Do you need help with bird identification in Ontario for birds that visit your backyard? Get ID information and pictures to help with identifying these common birds of Ontario.
American Robins, Song Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds are more common birds in summer in Ontario and Dark-eyed Juncos and Downy Woodpeckers are more common in winter in Ontario. More information about this can be found at the end of the article.
So if you’re ready to do some backyard birding then read on to find out how to identify birds in Ontario and how to attract more birds to your yard.
Also get free printable backyard birds of Ontario worksheets with pictures to help you identify and keep track of the birds that visit your backyard.
Top 28 backyard birds in Ontario
- Black-capped Chickadee
- American Robin
- American Crow
- Blue Jay
- American Goldfinch
- Mourning Dove
- Northern Cardinal
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Song Sparrow
- Common Grackle
- European Starling
- Chipping Sparrow
- Cedar Waxwing
- Common Yellowthroat
- Yellow Warbler
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Downy Woodpecker
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- House Sparrow
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Red-breasted Nuthatch
- Barn Swallow
- Northern Flicker
- Tree Swallow
- Eastern Kingbird
- Gray Catbird
- Baltimore Oriole
- White-throated Sparrow
The Common Loon is the provincial bird of Ontario. This bird was chosen in 1994 and is found in lakes and rivers across the province.
There are 500 species of bird recorded in Ontario according to ebird. Some of the highlight birds in Ontario include Turkey Vulture, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Cedar Waxwing, Baltimore Oriole, Belted Kingfisher, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Pileated Woodpecker, Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey, Osprey, Indigo Bunting, Northern Harrier, Palm Warbler, Scarlet Tanagers, Sandhill Crane, Green Heron, Rough-legged Hawk, and Snowy Owls.
The biggest bird in Ontario 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 Ontario.
The smallest bird in Ontario 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 Ontario is the Black-capped Chickadee, which is seen in 45% of recorded checklists for the state on ebird throughout the year.
Ontario has 6 National Parks, 10 National Wildlife areas, and 9 Migratory Bird Sanctuary, that offer excellent bird watching opportunities if you want to get out and watch birds in their natural environment.
Top 28 backyard birds in Ontario
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
You can attract more American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts.
4. 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 and can migrate in large flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coast.
They can be found in forests, but especially 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
To attract more Blue Jays to your backyard 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.
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.
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.
6. 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 in grasslands, fields, and backyards. Mourning Doves can be found in open areas or on the edge of woodland.
Mourning Doves are common over all of the lower 48 US states all year but migrate south after breeding in southern Canada and northern central US states.
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.
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.
8. 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.
Red-winged Blackbirds are resident over most of the U.S but they may migrate after breeding from the far north. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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. 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 blackbird.
The Common Grackle is resident all year in much of the east and all southeastern states but migrate south after breeding in the far north and to the west of their range.
You can attract more Common Grackles to your backyard with most mixed grain and seed, sprinkled on the ground or 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. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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 except Alaska and northern Canada 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.
15. 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.
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. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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 will often have a chestnut color on the lower belly and under the tail.
They can be found 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.
You can attract more White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts on tube feeders or suet feeders.
19. 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.
20. Hairy Woodpecker
The Hairy Woodpecker can be found across most of North America, except some of the far south. They have a small flash of red at the back of their heads but are predominantly black and white.
They are slightly larger than their look like the Downy Woodpecker and with a longer bill. They can be found in large trees and can be heard tapping if you listen for them.
Hairy Woodpecker’s diet is mostly insects, especially larvae of wood-boring beetles but also ants, beetles, bees, wasps, caterpillars, and spiders.
You can attract more Hairy Woodpeckers with suet feeders, but also peanut and black oil sunflower seeds, especially in winter.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. Tree Swallow
Tree Swallows are small birds that are blue-green on the back and white below, with darker gray wings in the males. Females are browner in color.
Breeding over much of the US, Canada, and Alaska before migrating to the Gulf Coast, Florida, and Mexico and along the southern border. They can be seen during migration over southern states and can form huge flocks in the hundreds of thousands.
Tree Swallows can be found in wooded swamps, fields, marshes, and near water that provides the flying insects that feed on.
To attract more Tree Swallows to your backyard try nest boxes as they readily take to them.
25. Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbirds are medium-sized, large-headed flycatchers that are blackish on the back and white underneath. Their heads are darker black and they have a white tip on the tail.
They get their name ‘king’ from the aggression they show each other and other birds when defending their nests. They have a concealed crown, of yellow, orange, or red feathers, which they raise when defending themselves or their nest.
They breed in western and southern Canada and much of the U.S before heading south into Central and South America for winter. They usually breed in fields, orchards, and along forest edges. They can often be found nesting near water such as rivers or lakes.
Eastern Kingbirds catch insects in midair, including bees, wasps, ants beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, bugs, and flies. They will often perch up above fields waiting for insects to fly past. They will also eat fruit, including serviceberries, cherries, blackberries, and elderberries.
26. 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.
Gray Catbirds breed over souther Canada and much of the U.S except the Pacific Coast and inland along the west and southwest before heading south to the Gulf Coast of the U.S, Mexico and Central America, and the West Indies. Some remain all year along the Atlantic Coast.
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.
27. Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Orioles are a colorful sign of spring in the east of North America. The adult males are bright orange and black with white wing bars on the black wings. Females are yellowish underneath and on the head and grayish-brown on the wings, their backs or brownish-yellow. They are about the size of a Robin but more slender and are members of the blackbird family.
Breeding in eastern and central North America, including central-southern Canadian provinces and along the southern border with the US, from April Baltimore Orioles, then migrate to Florida, Central America, and the Caribbean for winter, leaving as early as July. They make incredible hanging bag-like nests woven from fibers.
Baltimore Orioles can be found high up in open woodland, riverbanks, and forest edges foraging for insects and fruit and they often come to parks and backyards. Their diet is insects such as beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers as well as spiders and snails and they help eat pest species. They eat a wide variety of fruits and can damage crops such as raspberries, mulberries, cherries, bananas, and oranges.
To attract more Baltimore Orioles to your yard try oranges cut in half on a platform feeder or hanging from trees. Also, oriole feeders filled with sugar water. Plant fruit and nectar plants such as raspberries, crab apples, and trumpet vines.
28. 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 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 as well as fruits such as grape, sumac, mountain ash, blueberry, blackberry, and dogwood. They will also eat a large number of insects from the forest floor, especially in summer.
You can attract White-throated Sparrows to your backyard feeders with millet and black oil sunflower seeds on platform feeders.
Free Printable Backyard Birds Worksheet Ontario
These free bird identification worksheets have all the common backyard birds in Ontario, Canada 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.
Common Birds at Different Times of Year in Ontario
All the birds listed are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird and the data is a combination of birds most frequently spotted in Ontario 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 Ontario you are most likely to see from home. This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are bird-watching in Ontario these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.
The birds that are attracted to backyards in Ontario change throughout the year. The lists below show the backyard birds that are most commonly seen at different times of the year in Ontario.
Notable differences show that American Robins, Song Sparrows, and Red-winged Blackbirds are more common in summer and Dark-eyed Juncos and Downy Woodpeckers are more common in winter in Ontario
Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds in Ontario
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 Backyard in Ontario
If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in Ontario 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 Ontario
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