Identify the Birds in Your Backyard
CardinalThe northern cardinal is so well loved that it has been named the official bird of 7 U.S states. Bright red cardinals are easily identified even by casual birdwatchers, and often seen frequenting backyards and bird feeders.
Only males sport the brilliant red plumage but females are an attractive tan/gray.
Cardinals are active songbirds and fairly social. It is important to keep their feeders full in the winter as they do not migrate for the season.
Favorite seed: Sunflower and Safflower
Ruby-Throated HummingbirdThe Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is by far the most common species that breeds in the eastern half of North America. Ruby-throats are intensely inquisitive and thus easily attracted to feeders, although territorial toward other hummers.
They quickly become accustomed to human presence, and will swoop down to investigate red articles of clothing, possibly as potential food sources. Feeders hung at windows attract as many visitors as ones farther from structures.
Ruby-throats breed throughout eastern to midwestern North America, from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Most winter in Mexico, Central America, and on Caribbean islands.
Favorite food: Hummingbird Nectar
ChickadeesChickadees may be just about everyone’s favorite backyard feeder bird. These petite black, white and gray birds flit from place to place and bring smiles to all when they alight on a feeder. Described as friendly, cheery, or a ray of sunshine, chickadees are the darlings of the backyard bird feeding world.
Chickadees are very vocal as they call to their mate to announce their find of food or a warning. Because chickadees generally do not migrate, they are good at finding food sources during the winter season.
Favorite seed: Sunflower/Peanut
GoldfinchThe goldfinch (also known as the Eastern Goldfinch and Wild Canary,) is a small North American bird in the finch family. It is migratory, ranging from mid-Alberta to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canadian border to Mexico during the winter.
This handsome little finch, the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington, is welcome and common at feeders, where it takes primarily sunflower and nyjer. Goldfinches often flock with Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls. Spring males are brilliant yellow and shiny black with a bit of white. Females and all winter birds are more dull but identifiable by their conical bill; pointed, notched tail; wingbars; and lack of streaking. During molts they look bizarrely patchy.
Favorite Seed: Niger Sunflower mix
House FinchThe House Finch is a recent introduction from western into eastern North America (and Hawaii), but it has received a warmer reception than other arrivals like the European Starling and House Sparrow. That’s partly due to the cheerful red head and breast of males, and to the bird’s long, twittering song, which can now be heard in most of the neighborhoods of the continent. If you haven’t seen one recently, chances are you can find one at the next bird feeder you come across.
Favorite Seed: Sunflower
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White Breasted Nut HatchA common feeder bird with clean black, gray, and white markings, White-breasted Nuthatches are active, agile little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. White-breasted Nuthatches may be small but their voices are loud, and often their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them.
Favorite Food: Peanuts
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Downy WoodpeckerThe active product Downy Woodpecker is a familiar sight at backyard feeders and in parks and woodlots, where it joins flocks of chickadees and nuthatches, barely outsizing them. An often acrobatic forager, this black-and-white woodpecker is at home on tiny branches or balancing on slender plant galls, sycamore seed balls, and suet feeders. Downies and their larger lookalike, the Hairy Woodpecker, are one of the first identification challenges that beginning bird watchers master.
Favorite Food: Suet