Most Common Birds in Massachusetts

According to the Massachusetts Audubon Society, some of the most commonly seen bird species in Massachusetts include American robins, mourning doves, northern cardinals, black-capped chickadees, and red-winged blackbirds.

Other common birds found in the state include blue jays, house sparrows, Canada geese, American goldfinches, and barn swallows. These birds can often be spotted in urban and suburban areas, as well as in forests and wetlands.

Massachusetts is also home to a variety of waterfowl, including mallards, great blue herons, and green-winged teals. Many of these species can be seen along the coast or in freshwater ponds and lakes.

Birdwatching is a popular pastime in Massachusetts, with various organizations and events dedicated to bird conservation and appreciation. The state also has numerous designated Important Bird Areas, which provide vital habitats for native and migratory species.

Common Backyard Birds in Massachusetts

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinals, also known as Redbirds, can be identified by their bright red feathers and black faces. They have a diet consisting mainly of black oil sunflower seeds and insects.

They average around 9 inches in size and can be found in wooded areas or suburban gardens. Cardinals are typically solitary birds, but they may form pairs during breeding season.

In Massachusetts, they can often be seen perched on branches or feeding on bird feeders. Additionally, male cardinals are known for their loud and distinctive chirping songs.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

(Agelaius phoeniceus) can be easily identified by their black body and bright red shoulder patches on the wings. They mainly eat insects, seeds, and grains.

Adult males can reach 8-9 inches in length while females measure 7-8 inches.

In Massachusetts, they can commonly be found in marshes, wetlands, and grasslands.

During breeding season, male Red-winged Blackbirds can be seen displaying their colorful wing patches to defend their territory and attract a mate. They often build nests in tall vegetation near water sources. Outside of breeding season, they gather in large flocks with other blackbird species.

House Finch

House Finch

(Haemorhous mexicanus) have primarily redhead with dark brown streaking on their back and wings. They are known to eat seeds, berries, and insects. They typically measure around five to six inches in length.

These birds can commonly be found in residential areas, gardens, and open woodlands. In terms of behavior, they are known for their social nature and are often seen in small flocks. They also have a distinct, cheerful song.

In Massachusetts, House Finches can be spotted year-round and are a common backyard bird. They may also visit bird feeders in the winter months.

House Finch range map

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows can be identified by their brown streaked bodies, white belly, and distinctive dark central breast spot. These birds primarily feed on seeds and insects, occasionally supplementing their diet with berries and fruit. They typically measure around 5-6 inches in length and can be found in a variety of habitats such as grasslands, marshes, farmland, suburban yards, and forests. Song Sparrows are territorial and will aggressively defend their territory by chasing off intruding birds.

They also have a characteristic loud “song” consisting of multiple trills and whistles, which they use to attract mates and mark territories. In Massachusetts, Song Sparrows can be commonly seen throughout the year as they do not migrate in winter.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird, a medium-sized member of the Mimidae family, can be identified by its dark gray plumage, black cap, and long black tail. It is commonly found in dense shrubbery and thickets near water sources, particularly in eastern North America.

In Massachusetts, Gray Catbirds mainly feed on insects and berries. They have been known to mimic the calls of other birds and make a variety of musical sounds. These shy birds are solitary, except during breeding season when they form loose monogamous pairs. They construct cup-shaped nests in dense vegetation, where the female typically lays three to four eggs.

Threats to Gray Catbirds include habitat destruction and pesticide use, but their population is currently stable. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker woodpeckers can be identified by their brown barred backs, black bibs, and red under-tail coverts. They primarily eat insects and fruits and nuts, foraging on the ground for food rather than on trees like other woodpeckers.

Northern Flickers can range in size from about 11 to 14 inches in length with a wingspan of 17 to 21 inches. In Massachusetts, they can be found in open areas with trees, orchards, and parks.

Northern Flickers are known for their unique drumming behavior, using their beaks to hammer on trees or other surfaces to establish territory and attract mates.

They also use their long tongue to extract food from deep within tree bark. They mainly nest in cavities excavated in trees, but will also use man-made nesting boxes.

Northern Flicker range map

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves are characterized by their long, pointed tails and soft, gray plumage. They primarily feed on seeds and grains, often foraging on the ground.

They can range in size from 10-12 inches in length with a wingspan of 14-18 inches. In Massachusetts, Mourning Doves can be found in open fields and woodlands. These birds are typically seen alone or in pairs, and can often be heard cooing.

They build flimsy nests in trees or shrubs to lay their eggs. During breeding season, males perform elaborate flight displays to attract mates. However, they are generally not aggressive towards other birds and will often flee when threatened.

American Robin

american robin

(Turdus migratorius) is a common bird found in wooded areas, backyards, and parks throughout Massachusetts. This species can be identified by its bright orange-red breast, gray upperparts, and white underside with black spotting.

In terms of diet, American Robins mainly feed on worms and insects, but they will also eat fruits and berries.

These birds have an average length of about 11 inches and a wingspan of 16 inches.

In terms of habitat, American Robins can be found in wooded areas, suburban yards, and parks. They build cup-shaped nests high up in trees to raise their young.

American Robins are social birds and can often be seen in small flocks, especially during migration. They are also known for their loud and cheerful songs, which they use to attract mates and claim territory. Overall, the American Robin is a familiar and beloved sight in Massachusetts.

American Robin range map

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrows, also known as Passer domesticus, are small birds with brown and gray feathers and distinct black markings on their heads. These birds can be found in urban areas, farms, and gardens throughout Massachusetts.

Their diet consists mainly of seeds and grains, but they will also eat insects and fruits. Their size ranges from 5 to 6 inches in length and they weigh about 1.4 ounces.

In terms of behavior, House Sparrows are social birds that often form large flocks. They build their nests in sheltered areas such as tree holes or building eaves.

House Sparrow range map

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch is a small bird with gray upper parts and white underparts. Its most distinguishing feature is its black cap and white eyebrow.

In terms of diet, White-breasted Nuthatches mainly eat insects and seeds. They are known for their ability to carry food items, such as nuts, up tree trunks and storing them in crevices for later consumption.

In terms of size, White-breasted Nuthatches are about 4.5 to 5.5 inches in length with a wingspan of 7.5 to 9 inches.

In Massachusetts, White-breasted Nuthatches can be found in deciduous and mixed woodlands, often near openings and edges.

In terms of behavior, White-breasted Nuthatches are known for their acrobatic movements as they climb up and down tree trunks searching for food. They also have a distinctive call that sounds like “yank yank.” They typically form permanent pairs and may even join mixed species foraging flocks in the winter months.

White-breasted Nuthatch range map

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker is small in size, with black and white feathers, a white belly, and a black bill. They can often be found in wooded areas, where they eat insects and the sap from tree bark. These birds are known for their habit of drumming on surfaces with their beaks as a form of communication.

They also form long-term pair bonds and nest in tree cavities. In Massachusetts, Downy Woodpeckers can be spotted year-round, but they are most commonly seen during the spring and summer months.

Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse

Tufted Titmouse is a small, gray bird with a distinguishing black crest on its head. It can be found in deciduous and mixed woodlands, often near water sources. Its diet consists primarily of insects and seeds.

In terms of behavior, Tufted Titmice are known for their boldness around humans and their ability to mimic the calls of other birds. They also display cooperative breeding behavior, with several individuals helping to raise young in a single nest.

In Massachusetts, the Tufted Titmouse can be found year-round and is a common backyard visitor. These birds typically measure around 5-6 inches in length with a wingspan of 7-9 inches.

European Starlings

European Starling

European Starlings, also known as Common Starlings, can be identified by their iridescent black feathers with distinctive green and purple sheen. These birds are omnivores, feeding on insects, fruits, grains, and garbage. On average, they measure about 8 inches in length and have a wingspan of 14 inches.

In Massachusetts, European Starlings can be found in open areas with scattered trees, including fields, parks, and suburban yards. These birds are known for their complex vocalizations and acrobatic flying abilities. They often gather in large flocks outside of breeding season. During breeding season, they create intricate nests made of grass and mud in holes or crevices in buildings or trees.

European Starlings were introduced to North America in the late 1800s and have since become a common sight. However, their highly competitive nature and tendency to spread disease have made them a nuisance to native bird populations.

Black-capped Chickadees

Black-capped Chickadees

Black-capped Chickadees are small birds, measuring only about 4-5 inches in length. They have a black cap and bib, white cheeks, gray back and wings, and a buffy underside.

These birds primarily eat insects, seeds, and suet from bird feeders.

In Massachusetts, they can be found in deciduous or mixed woodlands, as well as suburban areas with ample trees.

Behaviorally, they are very active and social birds, often found in small flocks and frequently visiting backyard hummingbird feeders. They have a distinct chick-a-dee-dee-dee call that gives them their name.

Their nesting habits involve building a cup-shaped nest made of moss and hair, usually placed in a tree cavity or birdhouse.

American Crow

American Crow

(Corvus brachyrhynchos) can be identified by their black feathers, shiny black eyes, and squared off tail. They have a varied diet consisting of insects, grains, fruits, garbage, small animals, eggs, and nestlings. On average they measure 17-21 inches in length with a wingspan of 33-40 inches.

In Massachusetts, American Crows can be found in a variety of habitats including fields, parks, and suburbs. They are highly social birds and can often be seen in large flocks or family groups. Their loud cawing calls can also often be heard throughout the day. Along with their intelligence and problem solving skills, American Crows are also known for their mimicry abilities.

Some behaviors observed in American Crows include feeding on the ground or in trees, flying in large flocks, and nesting in trees or sometimes on man-made structures. They have also been known to engage in mobbing behavior, where a group of crows will chase and harass a predator such as a hawk or an owl.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch, also known as “wild canary,” are small birds with bright yellow feathers and black wings. They have a distinct, high-pitched call that sounds like “per-chic-o-ree.” Their diet consists mainly of seeds and insects, which they forage from shrubs and trees.

In Massachusetts, American Goldfinches can be found in open habitats such as fields and meadows. They have a social behavior, often seen in large flocks during the winter. During breeding season, they build intricate nests using grasses and other plant materials high up in trees or shrubs.

American Goldfinches are year-round residents in Massachusetts and can easily adapt to backyard bird feeders.

They are known for their acrobatic feeding habits, hanging upside down to access seeds at the bottom of a feeder. In the summer months, they also enjoy eating thistle or nyjer seed from special finch feeders. Adding native plants to your yard can attract American Goldfinches and provide natural food sources for them to forage.

American Goldfinch range map

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Common Grackle is a medium-sized black bird with iridescent purple and green feathers on its head and long, pointed tail. Its diet consists of insects, grains, fruits, and small animals found on or near the ground. These birds can be found in open areas such as fields, parks, and residential areas.

They often travel in large flocks and can be noisy, using a variety of harsh calls and squeaks for communication. In Massachusetts, Common Grackles can be seen all year round. They often nest in trees or shrubs and build bulky nests made of sticks and grasses.

Common Grackle range map

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

(Sialia sialis) can be identified by its bright blue upperparts and reddish-brown breast. These birds primarily eat insects, berries, and fruit. They measure around 6-7 inches in length and can commonly be found in open meadows or farmland with scattered trees. Bluebirds often perch on high branches before diving down to catch their prey.

They also form monogamous pairs and use nest boxes or tree cavities to raise their young. In Massachusetts, the Eastern Bluebird is a common breeding bird that can often be spotted during the spring and summer months.

Eastern Bluebird range map

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco is a small songbird commonly found in Massachusetts. The bird can be identified by its gray body, white belly, and dark hood on its head.

In terms of diet, Dark-eyed Juncos primarily eat seeds and insects. They forage on the ground or low shrubs for food.

The size of Dark-eyed Juncos ranges from 5-6 inches in length.

In Massachusetts, Dark-eyed Juncos can be found in coniferous and deciduous forests, as well as shrubby areas and city parks.

These birds are usually found in flocks during the winter months and may form loose breeding pairs in the spring. They are known for their musical songs and distinctive scratching sounds made while foraging on the ground.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows can be identified by their small size, brown streaks on the back and crown, white eye stripe, and gray cheeks. They primarily feed on seeds and insects. In Massachusetts, they can be found in open woodlands, fields, and residential areas.

Chipping Sparrows typically forage on the ground or low shrubs, and are often seen in flocks. Breeding season behavior includes singing, flicking their tails, and defending their territory.

During the winter, they may form larger flocks and can often be seen at bird feeders. These sparrows typically build cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs, and have 2-6 eggs per clutch. Their natural predators include hawks, snakes, and squirrels.

Chipping Sparrow range map

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker is a medium-sized bird with a red cap on the top of its head and a red wash on its belly. Its wings and tail are black with white barring. It can be found in deciduous forests, where it feeds on insects, nuts, and fruits.

This woodpecker often clings to tree trunks while foraging for food and can also be spotted flying to catch insects in mid-air. It nests in tree cavities and will often use the same nesting holes for multiple years.

In Massachusetts, this woodpecker can be seen year-round, but may migrate slightly south during the winter months. In addition to its distinctive appearance, the Red-bellied Woodpecker can be recognized by its loud, rolling call.

Red-bellied Woodpecker range map

Blue Jay

blue jay

Blue Jays are fairly large birds, with distinct blue and white plumage and a black “necklace” around their necks. They are omnivores, typically eating nuts, seeds, and insects, but also scavenging for human food like french fries or peanuts. In Massachusetts, they can be found in deciduous forests or urban areas.

Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities, as well as their loud calls and aggressive behavior towards other birds. They are also known to cache food for later consumption. Blue Jays often form lifelong pair bonds and mate for life. They build their nests high up in trees and will aggressively defend their territory.

Blue Jays can also be identified by their crest, which they raise when they are alarmed or excited. They are also capable of mimicking the calls of other birds, such as hawks, to deceive potential prey or ward off intruder birds.

What birds are in my backyard Massachusetts?

Some common birds found in Massachusetts backyards include American robins, blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves, house sparrows, and chickadees. Other backyard visitors may include woodpeckers, finches, crows, and mockingbirds. In the winter months, it is not uncommon to see snowy owls, wild turkeys, and various types of sparrows.

Your backyard may also attract migrating birds such as warblers, thrushes, and orioles during the spring and fall seasons. Attracting birds to your yard with bird feeders, bird baths, and native plants can bring even more diversity to your backyard avian visitors.

How do I identify a bird in my backyard?

One way to identify a bird in your backyard is by observing its physical characteristics, such as size and coloration. You can also pay attention to the bird’s behavior, including the type of sounds it makes and how it feeds or moves.

Another helpful tool is a field guide, which can assist in identifying the specific species of bird based on these observations. Using a combination of these methods can help you accurately identify the bird in your backyard.

Additionally, consulting with a local expert or joining a bird watching group can also aid in identification and provide opportunities for further learning about birds.

What are the top 10 most common birds?

1. House Sparrow

2. Rock Pigeon

3. American Robin

4. Mourning Dove

5. European Starling

6. Northern Cardinal

7. Blue Jay

8. House Finch

9. American Goldfinch

10. House sparrow (again, it is very common in urban areas)

What birds are in Massachusetts in spring?

Some common birds in Massachusetts during spring are American robins, brown-headed cowbirds, red-winged blackbirds, and Baltimore orioles.

Other potential sightings include northern cardinals, tufted titmice, barn swallows, and blue jays. Birdwatching is a popular pastime in Massachusetts and there are numerous places to go for excellent birdwatching, such as the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Quabbin Reservoir.

Spring is a particularly exciting time for birdwatching in Massachusetts as migratory birds join the resident birds, creating a diverse array of avian activity. With proper identification tools and patience, any birdwatcher has the potential to spot a wide variety of bird species in Massachusetts during spring.