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Arkansas is known as “The Natural State” for good reason! This state is packed full of outdoor opportunities, from camping and hiking to birdwatching. Many people find that birdwatching in Arkansas can be very rewarding due to the sheer number of species present in the state, but you don’t even have to leave your backyard to see birds in Arkansas. Maybe you’ve seen brown birds in Arkansas and weren’t sure what you were looking at.
Here are 22 of the most common birds you’re likely to spot in your own backyard, from songbirds in Arkansas to predators.
|Preferred feed||Earthworms, mealworms|
|Distinguishing characteristic||Deep red chest|
The American robin is one of the most prevalent and distinguishable birds in North America, not to mention being one of the only red birds in Arkansas. This bird loves to spend time in backyards in search of food, and they can often be seen after rain, plucking earthworms from sidewalks and streets. They have eggs that are so distinct in color that Crayola even named their famous Robin’s Egg Blue crayon after them.
|Preferred feed||Sunflower seeds|
|Distinguishing characteristic||Red body with black face (males)|
The Northern cardinal is a beautiful bird that can often be spotted on snowy days, thanks to their bright-colored feathers standing out against the snowy background. Males are a showy red color with a black face, while females tend to be a drabber brown color with red feathers scattered throughout. These birds have strong beaks, and they love foods that are harder to access, like sunflower seeds.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Large size|
The American crow is an interesting bird to have around. They are highly intelligent birds that can even be trained under some circumstances. They eat a variety of foods but can become quite spoiled if they take a liking to a specific food, so you may have to keep a regular rotation of foods on hand to prevent this. These large birds are solid black, including on their feed and beak.
|Preferred feed||Hummingbird food|
|Distinguishing characteristic||Iridescent red throat (males)|
The ruby-throated hummingbird is a perennial favorite in the state of Arkansas. These tiny birds carry out vicious dogfights with each other in the sky over food and mates. They are highly territorial birds, but it’s hard to take their chittering seriously because of their tiny, adorable appearance. Males feature an eye-catching iridescent red throat with green feathers on their body, while females feature more muted tones than males.
|Preferred feed||Cracked corn|
|Distinguishing characteristic||Blue feathers with a white abdomen|
The blue jay is the ire of many a birdwatcher because these birds can be bullies. They are larger than most songbirds, and they are exceptionally territorial birds. Blue jays will keep other birds from visiting your yard when given the chance, so it may be necessary to put out a variety of feeders. They seem to prefer large, open feeders, like suet holders and flat feeders, so you may provide different types of feeders in your yard to prevent the blue jays from taking over all the feeders.
|Preferred feed||Suet dough|
|Distinguishing characteristic||Blue feathers on the back|
The Eastern bluebird is a petite songbird that is a delight to spot in your yard. The males feature deep blue hues on their backs, while the females have dull blue feathers. The bright blue feathers on the males make these birds a favorite among birdwatchers and laypeople alike. They enjoy suet dough, but will also appreciate foods like mealworms, sunflower bits, and even eggshells during the spring and summer when females need extra calcium due to egg-laying.
|Preferred feed||Small mammals|
|Distinguishing characteristic||Feathered “horns”|
The great horned owl may not be your everyday backyard bird, but if you live near wooded areas, you’ve likely spotted them from time to time. These large birds eat small mammals, like mice and rats, making them good birds to have around crops and grain silos. However, great horned owls will also eat other birds, including songbirds, hawks, ducks, and chickens. They are protected by legislation that protects birds of prey, so make sure to contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission with questions or concerns related to great horned owls in your yard.
|Preferred feed||Small mammals|
|Distinguishing characteristic||Stocky body|
The broad-winged hawk is a handsome hawk species that has a stocky body and large, strong head. These powerful birds have wings that create a notable point while they are flying, making them identifiable from below. They tend to stay near the edges of woods and forests, so you may have spotted them spending time near your yard if you live near the woods. They will catch mice and rats, but, like great horned owls, are not ideal to have around when you have small animals and songbirds.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Bright yellow bill|
The yellow-billed cuckoo is a beautiful bird with a lean body and long tail feathers. It features a bright yellow bill, although you may not spot this shy bird. Their diet almost entirely consists of caterpillars, so if you’ve had an outbreak of caterpillars on your property, you may luck into spotting these birds congregating near the good eats. When caterpillars aren’t available, the yellow-billed cuckoo has been known to eat small animals, like lizards and frogs, as well as eggs and baby birds.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Gray feathers|
The Northern mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas. This bird has distinctive gray feathers, and they are named for their tendency to mimic the calls of other birds. They have their own call as well, which they’ll be happy to sing for you all throughout nesting season. These birds love berries and can often be seen stealing sweet treats from blackberry bushes, elderberry bushes, and juniper trees. They will also eat insects during the spring and summer, often snacking on caterpillars and beetles, but they rely on access to berries throughout winter.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Red stripes on the shoulders (males)|
The red-winged blackbird is a bird that is easy to identify, thanks to the bright red stripe near its shoulders that stands out on the black feathers of the rest of its body on the males. Females have distinctive brown streaked bodies. This is one of the most prevalent birds in North America, so it should come as no surprise if you spot them in your backyard. They are fans of seeds and grains, like millet, as well as butterflies, dragonflies, small frogs, snails, and worms.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Small size|
The sedge wren is a small bird that can be found in low vegetation in search of its favorite foods. These birds enjoy eating spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, weevils, and caterpillars. They prefer residing in grasslands, so you may spot them if your backyard stays overgrown. They’re secretive birds that are exceptionally well camouflaged to their environment, making them very difficult to spot.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Spotted breast|
The wood thrush is a cute bird with a reddish-brown body and white chest covered in black spots. They live primarily off berries and wild fruits throughout the winter, while feeding on insects and other small invertebrates during the warmer months. The wood thrush is a close relative of the American robin, although it is slightly smaller. These birds are known to sing “duets” with themselves, filling in multiple song parts on their own.
|Preferred feed||Sunflower seeds|
|Distinguishing characteristic||Distinctive song|
The mourning dove is a prevalent bird in North America and it is instantly recognizable thanks to its mournful song, which gives it its name. They prefer to feed on grass and flower seeds, although they will occasionally eat bits of fruit and insects as well. The mourning dove has had many names, like the rain dove and Carolina pigeon, but you may not have realized that Mourning Doves are also sometimes known as turtle doves.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Tufted feathers on head|
The tufted titmouse is a small songbird that has a distinctive tuft of feathers on top of its head, giving it its name. These birds primarily eat insects and seeds, but around two-thirds of their diet consists of caterpillars. They will also sometimes eat berries. These birds rely heavily on feeders during the winter months to get enough to eat. If you have tufted titmice in your backyard and you offer them whole sunflower seeds, you may get to witness them holding the seeds with their feed and using their beaks like a hammer to open the shell.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Black cap and bib with white cheeks|
The Carolina chickadee is a cute, small bird that features a black cap and bib with notably bright white cheeks. They’re inquisitive birds that sing a distinctive song that has given them their name. These birds often take up residence in bird houses, and they are often seen in backyards. They may seem small to eat peanuts, but they are big fans of both peanuts and peanut butter, as well as a variety of other seeds and nuts.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Red head and abdomen|
The red-bellied woodpecker has a bright red head and somewhat dulled red abdomen. They feature black and white striping across the back. These birds are impossible to miss, thanks to their tendency to use their beaks to drill into trees in search of insects. When insects are in short supply, they rely on acorns and other plant matter for food. Many of them will visit suet feeders as well.
|Preferred feed||Suet cakes|
|Distinguishing characteristic||Black and white plumage|
The downy woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker species in North America. These birds are often spotted at feeders in search of things like suet cakes and sunflower seeds. They have notable black and white plumage, with a small amount of red at the back of the head. They look very similar to the hairy woodpecker, but they are much smaller. These birds are small enough to nest in backyard birdhouses.
|Distinguishing characteristic||White throat|
The white-throated sparrow is a small bird that has a white throat on a primarily brown body. Males often have yellow patches behind their eyes. These birds love to eat millet and other small feed types, and they are commonly spotted at feeders. They do like to dig through leaf litter on occasion, and they enjoy having brush piles to hide in. They typically travel in the company of other white-throated sparrows, creating small flocks.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Bright yellow feathers (males)|
The American goldfinch is a small bird that can be easily identified, thanks to its yellow feathers. Males sport beautiful yellow-gold feathers, while females are brown with small amounts of dull yellow. They feed on small seeds like thistle, ragweed, and dandelion, as well as hulled sunflower seeds. They are beautiful songbirds to have around and are a pleasure to watch.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Shiny feathers|
The European starling has shiny feathers that often take on an iridescent gleam to them. These birds are an introduced species, thanks to birders of the 19th century. They are often considered a pest species because they tend to steal fruit, congregate in large flocks, and generally are noisy and messy. Their large flock sizes make them a health and aesthetic problem, thanks to the large amounts of waste they leave behind. They are not picky eaters, and you likely won’t have to do anything but put out some food to attract European Starlings.
|Distinguishing characteristic||Scarlet-colored feathers (males)|
The scarlet tanager is a beautiful bird whose males have scarlet-colored feathers on the body, while its wings are black. Females have dull yellow bodies with black wings. Although still called the scarlet tanager, these birds were recently removed from the Tanager family and added to the cardinal family. They prefer to eat insects, especially those with large bodies, like beetles and stink bugs, but they will also eat mealworms, suet cakes, and fruit.
This list has barely scratched the surface of birds you might spot in your backyard in Arkansas, but these are some of the most common. Some of these birds can be attracted by specific foods, while others will simply come and go as they please, whether you’re the one putting out food or not. Keep in mind that it’s important to respect the birds in your yard. They are wildlife, and it’s important to their survival that you watch them from a distance.
Featured Image Credit: tdfugere, Pixabay
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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