Home Bird watching tips Top 20 Backyard Birds in North Carolina (Free Picture ID Printable)

Top 20 Backyard Birds in North Carolina (Free Picture ID Printable)

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Northern cardinal male and female for identification

Do you need help with bird identification in North Carolina for birds that visit your backyard? Get ID information, pictures, and printable worksheets to help with these birds of North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina and how to attract more birds to your yard.

Also, get free bird printables of backyard birds of North Carolina with pictures to help you with North Carolina bird identification and to keep track of the birds that visit your backyard.

Top 20 backyard birds in North Carolina

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Carolina Chickadee
  3. Carolina Wren
  4. Tufted Titmouse
  5. American Crow
  6. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  7. White-throated Sparrow
  8. Eastern Towhee
  9. American Robin
  10. Northern Mockingbird
  11. Blue Jay
  12. Downy Woodpecker
  13. Mourning Dove
  14. Eastern Bluebird
  15. American Goldfinch
  16. House Finch
  17. Dark-eyed Junco
  18. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  19. Indigo Bunting
  20. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

These are the backyard birds most often seen in Tennessee 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 birds most frequently spotted in Tennessee in summer (June and July) and winter (December and January). 

Birds that are not often seen at feeders or  in backyards were removed to give you the birds in Tennessee you are most likely to see from home.

This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are bird-watching in Tennessee these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.

1. 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.

Northern cardinal male and female for identification

2. Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadees are tiny birds with large heads, black cap and neck, white cheeks and belly, and soft gray back, wings, and tail.

They are visually very similar to the Black-capped Chickadee and they interbreed where their range overlaps.

They can be found in forested areas, parks, and backyards.

You can attract more Carolina Chickadees to your backyard feeders with Black oil sunflower seeds, Nyjer seeds, suet feeders, or peanuts.  They will feed on most types of feeders including tube feeders, suet cages, or platform feeders.

Carolina Chickadee

3. 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.

Carolina Wren

4. 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.

Tufted titmouse

5. 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.

American Crow for identification

6. 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.

Red-bellied woodpecker

7. White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrows have a distinctive black and white striped head, bright white throat, and yellow between the eye and bill.  Their backs are brown and underneath is gray.

They are migratory birds, breeding mostly in Canada before heading south in winter to eastern and southern states and California. You can find White-throated Sparrows on the ground in woods and along the edges, often in large flocks.

You can attract White-throated Sparrows to your backyard feeders with millet and black oil sunflower seeds on platform feeders.

White throated sparrow

8. Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhees are striking large sparrows, about the size of Robin, with a black head, throat, and back, reddish sides, log tails, and a white belly in the males.  The females are similar but with brown instead of black.

Resident in southeastern states but birds further north move south for the winter and may only appear in winter on the western edge of their range.

Eastern Towhees spend their time rumaging in the undergrowth and can be found along the edges of forests and thickets.

They visit feeders for fallen seed if your yard has overgrown borders and will also visit platform feeders for black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn and millet.

Eastern Towhee

9. 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.

American Robin for identification

10. 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.

Usually resident in southern and eastern states but may migrate from the north of their range.

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.

Northern mockingbird for identification

11. 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. Mostly resident but may migrate from the far northwest of US.

They enjoy peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet but prefer these on tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post.  They will also enjoy a birdbath.

Blue Jay for identification

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.

Downy woodpecker for identification

13. 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.

Mourning Dove

14. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebirds are small thrushes with big, rounded heads, large eyes, and big bellies.

The males are deep blue on the back and a reddish color underneath. Females are grayer above with some blue in the wings and tail and a less vivid orange-brown breast.

They live in meadows and can be spotted perched on wires and posts or low branches looking for insects. They are resident over most of their range in eastern states but may migrate south for winter from the far north.

You can attract more Eastern Bluebirds to your backyard by offering mealworms and nest boxes if your yard is fairly open and spacious.

Eastern bluebird

15. 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.

They breed in Canada and northern two-thirds of the united states and resident year round across central states and appear for winter in southern states.

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.

American Goldfinch for identification

16. 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.

house finch male

17. 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.  Breeding in Canada and migrating south to all states, resident in the west and far northwest.

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.

Dark eyed junco for identification

18. 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.

yellow rumped warbler

19. Indigo Bunting

Indigo Buntings are small birds with the males being bright blue with streaks of black in the wings and tail, females are brown.

They migrate far from breeding grounds in eastern States to winter grounds in Florida, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Indigo Buntings can be found in weedy fields and shrubby areas foraging for seeds and insects.  You can attract more to your backyard with small seeds such as nyjer and thistle.

Indigo bunting

20. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are bright green on the back and crown, with a gray-white underside and the males have an iridescent red throat.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are green on the back and white underneath with brownish crown and sides.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America, they then migrate further south to Central America.

To attract more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds try setting up hummingbird feeders with a mix of sugar and water. Also, plant tubular flowers that are red or orange.

ruby throated hummingbird

Free Printable North Carolina Birds Identification Worksheets

These free bird identification in North Carolina worksheets have all the common backyard birds in North Carolina at different times of the year.

So when you want to do some backyard birding these handy bird printables 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.

Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet North Carolina Page 1
Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet North Carolina Page 2
Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet North Carolina Page 3

Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds

variety of different bird feeders will attract the most species of birds in North Carolina to your backyard

  1.  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.
  2. Ground Feeders or a tray below a Tube Feeder with Black oil sunflowers tube feeders attract Cardinals, Jays, Finches, and Sparrows.
  3. Platform feeders with Millet or Corn attract small and medium-sized birds such as sparrows, Blackbirds, Towhees, Juncos, Doves, Grackles, and Starlings.
  4. Peanut feeders attract Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Jays, Juncos, Finches, and Sparrows.
  5. Suet Feeders are great, especially in winter, for Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Kinglets, Wrens, and Chickadees.
  6. Hummingbird feeders attract these tiny fascinating birds but they also attract other birds too.

How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard in North Carolina

If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in North Carolina here are some tips:

  1. Provide bird feeders for different types of birds to get the most species to visit your yard.
  2. Provide a water feature such as a birdbath fountain or stream.  Ensure that the water is clean and not stagnant
  3.  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.
  4. Let your grass grow long to provide cover and seeds.
  5. Leave a brush pile to provide food, protection, and nesting opportunities for birds.
  6. 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.
  7. Set up nest boxes to attract breeding birds and ensure they are cleaned every year.

How to Identify Birds in North Carolina

Here are some more tips to help you identify birds in North Carolina, whether you chose to go out birding or stay home bird watching in North Carolina:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. Habitat – Woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, shore or marsh.
  6. Use a bird identification app such as those created by ebird or Audubon

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