15 Most Common Backyard Birds in Canada

Whether you’re looking to diversify your backyard with plants to attract certain birds, or you’re simply curious to identify the birds that are already visiting your garden, my aim is to help you identify the most common backyard birds in Canada.

And if you’re willing to meet their dietary needs, especially during the winter season, all the better!

You’ll probably notice that many of the birds in this list can be found throughout all of North America and not just in Canada.

American Robin

An extremely popular bird, especially in the US, but Canada too, the American Robin can often be seen foraging on lawns, looking for earthworms they can tug out of the ground.

With a dark head and back, rusty orange breast and a yellow beak, the American Robin inhabits a wide range of habitats.

They eat a wide range of insects, berries, and other fruit. They may be attracted to your garden if these food sources are widely available.

The species doesn’t often come to bird feeders, unless the feeders are well-stocked with fruits and berries during the winter.

They eat a limited amount of seeds, so if seeds are your only offering, American Robins won’t return to these feeders.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are another common bird that will come to your garden and feed on sunflower seeds, suet, and berries. Their diet includes insects, worms, and even carrion.

Blue jays can display predatory behaviors by attacking and feeding on the eggs and chicks of other birds. It’s unclear how common it is for Blue Jays to do this, but it is estimated that over 70% of their diet is made up of vegetable matter.

Because of their beautiful plumage that combines hues of blue, gray and white, Blue Jays are often a bird of choice of photographers. The wings feature black bars, the underside is white.

Red-winged Blackbird

A medium-sized bird with a range that covers all of North America all the way to central Mexico, the Red-winged Blackbird has pitch-black plumage with an orange-red and yellow patch on each wing.

They prefer to feed on the ground, so spreading seeds and grain in your backyard is one way to attract them.

Females of the breed look almost nothing like the male and resemble a large sparrow instead.

Male Red-winged Blackbirds are notoriously territorial during the breeding season, fiercely defending their territories.

Besides seeds, they feed on a variety of insects during the summer including beetles, spiders, caterpillars, snails, grasshoppers, and others.

American Goldfinch

A sparrow-sized bird with beautiful golden yellow plumage and a black forehead, the American Goldfinch is another common bird you may come across in your backyard.

The wings are black with white markings. White markings can also be seen above and below the tail. The beak is yellow and conical.

American goldfinches can be found wherever plants such as thistles and asters grow, but also in orchards, roadsides and backyards. Cultivated areas are also favored.

They’ll most often visit bird feeders in winter when natural food supplies are scarce. Their diet consists of seeds of weeds and grasses, seeds of adder and birch, and will also eat buds and the bark of some twigs.

Sunflower seeds and niger seeds are their favorite when visiting bird feeders.

Downy Woodpecker

With a marked preference for suet feeders, Downy woodpeckers are the likeliest of woodpeckers to visit your garden.

They’re a small breed with a size between the sparrow and a robin. This woodpecker is a much better acrobat than its larger cousins.

Its plumage gives the appearance of being black and white checkered. The head of the woodpecker features a scarlet marking.

It looks eerily similar to the Downy Woodpecker, except that it’s smaller in size and its beak is much shorter.

As for its diet, the Downy Woodpecker enjoys feeding on insects and has the advantage of reaching in places where larger woodpeckers cannot.

Northern Cardinal

With a sharp crest and a flaming red plumage, the Northern Cardinal is a conspicuous bird that’s easy to identify if you spot it in your backyard.

And there’s a high probability that you will spot it since it commonly visits bird feeders in search of seeds. It prefers sunflower seeds the most. Trays and hoppers make the best bird feeders for the Northern Cardinal.

You can take things a step forward too and leave undergrowth in your backyard and Northern Cardinals may choose your backyard as a nesting site as well.

They also seem to enjoy using birdbaths, so keep a fresh supply of water in your birdbath and enjoy Northern Cardinals gathering there.

Hairy Woodpecker

Often confused with the Downy Woodpecker, the Hairy Woodpecker is both larger and has a larger beak compared to its smaller cousin.

Its plumage is black and white, while the wings are checkered with black and white. The back features a white patch running down the center.

Although they’re most common in forest habitats, Hairy Woodpeckers can be found in parks, forest edges, and other wooded areas including suburbs.

They can be seen – and heard! – chiseling away at tree barks searching for insects. Their diet is made up of larvae of wood-boring beetles, ants, caterpillars, and other insects.

They also eat seeds, nuts, and berries, as well as sap of damaged trees. They’re happy to visit feeders if suet is available to them.

Black-capped Chickadee

A non-migratory bird found throughout North America, the Black-capped Chickadee prefers deciduous and mixed forests.

You don’t need to put much effort into attracting this bird to your backyard as its curiosity will drive it to any type of feeder you have, especially one that’s well-stocked with suet, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

One thing that I thoroughly enjoy about the Chickadee is their resourcefulness in hiding seeds when available, then remembering thousands of hiding spots when needed.

Apart from feeders, the Black-capped Chickadee is also open to using nest boxes. Especially if you place them out well before the breeding season.

To protect the nestlings, I recommend fitting the nest box with a guard, and place it in a wooded area, but farther back from branches and other trees.

House Sparrow

Another small bird that will enjoy coming to the feeders in your backyard is the House Sparrow. But even if you don’t actively feed them, they’ll still come to your garden.

That’s because House Sparrow enjoys town habitats the most. They feed on most types of seeds and they’re highly accustomed to the presence of humans.

Unlike most other birds that prefer nesting in natural settings, the House Sparrow chooses to nest in man-made structures instead.

This just goes to show that even though some may view this bird as invasive, their lives are undeniably intertwined with ours.

The House Sparrow can be found throughout North America, except for Alaska and far northern Canada.

Song Sparrow

Another familiar sparrow in Canada, the Song Sparrow prefers open, shrubby and wet areas as its habitat unlike the House Sparrow, which hangs around in towns and cities.

With insects as its primary diet, the Song sparrow often comes to feeders for sunflower seeds, nyjer, millet, cracked corn and other seeds and crushed nuts.

Song Sparrows nest in shrubs, so if your property is abundant in shrubbery, song sparrows may decide to nest there.

It has been noticed by researchers that song sparrows like to pick the same spots for nesting and use that spot over and over again.

Although the Song Sparrow is found throughout most of North America, there are regional differences in the size and plumage color.

White-breasted Nuthatch

With a compact build, pointy bill, and short tail, the White-breasted Nuthatch is a common feeder bird that can be found in the deciduous forests of Canada.

The plumage features black, gray, and white markings. Males and females look very similar, except for the crown on their heads – the female sports a gray crown, while the male has a black crown.

The name of the bird comes from the method it uses to take out acorn seeds and nuts with its bill.

As a bark forager, the White-breasted Nuthatch feeds on insects by probing with its sharp, pointy bill into bark furrows.

During winter, this sparrow-sized bird will visit feeders and stock up on various seeds. They will even make several trips to take as many of the seeds they can and store them in the burrows of trees for later in the winter.

Brown-headed Cowbird

With black plumage and a brown head, the Brown-headed cowbird is a smaller, stockier blackbird that can be seen perched up on tree branches singing with ruffled feathers.

It’s fascinating to me how this blackbird doesn’t bother making its own nest and uses the nests of other birds, producing several dozens of eggs during the summer. Their young are often fostered by other birds. It’s one of the most common ‘brood parasites’ in North America.

Brown-headed Cowbirds can be often seen flocking together with other blackbirds. You’ll see them on open lawn and other open ground, and you can attract them easily by scattering seeds and grain across your yard.

And if you happen to raise livestock, cowbirds will also make their presence.

European Starling

Found year-round in most of North America, the European Starling is a spotted, dark, glossy bird that gathers in large, noisy flocks, called a murmuration.

If you’ve been lucky to witness the murmuration of European Starlings, you already know what a dazzling dance it is.

The reason why European starlings do this is to keep predatory birds at bay based on the idea that there’s strength in numbers.

This bird can often be seen at feeders since they’re common in suburbs and countryside. Starlings are ground foragers, feeding on a diet of insects when available. In the off season, the European Starling switches to eating berries and seeds.

House Wren

Don’t expect this brown little bird to visit any of your feeders yet expect to see it in your backyard regardless. Why? Because the House Wren is far more interested in hunting insects than any of the seeds you may have in your feeders.

And when insects are no longer available, the House Wren takes flight to warmer climates, where it can continue its hunt for insects.

If you want to attract nesting pairs, consider putting up a nest box but not without attaching a guard to fend off any predators that have set their minds on raiding the nest.

The House Wren covers a lot of areas with their range starting from Canada going all the way to the southernmost part of South America.

With a small body, relatively large head and a long beak, the House Wren may look dainty, but it will put on a fight and even harass larger birds when wanting certain nest holes for themselves.

Rock Pigeon

Hard to ignore in cities and towns, the Rock Pigeon is another common bird in Canada. Whether you come across it in your very own backyard or on a busy public square, the Rock Pigeon can usually be seen feeding on seeds and any food scraps they can find.

They like to nest on buildings and window ledges, preferring man-made structures over natural ones.

You really don’t need to put any effort in attracting a rock pigeon to your backyard, it’ll come anyway.

Because scattering grains and other seeds on the ground for them can attract rodents, especially if you’re scattering corn, peas and the like, some cities have ordinances against feeding them.


These are only a few of the Canadian birds you may notice in your backyard. Some of these birds are more elusive and discreet, others are straight-up viewed as boisterous pests.

Regardless of your view on them, you can learn how to attract the birds you would be most fond of seeing in your backyard.

You can go as far as setting up nest boxes for the bird pairs you’d be most fond of having in your yard.

By knowing what to feed them and what types of feeders they’re most likely to visit, you can play around with different methods of attracting birds to your backyard.

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