56 Species Of Birds That Eat Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

black oil sunflower seeds

Do you want to know the many species of birds that like black-oil sunflower seeds, including where they live and if they migrate and how you can attract them to your yard? Or, if you are looking to identify birds eating your black-oil sunflower seeds, then look no further as we have you covered with all the information and pictures you need.

Black-oil sunflower seeds are one of the best bird seeds to attract wild birds to your feeders, and studies have shown that wild birds prefer three types of seed out of the ten most commonly used seeds in wild bird seed mixes. These three favorite seeds are black-oil sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, and white proso millet.

Black-oil sunflower seeds are high in oil and protein, and birds will weigh the seeds before selecting the best ones. The other type of sunflower seeds often used in birdseed mixes is striped sunflower seeds.

However, Black-oil sunflower seeds have the highest oil content, making them the most nutritious. Also, the thin shells of black-oil sunflower seeds make them easier to open by smaller birds.

You can place black-oil sunflower seeds on hopper feeders or platform feeders, or on trays, as the seed is usually too big for tub feeders.

Birds that eat black-oil sunflower seeds include:

  • Finches
  • Sparrows
  • Grosbeaks
  • Towhees
  • Jays
  • Chickadees
  • Nuthatches
  • Blackbirds
  • Woodpeckers
  • Cardinals
  • Magpies
  • Juncos
  • Orioles
  • Doves

56 Species Of Birds That Eat Black-Oil Sunflower Seeds:

1. Evening Grosbeak

Male Evening Grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus, in tree

Evening Grosbeaks are chunky birds with big bills and a striking yellow and black pattern. Adult males have a bright yellow stripe over their eyes, making them look fierce. Their heads are black, with gray necks, and their chest and belly are yellow. They also have a white patch on their wings.

Females and juvenile males have greenish bills, mostly gray bodies, black and white wings, and a yellow tinge to the neck. 

  • Hesperiphona vespertina
  • Length: 16 to 22 cm (6.3 to 8.7 in)
  • Weight: 38.7 to 86.1 g (1.37 to 3.04 oz) 
  • Wingspan:  30 to 36 cm (12 to 14 in)

Evening Grosbeaks remain all year in southern Canada and down the west coast to northern California. However, when cone crops are poor, they will migrate south to most US states.

You can find Evening Grosbeaks in forests and mountain regions. During the winter, they’re often attracted to bird feeders in backyards, most often because it’s an easy food supply. 

Evening Grosbeaks naturally feed on flower buds during spring; insect larvae from treetops during the summer; and in the winter, they flock to backyard feeders or feast on seeds, berries, and small fruit. 

Evening Grosbeak Song:

Credit: Peter Ward and Ken Hall, XC598472. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/598472.

Nests of Evening Grosbeaks are usually found up to 100 feet above ground in pine trees. The nests are loosely made, composed of twigs, rootlets, grass, moss, and pine needles. There are usually up to five eggs laid by the female, and she incubates them for two weeks until they hatch.

Attract Evening Grosbeaks to your backyard during winter with sunflower seeds, berries, and maple buds. 

Fun Fact: Evening Grosbeaks have such powerful bills that they can crush seeds that are too hard to open for other smaller birds, so these birds hang around to eat whatever is left behind.

2. Northern Cardinal

Northern cardinal male and female for identification

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.

3. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Song Sparrow

Song sparrow for identification

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.

7. House Finch

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.

8. Red-winged Blackbird

Red winged blackbird for identification

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.

9. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch for identification

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. 

10. 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 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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, 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.

14. House Sparrow

House sparrow for identification

The House Sparrow is another introduced species that has done very well and is now one of the most common birds. They have gray and brown heads and white cheeks. Their backs are black and brown, and their bellies are gray.

  • Passer domesticus
  • Length: 5.9-6.7 in (15-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz (27-30 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in (19-25 cm)

House Sparrows live in the US and Southern Canada all year.

You can find them near houses and buildings, and they can be pretty tame, and they may even eat out of your hand.

House Sparrows eat mostly grain and seed as well as discarded food. They can be considered a pest because they are non-native, but they are found in backyards even if you do not feed them.

House Sparrow Song:

Credit: Olivier SWIFT, XC697951. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/697951.

Attract House Sparrows to your backyard feeders with most kinds of birdseed, including millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.

15. Tufted Titmouse

Tufted titmouse

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.

16. Dark-eyed Junco

Dark eyed junco for identification

Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrows that are different colors depending on the state. They are generally slate-colored in the east and black, white, and brown in the west.

  • Junco hyemalis
  • Length: 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-30 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in (18-25 cm)

Dark-eyed Juncos remain resident all year in northeastern and western US states and the Appalachian Mountains. Those that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south in winter to the United States.

They can be found in open and partially wooded areas, often on the ground, and are common across the continent. 

Dark-eyed Junco Song:

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

Attract Dark-eyed Juncos to backyard feeders with a variety of seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts. Platform feeders or scattered on the ground is best.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. White-throated Sparrow

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.

  • 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.

22. Brown-headed Cowbird

brown headed cowbird

Males Brown-headed Cowbirds are larger than females, with black-bodies, brown heads, and short tails. Female Brown-headed Cowbirds are brown all over with slight streaking.

  • Molothrus ater
  • Length: 76.3-8.7 in (19-22 cm)
  • Weight: 1.3-1.8 oz (42-50 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.2 in (36 cm)

Brown-headed Cowbirds remain all year in eastern US states, southern US states, and along the Pacific Coast. However, those that breed in northern and western US states and Canada migrate south for winter.

Brown-headed Cowbird Song:

Bobby Wilcox, XC645459. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/645459.

They are often considered a nuisance because they are parasite birds that destroy the eggs of smaller songbirds so they can lay their eggs in the nest and have the bird foster their chicks.

23. Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeons are blueish gray with two black bands on the wing and black on the tail tip. They have iridescent throat feathers and orange eyes.

  • Columba livia
  • Length: 11.8-14.2 in (30-36 cm)
  • Weight: 9.3-13.4 oz (265-380 g)
  • Wingspan: 19.7-26.4 in (50-67 cm)

Rock Pigeons do not migrate and can be found in all US states, southern Canada, and the Pacific Coast to Alaska.

They are common in cities and visit backyards, especially for birdseed on the ground. Some cities have ordinances against feeding pigeons as they are considered pests.

24. 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, 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.

25. 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.

26. White-crowned Sparrow

white-crowned sparrow

White-crowned Sparrows are large grayish sparrows with long tails, small bills, and bold black and white stripes on their heads.

  • Zonotrichia leucophrys
  • Length: 5.9-6.3 in (15-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.9-1.0 oz (25-28 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.3-9.4 in (21-24 cm)

White-crowned Sparrows breed in Alaska and arctic Canada before heading south to the lower 48 and Mexico for winter. However, some may remain along the Pacific Coast and the mountainous west all year.

You can find White-crowned Sparrows in weedy fields, along roadsides, forest edges,  and in yards foraging for seeds of weeds and grasses or fruit such as elderberries and blackberries.

White-crowned Sparrow Song:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC678159. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/678159.

Attract White-crowned Sparrows to your backyard with sunflower seeds, and they will also eat seeds that other birds drop at feeders.

27. Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

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.

28. 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.

29. 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.

30. Spotted Towhee

spotted towhee

Spotted Towhees are large sparrows that are black on their head, throat, and back in the males and brown in the females. Both males and females have reddish-brown sides, white bellies, and white spots on the wings and back. They have long tails and are about the size of a Robin.

  • Pipilo maculatus
  • Length: 6.7-8.3 in (17-21 cm)
  • Weight: 1.2-1.7 oz (33-49 g)
  • Wingspan: 11.0 in (28 cm)

Spotted Towhees live in western US states, but those in the interior of the north migrate south after breeding to Texas and surrounding areas.

You can find Spotted Towhees on the ground in dense tangles of shrubs scratching around for insects, including beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, wasps, and bees. They also eat acorns, berries, and seeds.

Spotted Towhee Song:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC662426. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/662426.

Attract Spotted Towhees to your yard if you leave overgrown borders, and they will visit platform feeders or ground feeders for black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, and milo.

31. Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch male

Lesser Goldfinches are tiny bright yellow and black songbirds with long pointed wings and short notched tails. Females have olive backs and are more dull yellow underneath.

  • Spinus psaltria
  • Length: 3.5-4.3 in (9-11 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (8-11.5 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9-7.9 in (15-20 cm)

Lesser Goldfinches live in the southwestern US states and the West Coast all year, but those that breed in the interior of western US states migrate for winter.

Lesser Goldfinches can be found in large flocks in open habitats, including thickets, weedy fields, forest clearings, parks, and gardens. They forage for seeds, especially sunflower seeds, but also fruits from elderberry, coffeeberry, and buds from cottonwoods, willows, sycamores, and alders.

Lesser Goldfinch call/Song:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC428720. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/428720.

Attract Lesser Goldfinches to your yard with sunflower seeds and nyjer in tube feeders or platform feeders.

32. 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. They may come to your backyard if there is dense cover and berry shrubs and they collect fallen seed from under feeders.

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

33. Baltimore Oriole

baltimore oriole

Baltimore Orioles are a colorful sign of spring in the east of North America, and they are members of the blackbird family. Adult males are bright orange and black with white wing bars on the black wings.

Females are mostly dull yellow and brown. They are yellowish underneath and on their heads, grayish-brown on the wings, and brownish-yellow on their backs.

  • 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 US States and central US states, including central-southern Canadian provinces and along the southern border with the US.

For winter, they migrate to Florida, Central America, and the Caribbean, leaving as early as July.

You can find Baltimore Orioles high up in open woodland, riverbanks, and forest edges foraging for insects and fruit, and they often come to parks and backyards. They make incredible hanging bag-like nests woven from fibers.

Baltimore Orioles’ diet is insects such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, as well as spiders and snails, and they help eat pest species. However, they eat a wide variety of fruits and can damage crops such as raspberries, mulberries, cherries, bananas, and oranges.

Baltimore Oriole Song:

Credit: Matt Wistrand, XC415889. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/415889.

Attract Baltimore Orioles to your yard with oranges cut in half on platform feeders or hanging from trees. Also, oriole feeders filled with sugar water and plant fruit and nectar sources such as raspberries, crab apples, and trumpet vines.

34. 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

35. Pine Siskin

pine siskin

Pine Siskins are small brown finches with yellow streaks in the wing and tail. They have a forked tail and pointed wings, with a short pointed bill.

  • Spinus Pinus
  • Length: 4.3-5.5 in (11-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz (12-18 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-8.7 in (18-22 cm)

Pine Siskins remain all year in the pine forests in the western states and along the Canadian Border. Some also breed in Canada before heading south for winter.

Depending on pine cone crops, they can be found over much of North America. As their name suggests, Pine Siskins predominantly eat seeds from conifers, but they also eat young buds and seeds from grasses and weeds.

Pine Siskin Song:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC348803. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/348803.

Nests of Pine Siskins are built ten to fifty feet high above the ground, away from the tree trunk. They are usually made of twigs, barks, and moss and are home to three to five eggs. It takes about thirteen days for the eggs to hatch.

Attract Pine Siskins to your backyards with thistle and nyjer feeders but also black oil sunflower seeds and suet.

Fun Fact: The name “Siskin” comes from the Pine Siskin’s chirp. So, it’s basically a “pine chirper.”

36. 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.

37. Purple Finch

Purple Finch
Purple Finch female

Purple Finches males have reddish-purple heads and breasts with more brown on the back and wings, and they have a paler belly. Females are brown-streaked all over. They look very similar to House Finch but are redder, especially at the top of their back. 

  • Haemorhous purpureus
  • Length: 4.7-6.3 in (12-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-32 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.7-10.2 in (22-26 cm)

Purple Finches breed in Canada and overwinter in eastern states but can be found all year in the north-east and Pacific coast.

You can find Purple Finch in evergreen forests feeding on seeds but also buds, nectar, and berries.

Purple Finch Song:

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

Nests of Purple Finches are located high up in trees. They are made of twigs, barks, weeds, and moss. They usually hold three to five eggs that are incubated for thirteen days by the female.

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

Fun Fact: Purple Finches are the state bird of New Hampshire.

38. California Towhee

California Towhee

California Towhees are large, brown,  plump sparrows with long tails, short wings, and a rusty patch under their tails.

  • Melozone crissalis
  • Length: 8.3-9.8 in (21-25 cm)
  • Weight: 1.3-2.4 oz (37-67 g)
  • Wingspan: 11.4 in (29 cm)

California Towhees are only found in the coastal chaparral scrub areas of California, Oregon, and Baja California. They will also visit backyards, sit on fenceposts, and chase their reflections in car mirrors or windows.

California Towhees’ diets are mostly seeds from grasses and herbs, but they also eat berries such as elderberry, coffeeberry, and acorns. 

California Towhee sounds: The males sing a simple song that consists of a short, fast trill at a couple of different pitches.

Credit: Paul Marvin, XC561071. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/561071.

Nests of California Towhees are pretty low down in shrubs or small trees and are made from twigs and grass woven together. The inside of the nest is lined with softer material, such as animal hair and soft fluffy seeds.

They lay up to five eggs, and these take up to two weeks to hatch and at least a week for the young to fledge.

Attract Califonia Towhees to your yard with millet on-ground feeders and plant native berry plants.

Fun fact: California Towhees will attack their reflections in mirrors and windows.

39. American Tree Sparrow

American tree sparrow

American Tree sparrows are long-tailed brown-streaked plump birds with rusty caps, gray faces, and a rusty eye line. 

  • Spizelloides arborea
  • Length: 5.5 in (14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.5-1.0 oz (13-28 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.4 in (24 cm)

American Tree Sparrows are a bird of winter in the US and a bird of summer in Canada.

They breed in the far north of Canada and in Alaska and migrate to most US states for the winter, except the Pacific and Gulf Coasts.

You can find American Tree Sparrows foraging in small flocks in weedy fields and under bird feeders.

American Tree Sparrows sounds: Males sing a pleasant song from late winter, before migration. Their song is a tuneful series of rising and falling whistles.

Nests of American Tree Sparrows’ are usually on or near to the ground and are made of twigs, grass, and moss. They lay around five eggs, and these take just under two weeks to hatch and just over a week for the young to fledge.

Attract American Tree Sparrows to your backyard platform feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and millet. They also feed seeds dropped on the ground from tube feeders.

40. 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 meadow 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.

Nests of Black-billed Magpies are a messy ball-shaped collection of twigs with a neat cup of mud and soft material on the inside. They lay 6 – 7 eggs, and these take around three weeks to hatch and fledge a further 3 – 4 weeks.

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.

41. Golden-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrows are grayish-brown underneath and streaked brown on the back. Their heads have a black crown and a bright-yellow forehead.

The colors are duller and brown on the crown in winter, and the yellow forehead is also duller.

  • Zonotrichia atricapilla
  • Length: 5.9-7.1 in (15-18 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-1.2 oz (30-33 g)

Golden-crowned Sparrows breed in Alaska and western Canada before migrating to the West Coast for winter. 

You can find Golden-crowned Sparrow in weedy fields scratching for seeds such as dock, sumac, and geranium. They also eat fruit such as apples, grapes, elderberry, and olives. Insects also make up some of their diets, such as ants, beetles, butterflies, and termites.

Golden-crowned Sparrows sounds: Their song is a sad, slow series of whistles that decrease in pitch.

Credit: Steve Hampton, XC680976. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/680976.

Nests of Golden-crowned Sparrows are usually on the ground and made from twigs, moss, and leaves. They are lined with softer material, such as animal hair, grass, and feathers.

They lay around four eggs, which take just under two weeks to hatch and a further ten days for the young to fledge.

Attract Golden-crowned Sparrows to your backyard with seeds on ground feeders or plant native plants that fruit.

Fun fact: The gold crown of Golden-crowned Sparrows shows how dominant they are, with larger crowns showing more dominance. This helps to reduce fights amongst males.

42. Fox Sparrow

Although some species are more gray or dark brown, the Fox Sparrow is aptly named after its fox-red coloring. Its reddish streaks are particularly obvious in its chest area. It is a chunky bird compared to other sparrows.

There are four different color and appearance variations in Fox Sparrows. Red Fox Sparrows are found in eastern areas, and darker ‘sooty’ Fox Sparrows are found along the Pacific Coast. Thick-billed Fox Sparrows are found in California, and Slate-colored Fox Sparrows are found in western US states.

  • Passerella iliaca
  • Length: 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm)
  • Weight: 0.9-1.6 oz (26-44 g)
  • Wingspan: 10.5-11.4 in (26.7-29 cm)

Fox Sparrows migrate and breed in the north and west of Canada, Alaska, and down as far as California in the western US.

They spend the winter in southeastern US states and along the Pacific coast. Some remain all year on Canada’s Pacific coast, and they can be seen during migration in central and northeastern US states.

You can find Fox Sparrows in wooded areas, undergrowth, and brush. In the winter, they migrate to similar areas, even in well-vegetated suburbs and parks. You may observe them kicking up leaf litter in the air in search of food on the ground. 

Insects and seeds are a common diet of Fox Sparrows. At times, they may also eat berries and grasses and crustaceans and marine animals if they’re near the beach. 

Fox Sparrow sounds: Males sing a pleasant series of whistles and buzzy notes.

Credit: Martin St-Michel, XC467711. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/467711.

Nests of Fox Sparrow are hidden under dense, low shrubs. They may also build them in low trees but not more than eight feet above the ground. The nest is covered with grass, weeds, and moss but lined with dry grass. For those above ground, twigs are used to toughen up the nest’s walls.

They lay two to five eggs, which take about two weeks to hatch. The young may leave the nest within eleven days of hatching. 

Attract Fox Sparrows to your backyard with small seeds and berries and low native shrubs.

Fun fact: The female Fox Sparrow can build a nest in a flash. They can start a nest at sunrise and finish it by dusk!

43. 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.

Nests of Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay are fairly simple platforms made of twigs and lined with moss and grass.

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.

44. Cassin’s Finch

Cassin’s Finch males have a red crown, rosy pink head, and red-breasted with a whiteish belly and brown back and wings. Females and juveniles are brown-streaked all over.

  • Haemorhous cassinii
  • Length: 6.3 in (16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.2 oz (24-34 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-10.6 in (25-27 cm)

Cassin’s Finches live all year in mountain forests in western US states and into southwestern Canada. Some migrate into northern Mexico in winter.

You can find Cassin’s Finches foraging in flocks for seeds in conifer forests. They also eat quaking aspen buds, berries, and other fruit, and some insects such as moths.

Cassin’s Finch:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC550999. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/550999.

Nests of Cassin’s Finches are usually built on pine or similar trees. The nests are cup-like and made of twigs, barks, reeds, and rootlets. A nest can hold four to six eggs which are incubated by the female for about two weeks.

Attract Cassin’s Finches to your backyards with sunflower seed feeders, especially in winter, or fruiting shrubs such as cotoneaster, mulberries, firethorn, grape, and apple.

Fun Fact: The male Cassin’s Finch may confuse you. During its first breeding season, it retains its female-like feather coloring and sings, giving you the impression that females also sing.

45. Canyon Towhee

canyon towhee

Canyon Towhees are plain grayish-brown sparrows with long tails and plump bodies. Although they look similar to California Towhees, their range does not overlap.

  • Melozone fusca
  • Length: 8.3-9.8 in (21-25 cm)
  • Weight: 1.3-1.9 oz (37-53 g)
  • Wingspan: 11.5 in (29.21 cm)

Canyon Towhees are resident all year in southwestern US states and Mexico.

You can find Canyon Towhees on the ground in desert grassland foraging mainly for seeds and berries. However, they will also eat some grasshoppers and other insects.

Canyon Towhee sounds: Their song is fast, stuttering, and two-toned.

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC323288. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/323288.

Nests of Canyon Towhees are placed near the trunk of trees and large shrubs, so they are well supported and hidden. The nest is made by the female from grass and plant material and is lined with soft grass and animal hair.

Attract Canyon Towhees to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds, milo, millet, and oats scattered on the ground. However, they are shy birds that can be hard to attract.

Fun fact: Canyon Towhees will nest when the twice-yearly desert rains are due, which provides a sudden abundance of plants and insects.

46. Harris’s Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrows are distinctive, with a black face and bib darker in adults than juveniles. They also have brown-streaked bodies, with pale bellies and pink bills. Breeding adults have gray heads, but non-breeding adults have brown heads.

  • Zonotrichia querula
  • Length: 6.7-7.9 in (17-20 cm)
  • Weight: 0.9-1.7 oz (26-49 g)
  • Wingspan: 10.6 in (27 cm)

Harris’s Sparrows breed in the northern tundra of central Canada and migrate to south-central Great Plains for winter. They can be seen during migration across central US states and Canadian provinces.

You can find Harris’s Sparrows out in the open during their migration or in winter in fields or other open areas. They eat seeds, fruit, insects, and especially crowberries in spring when nesting, and there is less food around.

Harris’s Sparrow Call/Song:

Credit: Paul Driver, XC70460. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/70460.

Nests of Harris’s Sparrows are on the ground and made from twigs and moss and lined with soft grass. They lay up to five eggs which take around two weeks to hatch and a further nine days or so for the young to leave the nest.

Attract Harris’s Sparrows to your backyard in winter with black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn.

Fun fact: Harris’s Sparrows are the only songbird that breeds in Canada and nowhere else.

47. Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia
Male
Pyrrhuloxia female
Female

Pyrrhuloxia males are grey with lots of red coloring to the face, crest, breast, and tail. Females are dull gray with less red coloring.

  • Cardinalis sinuatus
  • Length: 8.3 in (21 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.5 oz (24-43 g)

They are residents of the hot deserts in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico.

During the breeding season, they fiercely defend their territory, but in winter, they can be found in flocks of up to 1000. 

Pyrrhuloxia feed mostly on seeds but also insects. They can be found at feeders with sunflower seeds but more often prefer them scattered on the ground. 

Pyrrhuloxia Song:

Credit: Bobby Wilcox, XC511400. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/511400.

Nests of Pyrrhuloxias are built by females from twigs, bark, and grass and line them with softer material, such as hair, plant material, and feathers. The nests are in trees or shrubs at the end of branches. They lay around three eggs, which take two weeks to hatch and around a further twelve days for the young to leave the nest.

Attract Pyrrhuloxias to your backyard with sunflower seeds and native fruiting shrubs.

Fun fact: Pyrrhuloxias rarely drink water, which is good as it is so scarce in their desert habitat. Instead, they get moisture from eating their insect prey.

48. 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.

Nests of Clark’s Nutcrackers are made in conifer trees and are made from sticks and twigs and lined with wood pulp, followed by soft dry grass and moss.

They lay 2 – 6 eggs, and these take around two and a half weeks to hatch and a further three weeks to fledge.

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!

49. 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.

Nests of Pine Grosbeaks are commonly found ten to twelve feet above the ground on a low tree. The nests are made of twigs, barks, weeds, moss, and lichen and hold two to five eggs. The female incubates these eggs for about two weeks until they hatch.

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.”

50. 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.

Nests of Pinyon Jays are built of sticks and grass in pine trees and lined with feathers and animal hair.

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

51. Common Redpoll

common redpoll

Common Redpolls are small and have red foreheads, and are brown and white streaked over the rest of their bodies. Males also have pink breasts, but females do not. They have small bills for finch and a short notched tail.

  • Acanthis flammea
  • Length: 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz (11-20 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in (19-22 cm)

Common Redpolls breed in artic in Canada and spend the winter in the rest of Canada and northern US states and less frequently in central US states.

In winter, they will sometimes tunnel into the snow to stay warm during the night. They can eat up to 42% of their body mass every day and can store up to 2 grams of seeds in a stretchy park of their esophagus.

You can find Common Redpolls in weedy fields or feeding on catkins in trees, but they will also come to feeders for small seeds such as nyjer seeds or thistle.

Common Redpoll Song:

Credit: Steve Hampton, XC416053. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/416053.

Nests of Common Redpolls are hidden in rock crevices or in dense, low shrubs. To keep the nests and the eggs warm, they are usually built out of moss, feathers, plant material, and animal hair. The female lays four to seven eggs that she incubates for about eleven days. Even after they hatch, the young still stay in the nest and are cared for by their mothers for two more weeks.

Attract Common Redpolls to your backyard by feeding them nyjer seeds and shelled sunflower seeds.

Fun Fact: Common Redpolls can survive temperatures of -65 Fahrenheit without freezing to death. They add around 30% more feathers to stay warm.

52. Hoary Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll

Hoary Redpolls are small and hardy birds. Adults are generally white and have a red patch on their foreheads. Adult males have a pinkish chest while adult females don’t.

Females do have more streaks on their bellies compared to males. Juveniles look entirely different, having no red patch on their forehead and are mostly gray with a lot of streaking on their body. 

  • Acanthis hornemanni
  • Length: 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz (11-20 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.5-9.25 in (22-23 cm)

Hoary Redpolls breed in the arctic and move short distances south in winter.

You can find Hoary Redpolls in sheltered tundra birch forests and open subarctic evergreen forests in the summer. Winters bring them closer to towns and villages, in open woodland, scrub, and weedy fields. They feed on seeds of alder and birch trees and on insects. 

Hoary Redpoll Song:

Credit: Andrew Spencer, XC142564. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/142564.

Nests of Hoary Redpoll are hidden in the hollows of trees, crevices of rocky areas, and within dense shrubs. The nest is made from twigs, grass, and rootlets and cushioned with soft grass feathers and animal hair. They lay around five eggs which take around ten days to hatch. The young leave the nest in about two weeks. 

Fun Fact: If the temperature in their environment becomes too warm, Hoary Redpoll may pluck out some of its body feathers. Don’t worry, they grow back. 

53. Black Rosy-Finch

Black Rosy Finch
Credit: Tom Benson

Black Rosy-Finch are medium-sized birds recognizable because of their grayish-white crown against a black head. The rest of their body is brownish-black with pink streaks on their belly. Breeding adults are darker black all-over, making the pink streaks on the wings and belly stand out. Juveniles are browner in color.

  • Leucosticte atrata
  • Length: 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.1 oz (22-32 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0 in (33 cm)

Black-Rosy-Finches live in alpine western US mountains all year.

You can find Black Rosy-Finch among alpine tundra and meadows. They prefer rocky summits and snowfields but may move to lowlands and open country during the winter. Their breeding ground can be found in mountain peaks, rock piles, and cliffs. 

In the summer, Black Rosy-Finch eat insects and worms, and they also eat seeds, leaves, and young plants. In winter, they eat mainly seeds.

Black Rosy-Finch Call/Song:

Credit: Andrew Spencer, XC143749. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/143749.

Nests of Black Rosy-Finch are in inaccessible places, like cliffside crevices and niches between boulders. The female builds the nest out of grass, moss, animal hair, and feathers. She will lay around four eggs, and they hatch in two weeks. The young leave the nest after another three weeks.  

Fun Fact: Black Rosy-Finches use a unique pouch at the bottom of their mouth to store extra food for their young. 

54. Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

brown capped rosy finch

Credit: Dominic Sherony

Brown-capped Rosy-Finches are reddish-pink on the belly and brighter wings during the breeding season. They are brown with hints of pink on the rest of their body and brown capped. Juveniles and non-breeding adults are mainly brown.

  • Leucosticte australis
  • Length: 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.2 oz (23-33 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0 in (33 cm)

Brown-capped Rosy-Finches live in Colorado, and New Mexico in the mountains feeding on seeds, insects, and spiders, and do not migrate.

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch Call:

Credit: Andrew Spencer, XC87646. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/87646.

Nests of Brown-capped Rosy-Finches are found in high elevations like cliff ridges, rock crevices, and caves. The females create a nest made of moss, grass, and weeds lined with fur and feathers. They can lay as many as five eggs and incubate them for two weeks.

Attract Brown-capped Rosy-Finches to your backyard feeders with sunflower seeds or Nyjer seeds.

Fun Fact: Around 2,000 Brown-capped Rosy-Finches consider Rocky Mountain National Park their breeding ground and natural habitat, so this is a great place to spot them.

55. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

gray-crowned rosy finch

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches are medium-sized, chunky birds. Adults are identifiable by their black forehead and throat, gray crown, and brown body with pink highlights in their bellies.

In winter, their bill is yellow then turns black during the breeding season. Juveniles are brown with none of the pink highlights. 

  • Leucosticte tephrocotis
  • Length: 5.5-8.3 in (14-21 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-2.1 oz (22-60 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0 in (33 cm)

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch breed in Alaska and western Canada before migrating to western US states in winter.

You can find Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch in alpine snowfields, barren tundra, and on rocky islands in summer. In winter, they descend into open plains, valleys, and towns, especially when there are bird feeders. 

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch forage for worms and insects that are frozen in snowfields, glaciers, and meadows during the summer. In the winter, they eat mustard and sunflower seeds and weeds. 

Gray-crowned Rosy-finch Call:

Credit: Andrew Spencer, XC143946. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/143946.

Nests of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch are usually found hidden away in crevices between boulders and cliffs, under a rock, or even in mine shafts and holes in abandoned buildings.

Their nests are made from grass, roots, moss, and sedge and lined with fine grass, animal hair, and feathers. The female usually lays around four eggs which hatch after two weeks, and the young are ready to leave the nest after another two weeks.  

Attract Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches to your backyard by feeding them black oil sunflower seeds. You can scatter the seeds on the ground or platform feeders. 

Fun Fact: Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches will probably win the award for “Highest Altitude Breeding Bird in North America” since they nest on the slopes of Denali, known for being the continent’s highest peak. 

56. 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.

Nests of Canada Jays are built early in conifers when there is still snow around. The nest is made from dead twigs and is lined with feathers and built on the south side of the tree for warmth.

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.