The birds of New York are a lot more than you think!
More than 500 bird species have been seen in New York! Birders flock to Central Park to watch warblers and dozens of other migrants but this state also boasts plenty of other places for birds.
In New York, we find a wealth of gulls, waterfowl, songbirds, and many other species on two of the Great Lakes, wetlands, woodlands, and other habitats.
How many birds in New York have you seen? We bet a lot! But how many were you able to identify?
This list of the most common backyard and wild birds in New York will help!
Most Common Birds of New York
New York is more than the big city. The Empire State also has large areas of rural areas, parks, and other places that are excellent for birding.
To create an accurate list of the most common birds of New York, we looked at eBird data from 2022 to 2023. We found the most commonly seen species and arranged them from the most common to the least common.
PS! Species on the bottom of the list are common birds too!
To help identify the common birds of New York, we also added information about their behavior and field marks.
Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
Length: 11 inches
Weight: 3 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
Song: “Nyeah! Nyeah! Nyeah!”
The Blue Jay is a fairly large, crested bird with a straight black bill. Both sexes look alike and are blue above and gray and white below. They also have some small black lines on their faces and a narrow black necklace that goes up to the side of their face and crest.
Blue Jays also have some white markings and black barring in their wings and on their tail. Young birds look like adults but are duller blue.
They make messy cup nests at various heights in a variety of trees.
These social and intelligent birds feed on acorns, nuts, insects, and other small creatures. Like other members of the jay and crow family, they eat the eggs and nestlings of other birds.
The Blue Jay is a common bird of woodlands, forest, and towns east of the Rocky Mountains in the USA and central and southern Canada.
- Crested, fairly large bird with bright blue above and gray below.
- Feeds in trees and at feeders. Eats acorns, nuts, insects and many other food items.
- Makes a messy cup nest of sticks in a tree.
- Very vocal. In flight, Blue Jays often call as they swoop through the trees. They make a variety of sounds and mimic some other birds. Common calls include a nasal and complaining “Nyeah! Nyeah! Nyeah!” and various whistled calls.
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
Length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 1.6 ounces
Wingspan: 12 inches
Song: “pichew-pichew-pichew, chew,chew,chew,chew,chew”
Northern Cardinals are medium-sized songbirds with a perky crest and big orange-red beak. Males are bright red with a black throat and face, and have dusky red on their back, wings, and tail.
Female Northern Cardinals are grayish-brown and buff with some black on their face and throat. They also have red highlights in their crest, wings, and long, rounded tail.
This species has short, rounded wings and seems to bounce up and down as they move through the air. In flight, Northern Cardinals also make sharp chip notes.
It eats seeds, insects, and some fruit and is a regular visitor to bird feeders. They forage on and near the ground but males sing from a prominent perch.
This beautiful bird occurs in pairs and nests in bushes and low trees. It is common in the eastern and southwestern USA, southern Ontario, and in Mexico.
- Crested bird with a conical orange-red beak and a black face. Males are red, females are grayish-brown and buff.
- Forages for seeds and insects on and near the ground.
- Makes a cup-shaped nest in bushes and low trees.
- Sings a clear, whistled song of repeated notes. They can sound like “cheer, cheer, chew, chew, chew, chew” or a quick “birdee,birdee,birdee,birdee,birdee“. They also make loud, sharp chip notes.
Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
Length: 10 inches
Weight: 2.7 ounces
Wingspan: 17 inches
Song: “cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer”
The American Robin is a familiar and common thrush that is dark gray above and brick red below. It also has an orange-yellow bill, a blackish head with white markings around the eyes and on the throat, and a white belly.
Both sexes of this thrush species are similar but males are darker above and more reddish on the underparts. Young American Robins have more white marks on their faces and spotting on orange underparts.
In flight, this common thrush in New York also shows white corners in its outer tail feathers.
American Robins forage on the ground for worms, insects, snails, and other small creatures. In winter, these common birds flock together and perch in trees and bushes to eat berries and fruit.
The American Robin makes a cup nest in trees and lives in parks, woodlands, towns, and many other habitats. They reside in Alaska, most of Canada, the USA and in Mexico.
- Fair-sized songbird that is dark gray above, and brick red and white below.
- Forages for worms and bugs on lawns and other open grassy areas, also flocks together to feed on fruiting trees in the winter.
- Makes a cup nest in trees.
- The American Robin is quite vocal and makes a loud, sharp, “yenk!” call and quieter “check,check,check” calls. It also has a lovely cheerful song of caroled phrases, “cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer”.
Scientific name: Poecile atricapilla
Length: 5.25 inches
Weight: .39 ounces
Wingspan: 8 inches
Song: “see bee, see bee”
Black-capped Chickadees are small grayish birds with a black cap, black throat, and a stubby black beak. Both sexes look alike and have a white face, white edging to the feathers in their wings, and some buff on their underparts.
These cute little birds feed on caterpillars, insects, spiders, seeds, and fruit. They are regular visitors to feeders but also forage on bark, twigs, and in foliage. When foraging, they often hang upside down from twigs and usually occur in small flocks.
This species makes a small, soft nest out of moss and deer hair. It builds its nest in tree cavities and can also use nest boxes.
Black-capped Chickadees live in a variety of wooded habitats and can also occur in gardens. They are year-round residents in parts of Alaska, Canada, and the northern USA south to Oregon, northern New Mexico, northern Ohio, and the Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina.
- Small, cute, grayish birds with a black cap, white face, and a black throat.
- Forages for insects, spiders, seeds, and fruit in wooded habitats. Also visits feeders.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- This little bird is quite vocal and often says its name, “chick-a-deedeedeedeedee”. They also make other chattering calls and sing a whistled song, “see bee, see bee”.
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
Length: 12 inches
Weight: 4.2 ounces
Wingspan: 18 inches
Song: “hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”
Mourning Doves are medium-sized, grayish-brown doves with long tails. They have small black spots on their wings and a small head with a slender, dark beak.
Males and females also have narrow gray eyerings, a black mark on the face, and pale iridescent gold on the sides of their necks. They look alike except for males having more gray on the head and neck, and more iridescence.
This dove has fairly long wings and swift, direct flight. When flying, it shows black and white in its tail.
The Mourning Dove occurs in woodlands, gardens, on farms, and in urban areas. This common feeder visitor eats seeds and grains. It also forages in open situations, picking food from the ground.
This pleasant dove species can visit a feeder on its own or forage in small flocks. It builds an unkempt stick nest in bushes and trees and is very common throughout the USA, southern Canada, and Mexico.
- Plain brown and gray dove with a long, pointed tail.
- Feeds on seeds at feeders and on the ground in open areas.
- Makes a small, messy nest of sticks in trees.
- Sings a sad and owl-like “hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”.
Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
Length: 17.5 inches
Weight: 1 pound
Wingspan: 39 inches
Song: “Caw! Caw!”
The American Crow is a big, all black bird with a strong, stout bill. In certain lighting, it can have metallic purple and blue iridescence.
Both sexes look the same and have some feathering on their beaks, long, broad wings, and a broad tail.
American Crows have direct flight with strong, steady wing beats. Crows are very social and intelligent birds that are usually seen in flocks. They forage together on the ground or in trees and eat just about anything they can find.
Some of their more regular foods include carrion, fruit, nuts, seeds, insects, and small animals. Like most jays and crow species, they also eat the eggs and nestlings of other bird species.
This species builds bulky stick nests high in trees and lives in most habitats except for high mountains and arid zones.
The American Crow occurs in southern Alaska and much of Canada and the USA.
- Big, all black bird with long, broad wing and a broad tail.
- Forages for carrion, fruit, seeds, insects, and small animals.
- Builds a bulky stick nest high in a tree.
- American Crows are very vocal birds. They can make several calls but their most common one is, “Caw! Caw! Caw!”.
Scientific name: Melospiza melodia
Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .7 ounces
Wingspan: 8.25 inches
Song: “seet serate sitsziziziziziziziz seet”
The Song Sparrow is a small, gray and brown, streaked songbird with a thick dark mark on each side of its white throat. Males and females look the same and have white underparts with a dark brown mark on their breast, and dark brown streaks on their breast and sides.
Most Song Sparrows also have two narrow wing bars and show a rounded tail when fluttering between bushes.
This species feeds on insects, seeds, and small fruits. Pairs forage by picking up food items on and near the ground. They are also frequent visitors to bird feeders.
Song Sparrows use grass, stems, hair, and other materials to make a cup nest placed on or near the ground. They nest in dense vegetation, shrubbery, or low trees, often near water.
This species uses a wide variety of brushy habitats in open and wooded situations in southern Alaska, most of Canada, and all of the USA.
- Small brown, streaked sparrow with a dark mark on its breast.
- Forages on and near the ground for seeds and insects in brushy habitats.
- Builds a cup nest on or near the ground in a shrub or low tree.
- Makes high-pitched “tink”, chirping calls, and has a cheerful song with a trill, “seet serate sitsziziziziziziziz seet”.
Scientific name: Carduelis tristis
Length: 5 inches
Weight: .46 ounces
Wingspan: 9 inches
Song: “swit sweet, sipsipsipchichisweetsweet”
The American Goldfinch is a small, sparrow-sized finch with a black and white, slightly forked tail, pale rump, and white undertail. In summer, males are bright lemon yellow with a small black cap, pale beak, and have some white markings on long black wings.
Females and wintering birds have two pale wings bars and have plain gray, buff, and yellowish plumage. This species often occurs in small flocks and has bounding flight.
American Goldfinches feed on seeds. They forage by picking them from grass, thistle, other low plants, Alders, and other trees. Goldfinches are also frequent visitors to bird feeders.
The American Goldfinch uses plant matter and other soft materials to build a small, tightly woven cup nest high in a shrub or a low tree.
American Goldfinches are summer residents in southern Canada, California, and the northern half of the USA, and winter in most of the USA and parts of Mexico.
- Small, bright yellow finch with a black cap, wings and tail (summer male), female and winter males are plain brown, buff, and yellowish birds with two pale wing bars.
- Feeds on seeds in low plants, trees, and at feeders.
- Makes a tightly woven cup nest high in a shrub or low tree.
- Often gives a “per chickory” call in flight and sings a short, trilled song, “swit sweet, sipsipsipchichisweetsweet”.
Scientific name: Branta canadensis
Length: 35 – 45.2 inches
Weight: 5.29 – 19.8 pounds
Wingspan: 50 – 67 inches
Song: “uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!”
The Canada Goose is a large, grayish-brown bird with a long black neck, and black head with a white throat and cheeks. Males and females look alike and have pale barring, a white belly and undertail, and a short black and white tail.
They have strong direct flight and make deep flaps with long, broad wings.
Canada Geese feed on grass, sedges, and other vegetation, grain, and berries. They forage by walking along and grazing, or picking food from the ground and bushes. This species also feeds by dipping its head below the surface of shallow water.
This large goose uses grass and other plants to make a large, shallow cup nest on a small mound or other elevated spot next to water.
The Canada Goose prefers open grassy areas and farm fields near water where it can feed and see predators before they get too close. They live in Alaska, most of Canada, and most of the USA, being one of the most common birds of New York.
- Big, gray-brown goose with a long black neck, and black and white head.
- Grazes vegetation and forages for berries in wide open, grassy habitats near water like golf courses, parks, and airports.
- Makes a shallow, open cup nest on an elevated spot next to water.
- Vocal and often makes honking calls, “uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!”.
Scientific name: Dryobates pubescens
Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: .95 ounces
Wingspan: 12 inches
Song: “Pik! Ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch!”
The Downy Woodpecker is a small black and white woodpecker with a short, black beak. They are patterned black and white above and have white backs and white underparts. Both sexes look alike except that males have a small, bright red patch on the top back part of their head.
Young birds look like adults but have a reddish patch on the top of their head. Downy Woodpeckers also have a few small black marks in their white outer tail feathers, and a small white tuft at the base of their beak.
This woodpecker eats insects, other small creatures, seeds, and small fruits. It pecks into live and dead wood and often forages on smaller branches and twigs. These friendly little woodpeckers are also common feeder birds.
They nest in tree cavities and live in gardens and a wide variety of woodlands. We see Downy Woodpeckers in much of Canada and the USA but not in arid habitats.
- Smallest woodpecker in North America. Mostly black and white with a short, black beak.
- Forages on trees, in bushes, and at feeders for insects, seeds, and suet.
- Nests in tree cavities.
- The Downy Woodpecker makes sharp “pik!” calls and also has a trilled call, “Ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch!“.
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
European Starlings are plump, short-tailed birds with long sharp beaks and longish, pointed wings. In summer, they have yellow beaks, glossy black plumage with purple and green highlights, and some small white spots.
Males and females are similar but males have less spotting and glossier plumage. In winter, they have black beaks, white spots, and more reddish colors in their wings.
Young starlings are shaped like adults but are grayish birds with a dark beak and a pale throat.
This species feeds on a variety of insects, fruit, and seeds. They can dominate bird feeders and are common species in urban areas, parks, farmlands, and other open habitats.
This European Starling builds a soft cup nest in a tree cavity, nest box, or suitable cavity in other structures.
European Starlings flock with each other and blackbird species, especially during the winter. They live across a large part of Canada and the USA.
- Rotund, short-tailed bird with a long, sharp beak, and pointed wings. Glossy black with some spotting in the summer and blackish with heavy white spotting and streaking in the winter.
- Feeds on seeds, fruit, and insects. Visits feeders and forages on the ground in flocks.
- Builds a soft cup nest in nest boxes and other cavities.
- The European Starling makes a wide variety of mechanical and whistled sounds. They also mimic other birds and sounds in their environment. They sing long, jumbled mechanical-sounding songs, “tiktiktitZHREEree..tiktiktik..ZHREE”.
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
Length: 9.25 inches
Weight: 2.2 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are medium-sized with black and white barring on their back and wings. They have a long beak and pale gray underparts with a small red patch on the belly.
Males have red on the head from the bill to the back of the neck (the nape). Females have an orange-red spot above their bill and red on the back of their head. Both sexes have a mostly white rump and central tail feathers.
This woodpecker species has long wings and “undulating” flight where it moves up and down as it flies. In flight, Red-bellied Woodpeckers show a small white patch in their wings.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker lives in wooded habitats. It eats nuts, seeds, insects, fruit, and can attack nestlings of other species. It also visits bird feeders.
This striking woodpecker occurs in pairs and nests in tree cavities high above the ground. It is common in the eastern USA and parts of southern Ontario.
- Grayish woodpecker with black and white barring above, and red on the top of the head and back of the neck.
- Forages for seeds, nuts, insects and other food on trunks and branches.
- Nests in a tree cavity, high overhead.
- Makes a loud exclamation, “Qwerr!“. It also makes other, briefer and quieter “chug” calls.
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .98 ounces
Wingspan: 9.5 inches
House Sparrows are small, plump gray and brown birds with conical, finch-like beaks. Males have a gray and rufous head with pale cheeks, and black near their eyes and on their throat.
The rest of their underparts are gray and they have brown, streaked backs with rufous highlights. They also have a white mark in the shoulder of each wing and a grayish rump and tail.
Females are plainer brown and buff, have paler beaks, and buff eyebrows.
House Sparrows feed on seeds, grain, and insects. They are regular visitors to bird feeders and often dominate other smaller species. They also forage on the ground in farmlands, parks, urban areas, and other open situations.
The House Sparrow nests in cavities. When searching for suitable nesting sites, they can kill and remove the eggs and young of smaller species like Eastern Bluebirds.
House Sparrows usually live near people and occur in most of North America, including New York.
- Brown and gray sparrow with a bold pattern on its head.
- Feeds on seeds, grain, and insects at feeders and on the ground in urban areas and farmlands.
- Nests in tree cavities, including nest boxes.
- This species is vocal and often makes short chirping calls. Its song is a friendly series of chirping sounds, “see,chirrup,see,chirrup,see,chirrup”.
Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor
Length: 6.5 inches
Weight: .75 ounces
Wingspan: 9.75 inches
Song: “peter peter peter”
The Tufted Titmouse is a small, crested, blue-gray bird with a white face. Males and females look the same and have a small black mark above their stubby black beak. They also have pale underparts with peach-orange flanks.
These cute little birds occur in small groups that forage for insects and seeds in parks and woodlands. They move through the trees and use their bills to pick food from leaves, bark, and branches. Tufted Titmouse are also regular visitors to bird feeders.
These small birds nest in woodpecker holes and other cavities in dead trees, and can also use nest boxes.
We find the Tufted Titmouse in hardwood forests and forested urban areas. They are often heard before they are seen, and flock with other small birds. When they see a predator, they are some of the first birds to harass it.
The Tufted Titmouse occurs in the eastern USA and some parts of southeastern Canada.
- Small, crested blue-gray bird with pale underparts and a white face.
- Feeds on seeds and insects and visits feeders.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- The Tufted Titmouse is a very vocal bird. It gives constant whistled calls over and over, “peter peter peter“.
Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 1.8 ounces
Wingspan: 13 inches
The Red-winged Blackbird is a medium-sized blackbird species with a sharp, all black bill. Males also have a scarlet patch with a pale yellow border on the shoulder of each wing.
Female Red-winged Blackbirds are dark, heavily streaked, brownish-gray birds with an orange-buff eyebrow and throat. She can also have a little bit of dingy red on her shoulder.
Red-winged Blackbirds often flock together and can form very large groups in the winter. They feed on seeds, grain, and insects found on lawns, in marshes, farm fields, and other open habitats.
This species builds a cup nest made of leaves and dead stems in a bush or other low vegetation in a marsh, park, or brushy field.
Red-winged Blackbirds are very common birds that live in all sorts of open habitats. We see them in parks, farming areas, and marshes in much of Canada, the USA, Mexico, and parts of the Central America.
- Males are medium-sized blackbirds with a bright red patch on their wings. Females are heavily streaked, have a sharp black beak, and buff on the head.
- Feeds on seeds, grain, and insects on the ground in many open habitats.
- Builds a cup nest in a bush or other low vegetation.
- Red-winged Blackbirds often call. Males sing a loud, “kan-keree!” and both sexes also make “check!” calls and a high-pitched whistle-like sound.
Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
Length: 5.75 inches
Weight: .74 ounces
Wingspan: 11 inches
Song: “wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn”
The White-breasted Nuthatch is a sparrow-sized bird with a longish, sharp, slightly upturned beak and a short black and white tail. It also has long wings, is mostly blue-gray above, and white and gray below with some chestnut on its belly and undertail.
Both sexes look similar and have a white face but males have a black cap and nape. Females have gray on their head and nape.
This small bird forages for insects, nuts, and seeds by creeping along branches and going down trunks, head-first. It uses its beak to pick food items from bark and also visits feeders.
The White-breasted Nuthatch makes a cup nest out of grass and soft bark inside a tree cavity or nest box.
White-breasted Nuthatches live in various wooded habitats in parts of southern Canada, most of the USA, and mountains in Mexico. They are frequent visitors to gardens near woodlands.
- Sparrow-sized, short-tailed songbird that is blue-gray above, mostly white below, and has a longish, slightly upturned beak.
- Creeps on branches and down tree trunks for insects, nuts, and seeds. Also visits feeders.
- Uses grass and soft bark to make a cup nest in a tree cavity or nest box.
- Quite vocal and makes nasal calls “yank yank”, and sings a nasal, laughter-like song, “wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn”.
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Length: 23 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Wingspan: 35 inches
Song: “quack, quack”
The Mallard is a fairly large, familiar duck. The male has a metallic green head, yellow bill, narrow white ring around the neck, and chestnut breast. The rest of the bird is pale gray with pale brown, and black on its back and around his tail.
Female Mallards are mottled brown and buff with a dark crown and line through the eyes, and have a dark gray and orange beak.
In flight, both sexes show a green-blue wing patch bordered with white.
Mallards eat a variety of items including insect larvae, snails, other small aquatic creatures, acorns, seeds, and grain. They forage by filtering and picking up food items in and near shallow water, and in farm fields.
This New York duck species makes a shallow nest with sticks and lined with down feathers. It builds its nest on the ground, hidden in grass or under a bush.
The Mallard lives in ponds, marshes, and many wetland habitats in Canada, USA, and Eurasia.
- Feeds on insect larvae, grain, seeds, and other items picked up with its bill in and near shallow water.
- Makes a shallow stick nest hidden in grass or under a bush.
- The female Mallard makes the classic “quack, quack” duck sound. Males make similar but softer sounds and a whistling call.
Scientific name: Dumatella carolinensis
Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 1.3 ounces
Wingspan: 11 inches
The Gray Catbird is a slender, gray songbird with a black cap, and chestnut under its tail. Both sexes look alike and have beady, black eyes on a gray face, a longish tail, and a smallish, black beak.
This reclusive bird feeds on insects and berries in thickets and second growth. It forages by moving through dense vegetation and picking food items from leaves and twigs.
Gray Catbirds make bulky, open cup nests constructed with grass, strips of vegetation, and hair. They build their nests in shrubs, bushes, and small trees.
The Gray Catbird is often heard before it is seen, and loves to skulk in low thick vegetation. This migrant species spends summers in southern Canada, and in much of the eastern and northern USA. In fall, it migrates to coastal areas in the eastern and southern USA, and Florida south to northern South America.
- Small to medium-sized, slender gray bird with a black cap and chestnut under the tail.
- Feeds on insects and berries in low, dense vegetation.
- Builds a bulky cup nest in small trees and bushes.
- The Gray Catbird is quite vocal and often makes a cat-like mewing call, “rheah!”. It also has a melodious, complex song made of jumbled, chattering sounds and phrases.
Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 4 ounces
Wingspan: 17 inches
The Common Grackle is a jay-sized, glossy black bird with pale eyes and a long, wedge-shaped tail. Depending on lighting, this bird shows metallic purple, blue, green, and bronze highlights.
Males and females look very similar but females have shorter tails and less iridescence. Both sexes also have stout, black beaks, and strong, black legs and feet.
In flight, Common Grackles move up and down as they move through the air. They usually flock together and often forage in farm fields, on lawns, and in other open habitats. These omnivores feed on a variety of items including insects, seeds, grain, small animals, garbage, and the eggs and nestlings of other birds.
Common Grackles build bulky stick nests, usually in conifers in woodlands, parks, near water, and urban areas.
This species can form big flocks in the winter and lives in a variety of semi-open and open habitats in eastern Canada and the eastern USA.
- Fairly large, black bird with glossy purple, greenish, bronze, or dark blue highlights. It also has pale eyes and a long, wedge-shaped tail.
- Forages for insects, seeds, and other food on the ground in a variety of open habitats.
- Constructs a bulky cup nest in a conifer.
- Common Grackles are vocal birds. They frequently give raspy, metallic calls, “Sherink!”, and “kek” calls.
Scientific name: Larus delawarensis
Length: 17.5 inches
Weight: 1.1 pound
Wingspan: 48 inches
The Ring-billed Gull is a medium-sized pale gray and white gull with a black ring around its yellowish beak. Males and females look the same and have yellowish legs and feet, pale eyes, and black wing tips with a few white spots.
These gulls have direct, fairly quick flight with leisurely wing beats. Young birds have pink and black bills, a white tail with a black tip, and mottled black and gray wings.
Ring-billed Gulls are scavengers and opportunists that feed on carrion, fish, worms, small animals, grain, and other food items. They usually occur in flocks that roam lakes, rivers, urban areas, and other habitats in search of feeding opportunities.
The Ring-billed Gull breeds in colonies, often on islands, and makes a shallow stick nest on the ground.
This gull species occurs not only in New York, but also in many parts of Canada and the USA south to Central America.
- Medium-sized pale gray and white gull with a black ring on its bill and yellow legs and feet. Juveniles have pink and black beaks.
- Forages for fish, carrion, and many other food items in wetlands and open habitats.
- Nests on the ground, in colonies.
- Ring-billed Gulls often call. In flight, they often make a high-pitched “kleea” sound. On the ground, displaying birds make a loud, laughing, “KLEE..KLEEE..kleeya,kleeya,kleeya”.
Scientific name: Zonotrichia albicollis
Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: .91 ounces
Wingspan: 9 inches
Song: “Ohhh Canada Canada Canada”
The White-throated Sparrow is a chunky, gray and brown sparrow with a white throat, and black and white stripes on its head. It has dark streaks on its back, a gray rump, and a bit of yellow in front of its eyes.
Males and females look the same and have reddish-brown wings with two white wing bars. Young White-throated Sparrows and some adults are duller brown with tan stripes on their heads and a dingy white throat.
White-throated Sparrows forage for seeds and insects on the ground, and also eat fruits in short trees and bushes. They reveal hidden food items by using their feet to scratch and kick away leaves.
This sparrow breeds in northern forests and builds a cup nest with grass and twigs. They construct the nest at the edge of forest, on or close to the ground, in dense vegetation.
These sparrows usually occur in flocks and winter in the eastern and southwestern USA and parts of California.
- Large sparrow with a white throat and bold black and white or tan stripes on its head.
- Scratches leaves on the ground to find seeds and insects. They also eat berries.
- Makes a cup nest of grass, bark, and twigs, on the ground, under dense vegetation.
- Flocks of White-throated Sparrows often make sharp “tink” calls. They also sing a clear, whistled song, “Ohhh Canada Canada Canada” or, “Ohhh, Cana, Cana, Cana”.
Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .67 ounces
Wingspan: 9.25 inches
Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrow-like birds with pale conical bills and dark eyes. This small bird has variable plumage with most being slate gray or gray and brown with white on their bellies, and white under their tails.
Other plumages include birds with dark masks and faint white wing bars, juncos with pale gray hoods and pinkish sides, and birds with blackish hoods and chestnut sides.
In flight, all Dark-eyed Juncos show extensive white in their longish tails.
This species feeds on seeds, insects, and some fruit and grain. Juncos forage on the ground in wooded areas, parks, and other habitats. They also feed on fallen seed beneath feeders.
They build cup nests on the ground under fallen logs, in roots, and other hidden spots. After breeding, juncos form flocks that forage together in similar wooded and semi-open habitats.
Dark-eyed Juncos are common birds in Canada, the USA, and parts of Mexico.
- Sparrow-like gray and brown bird with dark eyes, a pale beak, and white in the tail.
- Forages for seeds and insects on the ground, can feed on seeds at and beneath feeders.
- Builds a cup-shaped nest on the ground in tree roots, under logs, and other hidden places.
- This species often makes a sharp, high-pitched chip note, “pik!”. On breeding grounds, males sing a short, plain trill, “sipsipsipsipsipsipsip”.
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
Length: 6 inches
Weight: .88 ounces
Wingspan: 10 inches
House Finches are sparrow-sized birds with dark, rounded beaks and fairly long wings. Males are orange-red or rose-red on their head, throat and breast, and have some red on their rump. They also have brownish streaks on their back, flanks, and white belly.
Like the male, female House Finches have two white wing bars on long, gray-brown wings. However, they lack red and are mostly streaked, dull brown-gray birds.
House Finches feed on seeds, buds, fruit, and flowers. They often visit feeders inNew York but also forage on the ground, and in bushes and trees.
We see these pretty birds in deserts and arid zones, and in parks, farmland, urban areas, and other semi-open habitats.
The House Finch makes a soft cup nest built on a tree, building ledge or other spot with some overhanging cover. They often occur in small groups and live in southern Canada, most of the USA, Mexico, and Hawaii.
- Reddish or plain gray-brown, streaked, sparrow-like bird.
- Eats seeds, flowers, buds, and fruit. Can visit feeders but also forages on the ground and in bushes and trees.
- Makes a soft cup nest in trees, on building ledges, and other places.
- The House Finch often makes a soft, “fidip” call. Males also sing a warbling song from prominent, high perches. It sounds like, “chip,chip,chiprididip,ZREEYachip”.
Scientific name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
Length: 5.5 inches
Weight: .74 ounces
Wingspan: 7.5 inches
Song: “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle”
The Carolina Wren is a small, reddish-brown and buff bird with a long, sharp, slightly decurved beak. It has a long, narrow, white eyebrow, a white throat, and some white mottling on its face. Males and females are similar and have black barring on their short wings, long tail, and under the tail.
Juveniles are similar but have paler underparts. This animated and vocal little bird forages for bugs in vine tangles and other dense vegetation. It usually occurs in pairs that can easily hide in the dense vegetation they prefer.
Carolina Wrens build a domed, cup nest made of sticks and soft vegetation. There is a side entrance and it can be placed in cavities and crevices of stumps, bushes, trees, potted plants, and other structures.
The Carolina Wren lives in vegetated gardens, second growth, parks and similar habitats in much of the eastern USA, parts of southern Ontario, and parts of eastern Mexico.
- Small reddish-brown and buff bird with a long beak and long white eyebrow.
- Feeds on arthropods in dense, tangled vegetation.
- Makes a domed cup nest with a side entrance in crevices, tree cavities, and human-made structures.
- Carolina Wrens fill the garden with loud and melodious songs. One common song sounds like, “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle“. They also make trilled sounds and harsh, nasal calls.
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 4.6 ounces
Wingspan: 20 inches
Northern Flickers are fairly large, tan and gray woodpeckers with barring on their backs. They have a black mark on their breast, black spotting below, and a dark, stout beak.
Males in the east have a tawny throat and face with a black moustache and small red spot on the back of their heads. Males in the west have mostly gray heads with a red moustache.
Female Northern Flickers look like males but lack the moustache mark.
In bounding flight, they have white rumps and flash color on their underwings. This is bright yellow in eastern birds and reddish in flickers west of the Rocky Mountains.
This woodpecker eats many ants and other insects that it catches on the ground. It forages by flying to the ground, locating anthills, and lapping them up with its long tongue.
Northern Flickers nest in tree cavities and live in wooded and open habitats in Canada, the USA, and Mexico.
- Tan and gray woodpecker with black barring above, black marks below, and a bright, white rump.
- Forages for ants and other insects on the ground.
- Nests in tree cavities.
- A vocal woodpecker, the Northern Flicker often gives loud, “flicka,flicka,flicka” calls, and another loud, single note that sounds like, “Keer!” They also have a long, laughing vocalization of repeated notes, “kick,kick,kik,kik,kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik!”.
Scientific name: Larus argentatus
Length: 25 inches
Weight: 2.5 pounds
Wingspan: 58 inches
Song: “klew klecka klecka kleckla klecka klew klew klew klew”
The Herring Gull is a large, pale gray and white gull with pink feet, a pale eye, and a strong, yellowish beak with a small hooked tip.
Male and female adults have black wingtips with a few white spots, and, in winter, have grayish-brown streaking on their heads. Depending on their age, young birds are brownish or gray and brown with a black tail, have a pale patch on each wing, and an all dark bill or a pale beak with a dark tip.
This species is omnivorous and scavenges beaches, lakes, and rivers for fish, small animals, and other scraps of food. It can be seen alone but usually occurs in flocks.
The Herring Gull uses bits of grass and other slender objects to make a shallow cup nest on the ground. It nests in open places with sparse vegetation.
Herring Gulls occur on lakes, rivers, and coastal habitats in much of North America, including New York.
- Large pale gray and white gull with pink legs, a strong yellowish beak, and pale eyes.
- Feeds on carrion, small animals, fish, and other food items.
- Makes a shallow cup nest of sticks and other items on the ground in open areas.
- Herring Gulls have loud and raucous calls, “klew klecka klecka kleckla klecka klew klew klew klew”.
Scientific name: Columba livia
Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 9 ounces
Wingspan: 28 inches
Song: “tititik grewh”
The Rock Pigeon is the familiar and common “pigeon” of cities, farms, and other urban situations. Although this pigeon can show a variety of plumages, the most frequent one is pale gray with dark gray on the head and neck, and a dark gray tail with a dark tip.
It also has iridescent green on its neck and two black wing bars.
This species has quick and direct flight with rapidly beating wings.
Rock Pigeons usually occur in flocks and large ones can form in farm fields and some urban areas. They pick seeds and grain from the ground, mostly in open areas like farm fields, parks, and city streets.
The Rock Pigeon uses sticks and other stick-like objects to make a shallow nest on covered ledges of buildings and other structures.
Rock Pigeons are completely adapted to living with people and occur in urban and farming areas in most parts of North America, including New York.
- Familiar gray pigeon with dark tip at the end of its tail and two black wing bars.
- Picks seeds and grain from the ground of streets, fields, and other open habitats.
- Makes messy stick nests on ledges with overhanging structures.
- Makes a gruffy vocalization, “tititik grewh”.
Scientific name: Buteo jamaicensis
Length: 19 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Wingspan: 49 inches
The Red-tailed Hawk is a large and chunky raptor with a broad, orange or reddish tail. Males and females look alike although females are larger.
These raptors are dark brown above and are pale below with dark markings on their belly. Young birds are more streaked on their underparts, and have brown tails with dark barring.
Red-tailed Hawks often soar and have long, broad wings that can show pale square patches on the bases of their primaries. While soaring, they watch for squirrels and other small animals that they feed on.
When they spot prey, these big birds drop down to catch it with their talons. This hawk also hunts by watching for prey from a perch.
The Red-tailed Hawk builds a large, bulky, stick nest high in trees. They thrive in a wide variety of habitats but especially in woodlands near fields and other open habitats.
This raptor lives from Alaska and Canada south to Central America.
- Large, bulky hawk with a broad, reddish tail.
- Catches squirrels, rats, pigeons, and many other small animals on the ground.
- Nests in large, bulky nests made of sticks.
- A vocal raptor, Red-tailed Hawks often call in flight. They usually give a “classic” but quiet sounding raptor scream, “Kreeeyahh!”.
Scientific name: Nannopterum auritum
Length: 33 inches
Weight: 3.7 pounds
Wingspan: 52 inches
The Double-crested Cormorant is a big, glossy black bird with a long, thick neck. Males and females look alike and also have a medium-length beak with a sharp, hooked tip, an orange throat patch, and a bit of orange on the face.
Double-crested Cormorants have a short, wispy crest, green eyes, broad tail, and big webbed feet. They use their long wings to flap and glide with direct flight between feeding and roosting areas.
This highly aquatic species feeds on fish. It catches its food by diving, swimming beneath the water and then snatching a fish with its beak. It eats the fish while perched above the water.
The Double-crested Cormorant breeds in colonies and makes a messy stick nest in a tree on an island or above the water. We see this bird in parts of central and southern Canada, in much of the USA, and parts of Mexico and the Caribbean.
- Big, nearly goose-sized black bird with a long, thick neck, and a medium-length narrow beak with a small, hooked tip. It also has a rectangular, orange throat patch.
- Forages by floating and then diving beneath the water. Swims underwater to catch fish with its beak.
- Breeds in colonies and constructs a messy stick nest in trees on islands, or over water.
- Double-crested Cormorants aren’t very vocal. They make some low, guttural, pig-like sounds at their breeding colonies, “groak”.
Scientific name: Dryobates villosus
Length: 9.25 inches
Weight: 2.3 ounces
Wingspan: 15 inches
Hairy Woodpeckers are medium-sized, black and white woodpeckers with long, straight beaks. They have a white patch on their back and a black and white tail with unmarked, white outer tail feathers.
Both sexes look very similar but males have a small, bright red spot on the back of their head. Young birds have a dull red patch on top of their heads.
This woodpecker species feeds on insects, other small creatures, and a variety of seeds and fruit. They forage by pecking into bark and picking berries and other fruit from branches. In areas with big, mature trees, Hairy Woodpeckers are also regular visitors to bird feeders.
The Hairy Woodpecker nests in tree cavities. This species lives in parks and woodlands with mature trees in Alaska, much of Canada, and in most of the USA, making it one of the most common birds of New York.
They are absent from southern Florida and arid parts of the American Southwest.
- Medium-sized, black and white woodpecker with a long straight beak and unmarked, white outer tail feathers.
- Picks insects and fruit from bark of big trees, also eats seeds at feeders.
- Nests in tree cavities.
- Often calls and gives a sharp and explosive, “Peek!” and a longer rattle, “Qquechichichichichichicchichic!”.
Birds of New York: Frequently Asked Questions
What bird is most common in New York?
The most common bird in New York is the Blue Jay. According to the eBird platform, this species is seen more often than any other bird in the state.
How many birds are in New York City?
Well over 200 bird species are seen in New York City each year. Incredibly, more than 400 bird species have been seen in New York City since birders started keeping records of bird sightings there.
What kind of birds are in western New York?
Western New York has many kinds of birds. Over 380 species have been seen in western New York including several gulls, many ducks, Bald Eagle, Snowy Owl, various songbirds, and much more.
What is the big white bird in New York?
The big white bird in New York could be a Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, or even a Snowy Owl. Each of these large white bird species occurs in New York.
What is the rare bird in New York?
The rare bird in New York could be birds that are rare breeders in the state (such as the near threatened Cerulean Warbler), or bird species that are rare visitors. Some of the rarest avian visitors to New York have been the Anhinga, Roseate Spoonbill, Limpkin, and the Painted Bunting.
What bird is New York known for?
New York is known for the Eastern Bluebird, and the Red-tailed Hawk. The Eastern Bluebird is the state bird while a Red-tailed Hawk that lived in Central Park (known as “Pale Male”) became famous.
Are there puffins in New York?
Yes, there are puffins in New York. The Atlantic Puffin is a regular winter visitor to the coastal waters of New York state.
Do eagles live in NY?
Yes, eagles live in NY. The Bald Eagle breeds in many parts of the state, and the Golden Eagle is a rare winter visitor and migrant.
What is the small blue bird in New York?
The small blue bird in New York is the male Indigo Bunting. This summer resident is a common species in second growth and brushy habitats in most parts of New York state.
What are the brown birds in NYC called?
The brown birds in NYC are called, “House Sparrows”. These small birds are a common sight in parks and other urban situations.
What is the fastest bird in New York?
The fastest bird in New York is the Peregrine Falcon. This powerful bird of prey can dive out of the sky more than 200 miles per hour!