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

Northern cardinal male and female for identification

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

There is a great joy in putting up bird feeders and watching what comes to visit but it gets better if you know who they are and learn to identify birds in your backyard. Well, now you can find out what are the most common birds in South Carolina that visit feeders or hop across your lawn.

So if you’re ready to do some backyard birding then read on to find out how to identify birds in South Carolina and how to attract more birds to your yard.

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If you do venture outside of your backyard you may be lucky enough to spot hawks in South Carolina.

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

Top 20 backyard birds in South Carolina

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Carolina Wren
  3. Carolina Chickadee
  4. Mourning Dove
  5. Tufted Titmouse
  6. American Crow
  7. Northern Mockingbird
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  9. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  10. Blue Jay
  11. Eastern Bluebird
  12. House Finch
  13. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  14. White-throated Sparrow
  15. Downy Woodpecker
  16. Eastern Phoebe
  17. Red-winged Blackbird
  18. Song Sparrow
  19. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  20. Eastern Towhee

These are the backyard birds most often seen in South Carolina that may visit your lawn or feeders.  They are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird and the data is a combination of birds most frequently spotted in South Carolina in summer (June and July) and winter (December and January). 

Birds that are not often seen at feeders or in backyards were removed to give you the birds in 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.

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 20 backyard birds in South Carolina

1. Northern Cardinal

The bright red male Northern Cardinal with black around their faces is a great sight, especially against a white winter background.  The females are also a little showy with their brown coloring, sharp brown crest, red highlights, and red beaks.

Northern Cardinals will sometimes attack their own reflection during breeding season as they obsessively defend their territories.

You can attract more Northern Cardinals to backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.

They will feed from large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, or food scattered on the ground.

There are a surprising number of red birds in South Carolina that you can spot.

Northern cardinal male and female for identification

2. Carolina Wren

Carolina Wrens are shy birds that are dark brown on top and light brown underneath.  They have a white eyebrow stripe and upright tail and loud teakettle song.

They can be found in woods or thickly vegetated areas and will visit backyard feeders.

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

Carolina Wren

3. Carolina Chickadee

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

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

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

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

Carolina Chickadee

4. Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are graceful small-headed birds, plump bodies and long tails.  They are a soft brown with black spots on the wings.

They can be seen perching on telephone wires and forage for seeds on the ground.

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

Mourning Dove

5. Tufted Titmouse

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

They can be assertive over smaller birds and are found in woodlands, parks, and at backyard feeders.

You can attract Tufted Titmice to your backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts on tube feeders or suet cages.  They will also eat from platform feeders.

Tufted titmouse

6. American Crow

American crows are large all-black birds that make a hoarse, cawing sound. They are common birds that can be found in most habitats including treetops, woods, fields, beaches, or towns.

They eat most things and usually feed on the ground eating earthworms, insects, seeds, and fruit.

You can attract more American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts.

American Crow for identification

7. Northern Mockingbird

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

They are usually seen alone or in pairs and aggressively defend their territory. A male mockingbird can learn around 200 songs in its life, copying other birds’ songs and they can sing all through the day and into the night.

They don’t often visit feeders but will come to open lawn areas. To attract more Northern Mockingbirds try planting fruiting trees or bushes, including hawthorns, mulberries, and blackberry brambles.

Northern mockingbird for identification

8. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a pale red belly that can be difficult to spot, with a red cap and nape and black-and-white stripped back.

They make a loud call in spring and summer and are found in woods and forests, especially with deadwood.

You can attract more Red-bellied Woodpeckers with suet feeders and they will sometimes feed from hummingbird feeders.

Check out all the woodpeckers in South Carolina that you can spot.

Red-bellied woodpecker

9. Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers are gray with flashes of yellow on the face, sides, and rump and white in the wings. Females may be slightly brown and winter birds are paler brown with bright yellow rumps and sides turning bright yellow and gray again in spring.

After breeding predominantly in Canada they migrate in large numbers south across most of southern and central North America and the Pacific Coast and throughout Mexico and Central America. 

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

yellow rumped warbler

10. Blue Jay

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

They are noisy birds that travel in family groups eating acorns when available. Mostly resident but may migrate from the far northwest of US.

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

Blue Jay for identification

11. Eastern Bluebird

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

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

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

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

Eastern bluebird

12. House Finch

House Finches have a red head and breast in the males and brown-streaked coloring in the females.  Originally only in western states it was introduced to the eastern states and has done very well, even pushing out the Purple Finch.

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

You can attract more House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.

house finch male

13. Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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, but really great if you do.

They breed across Canada and the western mountains before migrating to southern and southwestern states and Mexico for the winter.  They can also be seen during migration when they are widespread.

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

They come to suet feeders or platform feeders for hulled sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, and mealworms.

ruby crowned kinglet

14. White-throated Sparrow

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

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

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

White throated sparrow

15. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are small birds that are common at backyard feeders.  They are often mixed in with other birds such as chickadees and nuthatches.  They have black and white coloring with a red patch at the back of their heads.  They look similar to the Hairy Woodpecker.

To attract more Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard try suet feeders but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.

Downy woodpecker for identification

16. Eastern Phoebe

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

They are migratory birds, breeding across north-eastern states and into Canada before migrating to south-eastern states for winter.

They tend to be found alone, rather than in pairs or flocks, in quiet woodland wagging their tails from low perches.  They often nest on bridges and barns or houses, making a nest out of mud and grass. They can be attracted to your backyard with a nest box.

eastern phoebe

17. Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged blackbirds are very common and easy to identify with the all-black coloring except for the bright red and yellow shoulder patches.  The females are rather dull in comparison with brown streaky coloring.

They can often be spotted sitting on telephone wires and the males will fiercely defend their territories in the breeding season even attacking people that get too close to nests. In winter they roost in large numbers into the millions.

To attract more Red-winged blackbirds to your backyard try mixed grain and seeds spread on the ground.  They will also feed on large tube feeders or platform feeders.

Red winged blackbird for identification

18. Song Sparrow

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.

They can be found in open, shrubby, and wet areas often perched on a low shrub singing. They are often found at backyard feeders. Resident in eastern and western states but migrate in for winter to central and southern states.

You can attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.

Song sparrow for identification

19. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are small woodpeckers that are black and white with red foreheads and the males also have a red throat.

They feed at sapwells they drill into tree bark, lapping up the sugary sap and any insects. They breed in Canada and the far north and east before heading to the southern US, Mexico, West Indies, and Central America for winter.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers can be found in young deciduous forests so look for their neat rows of sapwells.  They also visit feeders for suet or mealworms.

yellow bellied sapsucker

20. Eastern Towhee

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

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

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

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

Eastern Towhee

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, and wings, and tail for the main color and then any secondary colors or patterns. Also take note of any patterns such as banding, spots, or highlights.
  4. Behavior – Are they on the ground or high up in the trees. Are they in flocks or on their own?  Can you spot what they are eating?
  5. Habitat – Woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, shore or marsh.
  6. Use a bird identification app such as those created by ebird or Audubon