15 Most Common Backyard Birds in United States

There’s a certain appeal to waking up to the twitter of birds in your backyard, and while not everyone appreciates the sentiment, there are plenty of us who don’t mind waking up to a scene that’s straight out of a Disney movie.

But before you can enjoy such scenes, it’s best to know which birds you should attract to your backyard and which methods work best.

If you’re new to birds, here’s a primer on the 15 most common backyard birds that you can attract to your garden in you live in the United States:

American Robin

Even if you’re not a proficient birdwatcher, I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of the American Robin. It’s a beloved bird that you’ll often see foraging and tugging earthworms out of the ground.

Although they can be found in the U.S. all-year round, they’re often said to be the harbingers of spring because of their cheery songs and increased activity that can be observed at the end of winter.

Although they prefer open woodlands as their habitat and breeding grounds, the American Robin feels at home even in towns and cities.

The plumage of the American Robin is also worth mentioning, especially for its orange breast and underpants. The wings and back are brown and gray which beautifully complement the orange plumage.

American robins are easy to attract to your backyard. They happily come to feed in on insects and earthworms, digging them out from your lawn. They also eat berries and enjoy splashing around in bird baths.

American Goldfinch

Another iconic American bird that you can spot in your backyard, the American Goldfinch, features bright yellow plumage, a yellow beak, a pitch-black cap and black wings with white wing bars.

They can be found in open woodlands but also in your backyard either hanging on hanging feeders, or if your garden has native thistle, milkweed and other composite plants that produce fibrous seeds.

Unlike other native birds, American goldfinches will postpone the breeding season until June-July, when these plants will start producing their seeds.

Because these birds feed exclusively on seeds and even feed seeds to their young, breeding during periods of high food availability is crucial to their survival.

American goldfinches will happily visit not only your feeding stations, but also any birdbaths you may have in your garden.

This isn’t a difficult bird to attract to your backyard, especially if you have sunflower seeds and nyjer.

Northern Cardinal

A non-migratory bird, the Northern Cardinal stays in its breeding grounds all-year round. This means that you can spot this bird even in winter, when its fire-red plumage can be admired against the wintery backdrop.

While the color of the plumage is one of the most striking red colors you’ll see, there are other features of the Northern Cardinal that are also worth mentioning, notably the fiery-red crest, black face and long tail, which all make this bird rather exotic-looking.

From shrubby forest edges and woodlots to parks and backyards, the Northern Cardinal is often seen foraging on the ground for seeds.

You can easily attract the Northern Cardinal to your backyard by simply putting out seeds in your bird feeders. They seem to enjoy sunflower seeds the most.

Mourning Dove

Known also as the American mourning dove, this bird is common across most parts of the United States. The Mourning Dove has a plump body and slender tail, and a small head.

You’ll often see this dove perched on telephone wires or foraging for seeds. They happily visit backyards, especially ones that have dense shrubs and evergreen trees planted in them. They’ll even choose these sites as nesting grounds.

Millet is the mourning dove’s all-time favorite, so you can scatter it around your garden or scatter it on platform feeders.

Their plumage is a delicate brown-gray that often matches their country surroundings. The wings feature black spots, and the tips of the wings and tail are bordered with black and white.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

As the only breeding hummingbird of eastern North America, the Ruby-throated hummingbird is a wondrous little creature.

You can have your entire garden glittering with these jade-colored birds if your garden is full of nectar-producing flowers, especially tubular flowers.

If your backyard doesn’t have that many nectar-producing flowers, you can still attract hummingbirds by setting up hummingbird feeders that you can fill with sugar water.

Create a water and sugar mixture by adding ¼ cup of sugar to one cup of water. You will need to replace the mixture if it gets cloudy, discolored or if the weather is hot.

In hot weather, it’s possible for the sugar mixture to ferment and produce alcohol, which is toxic to hummingbirds.

European Starling

Originally from Europe, the European Starling was introduced to North America in the 19th century, and today it’s one of the most widespread and populous songbirds of the continent.

Covered in dark, glossy plumage during the summer, the European starling is an eye-catching bird, although some consider it an aggressive, intrusive bird and would rather not have them spending time in their backyard.

If you don’t count yourself among those people, then you’ll be happy to know that starlings will visit bird feeders.

All types of feeders are suitable for attracting European starlings including large tube feeders, suet cages, platforms, and others.

Although these birds will feed on insects, they’ll happily feed on seeds as well including sunflowers seeds, millet, oats, peanut hearts, and even fruit like oranges.

Song Sparrow

Another bird species that I often see at bird feeders in my backyard is the Song Sparrow. The bird can look quite different depending on where in the US you’re located.

Some are larger, others are much smaller. Their plumage can be darker or lighter and streaked more intensely or just lightly.

They prefer open woodlands as their habitat, but they are common in residential areas as well. They’ll visit bird feeders and even nest in your backyard.

The type of bird feeders that work best for these birds are usually platform and ground feeders.

Song sparrows will hunt for insects as their primary source of food but will also feed on various seeds including sunflower seeds, millet, nyjer, and peanut hearts or cracked corn.

Northern Mockingbird

Not at all a colorful bird, the Northern Mockingbird is a combination of light and dark gray with black and white streaks on its wings.

But what the bird lacks in plumage color, it certainly makes up in singing and personality. Aptly named the ‘mockingbird’, it can learn to mimic the singing of other birds.

The Northern Mockingbird can learn as many as 200 sounds throughout its life by constantly adding new songs and sounds to its repertoire.

Although they really don’t visit feeders, you can still attract Northern mockingbirds to your backyard by planting fruiting trees or bushes including Hawthorne, mulberry, and blackberry bramble.

You can still try to attract them to platform or ground feeders by placing out mealworms, fruit, sunflower seeds or suet.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Common in the forests of the eastern parts of the United States, the red-bellied Woodpecker features white and black stripes on its back, a flaming red cap and nape, and a long, narrow beak that is black.

This woodpecker will often venture from its forest habitat to backyards and residential areas, where it will visit feeders and feed on various foods.

Although a bark forager that feeds on insects, the Red-bellied woodpecker can be attracted to your backyard feeders with various types of seeds (e.g. sunflower, safflower, hulled sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, cracked corn, etc.), mealworms, sugar water, and fruit.

The type of feeder doesn’t seem to matter much for these birds, as they’ll visit all types of feeders, even nectar feeders.

Baltimore Oriole

A beautiful orange bird, the Baltimore Oriole is another common backyard bird found in the eastern part of North America.

Its black hood, black back and black wings with white markings, create a wonderful contrast with the orange breast and underpants of the Baltimore oriole.

Although they enjoy the forest habitat and seek out insects in the foliage of trees, it’s not difficult to attract these songbirds to your backyard. They’ll happily feed on suet, sugar water, and fruit.

Apart from these, the Baltimore Oriole will happily feed on nectar-bearing flowers, so plant raspberries, trumpet-vines and crab apples in your garden.

Platform feeders and nectar feeders work best for these attractive songbirds whose singing is one or the heralders of spring.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are another crested bird with an interestingly colored plumage that helps you immediately identify it.

The Blue Jay is a light gray underneath with multiple shades of blue, white and black on its back, head and wings. It has a straight, narrow, black bill.

They’re an omnivorous bird species, feeding on a variety of foods, however, it is estimated that over 70% of their diet is made up of vegetable matter.

The types of feeders that blue jays are most likely to visit are tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post. You can put a variety of seeds like millet, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, milo, etc. Mealworms, fruit, and suet also make excellent choices.

Blue Jays also sometimes exhibit predatory behaviors, feeding on eggs and nestlings of other birds. However, this doesn’t seem to be a common behavior, with vegetable matter making up a large chunk of their diet.

Red-winged Blackbird

A black bird with scarlet and yellow shoulder patches, the Red-winged blackbird is a common bird across the United States, especially in saltwater marshes, watercourses, but also meadows.

They feed on insects as well as various seeds. Place oats, suet, millet, sunflower seeds, cracked corn in hopper feeder, platform feeders, or ground feeders to attract these birds to your garden.

These birds are territorial during the breeding season, chasing away other males, other birds, and often even large animals they perceive as dangerous. Sometimes, they’ll even pick a fight with people.

Red-winged blackbirds are non-monogamous to the extreme, with males sometimes having up to 15 female mates in some cases.

Downy Woodpecker

This tiny, black-and-white woodpecker can be seen foraging for insects in the bark of trees and also for insects on the stems of weeds.

They create nesting cavities in the trunks of trees and prefer forest habitats, although they won’t shy away from residential areas either.

They stay in their breeding grounds all year round and they’re the most likely woodpeckers to visit backyard bird feeders.

Although they have a pronounced preference for suet, they’ll also visit if you have millet, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, or cracked peanuts. They’ll seek out hummingbird feeders as well.

House Finch

A small-bodied bird with a large beak and short wings. Their plumage is a combination of streaky brown on the back and rosy red on the breast. The underpants are a grayish brown with blurry brown streaks.

House finches are a common sight in backyards, city parks, farms, grasslands and open woods.

They are frequent visitors of bird feeders, where they can be attracted with sunflower seeds, safflower, and nyjer. They’ll visit all types of feeders.

Eastern Bluebird

With a light, royal blue on the back, head and wings, a warm red-brown color on its breast, and white underpants, the Eastern Bluebird can be found in grassland habitats.

They can also be seen often in backyards if there are feeders, but only if said feeders provide them with mealworms. Otherwise, they might be keen on visiting if there’s suet, peanut butter or fruit offered, but mealworms are still their favorite snack.

Pairs can be attracted if you place nest boxes in your garden, especially if your garden isn’t too closed off with trees.


As you can see, there are plenty of birds that are willing to visit your backyard, especially if you offer them foods they like or if the vegetation in your garden is abundant in foods they like.

Some birds may even decide to nest in your garden, so when you’re researching ways to attract them to your backyard, you can consider their nesting habits as well.

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