Top 31 Backyard Birds In South Carolina (Free ID Charts)

Backyard Birds South Carolina ID Chart

Have you wondered what those birds are that are visiting your backyard in South Carolina?

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 South Carolina. Also, get a free ID chart to print with the most common backyard birds in South Carolina.

Backyard birds in South Carolina all year: Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Mourning Dove, Tufted Titmouse, American Crow, Northern Mockingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Eastern Bluebird, House Finch, Downy Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Towhee, American Robin, American Goldfinch, Common Grackle, Pileated Woodpecker, Chipping Sparrow, White-breasted Nuthatch, European Starling, Gray Catbird

Backyard birds in South Carolina in summer: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Painted Bunting

Backyard birds in South Carolina in winter: Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Song Sparrow, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker

These are the most common backyard birds in South Carolina 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 South Carolina.

If you like backyard birding you will probably enjoy spotting some ducks in South Carolina too.

Free Printable Backyard Birds Worksheets for South Carolina

These free bird identification worksheets have all the common backyard birds in South Carolina 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.

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

Top 31 Backyard Birds In South Carolina

1. Northern Cardinal

Northern cardinal male and female for identification

Northern Cardinals are the most frequently spotted birds in South Carolina and are residents of the state all year. They are recorded in 67% of summer checklists and 58% of winter checklists submitted by the bird watchers for the state.

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 South Carolina that you can spot.

2. Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wrens are spotted in South Carolina all year, and they do not migrate. They appear in a massive 51% of summer checklists and 47% of winter checklists.

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 a loud ‘teakettle‘ song.

  • Thryothorus ludovicianus
  • Length: 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.8 oz (18-22 g)
  • Wingspan: 11.4 in (29 cm)

Carolina Wrens are residents all year across eastern and southeastern US States.

You can find them in woods or thickly vegetated areas, and they will visit backyard feeders.

Carolina Wren Song:

Bobby Wilcox, XC616879. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/616879.

Attract Carolina Wrens to your backyard feeders with suet feeders, hulled sunflower seeds, or peanut hearts in large tube feeders or on platform feeders.

Wrens are often overlooked for more flash birds, but take the time to get to know the sight and sounds of wrens in South Carolina.

3. Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadees are common in South Carolina and are spotted here all year. They are recorded in 40% of summer checklists and 49% of winter checklists.

Carolina Chickadees are tiny birds with large heads, black caps and necks, white cheeks and bellies, and soft gray backs, wings, and tails.

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

  • Poecile carolinensis
  • Length: 3.9-4.7 in (10-12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (8-12 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9-7.9 in (15-20 cm)

Carolina Chickadees can be found in forested areas, parks, and backyards in eastern and southeastern US states all year.

Carolina Chickadee Song:

Credit: Brian Hendrix, XC572217. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/572217.

Attract 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. They will also nest in nest boxes or nest tubes.

You should find out all about the other sociable and inquisitive chickadees in South Carolina.

4. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are very common and can be spotted all year in South Carolina. They occur in 47% of summer checklists and 40% of winter checklists for the state.

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.

5. Tufted Titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted Titmouses are residents of South Carolina all year round and occur in up to 42% of summer and winter checklists.

Tufted Titmouses is gray on the back and white underneath with a cute gray crest and large eyes. They often flock with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.

  • Baeolophus bicolor
  • Length: 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (18-26 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-10.2 in (20-26 cm)

Tufted Titmouses live in eastern and southeastern US states all year

You can find Tufted Titmouses in woodlands, parks, and backyard feeders, and they can be assertive over smaller birds, pushing in to get to the food first.

Tufted Titmouses eat mostly insects in summer, including caterpillars, beetles, ants, and wasps, as well as spiders and snails. They will also eat seeds, nuts, and berries and will hoard shelled seeds.

Tufted Titmouse Song:

Credit: Russ Wigh, XC627685. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/627685.

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. You can also try putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair.

6. American Crow

American Crow for identification

American Crows are very common and found all year in South Carolina. They are spotted in up to 38% of summer and winter checklists for the state.

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.

7. Northern Mockingbird

Northern mockingbird for identification

Northern Mockingbirds can be found in South Carolina all year. They are recorded in 37% of summer checklists and 35% of winter checklists for the state.

Northern Mockingbirds are medium-sized songbirds with small heads and long tails. They are a gray-brown color and slightly paler on the underside than their back, and they have two white wingbars visible in flight.

  • Mimus polyglottos
  • Length: 8.3-10.2 in (21-26 cm)
  • Weight: 1.6-2.0 oz (45-58 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.2-13.8 in (31-35 cm)

Northern Mockingbirds do not migrate and can be spotted across the lower 48 and southern Canada.

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.

Northern Mockingbird Call/Song:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC654864. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/654864.

Attract more Northern Mockingbirds to your backyard by planting fruiting trees or bushes, including hawthorns, mulberries, and blackberry brambles. They don’t often visit feeders, but they will come to open lawn areas.

8. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common in South Carolina all year and are recorded in up to 37% of summer and winter checklists.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers can be mistaken for Red-headed Woodpeckers as they have red caps, but they are much smaller than the Red-headed Woodpecker. Female Red-bellied Woodpeckers lack the red cap and only have red at the back of their heads.

They also have a very pale red belly that can be hard to spot, but they do have the typical woodpecker black and white markings over their backs.

  • Melanerpes carolinus
  • Length: 9.4 in (24 cm)
  • Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz (56-91 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in (33-42 cm)

Red-bellied Woodpeckers can be found in eastern US states, and they do not migrate.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat insects, spiders, seeds from grasses, fruit, and nuts. They will also sometimes eat nestlings. They nest in dead trees and may use the same nest year after year. They lay 4-5 white eggs on a bed of wood chips.

The tongue of the Red-bellied Woodpecker sticks out 2 inches past the beak and is barbed at the tip, along with sticky spit. This helps catch prey from deep crevices.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Call:

Credit: William Whitehead, XC473321. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/473321.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers can often be seen at bird feeders, especially if you live near wooded areas. They make a distinctive loud rolling call which means you will often hear them before you see them.

9. Yellow-rumped Warbler

yellow rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers are winter birds in South Carolina, and they are mainly spotted from October until mid-May. They are recorded in 38% of winter checklists.

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.

These colorful and melodious migratory birds don’t stick around for long so be sure to check out all the warblers in South Carolina you can spot before it’s too late.

10. Blue Jay

Blue Jays live in South Carolina all year round. They are spotted in 34% of summer checklists and 32% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.

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.

11. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern bluebird

Eastern Bluebirds are spotted all year in South Carolina. They are recorded in 30% of summer checklists and 32% of winter checklists.

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.

  • Sialia sialis
  • Length: 6.3-8.3 in (16-21 cm)
  • Weight: 1.0-1.1 oz (28-32 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-12.6 in (25-32 cm)

They live all year in southeastern US states, but those that breed in the northern US and southern Canada migrate south.

You can find Eastern bluebirds in meadows, and they can often be spotted perched on wires and posts or low branches looking for insects.

Eastern Bluebird Song:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC601010. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/601010.

Attract Eastern Bluebirds to your backyard by offering mealworms and nest boxes if your yard is pretty open and spacious.

12. House Finch

House Finches are residents of South Carolina all year. They do not migrate and appear in 27% of summer and winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.

House Finches males have a red head and breast, and the rest of their bodies are mainly brown-streaked. Females are brown-streaked all over. 

  • Haemorhous mexicanus
  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (16-27 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm)

Originally only in western US states, House Finches were introduced to eastern US states and have done very well, even pushing out the Purple Finch.

They can be found in parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders in noisy groups that are hard to miss.

House Finch Song:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC653352. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/653352.

House Finch Call:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC612573. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/612573.

Attract House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.

There are a surprising number of finches in South Carolina that you can get to know.

13. Ruby-crowned Kinglet

ruby crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglets spend winter in South Carolina and are spotted from October to April. They are recorded in 28% of winter checklists for the state.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are small songbirds that are olive-green, and the males have a brilliant red crown that is usually flat so hard to see.

  • 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)

Ruby-crowned Kinglets breed in Canada and the mountainous west before migrating to southern and southwestern US states and Mexico for the winter. 

Ruby-crowned Kinglets can be hard to spot as they are fast-moving quiet birds that flit around in the foliage of lower branches and shrubs and trees looking for spiders and insects.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Song:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC628827. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/628827.

Attract Ruby-crowned Kinglets with suet or platform feeders with hulled sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, and mealworms.

14. White-throated Sparrow

White throated sparrow

White-throated Sparrows are frequently spotted in South Carolina during winter from October until mid-May. They appear in 28% 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.

Sparrows are known as LBJs (Little brown jobs) but if you want to know more, check out this guide to sparrows in South Carolina.

15. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker for identification in Massachusetts MA

Downy Woodpeckers can be found all year in South Carolina. They are recorded in 24% of summer checklists and 29% 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.

Some woodpeckers are more easily recognized than others, but with this guide, you can identify all the woodpeckers in South Carolina.

16. Eastern Phoebe

eastern phoebe

Eastern Phoebes are more frequently spotted during winter in South Carolina, but some stay all year in the north of the state. They appear in 8% of summer checklists and 21% of winter checklists.

Eastern Phoebes are plump songbirds that are grayish-brown on the back and whitish underneath and with a darker head.

  • Sayornis phoebe
  • Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.7 oz (16-21 g)
  • Wingspan: 10.2-11.0 in (26-28 cm)

Eastern Phoebes are migratory birds, breeding across northeastern and central US states and into Canada before migrating to southeastern US states and Mexico for winter. Some birds may remain all year towards the south of their range. 

Eastern Phoebes tend to be found alone in quiet woodland, wagging their tails from low perches rather than in pairs or flocks. 

As they are flycatchers, flying insects make up the most of their diet, but they will also eat spiders and other insects, small fruit, and seeds. They often nest on bridges and barns or houses, making a nest out of mud and grass.

Eastern Phoebe Song:

Credit: Eric DeFonso, XC370485. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/370485.

Attract Eastern Phoebes to your backyard by putting up a nest box or native plants that produce berries.

17. Red-winged Blackbird

Red winged blackbird for identification

Red-winged blackbirds are spotted in South Carolina all year. They appear in 21% of summer and 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 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.

Blackbirds are a vast family of birds that have numerous family members and why don’t you get to know all the blackbirds in South Carolina?

18. Song Sparrow

Song sparrow for identification

Song Sparrows are frequently spotted in South Carolina during winter and are recorded in 20% of these checklists. They are common from October to March, but some stay all year.

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 Sparrow 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.

Brown birds are often overlooked but once you get to know a few you are hooked so get studying all the brown birds in South Carolina.

19. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

yellow bellied sapsucker
Male
Yellow-bellied sapsucker for identification
Female

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers spend winter in South Carolina and are spotted from September to mid-May. They are recorded in 17% of winter checklists for the state.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are relatively small and are about the size of a robin.  They are mostly black with red foreheads, and the male has a red throat.

  • Length: 7.1-8.7 in (18-22 cm)
  • Weight: 1.5-1.9 oz (43-55 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.4-15.8 in (34-40 cm)

They migrate from Canada and Northeastern US states after breeding in the summer and spend the winter in the Southern US and Mexico.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers make holes in trees and use their brush-tipped tongues to get the sap out. They make neat rows of holes in horizontal rows, so look out for these in young paper birch, yellow birch, red or sugar maple, and hickory trees.

The holes need to be maintained to ensure a flow of sap.  They make a loud mewing call, and they nest in tree cavities and usually have 5-6 white eggs.

Attract Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers to your backyard with suet.

20. Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhees are spotted in South Carolina all year and appear in 19% of summer and winter checklists.

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

  • Pipilo erythrophthalmus
  • Length: 6.8-8.2 in (17.3-20.8 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-1.8 oz (32-52 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-11.0 in (20-28 cm)

Eastern Towhees live all year in southeastern US states, but birds further north move south for the winter.

You can find Eastern Towhees rummaging in the undergrowth along the edges of forests and thickets.

Eastern Towhee Song:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC691323. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/691323.

Attract Eastern Towhees to your backyard with overgrown borders, and they will also visit platform feeders for black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and millet.

21. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers are spotted in South Carolina all year, but they are spotted more during winter from October to March. They appear in 2% of summer checklists and 17% 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.

22. American Robin

American Robin for identification

American Robins can be found all year in South Carolina, but they are more frequently spotted from December to March. They appear in 14% of summer checklists and 26% of winter checklists for the state.

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.

23. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch for identification

American Goldfinches are spotted in South Carolina during winter in the south of the state, and some stay all year across the rest of the state. They are recorded in 13% of summer checklists and 23% of winter checklists for the state.

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 South Carolina that you will spot, especially in spring.

24. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby throated hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are frequently spotted in South Carolina during summer and appear in 16% of checklists at this time. They are usually seen from April to November, but some remain in the state all year.

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 lack the red throat, but they are green on the back and white underneath with brownish crowns and sides.

  • Archilochus colubris
  • 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)

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America. They migrate south over the Gulf of Mexico or through Texas to Central America for winter.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds start arriving in the far south in February, and they may not arrive in northern states and Canada until May for breeding. They begin to migrate south in August and September.

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

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 when out. They are also common in towns, especially at nectar feeders.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Wingbeat/Call:

Credit: Patrick Turgeon, XC139835. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/139835.

Attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to your backyard with homemade nectar, and you can even attract hummingbirds with shade-loving plants or glorious hanging plants.

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

25. Common Grackle

Common grackle

Although considered near-threatened species, Common Grackles are spotted in South Carolina all year. Many of them migrate south for winter, but some do stay all year. They appear in 20% of summer checklists and 11% 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.

26. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker can be spotted in South Carolina all year. They appear in 12% of summer and winter checklists for the state.

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.

27. Painted Bunting

painted bunting
Male
Painted Bunting female
Female

Painted Buntings are spotted in South Carolina during summer and appear in 15% of checklists at this time. They are mainly spotted in the south of the state from April to November.

Painted Bunting males are a brightly colored patchwork of color with mostly red coloring underneath and with bright blue heads, green wings, and backs. Females are bright yellow-green.

  • Passerina ciris
  • Length: 4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.5-0.7 oz (13-19 g)

Painted Bunting breed in a few US states, in the south-central and some coastal areas in southeastern states. They migrate at night to Central America, southern Florida, and some Caribbean islands.

You can find Painted Bunting in semi-open habitats, mainly foraging for seeds and insects in the breeding season.

Painted Bunting Song:

Credit: Russ Wigh, XC564624. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/564624.

Nests of Painted Bunting are hidden in vegetation about five feet off the ground and made by the female from twigs, bark, grass, and plant material. They use cobwebs to hold it all together and line them with horsehair. They lay about four eggs which take around ten days to hatch and a further nine days for the young to hatch.

Attract Painted Bunting to your backyard with lots of their favorite seeds, such as white millet or black oil sunflower seeds, and dense vegetation for them to hide under.

28. Chipping Sparrow

chipping sparrow

Chipping Sparrow can be spotted in South Carolina all year but are more common during winter. They are recorded in 12% of summer checklists and 20% of winter checklists.

Chipping Sparrows are slender, long-tailed birds with a grayish belly and brown and black-streaked back, with a rusty crown and black eye line. In winter, the colors are more subdued.

  • Spizella passerina
  • Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz (11-16 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.3 in (21 cm)

Chipping Sparrows spend their summer breeding in the US and Canada before flying to Mexico and Florida for winter. Some remain all year in the southern states.

You can find Chipping Sparrows in small flocks on open ground and will come to backyards for many kinds of birdseed.

Chipping Sparrow Song:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC611297. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/611297.

Attract Chipping Sparrows to your backyard with seeds or cracked corn on open feeders such as hoppers or platforms.

29. White-breasted Nuthatch

White breasted nuthatch for identification

White-breasted Nuthatches can be found all year in South Carolina. They appear in 10% of summer checklists and 12% 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.

30. European Starling

European Starlings are considered introduced species in South Carolina that can be seen in the state all year.

They appear in 9% of checklists in summer and 8% of checklists in winter submitted by bird watchers for the state.

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.

31. Gray Catbird

gray catbird

Gray Catbirds can be spotted all year in South Carolina and occur in 5% of summer and winter checklists.

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.

  • Dumetella carolinensis
  • Length: 8.3-9.4 in (21-24 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-2.0 oz (23.2-56.5 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in (22-30 cm)

Gray Catbirds breed in the Midwest, eastern US states, and southern Canada before heading to the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean for winter. Some remain all year along the East Coast.

You can spot Gray Catbirds in dense shrubs, small trees, and along forest edges or hedgerows. They are named after their ‘mew’ sounding call.

Gray Catbird Call:

Credit: Paul Marvin, XC460766. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/460766.

Attract Gray Catbirds to your backyard with fruit and fruit trees or shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry.

Common Birds at Different Times of Year in South Carolina

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

These are the backyard birds most often seen in South Carolina that may visit your lawn or feeders. In addition, they are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird. The data combines birds most commonly spotted in South Carolina in summer (June and July) and winter (December and January). 

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

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

Backyard Birds in South Carolina in Summer:

Northern Cardinal 67.1%
Carolina Wren 51.1%
Mourning Dove 47.5%
Tufted Titmouse 41.8%
Carolina Chickadee 40.9%
Northern Mockingbird 37.2%
American Crow 36.5%
Red-bellied Woodpecker 35.9%
Blue Jay 34.7%
Eastern Bluebird 30.7%

Backyard Birds in South Carolina in Winter:

Northern Cardinal 58.8%
Carolina Chickadee 49.6%
Carolina Wren 47.3%
Tufted Titmouse 42.7%
Mourning Dove 40.5%
Yellow-rumped Warbler 38.9%
American Crow 38.0%
Red-bellied Woodpecker 37.4%
Northern Mockingbird 35.7%
Eastern Bluebird 32.5%

Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds

variety of different bird feeders will attract the most species of birds in South 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 South Carolina

If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in South Carolina there 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 South Carolina

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