10 MOST Common Birds Found in Portland, OR (2024)

What kinds of birds can you find in Portland, Oregon?

common birds in portland

Despite being a large city, I think you would be surprised at the number of species that you can find in downtown Portland and the surrounding areas. Many types of birds can adapt to the presence of humans, even building nests and raising their babies in close proximity.

In addition, there are other parks and other green spaces that offer hiding spaces for shyer birds.

Below, you will learn the TEN most common birds that are found around Portland!


#1. Mallard

  • Anas platyrhynchos

Common United States ducks

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males have a bright green head, thin white collar, dark reddish-brown chest, yellow bill, and a black butt with a white-tipped tail.
  • Females are mottled brown with orange and brown bills.
  • Both sexes have purple-blue secondary feathers on their wing, which is most visible when they are standing or flying.

My guess is that almost everyone is familiar with the Mallard. These ducks are definitely one of the most recognizable birds in Portland!

Mallard Range Map

mallard duck range map

Mallards are extremely comfortable around people, which is why these adaptable ducks are so widespread. They are found in virtually any wetland habitat, no matter where it’s located. We even find Mallards in our swimming pool every summer and have to chase them away, so they don’t make a mess on our deck! 🙂

Mallards readily accept artificial structures built for them by humans. If you have a nice pond or a marsh, feel free to put up a homemade nesting area to enjoy some adorable ducklings walking around your property!  Just make sure you put up predator guards so predators can’t get to the eggs.

When you think of a duck quacking, it is almost inevitably a female Mallard. If there is a better duck sound, we haven’t heard it! Interestingly, males do not quack like females but instead make a raspy call.


#2. Song Sparrow

  • Melospiza melodia

Types of Sparrows that live in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Chest has brown streaks that converge onto a central breast spot.
  • On their head, look for a brown crown with a gray stripe down the middle and a gray eyebrow and gray cheek.
  • Back and body are mostly rust-brown with gray streaks throughout.

These birds can be incredibly difficult to identify due to their abundance and how similar they all tend to look. But luckily, Song Sparrows are one of the easier sparrow species to identify correctly.

Song Sparrow Range Map

song sparrow range map

Song sparrows are common in Portland, especially in wet, shrubby, and open areas.

Unlike other birds that nest in trees, Song Sparrows primarily nest in weeds and grasses. However, you’ll often find them nesting directly on the ground.

My favorite feature of Song Sparrows is their beautiful songs that can be heard across the continent. The typical one, which you can listen to below, consists of three short notes followed by a pretty trill. The song varies depending on location and the individual bird.


#3. Great Blue Heron

  • Ardea herodias

great blue heron

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A very tall and large bird, with a long neck and a wide black stripe over their eye.
  • As the name suggests, they are a grayish-blue color.
  • Long feather plumes on their head, neck, and back.

Great Blue Heron Range Map

great blue heron range map

Great Blue Herons are typically seen in Portland along the edges of rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

Most of the time, they will either be motionless or moving very slowly through the water, looking for their prey. But watch them closely because when an opportunity presents itself, these herons will strike quickly and ferociously to grab something to eat. Common foods include fish, frogs, reptiles, small mammals, and even other birds.

Check out the Bird Watching HQ YouTube Channel HERE!

Great Blue Herons appear majestic in flight, and once you know what to look for, it’s pretty easy to spot them. Watch the skies for a LARGE bird that folds its neck into an “S” shape and has its legs trailing straight behind.

Believe it or not, Great Blue Herons mostly build their nests, which are made out of sticks, very high up in trees. In addition, they almost always nest in large colonies that can include up to 500 different breeding pairs. And unbelievably, almost all of the breeding pairs nest in the same few trees!

When disturbed, these large birds make a loud “kraak” or “fraunk” sound, which can also be heard when in flight. Listen below!


#4. Canada Goose

  • Branta canadensis

Common Geese and Swans in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Large goose with a long black neck and a distinctive white cheek patch.
  • Brown body with a pale white chest and underparts.
  • Black feet and legs.

Canada Geese are extremely common birds in Portland.

I’m sure you probably recognize these birds, as they are very comfortable living around people and development. Look for them wherever there are grasses or grains to eat, such as lawns, parks, farm fields, and golf courses. I know I have been guilty of stepping in their “droppings” at least a few times in my own backyard as they come to eat corn from my feeding station. 🙂

Canada Goose Range Map

canada goose range map

In fact, these geese are now so abundant, many people consider them pests for the amount of waste they produce! If you have a manicured lawn that is maintained all the way to the water’s edge, you have an open invitation for these birds to visit.

The Canada Goose is also easy to identify while flying overhead. If you see a flock of large birds in a V-formation, then it’s most likely them. Flying this way helps conserve energy, and different birds take turns leading the way.

Canada Geese are often heard in Portland.

Listen for a wide variety of loud honks and cackles. Listen above! I have even been hissed at by them for accidentally approaching a nest too closely.

Interestingly, these geese can live a long time! Their lifespan ranges from 10 to 24 years, but one individual banded in 1969 was found again in 2001, 32 years later!

If you’re interested, you may be able to see a Canada Goose at my bird feeding station right now! I have a LIVE high-definition camera watching my feeders 24/7. 🙂 Look for them on the ground eating corn.


#5. American Robin

  • Turdus migratorius

american robin - types of birds in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A beautiful thrush that features a rusty red breast and a dark head and back.
  • Look for a white throat and white splotches around the eyes.
  • Both sexes are similar, except that females appear paler.

American Robins are one of the most familiar birds in Portland!

They inhabit a wide variety of habitats and naturally are found everywhere from forests to the tundra. But these thrushes are comfortable around people and are common to see in backyards.

American Robin Range Map

american robin range map

Even though they are abundant, American Robins rarely visit bird feeders because they don’t eat seeds. Instead, their diet consists of invertebrates (worms, insects, snails) and fruit. For example, I see robins frequently in my backyard, pulling up earthworms in the grass!

american robin eggs and nest

These birds also commonly nest near people. Look for an open cup-shaped nest that has 3-5 beautiful, distinctive sky blue color eggs.

American Robins sing a string of clear whistles, which is a familiar sound in spring. (Listen below)

Many people describe the sound as sounding like the bird is saying “cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.”


#6. Anna’s Hummingbird

  • Calypte anna

anna's hummingbird

How To Identify:

  • Males: They are best known for their beautiful iridescent pinkish-red heads. Underparts are a mix between gray and green. Tail and back are dark green. Most of the time, a broken white eye-ring is visible.
  • Females: Duller than the males, with a green cap and body. Their tail has a white tip. Many birds have a patch of metallic purple or red on their throat.
  • *Similar Species: Costa’s Hummingbird, which is smaller with a purple throat and slightly down-curved bill.

These jeweled beauties are tiny birds that are no larger than a ping pong ball and weigh about the same as a nickel.

Anna’s Hummingbird Range Map

Anna’s are different from most hummers since they don’t migrate much, if at all. These hummingbirds are year-round residents from southern British Columbia to northern Mexico. They have varied habitats, including deserts, mountains, woodlands, gardens, and chaparral.

Anna’s Hummingbirds have a distinctive song! (Press play below)

To help locate these hummingbirds, listen for a long song that often lasts ten seconds or more. The song starts with a series of buzzes, which is then followed by a pleasant-sounding whistle. The entire sequence can last more than ten seconds and typically finishes with some chip notes.

Personally, it’s hard to believe these noises are coming from a pretty little hummingbird!

Fun Facts:

  • Anna’s Hummingbirds are known for their thrilling mating displays. The male starts by hovering in front of his chosen female for a few seconds. Then he flies straight up to heights of 130 feet (40m), concluding with him diving straight down and giving a loud squeak within a few feet of his target.
  • In addition to nectar, these hummingbirds consume a wide variety of insects. Their favorites are smaller bugs, such as whiteflies, midges, and leafhoppers. They will even pluck insects off that are caught in spider webs!
  • Anna’s Hummingbirds enjoy supplementing their diet with tree sap. When available, they will eat sugary sap that is leaking out of holes made by sapsuckers.

#7. Red-tailed Hawk

  • Buteo jamaicensis

Common birds of prey in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 18-26 in (45-65 cm) tall with a wingspan of 43-55 in (110-140 cm).
  • They are dark brown over the back and wings, with white feathers underneath and a reddish tail.
  • Their beaks and legs are yellow.

 Red-tailed Hawks are one of the most common birds of prey in Portland!

These raptors are often seen on long drives in the countryside, soaring in the sky, or perched on a fence post. The color of a Red-tailed Hawk’s plumage can be anything from nearly white to virtually black, so coloration is not a reliable indicator. The best way to identify them is by looking for their characteristic red tail. 🙂 

Red-tailed Hawk Range Map

Red-tailed Hawk Range Map

These hawks are highly adaptable, and there is no real description of their preferred habitats because they seem to be comfortable everywhere. I have seen Red-tailed Hawks in numerous places, from the deep backcountry in Yellowstone National Park to urban cities to my own suburban backyard! Pick a habitat, such as pastures, parks, deserts, roadsides, rainforests, woodlands, fields, or scrublands, and you’ll find them thriving.

Red-tailed Hawks have impressive calls that are easily identified.

In fact, people are so enamored with their screams, it’s common for directors to use the sounds of a Red-tailed Hawk to replace Bald Eagles that appear in movies. In case you have never heard one, Bald Eagles don’t make sounds that live up to their appearance (putting it nicely!)


#8. American Crow

  • Corvus brachyrhynchos

american crow

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A large bird that is entirely black with an iridescent sheen.
  • Long black bill, black legs, and black feet.

American Crows are adaptable birds and are common in almost every habitat.

American Crow Range Map

american crow range map

The list of places they can be found includes woodlands, fields, rivers, marshes, farms, parks, landfills, golf courses, cemeteries, and neighborhoods.

Believe it or not, American Crows are one of the smartest birds in Portland.

For example, they can use tools, solve problems, and recognize human faces. It seems that crows even do things just for fun! Seriously, if you search the internet, it’s easy to find videos of them using round objects to sled down roofs.

American Crows have a large vocabulary. Listen for any number of caws, rattles, cackles, and clicks. The most common sound is a “caw-caw.” (Listen below)


#9. California Scrub-Jay

  • Aphelocoma californica

california jay pic

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Medium-sized crestless jay.
  • Both sexes have blue heads, wings, and tails.
  • Look for a white throat outlined with a blue necklace.

These corvids are found in the western United States in scrubland and oak woodlands.

California Scrub-Jay Range Map

california scrub jay range map California Scrub-Jays primarily eat grains, fruits, frogs, lizards, and, unfortunately, eggs and young of other birds.

You also might see them standing on the backs of Mule Deer eating ticks! The deer seem to appreciate the help, as they often stand still and hold up their ears to let the birds do their work. 🙂

You can attract California Scrub-Jays to your feeders with sunflower seeds and peanuts. If you are lucky and have them come for a quick meal, you will enjoy watching them because they are very vocal and playful birds.


#10. Northern Flicker

  • Colaptes auratus

Northern Flickers are wonderfully handsome birds and relatively common in Portland. They are about the size of an American Robin and feature a black bib and spotted belly. But, depending on your location, these woodpeckers appear different. There are two distinct variations you should watch for:

Variation #1: Yellow-shafted

This sub-species is rare in Portland. These birds are characterized by red on the back of their head and yellow feathers on their underwing and tail that are visible in flight. Males also have a BLACK mustache stripe, which females lack.

Variation #2: Red-shafted

This variety is the one you’re likely to see in Portland. To correctly identify, look for a RED mustache stripe, which is found on both sexes. Also, when they are in flight, you can clearly see red-orange feathers on their underwing and tail. Red-shafted Northern Flickers also have a mostly gray face with a brown crown, whereas the Yellow-shafted variety has a brown face and gray crown.

Northern Flicker Range Map

To find a Northern Flicker, you should look on the ground! These birds are unique and don’t act like typical woodpeckers. They spend a lot of time searching for ants and beetles on the forest floor by digging through the dirt! They hammer away at the soil just like other woodpeckers drill into trees.

Northern Flickers are fairly easy to identify by sound! Listen for a loud ringing call that sounds like a piercing “wicka-wicka-wicka.”


Which of these birds have you seen before in Portland?

Leave a comment below!


To learn more about other birds you may see in Portland, check out my other guides!

 

The range maps above were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I use their site OFTEN to learn new information about birds!

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