20 Most common backyard birds in North America:
- Mourning Dove (35.4%)
- Northern Cardinal (35%)
- American Robin (34.%)
- American Crow (33%)
- Blue Jay (30%)
- Song Sparrow (26%)
- American Goldfinch (25%)
- European Starling (24.7%)
- Red-winged Blackbird (24.6%)
- House Finch (23.8%)
- Downy Woodpecker (23.6%)
- Red-bellied Woodpecker (21%)
- Black-capped Chickadee (19.5%)
- House Sparrow (19.2%)
- Tufted Titmouse (18.7%)
- Dark-eyed Junco (18.2%)
- White-breasted Nuthatch (18%)
- Northern Flicker (17.7%)
- Carolina Wren (17%)
- Northern Mockingbird (16%)
These are the most common backyard birds in North America that may visit your lawn or feeders. They are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird (ebird.org). The percentage shows how often they were recorded on bird checklists.
This article gives you identification information and photos to help you identify and attract more of the most common backyard birds in North America.
1. Mourning Dove
Mourning Doves are 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 Mouring 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
You can attract more House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyger seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.
11. 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.
12. Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a pale red belly that can be difficult to spot, with a red cap and nape and black-and-white stripped back.
They make a loud call in spring and summer and are found in woods and forests, especially with deadwood.
You can attract more Red-bellied Woodpeckers with suet feeders and they will sometimes feed from hummingbird feeders.
13. 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.
To attract more Black-capped Chickadees try suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or peanut butter. They will even feed from your hand.
14. 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.
You can attract more House Sparrows to your backyard feeders with most kinds of birdseed, including millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
You can attract more Northern Flickers to your backyard feeders with suet and black oil sunflower seeds.
19. Carolina Wren
Carolina Wrens are shy birds that are dark brown on top and light brown underneath. They have a white eyebrow stripe and upright tail and loud teakettle song.
They can be found in woods or thickly vegetated areas and will visit backyard feeders.
You can attract more Carolina Wrens to your backyard feeders with suet feeders, hulled sunflower seeds or peanut hearts in large tube feeders or on platform feeders.
20. Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbirds are medium-sized songbirds with a small head and long tail. They are a gray-brown color and slightly paler on the underside compared to the back. They have two white wingbars visible in flight.
They are usually seen alone or in pairs and aggressively defend their territory. A male mockingbird can learn around 200 songs in its life, copying other birds’ songs and they can sing all through the day and into the night.
They don’t often visit feeders but will come to open lawn areas. To attract more Northern Mockingbirds try planting fruiting trees or bushes, including hawthorns, mulberries, and blackberry brambles.