Do you need help with bird identification in British Columbia for birds that visit your backyard? Get ID information and pictures to help with these birds of British Columbia identification.
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.
There is a great joy in putting up bird feeders and watching what comes to visit but it gets better if you know who they are and learn to identify birds in your backyard. Well, now you can find out what are the most common birds in British Columbia that visit feeders or hop across your lawn.
So if you’re ready to do some backyard birding then read on to find out how to identify birds of Canada in British Columbia and how to attract more birds to your yard.
Also, get free printable backyard birds of British Columbia worksheets with pictures to help you identify and keep track of the birds that visit your backyard.
Top 28 backyard birds in British Columbia
- American Robin
- Song Sparrow
- Northern Flicker
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Northwestern Crow
- Spotted Towhee
- Black-capped Chickadee
- Swainson’s Thrush
- Golden-crowned Sparrow
- Cedar Waxwing
- European Starling
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Barn Swallow
- House Finch
- Red-breasted Nuthatch
- Anna’s Hummingbird
- Chestnut-backed Chickadee
- Pine Siskin
- White-crowned Sparrow
- Yellow-rumped Warbler
- American Goldfinch
- Steller’s Jay
- American Crow
- House Sparrow
- Downy Woodpecker
- Rufous Hummingbird
- Yellow Warbler
- Chipping Sparrow
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 bird in British Columbia.
The smallest bird in British Columbia the Calliope Hummingbird which is only about 3 in long, but they can travel long distances from Canada all the way 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.
Top 28 backyard birds in British Columbia
1. American Robin
American Robins are a common sight on lawns eating earthworms. They have black heads and back with red or orange breast. They tend to roost in trees in winter so you are more likely to see them in your backyard from spring.
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.
You can attract more American Robins to your yard 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 not as remarkable as other backyard birds but these predominantly brown-streaked birds use their almost constant song to attract mates in spring and summer.
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.
You can attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.
3. Northern Flicker
Northern Flickers are large woodpeckers, between the size of a robin and a crow, with brownish coloring and black spots, bars, and crescents and red on the nape. The undersides of tail and wing feathers are bright yellow in eastern birds and red in western birds.
They can be found on the ground looking for ants and beetles in woods or forest edges. Those that breed in Canada or Alaska migrate to southern states but otherwise, they can be found all year over the lower 48.
You can attract more Northern Flickers to your backyard feeders with suet and black oil sunflower seeds.
4. Dark-eyed Junco
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.
They can be found in open and partially wooded areas often on the ground and are common across the continent. Some remain resident all year in the western US states and in the Appalachian Mountains. Those that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south in winter to much of the United States.
You can attract more 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. Northwestern Crow
Northwestern Crows are slightly smaller than the common American Crow but look the same with all black plumage and bill.
They can be found along the Pacific Northwest often foraging at the coast along the water’s edge or other open areas, mudflats, or river mouths. Northwest Crows forage for crabs, clams, whelks, small fish, or eggs of other birds.
Northwest Crows can also be found in residential areas and like other crows, they are opportunists that will eat most things including garbage.
6. Spotted Towhee
Spotted Towhees are large sparrows that are black on the head, throat, and back in the males and brown in the females. Both males and females have reddish-brown sides and white bellies and white spots on the wings and back. They have long tails and are about the size of a Robin.
Spotted Towhees can be found 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.
They are resident on the US Pacific coast and Vancover Island but migrate from southwest Canada and northern central US states after breeding and appear in winter in a swath from north to south across all central states.
You can attract more 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.
7. Black-capped Chickadee
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 will investigate everything including you!
They have black-caps and beak, white cheeks, and are gray on the back, wings, and tail.
They can be found in forests, open woods, parks. Black-capped Chickadees eat seeds, berries and insects, spiders, and suet.
To attract more Black-capped Chickadees to your backyard try 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.
8. Swainson's Thrush
Swainson’s Thrushes are medium-sized thrushes that are pale underneath with spotted chests and brown on the back.
Swainson’s Thrushes can be found in forests foraging along the floor in leaf litter for insects in the breeding season and predominantly red fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, and sumac. Ants also make up part of their diet and other insects will be fed to nestlings.
Swainson’s Thrushes breed in Canada and Alaska before heading into Central and South America for winter, they are usually only seen during migration, during spring and fall, in the lower 48.
You can attract more Swainson’s Thrushes to your backyard with ground-level birdbaths and by providing tree and shrub cover.
9. Golden-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrows are grayish-brown underneath and streaked brown on the back. Their heads have a black crown and a bright-yellow forehead. In winter the colors are duller with brown on the crown and the yellow forehead is also duller.
They breed in Alaska and far western Canada before migrating to the West Coast for winter. In winter they can be found in weedy fields scratching for seeds such as dock, sumac, and geranium and they also eat fruit such as apple, grape, elderberry, and olives. Insects also make up some of their diets, such as ants, beetles, butterflies, and termites.
You can attract more Golden-crowned Sparrows to your backyard with seeds in ground feeders or plant native plants that fruit.
10. Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwings are elegant social birds that are pale brown on the head, chest, and crest, which fades to gray on the back and wings and tail. Their belly is pale yellow and there is bright yellow on the tip. They have a narrow black mask over the eyes and bright red on the wingtips.
They breed in Canada before heading to the southern US for winter. They are resident all year in northern US states. They make a high-pitched call and can be found in berry bushes, in woodlands, and along streams.
To attract Cedar Waxwings to your backyard plant native trees and shrubs that have small fruit such as serviceberry, dogwood, juniper, winterberry, and hawthorn. You can also try fruit on platform feeders.
11. European Starling
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.
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 in flocks.
Starlings eat predominantly insects including beetles, flies and caterpillars, earthworms, and spiders. They also eat fruit including cherries, holly berries, mulberries, Virginia Creeper, sumac, and blackberries, as well as grains and seeds.
You can attract more European Starlings to your backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts.
12. Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged blackbirds are very common and easy to identify with the all-black coloring except for the bright red and yellow shoulder patches. The females are rather dull in comparison with brown streaky coloring.
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 nests. In winter they roost in large numbers into the millions.
To attract more Red-winged blackbirds to your backyard try mixed grain and seeds spread on the ground. They will also feed on large tube feeders or platform feeders.
13. Barn Swallow
Barn Swallows are small birds with a deep-blue back, wings and tail, and reddish-brown underneath and across the face. The tail has long outer feathers that give a deep fork.
They breed over most of North America 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.
You can attract more Barn Swallows by putting up nest boxes or cups and may eat ground-up eggshells on a platform feeder.
14. House Finch
House Finches have a red head and breast in the males and brown-streaked coloring in the females. Originally only in western states it was introduced to the eastern states and has done very well, even pushing out the Purple Finch.
They can be found in parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders. They can be found in noisy groups that are hard to miss and they feed on seeds, buds and fruit including thistle, cactus, cherries, apricots, plums, strawberries, blackberries and figs.
You can attract more House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.
15. Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatches remain all year in northeastern and western states, Alaska and Canada but may move south across all of North America in winter if cone crops are poor.
They are blue-gray birds with black and white stripes on the head and a rusty underside.
Red-breasted Nuthatches can be found in coniferous woods foraging for cones and they do visit backyard feeders.
You can attract more Red-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds, suet feeders, peanuts, and mealworms.
16. Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbirds are tiny birds that are mostly green and gray. The male’s head and throat are iridescent reddish-pink the female’s throat is grayish with bits of red spotting.
Unusually Anna’s Hummingbirds do not migrate and are the most common hummingbird along the Pacific Coast. 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.
They can be found near large colorful blossoms during the spring and readily visit hummingbirds feeders that you can fill with homemade hummingbird food and they may visit feeders all year.
17. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Chestnut-backed Chickadees are tiny birds with black and white on their heads, rich chestnut on the back, and gray wings and belly.
They live flocks in wet evergreen forests along the Pacific Coast and are regular visitors to backyard feeders. Insects including caterpillars, spiders, wasps, and aphids make up most of their diet, with seeds, berries, and fruit making up the rest.
You can 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.
18. Pine Siskin
Pine Siskins are small finches that are streaked brown with yellow streaks in the wing and tail. They have a forked tail and ointed wings, with a short pointed bill.
Pine Siskins breed in Canada and can over winter in most of the U.S but their migration depends on pine cone crops so some years they may not migrate. Some birds remain all years in pine forests of the west.
As their name suggests Pine Siskins predominatly eat seeds from conifers but they also eat young buds and seeds from grasses and weeds.
Pine Siskins can be attracted to backyards with thistle and nyjer feeders but also black oil sunflower seeds and suet.
19. White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrows are large grayish sparrows with long tails and small bills and bold black and white stripes on their heads.
They breed in Alaska and arctic Canada before heading south other much of the lower 48 and Mexico for winter. Some may remain all year over a small area along the Pacific Coast and west.
White-crowned Sparrows can be found in weedy fields, along roadsides, forest edges, and in yards foraging for seeds of weeds and grasses or fruit such as elderberries and blackberries.
You can attract more White-crowned Sparrows to your backyard with sunflower seeds and many types of seeds that are dropped by other birds at the feeders.
20. Yellow-rumped Warbler
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.
After breeding predominantly in Canada they migrate in large numbers south across most of southern and central North America and the Pacific Coast and throughout Mexico and Central America.
You can attract Yellow-rumped Warblers to your backyard with sunflower seeds, suet, raisins, and peanut butter.
21. American Goldfinch
American Goldfinches are popular birds with the males bright yellow and black coloring in spring. The females are more dull brown as are males in winter.
American Goldfinches breed in far northern states and Canada before migrating to southern states, they remain all year in the rest of the U.S.
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.
To attract more American Goldfinches to your backyard try planting thistles and milkweed. They will visit most bird feeders and prefer sunflower seed and nyjer seed.
22. Steller's Jay
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.
They can be found in evergreen forests in the mountains and they will also be found around picnic tables, campgrounds, and backyard feeders. They make nests out of mud.
Stellar’s Jays eat most things they can forage for, including insects, seeds, nuts, berries, eggs, and nestlings, but also making a nuisance of themselves around garbage and your unguarded picnic!
Stellar’s Jays can be attracted to your backyard with peanuts and suet.
23. American Crow
American crows are large all-black birds that make a hoarse, cawing sound. They are common birds that can be 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.
American Crows gather in large numbers of up to two million crows in winter to sleep in communal roosts.
You can attract more American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts but can become a nuisance as attracted by garbage or pet food if left out.
24. House Sparrow
The House Sparrow is another introduced species that has done very well and is now one of the most common birds. They are found near houses and buildings and can be quite tame so will eat out of your hand.
They can be considered a pest as they are non-native but will be found in backyards even if you do not feed them. House Sparrows can be found in most busy areas, especially around cities, towns, farms, or anywhere there are people. They eat mostly grain and seed as well as discarded food.
You can attract more House Sparrows to your backyard feeders with most kinds of birdseed, including millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.
25. Downy Woodpecker
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.
Downy woodpeckers can be found in woodlots, along streams, city parks, and backyards and eat mainly insects beetle larvae, but also berries, acorns, and grains.
To attract more Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard try suet feeders but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.
26. Rufous Hummingbird
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.
After breeding in northwest Alaska and Canada Rufous Hummingbirds migrate down to Mexico and the Gulf Coast. They migrate north along the Pacific Coast in spring and by the Rocky Mountains in late summer and fall. During migration, they can be found in mountain meadows and in winter they live in woods and forests.
Rufous Hummingbirds feed mostly on nectar from colorful tubular flowers and from insects such as gnats, midges, and flies. They build a nest high up in trees using soft plant down and spider webs to hold it together.
They are very aggressive and chase off any other hummingbirds that may appear, even larger hummingbirds or resident ones during migration. They are one of the longest migrating birds relative to their size.
To attract Rufous Hummingbirds to your yard hang hummingbird feeders filled with sugar water nectar and plant colorful tubular flowers. However, during migration, they won’t hang around long and will chase off most other hummingbirds even a chance.
27. Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warblers are small bright yellow birds with a yellow-green back, and the males have chestnut streaks on the breast, which are a common sight in summer.
They migrate a long-distance and breed over Most of Canada, Alaska and of Northern and Central US before heading into Central and northern South America for winter. They can be seen during migration in the southern US.
Yellow Warblers can be found along streams and wetlands in thickets and along the edges of fields foraging for insects, including caterpillars, midges, beetles, bugs, and wasps.
Warblers are hard to attract to your backyard as they are shy and eat mainly insects. To attract Yellow Warblers you can try suet, oranges, and peanut butter and plant berries and native plants that attract insects, so no pesticides or being too tidy! Birdbaths with fountains with secluded thickets nearby to provide protection.
28. Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrows are slender, long-tailed cbirds that have a grayish belly and brown and black-streaked back, with a rusty crown and black eye line. in winter the colors are more subdued.
Breeding over much of North America and Canada then flying to Mexico and Florida or in the far south they remain all year.
They can be found in small flocks on open ground and will come to backyards for many kinds of birdseed.
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.
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.
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 there 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. Plants, 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, and 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