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New York isn’t just about tall buildings and bright lights. Whether you’re from the city or upstate, there are a wide variety of bird species you can observe in this location’s diverse landscapes. In this article, we’ll show 20 common backyard birds in New York. Our descriptions will show you some essential background information and where to find them. However, do note that this list is not in any specific order. Keep a lookout for which kinds of aerial critters might be in your area!
|Scientific name||Cardinalis cardinalis|
Among all the red birds in New York, the Northern Cardinal is one that catches your eyes in seconds. Males have saturated, crimson colors throughout their entire stature, but females have a yellow, orange, and brown complexion with a few red spots.
They aren’t too difficult to attract to your porch feeders, as seeds are their main source of food. This species can be found almost anywhere in New York but there is one area in the northeast part of the state where they don’t stay.
|Scientific name||Spinus tristus|
As we mentioned with the Northern Cardinal, the American Goldfinch has a deep yellow color that pops. That’s especially the case for breeding males, although they unfortunately only keep their breeding grounds in the south of Canada and some regions of the Midwest.
They are keen on seeds, so you can use sunflower seeds or other seeds to get a closer look. Goldfinches live in shrubs, so you may have trouble seeing them if they aren’t at the feeder.
|Scientific name||Columba livia|
If you’re from the city, then you should already know how common the Rock Pigeon is. They roam the streets and suburbs at all times of day and can be quite tame around humans due to their proximity to the public.
Pigeons generally make their homes wherever they can, nesting on telephone poles or housetops. You might even be surprised to see one right on your windowsill. Seeds are their primary diet, but they have grown accustomed to consuming foods from the trash as well.
|Scientific name||Cyanocitta cristata|
Blue Jays are a great exhibition of both beautiful colors and one of the loudest calls of New York songbirds. Famed for their multi-toned wings and striking crests, it isn’t just their body that’s blue. Their eggs also have this blue color and are easily recognizable.
Jays are likely to eat all types of grub, but they often consume seeds, nuts, worms, fish, and much more. They are reasonably common in New York, and you should be able to find them year-round nesting in trees or some household nooks and crannies.
|Scientific name||Quiscalus quiscula|
This is a common species of bird whose population is rapidly decreasing. Common Grackles will most often build a place to live in treetops but may resort to staking out another bird’s nest if it accommodates their size.
They eat a variety of foods, such as fish, insects, seeds, and berries. They look similar to a crow but boast an assortment of mixed colors that are reflected in the sunlight. Males even display a blue tint on their necks and heads, while females are mostly dark all over.
|Scientific name||Corvus corax|
Ravens are everywhere. They are found perching the tree branches in your backyard, loitering on highways, circling rivers—the list could go on. Crows and Common Ravens are mixed up persistently, although their features can be quite separate. Ravens are much larger and consist of a heavier coat. The Common Raven’s intelligence is high, and they can steal dinner from other wildlife if necessary.
In New York, there are only a handful of locations where they stay: either upstate or in-between Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
|Scientific name||Gavia immer|
It’s obvious when a Common Loon is around, as their distinct call can be heard across lakes and ponds all over the state. If you want to view their white puffy chests and dark-hooded heads, the best time to see them is after the sunsets.
You might’ve already witnessed them diving below the water. This is a method for them to evade predators or to catch fresh fish for nourishment. They’re exceptionally great swimmers but lack mobility on the ground where they mate and nest.
|Scientific name||Branta canadensis|
Since New York borders the south of Canada, it would only make sense to see the flocks of Canada Geese migrating back and forth or staying for the better part of the year. Finding them is not a hard task, as they love to hang around marshes, ponds, or wet grasslands.
These birds forage the ground for seeds and also make their nests below the trees because they’re not the best flyers due to their weight and size. Their honk is unavoidable at times, and you won’t have trouble seeing them fly together in V-shaped alignments.
|Scientific name||Spizella pusilla|
Although Field Sparrows aren’t a rarity, their numbers are at risk due to habitat loss. In New York, you’ll likely encounter them during all seasons as you move closer to the Atlantic coast, but only during their breeding periods in the rest of the state.
The male Field Sparrow has a puffier chest than the females to display dominance but is one of the smaller brown birds in New York. They spend their lives huddled away in low-lying bushes and branches, but they often search the ground in hopes to satiate their diet with bugs.
|Scientific name||Dryobates pubescens|
The Downy Woodpecker is probably the most common of its kind in the Northeast and can be heard drilling or knocking away at trees to build their nesting cavities. This species is widely known for its black and white mask on its face, as well as the highlighted orange cap.
They primarily forage the bark of forest trees to find their favorite foods, which include ants or worms. You can find them year-round in any part of New York.
|Scientific name||Dumetella carolinesis|
Among the many New York songbirds, this one has a call that can be identified very quickly. It makes a “mew” sound that can be heard from afar. As the name suggests, Gray Catbirds have a fully gray body, with a dark gray top. They eat ground insects and make their hideaways in shrubs.
Year-round catbirds can be found in the southern region of New York, whereas their mating season brings them to the central and upstate areas.
|Scientific name||Melospiza melodia|
Similar to the Field Sparrow, these types of brown birds in New York are miniature and quite common. This species can be found anywhere in the state and live in open woodlands, scavenging for insects on the ground.
Male Song Sparrows have larger chests, whereas the females are slenderer and have fewer contrasting colors. If you want to attract them to your backyard, it shouldn’t be an issue because they enjoy sunflower seeds and other treats.
|Scientific name||Zenaida macroura|
If you live anywhere in the contiguous United States, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ve heard the melancholy song of the Mourning Dove before dusk or after dawn. They love to cling to telephone wires and show their pigeon-like stature.
Although woodlands are their native habitat, they also tend to stick close to suburbs or rural towns for the aforementioned reason. Their size makes it hard for them to perch onto your feeder, so you may need to get one that’s large and durable.
|Scientific name||Poecile atricapillus|
You’ll surely hear the chirps of a Black-Capped Chickadee, as they make a “chickadee-dee-dee” call just as their name implies. They’re considered one of the most adorable New York songbirds—or anywhere that they live for that matter—and are effortlessly identifiable by their black-capped top, spherical shape, gray wings, and a white underbelly.
They’re a common sight at the feeder and will eat any seed that they can fit in their mouth. Though, they may make several visits to stock up for later.
|Scientific name||Sitta canadensis|
A walk through the forests of any Northeastern state will bring you closer to the Red-Breasted Nuthatch. This miniature bird nests inside of tree holes or indents and examines bark for ants or beetles. They won’t mind coming to a feeder at all though and aren’t shy to join others. They live everywhere in New York, but you won’t find them breeding near its coastal region or The Big Apple.
|Scientific name||Butorides virescens|
Unfortunately, the population of the Green Heron is slowly decreasing despite it being a frequent critter roaming wet marshes. If you live near the coast or even near a freshwater marsh, you may see them hunched over hunting for fish or perching on the tops of logs or protruding rocks.
They’re quite large birds with long bills, long legs, and piercing eyes, which makes them an exciting highlight for enthusiasts looking for wildlife.
|Scientific name||Melanerpes carolinus|
The red belly of this species can sometimes be difficult to see at many angles, as their checkered feathers and reddish-orange cap steal most of the glory. In this part of the country, you’ll likely find them near the Great Lakes or borders of New York and Connecticut, but they will stay throughout the year.
These birds scavenge tree bark for insects and build their homes in decayed tree cavities. It’s possible that you can bring them to your porch if you put seeds, nuts, or animal fat out for them to eat.
|Scientific name||Sitta carolinensis|
The White-Breasted Nuthatch is a small, quick bird that tends to break nuts or seeds on trees to get the prizes inside. They can sometimes be confused with the Black-Capped Chickadee, as their color schemes match well. However, the nuthatch has a longer beak and a white color throughout its belly and breast indicated by its name.
These birds are found in almost every corner of the country and shouldn’t be difficult to attract since they normally go to feeders without hesitation.
|Scientific name||Toxostoma rufum|
Brown Thrashers can be found throughout the entirety of New York, but the closer you get to the northern corner near Vermont, the less luck you will have. Here, they mostly stay for the breeding season and go south for the winter to escape the cold.
Similar to other brown birds in New York, this species primarily lives in areas with lots of short vegetation and tends to eat a variety of foods while scouring the ground.
|Scientific name||Baeolophus bicolor|
In the eastern forests of New York, the Tufted Titmouse is identifiable within seconds due to its distinguished gray crest and golden-glazed belly. They frequent tree branches and saplings for bugs that hide under leaves, then flurry back to their nest that often resides in a tree cavity.
A lot of times, they will store their food in the long-term as they tough out the colder months. They aren’t uncommon to see at the feeder, so you can put seeds to get a closer look—even during the wintertime.
Songbirds in New York are a beauty to witness, but it doesn’t end there. You can find even more birds of numerous shapes, sizes, and specialties depending on where you live in the state. Our list of 20 common backyard birds in New York is a sure way to get you excited about bird watching at any time of year, and we hope that you’re successful in finding your favorite species!
Featured Image Credit: Bonnie Taylor Barry, Shutterstock
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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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