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30 Common Backyard Birds in California (With Pictures)

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a mourning dove bird on a birdhouse

California is an incredibly ecologically diverse state, so it’s no surprise that there are so many different bird species there. If you’re trying to identify a bird that you’ve already spotted or just want to know what kind of birds might visit your backyard, we broke it all down for you here.

Here, we highlighted 30 different common backyard bird species in California, as well as the different environments that you can expect to find them in.

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The 30 Most Common Backyard Birds in California

1. House Finch

house finch bird perching on a tree trunk

Image Credit: bryanhanson1956, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Haemorhous mexicanus
Population Size 267 million to 1.7 billion
Habitat Dry desert, desert grassland, chaparral, oak savannah, streams, and open forests
Diet Weed seeds, flower parts, berries, insects, and regurgitated seeds

While getting an exact estimate of the total number of house finches out there is challenging, one thing is clear, there are many of them. They thrive in a wide array of environments, so you can spot them in tons of different areas in California.


2. White-Crowned Sparrow

 

Scientific Name  Zonotrichia leucophrys
Population Size 79 million
Habitat Tundra, high alpine meadows, and forest edges
Diet Seeds, especially sunflower seeds

If you want to see white-crowned sparrows in your California yard, just sprinkle sunflower seeds around the base of your bird feeders. These birds love the tough seeds, and they’ll eat them even if they’re just passing through an area.


3. Yellow-Rumped Warbler

yellow-rumped warbler

Image Credit: 12019, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Setophaga coronata
Population Size 130 million
Habitat Conifer forests
Diet Insects and berries

The yellow-rumped warbler prefers forest environments, and there are plenty of those in California. They’ll also pass through other areas, and with over 130 million yellow-rumped warblers out there, you’re sure to spot a few in California if you’re looking.


4. Song Sparrow

song sparrow bird on a tree trunk

Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Melospiza melodia
Population Size 130 million
Habitat Fields, by streams, marsh edges, woodland edges, and well-vegetated gardens
Diet Insects and seeds

Whether you live in an area with natural shrubberies or a place that’s more open, the song sparrow is a bird that you might see. They are extremely versatile, and plenty of people have seen them build their nests in well-vegetated gardens.


5. Black Phoebe

 

Scientific Name  Sayornis nigricans
Population Size 6 million
Habitat Near water, streams, ponds, and lakes, sometimes in city parks
Diet Insects

The black phoebe might be one of the least populous bird species on this list, but it still has over 6 million birds in their population. They typically live near slow-moving water in the wild, but some city parks meet these requirements too. Anywhere there’s an abundance of flying insects is where the black phoebe wants to hang out!


6. Mourning Dove

mourning dove perched on a branch

Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Zenaida macroura
Population Size 350 million
Habitat Forest clearings, farmland, suburbs, prairies, and deserts
Diet Seeds

Few birds are as well-known as the mourning dove. They absolutely love open spaces, and they’ll find their way into the suburbs all around California. If you’re trying to attract a few to your yard, scatter seeds around the bottom of your bird feeder, as mourning doves prefer to stay low to the ground.


7. Anna’s Hummingbird

anna's hummingbird

Image Credit: Veronika_Andrews, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Calypte anna
Population Size 1.5 million
Habitat Gardens, chaparral, and open woods
Diet Nectar and insects

Who doesn’t love seeing hummingbirds? While these birds only migrate through California, they’re still relatively abundant in the state. If you’re trying to spot them, put out a nectar bird feeder for them to feed from, and keep an open eye out during the warm months!


8. American Crow

american crow perching on a tree trunk

Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Corvus brachyrhynchos
Population Size 31 million
Habitat Fields, open woodlands, forests, parking lots, towns, and cities
Diet Insects, berries, fruit, eggs, carrion, and garbage

The American crow isn’t many people’s favorite bird, but there are quite a few of them in California. They’re especially abundant in cities and towns, as they eat just about anything. They thrive off humans’ leftovers, and many crows hang out around areas with plenty activity to take advantage of this.


9. California Towhee

California Towhee on the ground

Image Credit: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Melozone crissalis
Population Size 9 million
Habitat Chaparral, backyards, and neighborhoods
Diet Seeds and insects

While they live in wild areas too, you’ll commonly see these birds in backyards and neighborhoods. If you want them around, just put out a few bird feeders with seeds!


10. Northern Mockingbird

northern mockingbird

Image Credit: MOHANN, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Mimus polyglottos
Population Size 45 million
Habitat Forest edges, parks, and suburbs
Diet Insects and berries

Mockingbirds love open areas where humans hang out. You’ll commonly see them in parks and suburbs, but you can also find them near forest edges, especially by campgrounds. Mockingbirds primarily eat insects, but they will eat berries and other small fruits too.


11. California Scrub-Jay

California scrub-jay

Image Credit: Lu-Yang, Shutterstock

Scientific Name  Aphelocoma californica
Population Size 1.8 million
Habitat Chaparral, open oak woodlands, dry mountain canyons, and backyards
Diet Insects, fruits, nuts, berries, and seeds

With just 1.8 million birds, you might not see too many California scrub-jays around. However, since about all their range is in the state, they’re quite common, especially in the northern parts of California.


12. Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Image Credit: Agami Photo Agency, Shutterstock

Scientific Name  Agelaius phoeniceus
Population Size 210 million
Habitat Fresh and saltwater marshes, crop fields, feedlots, pastures, and near standing water
Diet Insects and seeds

There are tons of red-winged blackbirds in California, but you’ll need to find standing water to spot them. They primarily eat small flying insects, so any areas with those populations tend to attract red-winged blackbirds.


13. American Robin

american robin perched on a tree trunk

Image Credit: tdfugere, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Turdus migratorius
Population Size 370 million
Habitat Woodlands, suburban backyards, parks, and grasslands
Diet Insects, berries, and earthworms

One of the most common birds that you’ll spot in a California backyard is the American robin. Not only are there many of these birds out there, but they also love the ecosystem around backyards and parks. They eat insects and berries, and you might see them prancing around your yard trying to attract earthworms.


14. European Starling

European Starling perched on a tree

Image Credit: andreiprodan, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Sturnus vulgaris
Population Size 200 million
Habitat Lowland non-mountainous terrain
Diet Insects, berries, fruits, and seeds

While the European starling started out as an invasive species to North America, they’re now so numerous that they’re easy to spot. They thrive in low-land areas, so how many you’ll see depends on what part of the state you are in.


15. Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

Image Credit: m.shattock, Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name  Spinus psaltria
Population Size 7 million
Habitat Brushy country, open woods, wooded streams, and gardens
Diet Seeds

Do you want to see a lesser goldfinch? Put out bird feeders with seeds, seeds, and more seeds! Those are the only things that these birds eat, and they live in a wide array of habitats.


16. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker bird perching on a branch

Image Credit: Veronika_Andrews, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Colaptes auratus
Population Size 16 million
Habitat Woodlands, forest edges, open fields, city parks, and suburbs
Diet Insects, fruits, and seeds

The northern flicker is a versatile bird that you can find in a variety of habitats across the state. From woodlands to city parks and suburbs, you can find northern flickers there. They primarily eat insects, but you’ll also see them eat fruits and seeds during the winter months.


17. American Goldfinch

american goldfinch

Image Credit: Miles Moody, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Spinus tristis
Population Size 24 million
Habitat Weedy fields, floodplains, orchards, and backyards
Diet Seeds and insects

While you likely won’t be out in too many weedy fields or floodplains to spot many American Goldfinches, they’ve started to adapt to human interventions in the ecosystem, and you can see them in both orchards and backyards. The American goldfinch loves seeds, so they are a bird that you can attract to your backyard with the right feeder.


18. Barn Swallow

barn swallow perching on a tree trunk

Image Credit: Elsemargriet, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Hirundo rustica
Population Size 190 million
Habitat Fields, parks, roadway edges, marshes, meadows, ponds, and coastal waters
Diet Insects

Barn swallows stay up high and thrive on flying insects. You won’t see these birds in city or suburban backyards that often, but if you’re out in the country, you can spot them. They love perching by standing water, so look near marshes, ponds, meadows, or even coastal waters.


19. Dark-Eye Junco

dark-eyed junco perched

Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Junco hyemalis
Population Size 630 million
Habitat Coniferous and deciduous forests
Diet Seeds and insects

There are many dark-eyed junco birds out there, but if you want to spot one, you’ll need to check out wooded areas. They love both coniferous and deciduous forests, so anywhere with trees is where they thrive. There are plenty of wooded areas in California, especially in the northern part of the state.


20. Chestnut-Backed Chickadee

 

Scientific Name  Poecile rufescens
Population Size 9.7 million
Habitat Coniferous forests
Diet Insects, seeds, and berries

The chestnut-backed chickadee is a beautiful bird that you can find in coniferous forests in California. While you likely won’t be able to coax them too far from the forest during the warm months, when things start to cool down, you might be able to get a few to a bird feeder with seeds.


21. Western Bluebird

Western-Bluebird_Takashi-Photography_shutterstock

Image Credit: Takahashi Photography, Shutterstock

Scientific Name  Sialia mexicana
Population Size 6.7 million
Habitat Pine and oak woods, streamside groves, and semi-open habitats
Diet Insects and berries

Who doesn’t love a beautiful bluebird? The western bluebird is just that in California. You can find them in both wooded areas and semi-open habitats, but it’s not unheard of to see them in suburban areas and backyards. They eat insects and berries, though, so there’s not too much that you can do to attract them to your backyard.


22. Bushtit

 

Scientific Name  Psaltriparus minimus
Population Size 3.2 million
Habitat Chaparral, oak, pinyon-juniper, and pine-oak woods; streamside groves; suburbs; and city parks
Diet Insects

The bushtit is a small and adorable bird that you can find in tons of different California environments. They also love suburbs and city parks, so it’s also common to see them in backyards. Just don’t expect to see them at your feeders, since they primarily eat insects.


23. Bewick’s Wren

 

Scientific Name  Thryomanes bewickii
Population Size 5.6 million
Habitat Open woods, thickets, towns, and gardens
Diet Insects

The Bewick’s wren lives in different environments, so you can see them in various town and garden environments. You’ll also see them in thickets and open wooded areas. While you can see them in your backyard, they don’t eat at bird feeders because they prefer to chow down on insects.


24. Nuttall’s Woodpecker

 

Scientific Name  Picoides nuttallii
Population Size 100 to 200,000
Habitat Wooded canyons, foothills, and river woods
Diet Insects

With only 100,000 to 200,000 Nuttall’s woodpeckers left in the wild, this is likely the hardest bird on this list to spot. Complicating the matter is that they only live in mature forests. But if your home is in or near a well-established forest, there’s technically a chance of you spotting one in your backyard.


25. Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker birds perching on a tree

Image Credit: marvinbla, Pixabay

Scientific Name  Melanerpes formicivorus
Population Size 7.5 million
Habitat Oak country
Diet Acorns and insects

If you’re looking to spot a woodpecker, the Acorn woodpecker is the easiest to spot in California. They only live near oak trees, though, so you’ll need to have a few in your area. The acorn woodpecker eats both acorns and insects, which is why they need the oak trees to survive!


26. Oak Titmouse

 

Scientific Name  Baeolophus inornatus
Population Size 900,000
Habitat Oak or oak-pine woodlands
Diet Insects, nuts, and seeds

The oak titmouse is a tiny and adorable bird that you can find in different regions of California. You’ll only find them near oak trees, hence the name, but they eat various insects and seeds. Just don’t expect to see too many of these adorable birds, as their total population number sits under 1 million.


27. Cliff Swallow

 

Scientific Name  Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
Population Size 40 million
Habitat Canyons, hills, valleys, and cliffs
Diet Insects

If you’re near a steep, vertical area in California, there’s a good chance that you’ll spot a few cliff swallows. While once you could only find these birds near cliffs and canyons, they’ve adapted, and now you can find them building their nests at the tops of large buildings.


28. Steller’s Jay

 

Scientific Name  Cyanocitta stelleri
Population Size 2.8 million
Habitat Evergreen forests, campgrounds, parklands, and backyards
Diet Seeds, acorns, nuts, seeds, berries, fruits, and insects

With unique head feathers and beautiful blue coloring, a Steller’s jay is quite recognizable. They love seeds, so it’s not uncommon to see them visiting backyard feeders and hanging out in parks and campgrounds.


29. Common Raven

raven on cliff edge

Image Credit: Piqsels

Scientific Name  Corvus corax
Population Size 16 million
Habitat Open and forest habitats
Diet Insects, rodents, amphibians, eggs, carrion, and garbage

While the raven might be a pretty black bird to some people, the truth is that they’re scavengers just like crows. They eat just about anything, but unlike crows, you’ll only find them in open habitats. Unless there’s an appealing food source in your yard, chances are that they won’t hang out there.


30. Golden-Crowned Sparrow

 

Scientific Name  Zonotrichia atricapilla
Population Size 4 million
Habitat Shrubby habitats and high mountains
Diet Seeds, fruits, buds, and flowers

If you live in an area with plenty of shrubberies or in the northern mountain region, the chances of you spotting a golden-crowned sparrow is high, especially if you put out a bird feeder with seeds.eagle divider

Conclusion

With so many different environments and birds in California, if you’re into birdwatching, it’s hard to find a better state. It has everything from woodpeckers to hummingbirds.

Hopefully, now you have a better idea of what’s out there, and maybe the next time that you spot a bird in your backyard, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking at!


Featured Image Credit: GeorgiaLens, Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

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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