Do you need help with bird identification in New York for birds that visit your backyard? Get ID information, pictures and printable worksheets to help with these birds of New York identification.
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 New York 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 in New York and how to attract more birds to your yard.
Also, get free bird printables of backyard birds of New York with pictures to help you with New York bird identification and to keep track of the birds that visit your backyard.
20 common backyard birds in New York
- American Robin
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Song Sparrow
- Gray Catbird
- American Goldfinch
- Mourning Dove
- Northern Cardinal
- Common Grackle
- Blue Jay
- American Crow
- Black-capped Chickadee
- Downy Woodpecker
- Dark-eyed Junco
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- European Starling
- Common Yellowthroat
- Cedar Waxwing
- Barn Swallow
- Chipping Sparrow
- Tufted Titmouse
These are the most common backyard birds in New York that may visit your lawn or feeders. They are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird and the data is a combination of backyard birds most frequently spotted in summer (June and July) and winter (December and January).
This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are bird-watching in your backyard these are the birds you will most likely spot in New York.
These free bird identification worksheets have all the common backyard birds in New York at different times of the year. So when you want to do some backyard birding 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.
The 20 most common birds in New York
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.
They eat sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, fruit, and mealworms. They may even eat mealworms out of your hand.
Platform feeders are best or food scattered on the ground.
2. 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.
3. 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.
You can attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.
4. Gray Catbird
Gray Catbirds are so named because of their distinctive catty mew song that can last for up to 10 minutes.
They are medium-sized songbirds with a slate gray coloring, black cap and tail, and a reddish patch under their tails.
You can spot Gray Catbirds in dense shrubs, small trees, and along forest edges or hedgerows.
You can attract more Gray Catbirds to your backyard feeders with fruit and fruit trees or shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry.
5. 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.
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.
6. Mourning Dove
Mourning Doves are graceful small-headed birds, plump bodies and long tails. They are a soft brown with black spots on the wings.
They can be seen perching on telephone wires and forage for seeds on the ground.
You can attract more Mourning Doves to your backyard by scattering millet on the ground or on platform feeders. They will also eat black sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn and peanut hearts.
7. Northern Cardinal
The bright red male Northern Cardinal with black around their faces is a great sight, especially against a white winter background. The females are also a little showy with their brown coloring, sharp brown crest, red highlights, and red beaks.
Northern Cardinals will sometimes attack their own reflection during breeding season as they obsessively defend their territories.
You can attract more Northern Cardinals to backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.
They will feed from large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, or food scattered on the ground.
There are a surprising number of red birds in New York that you can spot.
8. Common Grackle
The Common Grackle is a blackbird that is taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird and with glossy iridescent bodies.
They eat many crops but mostly corn and gather in noisy groups high up in trees.
You can attract more Common Grackles to your backyard with most mixed grain and seed, sprinkled on the ground or on platform feeders.
9. Blue Jay
Blue Jays are common songbirds with a blue upright crest, blue and black backs, and white undersides. They are noisy birds that travel in family groups eating acorns when available.
To attract more Blue Jays try peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet but they prefer these on tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post. They will also enjoy a birdbath.
10. 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.
You can attract more American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts.
11. 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 beaks, white cheeks, and are gray on the back, wings, and tail.
To attract more Black-capped Chickadees try suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or peanut butter. They will even feed from your hand.
12. 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.
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.
Check out all the other species of woodpeckers in New York that you can spot.
13. 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.
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.
14. White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatches are active little birds that are gray-blue on the back and white on the face and belly, with a black cap.
They jam large nuts and acorns into tree bark and then whack them with their bills to open or ‘hatch’ them to get the seed out.
You can attract more White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts on tube feeders or suet feeders.
15. 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.
You can attract more European Starlings to your backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts.
16. Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroats are small songbirds that are brownish on the back and bright yellow underneath, with long tails. The males have a black mask across the face. The brightness of the yellow can vary geographically and they may be more olive in parts underneath.
They breed over much of North America and so can be found in the spring and summer often in marshy or wetland areas and brushy fields living in thick, tangled vegetation. They eat mostly insects and will be found in large backyards that have dense vegetation.
17. 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 their eyes and bright red on the wingtips.
They are resident all year in northern states and in the winter in the south. 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.
18. 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.
19. Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrows are slender, long-tailed birds 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.
20. Tufted Titmouse
The Tufted Titmouse is gray on the back and white underneath with a cute gray crest and large eyes that often flock with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.
They can be assertive over smaller birds and are found in woodlands, parks, and at backyard feeders.
You can attract Tufted Titmice to your backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts on tube feeders or suet cages. They will also eat from platform feeders.
Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds
A variety of different bird feeders will attract the most species of birds in New York to your backyard
- 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 New York
If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in New York 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 New York
Here are some more tips to help you identify birds in New York, whether you chose to go out birding or stay home bird watching in New York:
- 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.