Most Common Backyard Birds

Close-up of an American goldfinch
John Benson/Flickr/CC by 2.0
  • 01 of 08

    Mourning Dove

    Close-up of a mourning dove
    Christopher Drake/Flickr/Used With Permission

    Every region of the country has some common birds that always seem to be around the feeders, but very few species are found throughout the entire continental United States. These eight common backyard birds are not only popular everywhere in the country, but they are regular visitors in every season. How many have visited your yard?

    Common Name: Mourning Dove
    Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura

    The mourning dove is a gentle, medium-sized bird with an overall buff coloration highlighted by black spots and darker wingtips. The back and wings of the bird are often gray-tinged, and an iridescent patch may show on the neck. Their soothing voice is easily recognizable, as is the slow whirring sound their wings make in flight.

    Mourning doves feed on seeds and readily come to ground and platform feeders, though they tend to be shy. Family groups travel together and feed easily with other backyard birds. They especially like millet, milo and sunflower seeds.

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Downy Woodpecker

    Close-up of a downy woodpecker
    Putneypics/Flickr/Used With Permission

    Common Name: Downy Woodpecker
    Scientific Name: Picoides pubescens

    The downy woodpecker is the smallest North American woodpecker. The bold red patch the male's nape is easily recognizable, and both male and female birds have the white back, striped face and spotted wings. The small, stubby bill is characteristic of downy woodpeckers, unlike the longer bills of the similar hairy woodpeckers.

    Downy woodpeckers regularly visit backyards with appropriate wooded habitat and mature trees. They can be attracted by suet feeders and may nest in backyards with brush and scrub landscaping.

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    American Robin

    Close-up of an American robin
    Jen Goellnitz/Flickr/Used With Permission

    Common Name: American Robin
    Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius 

    The bold red breast, gray back and wings and striped throat of the American robin are easily recognizable in backyards, parks, and forests around the country. Western populations are generally lighter, and juvenile birds are heavily spotted. These birds run and hop across lawns and feed on worms, insects, and berries.

    American robins are easily attracted to backyards where insects and berries can be found. They are also attracted to bird baths and water features for drinking and bathing. At feeders, they may also sample mealworms as well as crumbled or shredded suet.

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    American Crow

    An American crow
    Linda Tanner/Flickr/Used With Permission

    Common Name: American Crow
    Scientific Name: Corvus brachyrhynchos

    The American crow is an all-black bird with brown eyes that may gather in tremendous flocks, particularly in the winter. An iridescent blue or purple sheen may be seen on the wings. Though more common in rural and open areas, crows are becoming more populous in urban and suburban settings as well. Larger than blackbirds, crows are smaller than ravens.

    American crows are highly adaptive and will readily visit backyards for scraps, seed, and suet from bird feeders. These intelligent birds can be entertaining to watch as they creatively attack feeders for the choicest bits.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    European Starling

    A European starling
    Lee Hunter/Flickr/Used With Permission

    Common Name: European Starling
    Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris

    European starlings are gregarious birds with a very short tail, long, pointed yellow bill, and black plumage with a bold purple and iridescent green sheen. Plumage is heavily spotted in late fall and early winter, but spots gradually wear off. In non-breeding plumage, the bill will also be dark. First introduced to North American in 1890, starlings are now one of the most populous birds on the continent and can form huge flocks in open areas.

    Many backyard birders consider starlings to be bully birds because of their large numbers and voracious appetites for seed. They will easily visit platform and ground feeders, and may often be seen pecking along the ground for spilled seed, grains, and insects.

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    House Sparrow

    Close-up of two house sparrows
    Craig Nash/Flickr/Used With Permission

    Common Name: House Sparrow
    Scientific Name: Passer domesticus

    The house sparrow is a popular backyard visitor with a black or gray cap, dark throat, pale abdomen, and brown and black streaked back and wings. Female birds also have streaks but are paler and buffer overall, with a paler bill and prominent buffy eyebrow. Introduced to North American in New York in the 1850s, house sparrows are now abundant across the continent.

    These small birds are frequent backyard visitors to hopper and platform feeders. They prefer seeds but will also eat insects and fruit. House sparrows are also attracted to bird baths, and will also take dust baths in dry areas.

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    House Finch

    Close-up of a house finch
    Jen Goellnitz/Flickr/Used With Permission

    Common Name: House Finch
    Scientific Name: Carpodacus mexicanus

    The house finch is a bold bird with a tan body, heavily streaked abdomen, and red eyebrow, forehead and throat. A red strawberry patch is also visible on the rump. Male birds may also be yellow or orange on rare occasions, but female house finches are buff and tan without the brighter colors.

    House finches easily visit backyard feeders and will eat seeds and scraps. They are also attracted to bird baths and will readily nest in available birdhouses.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    American Goldfinch

    An American goldfinch
    John Benson/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    Common Name: American Goldfinch
    Scientific Name: Carduelis tristis

    American goldfinches are one of the most popular and desirable backyard bird species because of their beautiful bright yellow coloration. Males have a black cap and dark wings with distinctive wing bars, while females lack the black cap are have duller plumage on their backs.

    The favorite food of goldfinches is Nyjer seed, which they will take from the tube, mesh or sock feeders. They will also eat sunflower seed and drink from bird baths. They even have a fondness for seed-bearing flowers and will perch on flowers to pluck out the seeds, as well as seed fluff to use in their nests in late summer.