seek in your yard.
- Set up nest boxes to attract breeding birds and ensure they are cleaned every year.
How to Identify Birds in British Columbia
Here are some tips to help you identify birds:
- Size – Size is the easiest thing to notice about a bird. Birds are often measured in inches or centimeters in guide books. It’s best to take a note of the bird in terms of small, medium, or large to be able to look for it later. A small bird is about the size of a sparrow, a medium bird is about the size of a pigeon and a large bird is the size of a goose.
- Shape – Take note of the silhouette of the bird and jot it down or draw the outline. Look at tail length, bill shape, wing shape, and overall body shape.
- Color pattern – Take a note of the main color of the head, back, belly, wings, and tail for the main color and then any secondary colors or patterns. Also, take note of any patterns such as banding, spots, or highlights.
- Behavior – Are they on the ground or high up in the trees. Are they in flocks or on their own? Can you spot what they are eating?
- Habitat – Woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, shore or marsh.
- Use a bird identification app such as those created by ebird or Audubon