“The Most Common Backyard Birds in Pennsylvania: A Comprehensive Guide” is an informative article that offers a wealth of knowledge on the diverse avian inhabitants of Pennsylvania. Utilizing data from the citizen science program eBird, the article provides a more accurate compilation of the state’s most common backyard birds compared to other similar resources. Complete with captivating pictures of each bird species mentioned, this guide not only educates readers about the various feathered visitors one can expect in their backyard but also offers helpful tips on attracting them. From the ever-popular Northern Cardinal to the charming American Robin and the serene Mourning Dove, this article unveils the top three most common birds found in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, it delves into the world of bird watching in the state, offering recommendations on products and divulging insider knowledge on premier birding locations. For those eager to join a community of bird enthusiasts, the article suggests connecting with local bird groups to foster lasting connections with like-minded individuals.
1. Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinal is a striking bird that is easily recognizable. The male has vibrant red plumage on its body and a black mask around its eyes, while the female is a more muted reddish-brown color. Both have distinctive crests on their heads. Their beaks are short and cone-shaped, perfect for cracking open seeds.
These birds are native to North America and can be found throughout Pennsylvania. They prefer to live in a variety of habitats, including forests, gardens, and parks. They are commonly seen perched on tree branches or feeding on the ground.
Northern Cardinals are primarily seed eaters. They have a strong preference for sunflower seeds, but they will also eat other types of seeds, berries, and insects. To attract Northern Cardinals to your backyard, provide a mix of seeds and fruits in bird feeders or scatter them on the ground.
2. American Robin
The American Robin is a familiar bird with a distinctive appearance. It has a bright orange-red breast, a gray back, and a white belly. The male and female look similar, but the male has darker markings on its head. These birds have a long, thin beak, which they use to forage for worms and insects.
American Robins can be found in various habitats, including woodlands, gardens, and lawns. In Pennsylvania, they are commonly spotted hopping along lawns, searching for food. They also build nests in trees and shrubs.
While American Robins primarily feed on earthworms and insects, they also eat berries and fruits, especially during the winter months when their preferred food is scarce. To attract American Robins to your backyard, create a birdbath or fountain, which will provide them with a source of water. You can also plant fruit-bearing trees and shrubs.
3. Mourning Dove
Mourning Doves are sleek, medium-sized birds with a gentle appearance. They have a soft grayish-brown body, a long tail, and small rounded heads. Their beaks are short and pointed. These birds are known for their mournful cooing sound, which is often heard in the early morning.
Mourning Doves can be found in a wide range of habitats, including woodlands, farmlands, and suburban areas. They are commonly seen perched on power lines or feeding on the ground in open spaces.
These birds primarily feed on seeds, including those of grasses and wildflowers. They also eat small fruits and insects. To attract Mourning Doves to your backyard, provide a variety of seeds, such as millet and cracked corn, in ground feeders. Planting native grasses and wildflowers can also provide a natural food source for them.
4. Blue Jay
The Blue Jay is a striking bird with bold blue plumage on its body and a white chest. It has a crest on its head, which it can raise or lower depending on its mood. These birds are known for their loud, distinctive calls and their ability to mimic other bird species.
Blue Jays can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, parks, and suburban areas. They are often seen perched on tree branches or foraging on the ground.
These birds have a varied diet that includes nuts, seeds, insects, and fruits. They are also known to raid other birds’ nests to eat eggs and nestlings. To attract Blue Jays to your backyard, provide a mix of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet in bird feeders. They are also attracted to water, so providing a birdbath or fountain is a good idea.
5. Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadees are small, round birds with a distinctive black cap and bib on their heads. They have a gray body, with white on their cheeks and a beige color underneath. These birds have short, stubby beaks, perfect for cracking open seeds.
Black-capped Chickadees are common in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, and suburban areas. They are often seen flitting around tree branches or hanging upside down while foraging for food.
These birds are primarily insectivores and will eat a wide variety of insects, including caterpillars, beetles, and spiders. They also eat seeds, especially during the winter months when insects are scarce. To attract Black-capped Chickadees to your backyard, provide a mix of sunflower seeds, suet, and mealworms in feeders. Planting native plants that attract insects is another way to attract them.
6. Song Sparrow
Song Sparrows are small, plump birds with brown and gray plumage. They have streaks on their chests and a long, rounded tail. These birds are known for their beautiful, melodic songs, which they use to attract mates and establish territories.
Song Sparrows can be found in a variety of habitats, including wetlands, gardens, and scrubby areas. They are often seen hopping on the ground or perched on shrubs and low trees.
These birds have a diverse diet that includes seeds, insects, and fruits. They are also known to scratch the ground for insects and small invertebrates. To attract Song Sparrows to your backyard, provide a mix of seeds, such as millet and sunflower seeds, in ground feeders. Creating brush piles or planting dense shrubs can also provide them with shelter.
7. House Finch
House Finches are small, energetic birds with a mix of brown, red, and gray plumage. The males have brighter red feathers on their head, breast, and rump, while the females are a duller brown color. These birds have a short, conical beak that is perfect for eating seeds.
House Finches can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, gardens, and urban areas. They are often seen perched on tree branches or feeding on the ground.
These birds primarily feed on seeds, including those of weeds and grasses. They also eat fruits and insects. To attract House Finches to your backyard, provide a variety of seeds, such as nyjer and sunflower seeds, in feeders. Planting native plants that produce seeds and berries can also attract them.
8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are medium-sized birds with a striking appearance. They have a black and white striped back, a red cap on their heads, and a pale grayish-brown belly. These birds have a long, chisel-like beak and a stiff tail, which they use for support while climbing trees.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers can be found in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, and suburban areas. They are often seen hopping along tree trunks or hanging upside down while foraging for food.
These birds have a diverse diet that includes insects, nuts, fruits, and seeds. They use their beaks to drill into trees to find insects and larvae. To attract Red-bellied Woodpeckers to your backyard, provide suet feeders and offer a mix of nuts, fruits, and seeds. Creating dead snags or retaining dead trees can also provide them with nesting sites.
9. Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmice are small, friendly birds with a distinctive appearance. They have a gray body, a crest on their heads, and a black patch on their forehead. These birds have a short, stout beak and a long tail. They are known for their active and acrobatic behavior.
Tufted Titmice can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, parks, and suburban areas. They are often seen hopping along tree branches or hanging upside down while foraging for food.
These birds have a varied diet that includes insects, seeds, nuts, and berries. They will often store food in crevices or bark for later consumption. To attract Tufted Titmice to your backyard, provide a mix of sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts in feeders. Planting native plants that produce seeds and berries will also attract them.
11. Bird Watching in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is a fantastic state for bird watching, with a diverse range of bird species to observe. To enhance your bird watching experience, there are several recommended products that you may find useful. Binoculars with a magnification of 8x or 10x are essential for getting a closer look at birds in their natural habitats. A field guide specific to the region can help you identify different species and learn more about their behaviors and habitats. A camera with a telephoto lens can capture stunning photographs of birds in action.
There are also several popular birding locations in Pennsylvania that are worth visiting. Presque Isle State Park is a prime spot for migratory birds, with its beaches, wetlands, and forests attracting a wide variety of species. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is renowned for its raptor migration, providing opportunities to see eagles, hawks, and falcons. The Allegheny National Forest is home to numerous bird species, including the elusive Golden-winged Warbler. Other notable birding locations include the Delaware Water Gap, Moraine State Park, and the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.
To make the most of your bird watching adventures, here are some tips for successful bird watching. Choose the right time of day to observe birds, as they are most active during the early morning and late afternoon. Move slowly and quietly to avoid scaring away birds. Learn to recognize different bird calls and songs, as this can help you locate and identify bird species. Take notes or keep a birding journal to record your observations and track the birds you have seen.
Joining a local bird group is a great way to connect with other bird enthusiasts in your area. These groups often organize bird walks and field trips, providing opportunities to learn from experienced birders and discover new birding hotspots. They can also be a valuable source of information and support for beginners.
In conclusion, Pennsylvania offers an abundance of backyard birds to admire and appreciate. By understanding their appearances, habitats, feeding preferences, and how to attract them, you can create a welcoming environment for these beautiful creatures. Bird watching in Pennsylvania is a rewarding and fulfilling hobby that allows you to connect with nature and explore the diverse avian world around you. So grab your binoculars, head out to one of the popular birding locations, and start observing the fascinating birds of Pennsylvania!