Ultimate Guide To Birds That Eat Suet (What, How, 39 Species ID Guide)

Red-bellied woodpecker female for identification

Feeding suet to birds is a fantastic way to give energy-rich food that many birds love. This guide will help you know when and how to feed suet to birds, make your own recipe and give you a 39 species picture ID guide to birds that eat suet.

What Birds Eat Suet

Insect-eating birds eat suet, including woodpeckers, chickadees, jays, starlings, crows, titmouses, nuthatches, robins, mockingbirds, and some wrens and warblers.

What Is Suet For Birds?

Suet is the raw hard fat of beef or lamb from around the kidneys and loins. Sometimes lard is used, which is the fat from pigs. It is a high-energy food, because it is fat that is especially beneficial to birds in winter.

Suet for birds may also be mixed with vegetable shortening, nut butters and seeds, fruit, oats, cornmeal, and other plant-based ingredients to make a thick enough mix to hold its shape and provide extra nutrients.

Suet for birds usually comes in cake shapes, often rectangular or balls or plugs, which are usually placed in specially shaped feeders. You can also buy nuggets or crumbles, which are suitable for platform feeders.

Where To Buy Suet

You can buy ready-made suet online, in pet stores, or often in larger grocery stores, basically anywhere where birdseed is sold. If you are buying your suet cakes or balls, then check it does not contain palm oil, which is causing deforestation and affecting wildlife.

Suet or lard for homemade suet for birds can be bought from your local butchers, usually quite cheaply. However, most larger grocery stores also sell suet, sometimes in the freezer section.

Homemade Recipe For Bird Suet

Suet for birds

There are many variations of recipes for suet for birds, and you should check out this guide for more recipes for homemade suet for birds, which includes summer and winter mixes.

However, making your own homemade suet does not have to be complicated and can be done in a matter of minutes.

The simple 2 step 2 minute recipe:

2 step method:

  1. Place 2 parts suet or lard in the microwave in a glass bowl for 1 minute
  2. Stir in 1 part cornmeal or grit and add nuts, seeds, or oats, then leave to set in small containers.

When You Should Put Suet Out For Birds

Suet is traditionally a winter feed for birds as summer may cause the suet to melt and go rancid, and birds need more calories in the cold winter months. However, in spring, parents may feed suet to their young.

Also, it’s important to know which birds are in your area at different times of the year as some birds prefer suet more than others.

Suet can melt above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and become a gooey, sticky mess that can get stuck in birds’ feathers and affect their waterproofing.

You can use suet all year to feed birds if the days are not too hot, and you make a summer recipe for suet for birds and follow some tips such as keeping it in the shade or only leaving it out in the morning before it gets too hot.

How To Feed Suet To Birds

Suet pine cone feeder

You can use special suet bird feeders that are a cage to place suet blocks or suet balls in. Also, you can try upside-down suet bird feeders or set feeders in another cage if bigger bully birds or squirrels are a problem. Placing the suet feeders on bird feeder poles and with squirrel baffles also helps.

If you make homemade suet, you can make the suet into all sorts of shapes and sizes and hang them from ribbon, but ensure there is somewhere for the birds to perch. You can also add a stick poking through suet cages to provide an additional perch for birds.

Some birds, such as Jays, prefer platform feeders rather than cage feeders and so you can crumble suet onto platform feeders to attract other species.

You can also smear suet onto logs or branches, smear it into pine cones and hang them. To encourage birds to find the suet, you can spread a little nearby on the branch.

Make sure you include a roof or cover over the feeders as this helps protect the suet from sun or rain.

Where To Hang Suet Feeders

You need to hang suet in a shady area near to protection from shrubs and bushes or trees, but visible to birds. As with all feeders, do not place them too close to windows to help prevent bird strike.

A good idea is to place the feeders near other feeders so birds will notice them more easily.

Birds Not Eating Suet

Usually, the main reason birds are not eating your suet is the feeder is too new, and they have not found it yet. However, there can be a number of reasons birds are not eating your suet.

Help birds find your suet feeder by:

  • Placing it near other feeders that are regularly filled
  • Smudge some peanut butter and suet nearby on branches to attract birds
  • Crumble suet onto platform feeders

39 Birds That Eat Suet:

1. American Robin

American Robin for identification

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.

2. American Crow

American Crow for identification

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.

3. Blue Jay

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.

4. 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. 

  • 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.

5. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker for identification in Massachusetts MA

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.

6. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

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.

7. Black-capped Chickadee

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 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.

8. Tufted Titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted Titmouses are 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.

9. White-breasted Nuthatch

White breasted nuthatch for identification

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.

10. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

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.

11. Carolina Wren

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 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.

12. Northern Mockingbird

Northern mockingbird for identification

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.

13. Yellow-rumped Warbler

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.

  • 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.

14. Common Grackle

Common grackle

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.

15. Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

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.

16. Eastern Bluebird

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.

  • 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.

17. Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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.

  • 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.

18. Common Raven

Common raven

Common Ravens are thought to be one of the smartest and definitely one of the largest species in the songbird family. They have shaggy throat feathers, large black beaks, and wedge-shaped tails.

  • Corvus corax
  • Length: 22.1-27.2 in (56-69 cm)
  • Weight: 24.3-57.3 oz (689-1625 g)
  • Wingspan: 45.7-46.5 in (116-118 cm)

Common Ravens are resident in Canada, western US states, northeastern US states, Mexico, and northern Central America. They are not found in the Great Plains or eastern US states.

You can find Common Ravens in most places, and they especially follow humans. Forests, beaches, fields, and grasslands are all places to find them and rural human areas. They are not common in towns and cities as American Crows take over.

Not known as picky eaters, Common Ravens will eat most things, including any small animals, eggs and nestlings, plus insects and fish. Human rubbish and pet food

Common Raven sounds: Mostly croaks and harsh calls

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC662942. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/662942.

Nests of Common Ravens are usually relatively high up on cliffs, trees, bridges, and towers. Their nests are made from long sticks and are large, up to 5 feet across and 2 feet high. The inside of the nest will be lined with mud and softer material, such as grass and wool.

Common Ravens lay up to seven eggs, and they take around three weeks to hatch and about five weeks to fledge.

Fun Fact: Common Ravens in Canada weigh up to 60% more than those in California.

19. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker

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.

20. Pileated Woodpecker

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.

21. Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

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.

22. Baltimore Oriole

baltimore oriole
Male
baltimore oriole
Female

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.

  • Icterus galbula
  • Length: 6.7-7.5 in (17-19 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-1.4 oz (30-40 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.1-11.8 in (23-30 cm)

Baltimore Orioles breed in Eastern and Central States, including central-southern Canadian provinces and along the southern border with the US.

Baltimore Orioles then migrate to Florida, Central America, and the Caribbean for winter, leaving as early as July.

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. They also help eat pest species and eat a wide variety of fruits, and they can damage crops such as raspberries, mulberries, cherries, bananas, and oranges.

Baltimore Oriole sounds: The flute-like sound of Baltimore Orioles is one of the joys of spring. They also make chattering and sharp alarm calls.

Christopher McPherson, XC690956. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/690956.

Attract Baltimore Orioles to your backyard with oranges cut in half on a platform feeder or hanging them from trees. Also, try oriole feeders filled with sugar water. Planting some fruiting plants and nectar plants such as raspberries, crab apples, and trumpet vines should also attract them.

Fun fact: Baltimore Orioles make incredible hanging bag-like nests woven from fibers.

23. California Scrub-Jay

California scrub-jay

California Scrub-Jays are large songbirds with long tails, whitish undersides and rich blue and gray backs, and a bright blue breast band. They are larger than a robin but smaller than a crow. They look visually similar to the Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay but with more vivid colors.

  • Aphelocoma californica
  • Length: 11.0-11.8 in (28-30 cm)
  • Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz (70-100 g)
  • Wingspan: 15.3 in (39 cm)

California Scrub-Jays are resident all year on the Pacific Coast from British Columbia down to Baja California.

You can find California Scrub-Jay in scrub, oak woodlands, and in suburban yards and parks. They eat insects and fruit during spring and summer and then seeds and nuts, especially acorns, in fall and winter.

California Scrub-Jay sounds: Their call is high-pitched and repetitive. They also sing a courtship song of soft whistles.

Richard E. Webster, XC662075. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/662075.

Nests of California Scrub-Jay are usually hidden in oak trees and can take up to 10 days to construct the nest made of twigs and a soft lining. They lay 1 – 5 eggs, and the eggs take around 17 – 19 days to hatch.

Attract California Scrub-Jays to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts in your feeders.

Fun fact: California Scrub-Jay will screech over the body of a dead jay and invite others to do the same, and this can last up to half an hour, according to the University of California – Davis

24. Steller’s Jay

stellars jay

Steller’s Jays are large songbirds with black triangular crests that stick up from their heads. The rest of their heads and onto their chests and back are black, with the rest of their bodies being blue.

  • Cyanocitta stelleri
  • Length: 11.8-13.4 in (30-34 cm)
  • Weight: 3.5-4.9 oz (100-140 g)
  • Wingspan: 17.3 in (44 cm)

Steller’s Jays are resident in western US states, western Canada, Mexico, and Central America.

You can find Steller’s Jays in evergreen forests in the mountains, and they will also be found around picnic tables, campgrounds, and backyard feeders.

Steller’s Jays eat most things they can forage for, including insects, seeds, nuts, berries, eggs, and nestlings, but also making a nuisance of themselves around garbage and your unguarded picnic!

Steller’s Jay sounds: They make ‘kaw’ sounds as well as fast two-toned calls, peeps, and harsh guttural sounds. Steller’s Jays can also mimic other noises such as other bird species and even sprinklers and alarms.

Paul Marvin, XC636598. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/636598.

Nests of Stellar’s Jays are usually near the top of conifer trees and are built from leaves and plant material held together with mud and lined with soft pine needles.

Attract Steller’s Jays to your backyard with peanuts and suet.

Fun fact: Stellar’s Jays make nests out of the mud.

25. Black-billed Magpie

black-billed-magpie

Black-billed Magpies, usually just called Magpies, are black and white birds that are noisy. They have long tails and blue-green iridescent flashes in the wing and tail. Males are up to 25% heavier than females.

  • Pica hudsonia
  • Length: 17.7-23.6 in (45-60 cm)
  • Weight: 5.1-7.4 oz (145-210 g)
  • Wingspan: 22.1-24.0 in (56-61 cm)

Black-billed Magpies live in northwestern US states and western Canada, and the coast of Alaska. They do not migrate.

You can find them walking on the ground in meadows and grasslands or other open areas feeding on fruit and grain, beetles, and grasshoppers. They have also been known to kill small mammals such as squirrels and voles and raid bird nests for eggs or nestlings and even carrion.

Black-billed Magpie sounds: A series of harsh calls and also a scream.

Credit: Peter Ward and Ken Hall, XC614155. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/614155.

You can attract Black-billed Magpies to your backyard with platform and suet feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, fruit, suet, millet, and milo.

Fun Fact: A gathering of magpies calling around one of their dead is called a funeral.

26. Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays are the Blue-Jays of the Southwest with lovely blue and gray coloring. They are light blue and dark gray on the back and light gray underneath. Their tails are long and blue.

They are duller in color than California Scrub-Jays and have only a small necklace, and lack the crests of Blue Jays and Stellar’s Jays.

  • Aphelocoma woodhouseii
  • Length: 11.0-11.8 in (28-30 cm)
  • Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz (70-100 g)

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays are resident inland in southwest US states and Mexico. You can find them in wooded areas with pinyon-juniper and scrubby areas.

Insects and fruit make up most of the diet of Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays in summer and nuts and seeds in winter.

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay sounds:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC577600. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/577600.

Attract Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts.

Fun Fact: Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays are thieves that steal food from other birds stores, especially Acorn Woodpeckers’ granary tree store of acorns.

27. Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcrackers are similar in appearance to Canada Jays, with the gray coloring. They have shorter tails than jays and lack the crest. Clark’s Nutcrackers are light gray with black wings and tails with white patches.

  • Nucifraga columbiana
  • Length: 10.6-11.8 in (27-30 cm)
  • Weight: 3.7-5.7 oz (106-161 g)

Clark’s Nutcrackers can be found all year in the pine forests of the mountainous west. They do not migrate but do move up to higher altitudes in the summer, and if pine crops are poor, they will move large distances.

Clark’s Nutcrackers mainly eat pine seeds fresh from the tree or those they have hidden away previously. They will occasionally eat insects, spiders, or small mammals if they get a chance.

Clark’s Nutcracker sounds:

Credit: Bobby Wilcox, XC382746. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/382746.

Attract Clark’s Nutcrackers to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet.

Fun Fact: Clark’s Nutcrackers have been recorded as far as Northeastern US states, when cone crops are poor, a distance of up to 2000 miles!

28. Pine Grosbeak

pine grosbeak

Pine Grosbeaks males are red birds with gray on the wings and tail and two white wingbars. Females are gray with dull orange heads and rumps. They are large for finches and relatively slow.

  • Pinicola enucleator
  • Length: 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm)
  • Weight: 2.01 oz (57 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0 in (33 cm)

Pine Grosbeaks are mostly found in Canada, but some can be spotted along the US border, the mountainous west, and the Sierra Nevada in California.

You can find Pine Grosbeaks in forests of pine, spruce, and fir, feeding on seeds, fruit, and buds from these trees. They will also eat some insects in the summer.  

Pine Grosbeak Call:

Credit: Patrik Åberg, XC406267. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/406267.

Attract Pine Grosbeaks to your backyards with black oil sunflower seed feeders or suet feeders.

Fun Fact: Pine Grosbeaks are aptly named. Their scientific name, “Pinicola,” is Latin for “pine dweller.”

29. Pinyon Jay

Pinyon Jays are blue all over, with darker backs and paler bellies. They also have white throats, shorter tails, and do not have crests like other Jays, like Stellar’s Jays. Males and females look the same, but juveniles can look more grayish-blue.

  • Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus
  • Length: 10.2-11.4 in (26-29 cm)
  • Weight: 3.2-4.2 oz (90-120 g)
  • Wingspan: 18.1 in (46 cm)

Pinyon Jays are resident inland in western US states in pinyon-pine forests.

As well as seeds from pinyon-pine, Pinyon Jays will eat juniper berries, acorns, and other animals such as lizards, baby birds, and insects. They are opportunity feeders who will take most things and forage in large, noisy groups.

Pinyon Jay sounds: They make 3 ‘kaw’ like calls close together that rise and then fall and sometimes shake or tremble.

Ted Floyd, XC406575. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/406575.

Fun fact: Pinyon Jays do not have feathers over their nostrils to prevent the sticky pine pitch from making them dirty.

30. Canada Jay

Canada Jays are dark gray on the back and a soft pale gray below. They have white heads and throats, with a black band running around the back of the head.

They are sometimes known as Grey Jays. Females look the same as males, but juveniles are darker gray all over.

  • Length: 9.8-11.4 in (25-29 cm)
  • Weight: 2.0-3.0 oz (58-84 g)

Canada Jays are resident in Canada, Alaska, and the high mountains of the northwest US. Some color differences occur with Canada Jays from different areas. With those in the Rockies being paler than those in Canada.

You can find Canada Jays in boreal forests where spruce trees are common. They are not as loud as other Jays and are opportunity feeders, eating a wide variety of food, including insects, berries, and dead animals. They will also come close, looking for food dropped by hikers.

Although they look sweet, Canada Jays have a deadly side, and they will kill baby birds for food and even hunt smaller species such as chickadees and warblers.

Canada Jay sounds: They have a gentle whispered song but often make harsher calls and clatters. Canada Jays can also imitate other species.

Andrew Spencer, XC28874. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/28874.

Attract Canada Jays to your backyard with most kinds of bird food, such as seeds and suet, and they will readily eat from tube or platform feeders.

Fun fact: Canada Jays produce special saliva, which they use to mold food into a sticky blob, and then they stick it in a hiding place like gum under a desk.

31. Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrashers are large songbirds with long proportions. They are about the same size as a robin. They are brown on the back and with white-streaked chests and bellies. Their faces are gray with bright yellow eyes.

  • Length: 9.1-11.8 in (23-30 cm)
  • Weight: 2.1-3.1 oz (61-89 g)
  • Wingspan: 11.4-12.6 in (29-32 cm)

Brown Thrashers live in central and eastern North America. Those birds in the southeast of their range remain all year, but birds further north migrate south for the winter.

Brown Thrashers are hard to spot for their size as they spend most of their time in thickets and shrubbery. However, they can be heard rummaging along the ground in the leaf litter and soil, looking for insects. Brown Thrashers also eat berries, beetles, and flying insects from the air.

Attract Brown Thrashers to your backyard with dense cover and berry shrubs, and they collect fallen seed from under feeders and eat suet.

Fun Fact: Over 1000 different song types are sung by these most accomplished songbirds, which is one of the largest of any North American songbird.

32. Bewick’s Wren

Bewick's Wren

Bewick’s Wrens are brown-backed birds with long gray upright tails with darker barring. They have gray bellies and a white stripe over the eye.

  • Thryomanes bewickii
  • Length: 5.1 in (13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (8-12 g)

Bewick’s Wrens live in southern and western states all year with some small movements in winter.

You can find Bewick’s Wrens in scrub, thickets, and open woodland, hopping from branch to branch, flicking their long tails.

They feed on insects and larvae, including, bees, bugs, caterpillars, and beetles.

Bewick’s Wren sounds: Their song starts with a couple of short higher notes, followed by lower-pitched buzzy notes.

Manuel Grosselet, XC687852. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/687852.

Attract Bewick Wrens to your backyard with suet, mealworms, and hulled sunflower seeds.

Fun fact: The House Wren is probably responsible for the unfortunate decline of Bewick Wrens in the eastern US as they would destroy their eggs.

33. Pine Warbler

Pine Warblers are small plump yellow birds with olive backs, white lower bellies, and gray wingbars. Females can appear browner and have more white on the belly.

  • Setophaga pinus
  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (9-15 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-9.1 in (19-23 cm)

Pine Warblers breed in northeastern US states before heading to southeastern US states. Some remain all year in southeastern US states.

You can find Pine Warblers in pine forests, as their name would suggest, often high up in the trees. They eat caterpillars, beetles, spiders, and other insects and larvae, and when the weather is colder, they will eat fruit and seeds.

Pine Warbler Song:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC602052. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/602052.

Attract Pine Warblers to your yard with tube feeders and platform feeders with millet, cracked corn, sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, and suet. Also, plant native fruits and vines such as bayberry, grape, sumac, and Virginia creeper.

Fun Fact: Pine Warblers are one of the only warblers to eat seeds mainly, and so you are more likely to see them at backyard feeders.

34. Bushtit

bushtit

Bushtits are tiny, almost round, soft gray birds with long tails and stubby bills. They have slight brown tinges to the face and underneath.

  • Length: 2.8-3.1 in (7-8 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (4-6 g)

Bushtits live all year in western US States.

You can find Bushtits in open woodland or scrubby areas, parks, and backyards. Their diet is insects and spiders, such as caterpillars, beetle, wasps, and ants.

Bushtits make amazing hanging nests out of plant material and spider webs that hang down about a foot and may take a month to build.

Attract Bushtits to your backyard by planting native shrubs and trees, and they may visit feeders filled with black oil sunflower seeds, suet, or mealworms from platform feeders.

35. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

yellow bellied sapsucker
Male
yellow-bellied sapsucker femalefor identification in Michigan MN
Female

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.

You can spot Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in young deciduous forests, often on birch or maple trees where they make neat rows of sapwells to feed.

Attract Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers to your backyard with suet.

36. Chestnut-backed Chickadee

chestnut-backed-chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadees are tiny birds with black caps and throats and white cheeks. They are a rich chestnut on their backs and sides and have gray wings and bellies. In California, their sides are gray instead of brown.

  • Poecile rufescens
  • Length: 3.9-4.7 in (10-12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (7-12 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5 in (19 cm)

Chestnut-backed Chickadees live flocks in wet evergreen forests along the Pacific Coast and are regular visitors to backyard feeders.

You can find Chestnut-backed Chickadees usually in conifer forests. They eat mostly insects, including caterpillars, spiders, wasps, and aphids, with seeds, berries, and fruit making up the rest.

Credit: Simon Elliott, XC597659. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/597659.

Attract Chestnut-backed Chickadees to your yard with black-oil sunflower seeds, suet, nyjer, peanuts, or mealworms in tube feeders, platform feeders, or suet cages. They will also use nest boxes.

37. Mountain Chickadee

mountain chickadee

Mountain Chickadees are tiny birds with black-and-white heads and gray over the body, darker on the back and light gray underneath.

  • Poecile gambeli
  • Length: 4.3-5.5 in (11-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4 oz (11 g)

Mountain Chickadees live in the mountains west of the US all year and do not migrate but may move down the mountain to lower areas in winter.

You can find Mountain Chickadees in evergreen forests, especially those with pine and conifers.  They eat insects and spiders, nuts, and seeds and will often visit backyard feeders. Mountain Chickadees will often stash food for later and create a store of food.

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC619853. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/619853.

Attract Mountain Chickadees to your yard by putting up nest boxes, and they will visit most types of feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, mealworms, nyjer, suet, and peanut butter.

Fun fact: The eggs of Mountain Chickadees are incubated 50% longer than other chickadee species, probably due to the protection that their old woodpecker nests give and the fact the female covers the eggs when she leaves

38. Cactus Wren

Cactus Wrens are easier to recognize with their speckled undersides, large bold eyebrow stripe, and large size. They are brown on the back with lots of streaking.

Cactus Wrens do not have an upright tail like most wrens. Instead, they fan their tails out to show the white tips.

  • Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus
  • Length: 7.1-8.7 in (18-22 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-1.7 oz (32-47 g)

Cactus Wrens are residents in dry areas in southwestern states from California to Texas and Mexico.

You can find Cactus Wrens, unusually for wrens, out in the open at the top of a cactus, singing or eating the cactus fruit. They can also be seen on the ground hunting for insects and spiders by turning over leaves and other debris.

Cactus Wren sounds: They make a distinctive buzzy two-tone song that often rises in volume as it goes along.

Paul Marvin, XC534180. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/534180.

Fun fact: Cactus Wrens do not need to drink water, which is handy in the desert, and instead get all they need from insects and fruit.

39. Boreal Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee

Boreal Chickadees are tiny grayish-brown songbirds with a dark brown cap, small black bib, cinnamon sides, and white underneath and on the cheeks.

  • Poecile hudsonicus
  • Length: 4.9-5.5 in (12.5-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (7-12.4 g)

Boreal Chickadees live in Canada and Alaska and may appear in northern US states.

You can find Boreal Chickadees mostly in coniferous forests, often near water, but also can be found in deciduous or mixed forests. They feed on seeds and insects from the upper areas of the canopy and will readily visit feeders.

Credit: Ken Hall, XC511286. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/511286.

Attract Boreal Chickadees to your backyard with Black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer seeds, suet, peanuts, and mealworms on most types of feeders.  Also, put up a nesting box to attract a mating pair.

Fun Fact: Boreal Chickadees will store seeds and insects for the long and harsh winter.