Top 31 Backyard Birds In Nova Scotia

American Robin for identification

Have you wondered what those birds are that are visiting your backyard in Nova Scotia?

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 Nova Scotia.

Backyard birds in Nova Scotia all year: American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, American Goldfinch, Blue Jay, European Starling, Mourning Dove, Dark-eyed Junco, Rock Pigeon, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pileated Woodpecker
Backyard birds in Nova Scotia in summer:
Song Sparrow, American Robin, Northern Flicker, Common Grackle, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Purple Finch, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Parula, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-throated Green Warbler

These are the most common backyard birds in Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia.

31 Common Backyard Birds In Nova Scotia:

1. American Crow

American Crow for identification

American Crows are very common and can be spotted in Nova Scotia all year. They appear in 57% of summer checklists and 63% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers 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:

Credit: Russ Wigh, XC569711. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/569711.

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.

2. Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadees are residents of Nova Scotia all year. They do not migrate and occur in 45% of summer checklists and 53% of winter checklists.

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:

Credit: Matt Wistrand, XC554222. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/554222.

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.

3. Song Sparrow

Song sparrow for identification

Song Sparrows breed in Nova Scotia, and you can spot them from March to October. However, some stay all year. They are recorded in 62% of summer checklists and only 28% of winter checklists.

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:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC692182. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/692182.

Song Sparrow Call:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC683210. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/683210.

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 Nova Scotia.

4. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch for identification

American Goldfinches are spotted all year in Nova Scotia, but their numbers increase during the breeding season from April to September. They are recorded in 49% of summer checklists and 31% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the province.

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 so many yellow birds in Nova Scotia that you will spot, especially in spring.

5. Blue Jay

Blue Jays can be spotted all year in Nova Scotia and are recorded in 35% of summer checklists and 37% of winter checklists.

Blue Jays are common large songbirds with a blue upright crest, blue and black backs, and white undersides. 

  • Cyanocitta cristata
  • Length: 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)
  • Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz (70-100 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in (34-43 cm)

Blue Jays live in eastern US states and Southern Canada all year. Some birds will migrate west for winter but not very frequently.

They are noisy birds that travel in family groups eating acorns when available. They can be found in forests, mainly near oak, as they eat acorns. They can also be found in backyards near feeders. As well as acorns, they eat insects, nuts and seeds, and grain. They may also take eggs from nests or take nestlings.

Blue Jay Call:

Greg Irving, XC691957. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/691957.

Blue Jays are large birds and prefer to fly in, grab a peanut or sunflower seed and take it away to feed. They prefer platform or tray feeders to make it easy to make a quick exit.

Attract Blue Jays to your backyard with peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. They prefer these on open tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post. They will also enjoy a birdbath.

6. European Starling

European Starlings are an introduced species in Nova Scotia that can be seen here all year and do not migrate. They appear in up to 37% of summer and winter 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:

Credit: Lars Edenius, XC657601. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/657601.

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 Nova Scotia?

7. American Robin

American Robin for identification

American Robins spend the breeding season in Nova Scotia and occur in 58% of summer checklists. They are mainly spotted from April to July, but some remain in the province all year and appear in 10% 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:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC656426. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/656426.

American Robin Call:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC698509. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/698509.

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.

8. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are spotted all year in Nova Scotia and occur in 33% of summer checklists and 27% of winter checklists.

Mourning Doves are graceful small-headed birds with plump bodies and long tails. They are a soft brown color with black spots on the wings. Males are slightly heavier than females.

  • Zenaida macroura
  • Length: 9.1-13.4 in (23-34 cm)
  • Weight: 3.0 -6.0 oz (96-170 g)
  • Wingspan: 17.7 in (45 cm)

Mourning Doves are common over all of the lower 48 all year but may migrate after breeding from the north of the Midwest and southern Canada.

Mourning Doves can be seen perching on telephone wires and foraging for seeds on the ground in grasslands, fields, and backyards. They can also be found in open areas or woodland edges.

Mourning Dove call:

Credit: Peter Ward and Ken Hall, XC613539. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/613539.

Attract Mourning Doves to your backyard by scattering millet on the ground or platform feeders. They will also eat black sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and peanut hearts.

9. Dark-eyed Junco

Dark eyed junco for identification

Dark-eyed Juncos can be spotted in Nova Scotia all year. They are recorded in around 22% of summer and winter checklists submitted by the bird watchers for the province.

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:

Credit: Bobby Wilcox, XC667170. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/667170.

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.

10. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers are frequently spotted in Nova Scotia during summer and occur in 26% of checklists at this time. However, some hang around all year and appear in 6% of winter checklists.

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 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:

Credit: Thomas Ryder Payne, XC636252. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/636252.

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 Nova Scotia.

11. Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeons do not migrate and are residents of Nova Scotia all year. They appear in 13% of summer checklists and 20% of winter checklists for the province.

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.

12. Common Grackle

Common grackle

Although they are near-threatened species, Common Grackles are frequently spotted in Nova Scotia during summer and appear in 34% of checklists at this time. They can be spotted mainly from April to August, but a few hang around all year and occur in 1% of winter checklists.

The Common Grackle is a blackbird taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird with glossy iridescent bodies.

  • Quiscalus quiscula
  • Length: 11.0-13.4 in (28-34 cm)
  • Weight: 2.6-5.0 oz (74-142 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.2-18.1 in (36-46 cm)

Common Grackles are resident all year in southeastern states, but those that breed in Canada and the Midwest migrate south.

They eat many crops but mostly corn, and they gather in noisy groups high up in trees. Unfortunately, they will also eat garbage and so can be a nuisance. Their habitat is varied and includes open woodlands, marshes, parks, and fields.

They may gather in their millions in winter to forage and roost, mixed in with other species of blackbirds.

Common Grackle Call:

Russ Wigh, XC483443. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/483443

Attract more Common Grackles to your backyard with mixed grain and seed sprinkled on the ground or platform feeders.

13. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker for identification in Massachusetts MA

Downy Woodpeckers can be found in Nova Scotia all year. They occur in 14% of summer checklists and 17% 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:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC601009. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/601009.

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.

14. Yellow-rumped Warbler

yellow rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers can be spotted during the breeding season in Nova Scotia, but their numbers increase during migration from May to June and from September to October. They are recorded in 26% of summer checklists and up to 41% 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:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC602699. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/602699.

Attract Yellow-rumped Warblers to your backyard with sunflower seeds, suet, raisins, and peanut butter.

15. White-throated Sparrow

White throated sparrow

White-throated Sparrows breed in Nova Scotia and are mainly spotted here from April until October. They appear in 22% of summer checklists. However, some stay all year and occur in 10% of winter checklists.

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.

  • Zonotrichia albicollis
  • Length: 6.3-7.1 in (16-18 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.1 oz (22-32 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.1 in (20-23 cm)

White-throated Sparrows are migratory birds, breeding mainly in Canada before heading south in winter to eastern and southern US states and the Pacific Coast.

You can find White-throated Sparrows on the ground in forests and woods and along the edges of wooded areas, often in large flocks.

White-throated Sparrows’ diet is mainly seeds of grasses and weeds and fruits such as grape, sumac, mountain ash, blueberry, blackberry, and dogwood. They will also eat many insects from the forest floor, especially in summer.

White-throated Sparrow Song:

Credit: Peter Ward and Ken Hall, XC598448. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/598448.

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

16. Northern Cardinal

Northern cardinal male and female for identification

Northern Cardinals can be found in Nova Scotia all year. They do not migrate and occur in 12% of summer and winter checklists.

The bright red male Northern Cardinal with black around their faces is an incredible sight, especially against a white winter background. They also have red crests and beaks.

Females are also a little showy with their brown coloring, sharp brown crest, red highlights, and red beaks.

  • Cardinalis cardinalis
  • Length: 8.3-9.1 in (21-23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz (42-48 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in (25-31 cm)

Northern Cardinals live in the Eastern half of the US and some states in the south as far west as Arizona.

You can find Northern Cardinals in dense vegetation foraging for seeds, fruit, and insects. Northern Cardinals will sometimes attack their own reflection during the breeding season as they obsessively defend their territories.

Northern Cardinal Song:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC618942. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/618942.

Northern Cardinal Call:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC618945. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/618945.

Attract Northern Cardinals to your backyard with feeders full of 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 lots of other red birds in Nova Scotia that you can spot.

17. Red-winged Blackbird

Red winged blackbird for identification

Red-winged blackbirds are frequently spotted in Nova Scotia during the breeding season and appear in 26% of summer checklists. While most migrate south for the winter, a few remain in the province all year and occur in 1% of winter checklists.

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:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC629168. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/629168.

Red-winged Blackbird Calls:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC669258. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/669258.

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.

18. Purple Finch

Purple Finch
Purple Finch female

Purple Finches are seen in Nova Scotia during the breeding season and are mainly spotted from April to August. However, they are also spotted here all year. They are recorded in 20% of summer checklists and 5% 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:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC691786. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/691786.

Attract Purple Finches to your backyards with black oil sunflower seeds.

There are a surprising number of finches in Nova Scotia that you can get to know.

19. Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatches can be found in Nova Scotia all year and occur in up to 12% 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:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC599843. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/599843.

Attract Red-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds, suet feeders, peanuts, and mealworms.

20. Common Yellowthroat

common yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroats spend the breeding season in Nova Scotia and appear in 26% of summer checklists. They arrive in April and start to migrate in October.

Common Yellowthroats are small songbirds that are brownish on the back and bright yellow underneath, with long tails. The males have black masks across their faces. The brightness of the yellow can vary geographically, and they may be more olive in parts underneath.

  • Geothlypis trichas
  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.3 oz (9-10 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm)

Common Yellowthroats spend the summer breeding over most of North America, except Alaska and northern Canada. Some remain all year along the Gulf Coast and Pacific Southwest. Then, they migrate south for winter.

You can find Common Yellowthroats often in marshy or wetland areas and brushy fields living in thick, tangled vegetation. 

Common Yellowthroat Song:

Credit: Paul Marvin, XC629250. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/629250.

Attract Common Yellowthroats to large backyards with dense vegetation and native plants to attract insects.

21. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker

Hairy Woodpeckers do not migrate and are spotted in Nova Scotia all year. They appear in around 11% of checklists in summer and winter.

Hairy Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers with a black and white pattern and a large white patch on their backs. The males have a flash of red towards the back of their heads.

They are visually similar to Downy Woodpeckers but larger and with longer bills. As they are often found in the same areas, it is hard to tell them apart if they are not near each other. 

  • Dryobates villosus
  • Length: 7.1-10.2 in (18-26 cm)
  • Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz (40-95 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in (33-41 cm)

Hairy Woodpeckers do not migrate and live in all US states and Canada, except the far north of Canada.

You can find Hairy Woodpeckers in woodlands on trunks or main branches of large trees, but they are also found in a wide variety of habitats, including woodlots, parks, and cemeteries. Hairy Woodpeckers’ diet is mostly insects.

Hairy Woodpecker Call/drumming:

Credit: Ron Overholtz, XC621902. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/621902.

Attract Hairy Woodpeckers to your backyard with suet feeders.

22. Yellow Warbler

yellow warbler

Yellow Warblers are spotted in Nova Scotia during the breeding season and occur in 27% of summer checklists. They are mainly seen here from April to September, but a few hang around until December.

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:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC662546. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/662546.

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.

23. Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden Crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglets are spotted all year in Nova Scotia and occur in up to 9% of summer and winter checklists.

Golden-crowned Kinglets are tiny songbirds with a bright orange crown patch that can be lifted and flashed when excited. Their bodies are olive on the back and pale underneath and with a black-and-white striped face and a white wingbar.

  • 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)

Golden-crowned Kinglets that breed in Canada move south across the U.S. Some stay all year in the Appalachians and the mountainous West or Pacific Coast.

You can find Golden-crowned Kinglets in many habitats from forests, parks, backyards, and old fields, swamps, and cities. Their diet is mainly insects, and in winter, they also eat seeds.

Golden-crowned Kinglets song:

Peter Ward, XC511309. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/511309.

Attract Golden-crowned Kinglets by planting native plants that encourage lots of insects and suet feeders.

24. Cedar Waxwing

cedar waxwing

Cedar Waxwings are often seen in Nova Scotia during the breeding season and are usually spotted from June to October, but some remain all year. They are recorded in 14% 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:

Credit: Peter Ward and Ken Hall, XC512254. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/512254.

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.

25. White-breasted Nuthatch

White breasted nuthatch for identification

White-breasted Nuthatches are residents of Nova Scotia all year. They occur in more winter checklists due to the lack of other birds during winter in the province. They are recorded in 5% of summer checklists and 11% of winter checklists.

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 will often have a chestnut color on the lower belly and under the tail.

  • Sitta carolinensis
  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-30 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 in (20-27 cm)

White-breasted Nuthatches live all year in the US and southern Canada.

You can find White-breasted Nuthatches in deciduous forests, woodland edges, parks, and yards with trees or at feeders. They mainly eat insects, including beetles and their larvae, caterpillars, ants, and also spiders.

White-breasted Nuthatches also eat seeds and nuts, including acorns, hawthorns, sunflower seeds, and sometimes corn crops. 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.

White-breasted Nutcracker Call:

Credit: Russ Wigh, XC560678. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/560678.

Attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts on tube feeders or suet feeders.

26. Northern Parula

White-breasted Nuthatches spend the breeding season in Nova Scotia and occur in 21% of summer checklists. They arrive in April and start to migrate in November.

Northern Warblers are a colorful contrast of blueish-gray and yellow. They are bluish-gray on the back with a yellow patch on the back and with two white wingbars.

Males have a chestnut band that separates the yellow throat and chest that adorns both males and females. Females are paler than males and lack the chestnut band. Juveniles are paler.

  • Setophaga americana
  • Length: 4.3-4.7 in (11-12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.2-0.4 oz (5-11 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.3-7.1 in (16-18 cm)

Northern Parulas breed in the eastern US states and southeastern Canada before heading to Central America and the Caribbean for winter. They may remain for winter in southern Florida.

You can find Northern Parulas feeding on insects high up in deciduous forests.

Northern Parula Song:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC599828. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/599828.

Attract Northern Parula to your backyard with native trees and shrubs, especially those with berries, and leave brush piles for insect-friendly areas.

27. Black-and-white Warbler

Black and white Warbler male
Male
Black and white warbler famle
Female

Black-and-white Warblers are spotted in Nova Scotia during the breeding season, mainly from May to October. They are recorded in 19% of summer checklists.

Black-and-white Warblers are quite distinctive and so more easy to identify with their stiped appearance. Males have a large black patch across the eye and cheek and are a darker black than females.

  • Mniotilta varia
  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (8-15 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-8.7 in (18-22 cm)

Black-and-white Warblers breed in the eastern United States and Canada. They spend the winter in Florida, along the Gulf Coast, and down through Mexico, Baja California, the Caribbean, and northern South America. They can be seen during migration in central US states.

You can spot Black-and-white Warblers hopping up and down on tree trunks and branches in forests, looking for insects.

Black-and-white Warbler song:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC600300. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/600300.

28. American Redstart

Female American redstart

American Redstarts spend the summer in Nova Scotia and occur in 17% of checklists at this time. They are usually spotted from May to October, and a few stay until December.

Male American Redstarts are mostly black with bright orange patches and a white belly. Females are olive-gray instead of black and have lots of yellow patches.

  • Setophaga ruticilla
  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.2-0.3 oz (6-9 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.3-7.5 in (16-19 cm)

American Redstarts breed in eastern US states and Canada and into northwestern US states. They may also be seen during migration in central and western US states.

You can find American Redstarts in deciduous woodlands eating insects and also in backyards and thickets eating berries such as serviceberry and magnolia.

American Redstart song: Their song drops in pitch at the end.

Credit: Nick Kiehl, XC522368. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/522368.

Attract American Redstarts to your backyard with berry plants such as magnolia and serviceberry.

29. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby throated hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are spotted in Nova Scotia during summer and appear in 11% of checklists at this time. They spend the breeding season in the province and are mainly seen from May to October, but they start arriving in April, and some stay into December.

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 crowns and sides.

  • Length: 2.8-3.5 in (7-9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (2-6 g)
  • Wingspan: 3.1-4.3 in (8-11 cm)

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America. They then migrate further south to Central America for winter. Some migrate over the Gulf of Mexico, or some migrate through Texas around the coast.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds start arriving in the United States in February and may not arrive in northern states and Canada until May for breeding. In spring, males usually arrive first up to one or two weeks before the females.

In the fall, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate south in August and September and gather in September along the Gulf Coast of Texas before making the final push south for winter. 

These tiny birds zip from one nectar source to the next or catch insects in midair or from spider webs. They occasionally stop on a small twig, but their legs are so short they cannot walk, only shuffle along a perch.

In summer, flowering gardens or woodland edges are the best places to find them. They are also common in towns, especially at nectar feeders.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird calls and wingbeat:

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be aggressive in their defense of flowers and feeders. Males do not stick around long after mating and may migrate by early August.

If you get a buzz out of hummingbirds, then check out all the hummingbirds in Nova Scotia and when is best to spot them.

30. Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green warbler (Setophaga virens)

Black-throated Green Warblers live in Nova Scotia during summer and are spotted mainly from mid-April to mid-November. They are recorded in 16% of checklists at this time.

Black-throated Green Warblers are small yellow songbirds with a yellow face and head and olive-yellow back. They have black streaking on the sides and wings and are whitish underneath. Males have large black patches on their throats, but on females and juveniles, this is smaller.

  • Setophaga virens
  • Length: 4.3-4.7 in (11-12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (7-11 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.7-7.9 in (17-20 cm)

Black-throated Green Warblers can mostly be seen during their long migration over the eastern US up to their breeding grounds in northeastern US states and Canada. Their winter grounds are in Mexico, northern South America, and the Caribbean.

You can find Black-throated Green Warblers high up in forests eating insects, and their black throat is an easier way to tell them apart from other small yellow birds.

Black-throated Green Warblers song:

Credit: Paul Driver, XC187636. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/187636.

Attract Black-throated Green Warblers to your backyard with mature trees.

31. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpeckers are found in Nova Scotia all year. They appear in 4% of summer checklists and 2% of winter checklists.

Pileated Woodpeckers are the biggest woodpecker in North America, and their flaming-red triangular crest is very striking.

They are black with a white stripe, and when flying, the white underside of the wings can be seen. Males have an additional red stripe on the cheek.

  • Dryocopus pileatus
  • Length: 15.8-19.3 in (40-49 cm)
  • Weight: 8.8-12.3 oz (250-350 g)
  • Wingspan: 26.0-29.5 in (66-75 cm)

They live all year in eastern US states, across Canada, and into northwestern US states.

Pileated Woodpeckers mostly eat carpenter ants from dead trees and fallen logs, but they also eat beetle larvae, termites, and other insects as well as fruit and nuts such as blackberries, sumac berries, dogwood, and elderberry. They make a loud shrill, whinnying call and deep, loud drumming.

Pileated Woodpecker Call:

Credit: Russ Wigh, XC569933. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/569933.

Attract Pileated Woodpeckers to your backyard with suet feeders that have tail props.

Common Birds at Different Times of Year in Nova Scotia

These are the backyard birds most often seen in Nova Scotia that may visit your lawn or feeders. They are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird. The data is a combination of birds most frequently spotted in Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia you are most likely to see from home.

This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are backyard birding in Nova Scotia, these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.

The birds that are attracted to backyards in Nova Scotia change throughout the year. The lists below show the backyard birds that are most commonly seen at different times of the year in Nova Scotia.

Backyard Birds in Nova Scotia in Summer:

Song Sparrow 62.8%
American Robin 58.5%
American Crow 57.2%
American Goldfinch 50.1%
Black-capped Chickadee 45.6%
European Starling 36.4%
Blue Jay 35.1%
Common Grackle 34.7%
Mourning Dove 33.0%
Yellow-rumped Warbler 27.2%

Backyard Birds in Nova Scotia in Winter:

American Crow 63.4%
Black-capped Chickadee 53.9%
Blue Jay 37.3%
European Starling 37.2%
American Goldfinch 31.8%
Song Sparrow 28.4%
Mourning Dove 27.8%
Dark-eyed Junco 21.2%
Rock Pigeon 20.7%
Downy Woodpecker 17.5%

Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds

variety of different bird feeders will attract the most species of birds to your backyard in Nova Scotia:

  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 Nova Scotia

Taking these steps to improve the habitat in your backyard will help to attract the most species of birds to your backyard in Nova Scotia.

  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. 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.
  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

Here are some tips to help you identify birds so wherever you are birding in Nova Scotia, you have the knowledge to document and find the bird in a guide:

  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, 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.