Do you want to know the most frequently asked question people have while watching my LIVE bird cams?

 

What type of bird is that?

 

Or I’ve observed from time to time that someone incorrectly identifies a particular species of bird, and other viewers think what they said was correct.

 

So I thought it was time to create a guide to the common types of birds seen on my feeders.

 

In today’s post, I want to educate and teach you the most common animals (birds AND mammals) that visit my feeding station. When possible, I have included actual video clips taken from my backyard cams (more added each month!) I did my best to point out identifying characteristics along with some interesting and relevant facts!


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Before we begin, a few things to keep in mind:

 

    • This article is a work in progress. I am continually adding updated video clips and editing bird descriptions. Make sure to check back.

    • I live in Akron, Ohio which is in the Eastern United States. The feeder birds listed below are common for me and anyone else that lives within close vicinity.
    • All the videos were taken from the LIVE cameras that point at my bird feeding station.

 


Most Common Feeder Birds

These are the birds that typically can be seen daily on the bird feeders or underneath eating on the ground. These species do not migrate and are observed throughout the year.

1. Northern Cardinal

common types of birds - northern cardinal

In my opinion, the Northern Cardinal is the most popular feeder bird in North America. They have the unique combination of being gorgeous and easy to attract to your backyard.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males are a stunning red with a black mask and throat. Females are pale brown with red on their crest, wings, and tail.
  • Both sexes have a crest on their head and a short, thick bill that is perfect for cracking seeds.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower, safflower, corn, and peanuts.

 

In this video, you can see both male and female cardinals. If you look closely you can even see a juvenile!

 

Learn More!

 


2. Blue Jay

common types of birds

Some people dislike Blue Jays, but I love their bold personalities. Their high intelligence makes them interesting to observe, not to mention their plumage is stunning. Typically they visit the feeders noisily, fit as much food as possible in their throat sacks,  and leave quickly to cache their bounty.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males and females look the same.
  • Their head is surrounded by a black necklace and has a blue crest on top.
  • Backs are covered in beautiful blue feathers that have black bars throughout. Underneath they are white.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower, corn, and peanuts.

Learn More!

 


3. American Goldfinch

american goldfinch

It’s hard not to love these small and colorful finches. They do well feeding in any position, even upside down! Goldfinches love feeding on nyjer seed, which not many other birds eat.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • In summer, males are a vivid yellow with a black cap and black wings. Females are a duller yellow and lack the black cap.
  • In winter, both sexes turn a pale brown/olive color. They are identified by their black wings and white wing bar.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower kernels, nyjer seed.

Learn More!

 


4. House Finch

common birds - house finch

House Finches are often the first birds to discover new feeders. They are native to Western North America but are now common across almost the entire continent. House Finches have a pleasant and enjoyable song to hear.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult males are rosy red around their heads and upper breasts. They have brown streaks on their back, tail, and belly.
  • Females are brown with streaks on their back, tail, and belly.
  • Both sexes have conical beaks designed to eat seeds and notched tails.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Black-oil sunflower, sunflower kernels, nyjer, safflower.

 


5. House Sparrow

common house sparrows

House Sparrows are an invasive species (originally from the Middle East) and now one of the most common birds in the world! They owe their success to their ability to adapt and live near humans. Unlike most other birds, House Sparrows love grains and are commonly seen eating bread and popcorn at amusement parks, sporting events, etc.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males have gray crowns, black bib, white cheeks, and chestnut on the sides of their face and neck. Their backs are predominantly brown with black streaks.
  • Females are a dull brown color with streaks of black on their backs. Their underparts are a light brown. They can be distinguished by the tan line that extends behind their eye.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Black-oil sunflower, sunflower kernels, safflower, millet, milo, and cracked corn.

Learn More!

 


6. Mourning Dove

mourning dove

The peaceful Mourning Dove gets its name for its soft calls that are sometimes mistaken for owls. At your feeders, they are typically found eating on the ground or a large platform feeder. Upon takeoff, their wings make a loud whistling sound that is easily recognizable.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Gray color with black dots on the wing.
  • Thin black bill, long slender tail, and pinkish legs.
  • Upon closer examination, they have a light blue ring around their eye. Pretty cool!

Favorite Feeder Foods: Black-oil sunflower, sunflower kernels, safflower, nyjer, milo, and cracked corn.

 


7. Black-capped Chickadee

common birds - black capped chickadee

Chickadees are one of the most personable birds that visit feeders. They are also easily recognized by their distinctive call of chickadee dee dee” or “fee-bee” song. Did you know you can even train them to feed on your hand? Chickadees typically don’t stay long at feeders; swooping in to grab some food then leaving to eat elsewhere. I’ve also had a lot of success having chickadees visit my window bird feeders.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A small bird with a short, thin bill.
  • Black bib and cap on head. White cheeks.
  • Gray back with tan colored underparts.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower, safflower, nyjer, shelled peanuts, and mealworms.

Learn more –> The 4 Best Window Bird Feeders I’m Using.

 


8. Downy Woodpecker

common types of woodpeckers - downy

The Downy Woodpecker is the most common type of woodpecker in North America and is a frequent visitor to feeders everywhere. They are small, roughly the size of a sparrow and for lack of a better word are “cute.”  Downy’s are brave and even visit my window feeders looking for sunflower kernels.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Their upper parts are predominantly black with a white back and white spots on their wings. Underneath they are all white.
  • Males have a red patch on the back of their head that females lack.
  • Often confused with Hairy Woodpeckers, which are a bit larger. To tell them apart, try looking at the size of their beak in comparison to their head. Hairy’s bills are roughly as long as their head where a Downy beak is only about half the size of their head.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Suet, sunflower

Learn More –> 6 Types of Woodpecker Feeders Your Birds Will Love

 


9. Hairy Woodpecker

common types of woodpecker birds

Looks just like the Downy Woodpecker! These two woodpecker species are easily confused, especially from a distance. The Hairy is a frequent visitor to the feeders, but not nearly as often as the Downy.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Black and white medium sized bird. Has white spots on their black wings. White underparts.
  • Larger than Downy Woodpeckers. Long bill is the same length as it’s head and resembles a thorn.
  • Males have a red patch on the back of their head which females lack.
  • Hairy Woodpeckers are common throughout most of North America, but the plumage varies regionally.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Suet, sunflower

 


10. Red-bellied Woodpecker

No doubt one of my favorite birds to see when they visit. They never overstay their welcome or chase away other birds, but they are definitely tough and don’t get pushed around by bully birds. These woodpeckers are beautiful, especially their black and white patterned backs! Ironically, they do not have a red belly.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Beautiful black and white barred back. White underparts.
  • Males have a red crown AND nape.
  • Females are similar, except they do not have a red crown, just a red nape (FYI – nape means the back of the neck, female in the video above).
  • Long, powerful bill.
  • About the size of an American Robin.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower, suet

 


11. Tufted Titmouse

Just like chickadees, the Tufted Titmouse doesn’t stay long at feeders. These common birds fly in quickly, grab some food and leave to eat elsewhere, except when they have to work at getting a peanut out of a metal mesh feeder. I find that I often hear them first with their “peter peter peter” call.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A gray bird with white underparts that turns tannish on the sides under the wings.
  • Large black eyes and a black forehead.
  • Gray crest.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower, safflower, peanuts, and mealworms.

 


12. American Crow

Often misunderstood, many people don’t like crows. I find them fascinating, and I make sure to put out corn or peanuts under my feeders every day to attract the local murder (what a group of crows is called). Crows are highly intelligent birds that also help keep hawks away.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Large birds that are all black with a bit of gloss to their feathers.
  • Thick, long bills.
  • Smaller than ravens, who they are often confused with.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Peanuts, corn.

 


13. European Starling

european starlings common birds

When starlings visit in small numbers, they are fun to watch and have beautiful plumage. Unfortunately, this invasive species can sure ruin a party when they visit in massive flocks, chasing away all of the other birds while eating your expensive bird food.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A stocky bird about the size of an American Robin. They are black and appear to be shiny.
  • Short tail with a long slender beak.
  • Breeding adults are darker black and with a green-purple tint. In winter, starlings lose their glossiness, their beaks become darker, and also develop white spots over their body.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower kernels, cracked corn, mealworms, shelled peanuts, millet, and mixed suet products.

Learn More!

 


14. White-breasted Nuthatch

white breasted nuthatch

It’s not uncommon to see a White-breasted Nuthatch at your feeders, but don’t expect them to stay very long! They tend to fly in, grab a sunflower seed and fly off again. They are incredibly agile and are famous for being able to perch upside down on trees!

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A compact bird with a long, pointy bill and a short tail.
  • White-breasted nuthatches have a black cap with white cheeks and a gray-blue back with black coloring on the wings — completely white underneath with a bit of rust coloring near the rear.
  • Both sexes look similar, except that females are a bit duller than males.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Black-oil sunflower, sunflower kernels, safflower, and shelled peanuts.

 


15. Common Grackle

Nothing ever good seems to happen when grackles show up. They are bullies in my opinion, mostly because they usually arrive in enormous flocks that chase away all the other birds, all while cleaning out my feeders!

 

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Grackles are black all over and appear glossy and bluish on their head.
  • Long bodies that are a bit bigger than a starling or Red-winged Blackbird.
  • A large, long bill that eats almost everything.
  • Loud birds that gather in big flocks high in trees.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower, peanuts, and corn.

 


Common Types of Summer Feeder Birds

The birds below don’t enjoy our cold Ohio winters and can only be seen on feeders during warmer months. They migrate South as the weather starts lowering. Some of the below species leave as early as September, but some you can see around even during the first snow.


1. Red-winged Blackbird

red winged blackbirds

Red-winged Blackbirds are probably the most numerous type of bird we see from Spring through Fall. This is because we have a marsh in our backyard which is the habitat these blackbirds prefer. Their distinctive call is always a sign that Spring is back!

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males are all black, except for their bright red and orange patch on their shoulder.
  • Females are brown and heavily streaked. There is a bit of yellow around their bill.
  • Both sexes have a conical bill and are commonly seen sitting on cattails or perched high in a tree overlooking their marsh.
  • Red-winged Blackbirds don’t migrate long. We typically see them through December and back again in March.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Black-oil sunflower, sunflower kernels, millet, and cracked corn.

 


2. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

ruby throated hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a show stopper. I am always amazed at how small they are. I love trying to attract as many of these hummingbirds to our yard as possible, especially to our window feeder. Making homemade nectar is simple, and nectar feeders are inexpensive, so give it a try this summer!

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males have a metallic green back, a black mask, dirty underparts, and have a vibrant iridescent red throat.
  • Females are green, lack the red throat, and have white underparts.
  • Both sexes have a long bill designed to insert into flowers.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Nectar

Learn More!

 


3. Rose-breasted Grosbeak

rose breasted grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are semi-common visitors during the summer months. They LOVE sunflower seeds. The males are easily identified by their unique markings, specifically the red on their chest. Their songs sound very similar to American Robins, except for an added “chink.”

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Grosbeaks can be described as stocky birds and have a large, triangular bill.
  • Males have black backs with white streaks on their wings. White underparts, except for the gorgeous red triangle on their chest.
  • Females look nothing like males. They are brown but heavily streaked on their whole body. Look for the white eyebrows that run across their head.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower, safflower, and shelled peanuts.

 


4. Baltimore Oriole

baltimore oriole birds

I’m not sure if any feeder bird gets me more excited than Baltimore Orioles. First, their bright orange plumage is stunning and looks completely different than any other backyard bird. Second, their diet is unique. To attract orioles, you must put out oranges and jelly! Once orioles discover your feeders, make sure to keep them supplied with their favorite foods, or you risk them moving on to another location!

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Medium sized, similar to a Red-winged Blackbird.
  • Males have a black head and black back. Bright orange feathers cover their entire underparts and rump.
  • Females are much duller than males, and their plumage varies greatly. Their head and backs can be yellowish to brownish. Their underparts are typically a dull yellow or orange.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Nectar, fruit, jelly

 


Common Types of Winter Feeder Birds

Some birds only appear at my feeders during the cold winter months. Believe it or not, the listed birds below come down from Canada where it’s so cold that even an Ohio winter feels warm! 🙂

 

1. Dark-eyed Junco

junco - common types of winter birds

Dark-eyed Juncos are a common bird to see at your feeders during winter and always a welcome sight. They are strictly ground feeders. Make sure to throw some sunflower kernels on the ground especially for them!

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Body is mostly gray with white underparts.
  • About the size of a House Sparrow.
  • Beautiful white tail feathers that flash in flight.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Black-oil sunflower, sunflower kernels, millet, and cracked corn.

 


2. Carolina Wren

carolina wren - common feeder bird in winter

First, Carolina Wrens are present in Eastern North America ALL YEAR. I included them in the winter bird section because that is the only time they come to my feeders! During the warmer months, they strictly hunt insects. During winter they are commonly seen eating peanuts.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Carolina Wrens are reddish brown on top and tannish on their underparts.
  • White eyebrow and throat. Dark coloring on wings and tail.
  • Bill is thin, long, and slightly hooked.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Shelled peanuts, sunflower kernels, mealworms, and suet.

 


3. American Tree Sparrow

common winter birds in winter

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Rusty colored cap and eyeline. Gray face.
  • Bill is two colors! Black on top and yellow underneath.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower kernels, millet, and cracked corn.

 


4. Red-breasted Nuthatch

common types of winter birds - nuthatches

Noticeably smaller than White-breasted Nuthatches. Most often heard before being seen with their distinctive “yank-yank” calls.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Have a black cap and eye line. White eyebrow and throat.
  • Small and compact with a short, sharp bill.
  • Rusty below and blue-gray on top.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Black-oil sunflower, sunflower kernels, safflower, and shelled peanuts.

 


5. Purple Finch

purple finches

Unfortunately, most times when you think you see a Purple Finch it’s actually just another House Finch. Purple Finches migrate to most of the lower 48 states during winter. They are an uncommon bird to see on the feeders.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males are raspberry red on their head, breast, back, and wings.
  • Females are streaked brown with a slight white eyebrow.
  • Strong, cone-shaped bill.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Black-oil sunflower, sunflower kernels, safflower, and nyjer.

 


6. White-throated Sparrow

white throated sparrow

White-throated Sparrows are common visitors to my feeding station, but only on the ground and it seems only at dusk or dawn. Right before sunset, I have seen as many as six searching together for food. They have a fun way of hopping across the ground.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Black and white stripes on the face.
  • Yellow spot between the eye and bill. White throat patch.
  • Grayish breast and relatively small bill.

Favorite Feeder Foods: Sunflower kernels, millet, and cracked corn.

 


Common Mammal Visitors

 

1. Eastern Gray Squirrel

When we first set up our feeding station, we never saw squirrels in our backyard. Now there are up to 9 different Eastern Gray Squirrels that visit at once! I know squirrels drive many people nuts, but as long as you squirrel-proof your pole and feeders and they stay on the ground, they don’t cause much stress. Make sure to look for the black squirrels that visit, which are still Eastern Gray Squirrels, just a melanistic morph.

Learn More!

 


2. American Red Squirrel

Common squirrels - American Red Squirrel

Red squirrels are not as common of visitors as the Eastern Gray Squirrels, but they sure are entertaining. It’s common for the small red squirrel to chase away all the larger grays to get access to the food. I always think American Red Squirrels act as if they have had about 8 cups of coffee because they never stop moving.

 


3. Eastern Chipmunk

chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunks are small rodents that are extremely common. My biggest problem with chipmunks is trying to keep them out of the garage!

 


4. Eastern Cottontail

These types of rabbits are seen almost every night under the feeders. Since my kids are outside quite a bit, many of the cottontails have become very tolerant of humans, and it’s not surprising to get close enough that you can almost pet them.

 


5. Virginia Opossum

The opossum is the only marsupial found north of Mexico. They are nocturnal, so make sure to watch the ground cams at night.

 


6. Striped Skunk

Skunks are my favorite mammal to see when they visit. Their black and white fur is stunning! Watching them on the cams has also given me an appreciation for how tough they are as they don’t back down to raccoons or opossums.

 


7. White-tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are the only deer species in Eastern North America, so they are easy to identify when they arrive.

 


8. Raccoon

The entertaining raccoon is a nightly visitor that loves eating corn and peanuts. Sometimes they are by themselves, and sometimes they come as a big family.

 


Irregular Animals That Have Visited

 

I’m hoping that over time we will be able to see some unique animals that don’t regularly visit backyard feeding stations. I’m thinking hawks, owls, warblers, coyotes, etc. Below is what has been captured so far.

 

1. Red-shouldered Hawk

 

What are your favorite birds that visit your feeders?

What’s a unique animal you have observed in your backyard?

 

15 responses to “15 Most Common Birds That Visit My Feeders (ID Guide!)”

  1. Terri B Applegate says:

    I’m a new bird feeder. Your site has helped me a lot. Thanks for all the info

  2. Dave Emery says:

    I’m a new birder and they’ve saved my life, cheering me up whenever they come around! What a wonderful site you have. The nuthatches I’ve been calling flickers appreciate it! Again, wonderful information and pictures. Thank you!

  3. Ronnie says:

    I am a newbe from Rustenburg, South Africa.

    Thanks for sharing..

  4. JRiley says:

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful information and amazing videos you provide. I am new at birding and am learning so much from all your terrific posts. I haven’t been at it very long and don’t recognize most of the feathered friends who visit but I do have a few blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves and mocking birds every day amongst a large number of brown birds. And crows – I get lots of crows whom I love watching – they are so smart. Of course, I can’t leave out the silly squirrels who make me laugh with their crazy antics trying to figure out which feeder to steal from next. I have bought feeders for hummers and orioles, too, but can’t figure out what time of year I should put them out. Guess I should look back through some of your other articles. I have saved this post as a reference guide and hope one day to be almost as knowledgeable as you at recognizing my backyard visitors. Notice I said almost!

  5. Barry Gold says:

    Scott,
    I live in southern Connecticut (outside of New Haven). I have a tan bird (smaller than a robin) nesting in a bush against the front of my house. I thought it was a wood thrush or Veery but I’m not sure. It has a dark eye and a very orange beak. Can you tell me what you think? Much Appreciated
    Barry

  6. Peg says:

    I’d love to get a camera set up for my backyard. We have so much wildlife! Can anyone recommend a decent camera set that isn’t difficult to use and set up?

  7. Kelly says:

    Recently stumbled upon your website and it has been very helpful! Thank you! I am currently struggling with a grackle problem. We have too many and they are emptying my feeders! I have switched up the seed to mostly safflower, the finch feeder, the suets, and hummingbird/oriole feeders are out for this time of year but they wont leave me yard! I thought about getting a caged feeder to put my more expensive seed in and keep them out, but then I’m worried that I wont be able to see the birds that come to eat. I just want them gone. I’ve been feeding them for weeks now and it’s driving me crazy! Any suggestions?

    • Scott says:

      Hey Kelly. When the grackles start overwhelming my feeders I will switch to safflower in all feeders that grackles can access, nyjer in a finch feeder, and nectar. Instead of a caged feeder ( I have not had much luck with birds going inside the cage), try the Absolute II – https://amzn.to/2K8VUEC – The perches close with too much weight and it can be adjusted. Put it on the most sensitive setting. It will close when the grackles land on it. Look at my live cams right now, I have it set up and there is sunflower kernels inside and the grackles rarely get any!

  8. Great article. Thanks so much!

  9. Dianne C Darwood says:

    I’m in Michigan and have had mallards and wild turkeys eating under my feeder. The taller deer actually eat from the feeder in winter. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Bluebirds all winter long. I counted 9 on one occasion. Now with Spring here, I see them less often.

    Mockingbirds, only one or two. I don’t get Orioles or Hairy Woodpeckers. I get a Cooper’s Hawk and there is a Great Horned Owl in the area. I do get Downys and Red Bellied Woodpeckers. Rarely a Blue Jay or two. Too many of those dreadful Starlings and eventually the Grackles appear. Barn Swallows in the Spring usually.

    I get many varieties of Finches and Sparrows. Wrens, Juncos, Nuthatches, Titmouse, Chickadees, Catbirds, Robins, Cardinals, Doves. I’m sure I missed one or two.

    • Scott says:

      Gratia, sounds like you have an incredible feeding station! I wish I could attract more bluebirds to my yard but the House Sparrows keep them away. You didn’t mention where you live? Thanks for sharing.

  11. Bluebirds all winter long. I counted 9 on one occasion. Now with Spring here, I see them less often.

    Mockingbirds, only one or two. I don’t get Orioles or Hairy Woodpeckers. I get a Cooper’s Hawk and there is a Great Horned Owl in the area. I do get Downys and Red Bellied Woodpeckers. Rarely a Blue Jay or two. Too many of those dreadful Starlings and eventually the Grackles appear. Barn Swallows in the Spring usually.

    I get a many varieties of Finches and Sparrows. Wrens, Juncos, Nuthatches, Titmouse, Chickadees, Catbirds, Robins, Cardinals, Doves. I’m sure I missed one or two.

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