Last Updated on
The Northern Cardinal is the most frequently seen bird in Virginia. However, the state is also home to many other Virginia songbirds that you’ll find in your backyard.
Whether you just came across a cool-looking bird in Virginia or are a dedicated birdwatcher, it’s always good to know what birds are roaming your backyard and thriving in their environment. Most of them are year-round residents, but you’ll also come across certain species as the seasons change.
This article covers the top 30 common backyard birds in Virginia. We’ve detailed their appearance, habitat, behaviors, and more. If you’re serious about knowing Virginia’s native bird species, this is the right place for you.
Here are the top 30 common backyard birds in Virginia, and we’ve included their scientific name, size, shape, and color for identification.
|Scientific Name||Cardinalis cardinalis|
|Color||Bright red color with black face|
The Northern Cardinal is the official state bird of Virginia and probably the most frequently seen of all red birds in Virginia. These birds are approximately the same size as Red-Winged Blackbirds and have plump bodies with long, full tails and wispy crests.
They are year-round residents, typically found in shrubby woodland edges. Their heavy, conical, and pink beak allows them to crack open sunflower seeds and spit the hulls out. Then, finally, they use their tongue to pluck the kernels.
|Scientific Name||Corvus brachyrhynchos|
Of course, you must have heard the caw of the American Crow no matter where you live in the country. These glossy black birds are smaller than ravens and have thick necks, large heads, and long legs.
American Crows prefer to live in open areas with trees, fields, farms, or cities. In the summer, these birds migrate to Canada. In addition, they like to gather in the evening in large flocks before moving into the surrounding areas at dawn.
|Scientific Name||Thryothorus ludovicianus|
|Color||Rusty brown with black bars|
The Carolina Wren is as small as an American Goldfinch with a round body, short neck, and a very active and long tail. Their white eyebrows are a unique identification feature. You’ll most commonly find these brown birds in Virginia in shrubby thickets or brushy suburban yards.
Male Carolina Wrens are surprisingly loud for their small size and like to sing throughout the year. When it comes to their diet, they prefer to eat insects and spiders.
|Scientific Name||Zenaida macroura|
Mourning Doves are more frequent in the lower 48 states of the US. These birds are approximately the same size as Northern Flickers and have plump bodies with round heads, short legs, and long tails.
They’re typically found in semi-open areas, such as urban areas, farmlands, and woods, and they feed on black oil sunflower seeds. Other than that, Mourning Doves are known for their mournful cooing in the spring.
|Scientific Name||Poecile carolinensis|
|Color||Gray and pale|
The small Carolina Chickadee is approximately the same size as an American Goldfinch. They’re known for their round bodies and heads with longer tails and stout beaks. Lower elevation deciduous forests and wooded residential areas are the most common habitats of these birds.
Carolina Chickadees use their short and straight beaks to grab one large sunflower seed and crack it open on another branch. Other than seeds, they prefer to eat insects.
|Scientific Name||Cyanocitta cristata|
|Color||Blue and white with a black neck collar|
Blue Jays are approximately the same size as an American Robin with large and fluffy crested heads and strong legs. They’re mostly found in woodlands and towns in the eastern half of the United States.
In the summer, they migrate to Southern Canada. It’s worth noting that Blue Jays are known to bully birds smaller than them. They prefer to gulp lots of seeds at once and store them in their crop.
|Scientific Name||Baeolophus bicolor|
|Color||Dark blue and gray|
Tufted Titmice are part of the Carolina Chickadee family, but they lack the black bib and have a dark-gray crest instead. For a Titmouse, this bird is pretty big but still small overall. You can instantly recognize its round body, big head, full tail, and long legs.
You can most commonly find a Tufted Titmouse in deciduous forests with a heavy canopy or parks. However, you can help the bird expand its range by placing bird feeders in your backyard.
|Scientific Name||Turdus migratorius|
|Color||Grayish brown and rusty orange|
The American Robin prefers to reside in the northern half of the United States before migrating to the south in the winter. They’re about the same size as Blue Jays, with plump bodies and long tails.
They’re typically found in open woodlands, farmlands, urban parks, and lawns. You’ll know spring is just around the corner when you hear their famous caroling song. American Robins prefer to feed on worms and other invertebrates on the lawn, but they might even eat fruits from the bird feeder.
|Scientific Name||Melanerpes carolinus|
|Color||Pale gray body and red nape|
For a backyard bird, the Red-Bellied Woodpecker is surprisingly large. They have stout bodies with large heads, short tails, and a red nape extending forward on the crown. You’ll find these birds in different woodlands, such as oak, hickory, and pine.
You can find them hitching up the tree trunk and large branches in typical woodpecker fashion. In addition, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers prefer to feed on insects and nuts, especially from peanut feeders and suet blocks.
|Scientific Name||Spinus tristis|
|Color||Bright lemon yellow|
The American Goldfinch is another popular backyard bird in Virginia, approximately the same size as a Carolina Chickadee. In the summer, male American Goldfinches are a bright lemon yellow, sporting black foreheads, wings, and tails.
Meanwhile, the females are dull olive with brown tails and wings. You’ll typically find these birds in weedy fields and similar clearings with thistles and similar plants. In the summer, American Goldfinches tend to migrate to Northern Canada.
|Scientific Name||Dryobates pubescens|
|Color||Black-and-white striped with a red spot|
The Downy Woodpeckers are approximately the same size as a White-Crowned Sparrow, but their tails are much shorter. They prefer to live in small deciduous trees and willows. You can even find them in weed stocks, such as teasel, especially near bodies of water.
While the males prefer to reside in smaller plants and twigs, the females prefer to live in tree trunks. Their feeder preferences include insects, fruits, and seeds.
|Scientific Name||Melospiza melodia|
|Color||Generally grayish brown|
The Song Sparrow is about the same as the House Finch or Juncos when it comes to size. They have plump bodies, round heads, and long, rounded tails. In addition, you’ll find an intricate head pattern and streaking on the sides that converge into a central breast spot.
Song Sparrows prefer to eat seeds and insects near the ground, but if your bird feeder has mixed seeds, they’ll surely visit it. They prefer to migrate to mid-Canada and the Northern United States in the summer.
|Scientific Name||Sturnus vulgaris|
The European Starling is the perfect example of an invasive species as it came to North America in the late 1800s. These year-round residents are about the same size as a Red-Winged Blackbird.
As they are lowland birds, they reside near trees large enough for nest cavities but still prefer open areas for feeding. European Starlings prefer to feed on insects, and you shouldn’t encourage them into your backyard.
|Scientific Name||Mimus polyglottos|
|Color||Gray with white patches|
The Northern Mockingbird is known for its singing quality, repeating its never-ending supply of short phrases about three times each. These year-round residents are approximately the same size as an American Robin and have slender bodies with long tails and long legs.
They prefer to live in edge habitats with scattered trees and bushes, parks, and residential areas. Their feeder preference includes insects, berries, and fruit, especially grapes, apples, and raisins.
|Scientific Name||Sitta carolinensis|
|Color||Blueish gray and white|
The White-Breasted Nuthatch is a fearless backyard bird approximately the same size as a Carolina Chickadee. You’ll most commonly find these year-round residents in oak and oak-pine woodlands and wooded towns.
While searching for insects, you’ll find them crawling over tree branches and going headfirst down tree trunks. They prefer to eat insects, seeds, acorns, and other nuts, and you can fill your tray feeders with black oil sunflower seeds to attract them.
|Scientific Name||Sialia sialis|
|Color||Brilliant blue and rusty orange|
The Eastern Bluebird is known for its love of open fields with trees and perching on fence lines. Their chunky bodies feature somewhat large heads and long tails. While the males are typically a brilliant blue and rusty orange combination, the females are almost grayish.
Eastern Bluebirds reside in pastures, fields, golf courses, and open woodland edges. You can even get them to use nest boxes as long as the entrance hole is smaller than the head of a starling.
|Scientific Name||Zonotrichia albicollis|
|Color||Striped tan and brown|
White-Throated Sparrows are the same size as a White-Crowned Sparrow, but they have long bodies with round heads, short necks, and long tails with notched tips. In addition, they have a recognizable yellow spot between their eyebrows and beak.
You’ll mostly find these birds in forests, brush, and open woodland edges. You’ll even see them kicking up leaves and looking under them for food. Their feeder preferences include seeds and berries in the winter and insects and fruit in the summer.
|Scientific Name||Haemorhous mexicanus|
|Color||Brown and gray|
The House Finch is a pretty common and very small backyard bird. They’re typically found in small flocks in short treetops and bushes, but they originally reside in deserts and grasslands. Now, they prefer to reside in rural areas and towns.
Although these birds are not territorial, the males tend to sing throughout the year. They prefer black oil sunflower seeds above all when it comes to food.
|Scientific Name||Quiscalus quiscula|
|Color||Glossy black with bronze|
The Common Grackle is a common backyard bird but is also considered a pest to crops. They’re approximately the same size as Mourning Doves and have long bodies with long full keel-shaped tails, long legs, and flat crowns.
You may differentiate them from the American Crow with the help of the bronze or green on their forehead. They prefer to reside in agricultural areas, woodland edges, city parks, and lawns.
|Scientific Name||Agelaius phoeniceus|
|Color||Black with red and yellow patches|
The Red-Winged Blackbird is known for its noisy nature and vibrant wings. These pot-bellied birds have longer beaks and flat foreheads with an average tail. The males are jet black with a fiery shoulder patch, while the females are a dull brown with rusty streaks.
In the summers, you’ll typically find them in cattail marshes and wetlands, and in the winters you can find them in grain fields. In the summers, they prefer to eat insects, and in the winter, they enjoy grain and seeds.
|Scientific Name||Contopus virens|
|Color||Black hood with white wing path|
The Eastern Towhee is typically confused with the Eastern Towhee, which is found in the Western US. These year-round residents have potbellies with big, round heads and full, rounded tails. In addition, they have white wings and tail corners with rusty sides, while the females have dark brown upper bodies.
You’ll often find these birds kicking up leaf litter with both feet. Their feeder preference includes insects, beetles, berries, and seeds, especially black oil sunflower seeds.
|Scientific Name||Colaptes auratus|
|Color||Brown with pinkish underparts|
The Northern Flicker is actually a woodpecker the same size as a Mourning Dove with stocky bodies, short legs, short tails, and big heads. Their colors depend on their location. West Northern Flickers have bright salmon-red tail feathers, gray heads, red whisker marks, and a black crescent across the chest.
Meanwhile, East Northern Flickers have yellow tail feathers, brown heads, black whisker and nape marks, and a white rump seen in flight. These birds prefer to reside in woodland edges and forests.
|Scientific Name||Junco hyemalis|
|Color||Grayish olive with a slight yellow tinge|
The Dark-Eyed Junco is also known as a snowbird since you’ll typically see them in your backyard in the winter. These tiny birds are approximately the same size as a House Finch and have round bodies and heads, short necks, and long, square-ended tails.
While Eastern Dark-Eyed Juncos are dark gray with white bellies, Western Dark-Eyed Juncos have brown backs, pink sides, and jet-black hoods. These birds prefer to live in widely spaced bushes and breed in coniferous forests.
|Scientific Name||Spizella passerina|
|Color||Striped brown with grayish underparts|
The Chipping Sparrow is mainly known for its adaptation to human disturbance, and you’ll most commonly find them in cemeteries. These year-round residents are plump and long tailed, about the same size as a House Finch or Song Sparrow.
These birds prefer to reside in grassy, open conifer woodlands with some shrubs, parks, and orchards. In the summer, they feed on seeds and insects, especially black oil sunflower seeds.
|Scientific Name||Passer domesticus|
|Color||Brown and gray with a black mask|
The House Sparrow is considered a pest in most areas and is commonly found in cities and farmlands. These year-round residents have chunky bodies, large heads, barrel chests, medium tails, short necks, and short legs.
While the males are brown with black masks, the females are tan with a black line over the eyes. They prefer to feed on grain, seeds, and insects, and you should discourage them from your backyard since they are a pest.
|Scientific Name||Passerina cyanea|
The Indigo Bunting is often confused with the Blue Grosbeak, but they lack the thick beak and rusty wing bars. In addition, these birds have plump bodies with large, round heads and short tails.
You can find them in open woodlands and clearings and even country farm roads. Their signature cheerful song is similar to an American Goldfinch. Lastly, Indigo Buntings prefer to eat seeds from hopper feeders.
|Scientific Name||Vireo olivaceus|
|Color||Olive green with white or yellow|
The Red-Eyed Vireo is another common songbird in the backyards of Virginia, about as small as an American Goldfinch. Their upper halves are olive-green with a gray crown and white eyebrows.
They’re typically found in tall deciduous trees, such as cottonwoods while breeding across Canada. Unfortunately, they will likely not come to your bird feeders and only prefer to eat insects.
|Scientific Name||Dumatella carolinensis|
|Color||Gray and black|
Gray Catbirds are summer residents in Virginia backyards but stay somewhat secretive. These long-tailed, round-headed birds are approximately the same size as a Red-Winged Blackbird or Northern Cardinal.
You’ll find them residing in dense woodland edges, scrub, or abandoned orchards. Unlike most birds, Gray Catbirds defend winter territory. Lastly, they prefer to eat insects and berries, and you can attract them with jelly and fruit feeders.
|Scientific Name||Hirundo rustica|
|Color||Glossy and dark bluish purple and pinkish orange|
The Barn Swallow is another summer resident in Virginia backyards, and they’re about the same size as a House Finch. Their upper halves are glossy, dark, and bluish purple, while their lower halves are a pinkish-orange shade.
You’ll find them residing in the open country, frequently near humans and farmlands. In addition, they nest in barns or under small bridges. They prefer to feed on flying insects and will not usually feed on your backyard feeder.
|Scientific Name||Contopus virens|
|Color||Grayish olive with a slight yellow tinge|
Lastly, the Eastern Wood-Pewee is commonly confused with the Western Wood-Pewee. Both species are known for their songs. While the Eastern Wood-Pewee sings “pee-a-wee,” the Western Wood-Pewee sings “pee-year.”
These summer residents are found in woodlands and under large shade trees in town. They prefer to feed on flying insects and will not feed on your backyard feeder.
Here’s how you can attract various birds to your backyard in Virginia with different bird feeders.
When it comes to birds, Virginia is known for its bright red Northern Cardinal. However, many other birds frequent the backyards of Virginia residents, such as the Barn Swallow and the Indigo Bunting.
Now that you know about the 30 most common backyard birds in Virginia, you can easily identify your fine-feathered friend just by taking a look at their wings and color. Remember to use our guide to attract these birds with different bird feeders.
Featured Image Credit: SAJE, Shutterstock
Table of Contents
Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.
Monocular vs Telescope: Differences Explained (With Pictures)
10 Types of Hummingbirds in Arkansas (With Pictures)
8 Types of Hummingbirds in Nebraska (With Pictures)
5 Types of Hummingbirds in Idaho (With Pictures)
3 Types of Hummingbirds in Mississippi (With Pictures)
8 Types of Hummingbirds in Kansas (With Pictures)
5 Types of Hummingbirds in West Virginia (With Pictures)
5 Types of Hummingbirds in Ohio (With Pictures)