The state of Colorado is home to a diverse array of bird species, including waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds. However, some birds stand out as being particularly common and abundant in the state.
We’ll introduce the most commonly seen birds in Colorado with pictures and key data. The information was collected from reliable sources and verified by an Ornithologist.
Common Backyard Birds in Colorado:
Black-capped Chickadees are small birds with a black cap and bib, white cheeks, gray back, and whitish underparts. Their diet consists mainly of insects and seeds.
In Colorado, they can be found in coniferous or mixed woodlands, as well as suburban areas with bird feeders.
These sociable birds often form flocks and can be seen hanging upside down to forage. They are also known for their distinctive “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call.
Chickadees are year-round residents in Colorado and do not migrate. They also have the ability to lower their body temperature during cold winter nights, allowing them to survive in harsher conditions.
Chickadees also have the fascinating ability to hide and store food for later retrieval, a behavior known as hoard caching. This allows them to have a consistent food source throughout the year.
(Turdus migratorius) can be identified by its gray upperparts, black head and tail, and orange-red breast. In Colorado, they are commonly found in yards, parks, and open woodlands. Their diet consists mainly of insects and fruits. Adult American Robins typically have a length of around 9-11 inches and a wingspan of 13-15 inches.
In terms of behavior, American Robins are often seen perched on low tree branches or foraging on the ground. They also have a distinctive, cheerful song and are known for their early morning vocalizations.
During the breeding season, male robins can be territorial and will perform flight displays to attract a mate. They build cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs and typically lay 3-5 blue-green eggs per clutch.
Yellow Warbler, also known as American Yellow Warbler, is a small bird with yellow plumage and dark streaks on its chest. Its diet consists mainly of insects and berries.
In Colorado, Yellow Warblers can be found in shrubby areas near water sources such as marshes, streams, and ponds. They are often seen flitting about low vegetation in search of food.
During breeding season, male Yellow Warblers are known for their cheerful song and display behavior such as flying high with fluttering wings. They build cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs, and typically lay three to five eggs per clutch.
(Sturnella neglecta) can be identified by their yellow breast with black streaks, white belly, and brown back. They have a distinctive flute-like song.
In Colorado, they primarily eat insects and seeds.
They are about 9-11 inches in size.
Western Meadowlarks can be found in grasslands and agricultural fields.
During breeding season, they defend their territory by singing loudly and performing aerial displays.
They build cup-shaped nests on the ground, usually hidden among tall grasses. Both the male and female help to incubate the eggs and care for the young. Outside of breeding season, they can often be found in flocks with other grassland birds.
Mourning Doves are smaller, slender birds with long, pointed tails and a distinctive mourning call. They have gray-brown bodies with black spots on their wings, and a pale gray underside. Their diet consists mainly of seeds, but they also eat insects and fruit.
In Colorado, Mourning Doves can be found in open areas such as grasslands and agricultural areas. They build flimsy nests on low tree branches or on the ground, and they typically mate for life.
These birds are most active during the early morning and late afternoon, often seen perched and foraging alone or in small groups. During breeding season, pairs may engage in aerial displays with swooping flight patterns.
House Wrens, found in Colorado, have a brown-speckled plumage and a short stubby bill. Their diet consists mainly of insects and spiders. These small birds typically reach lengths of 4-5 inches and can be found inhabiting shrubs and trees in open forests or suburban areas. They are known for their loud singing and nest building behavior, often filling holes with sticks and other materials.
In some cases, they may even attempt to build multiple nests in a single area. The male house wrens are territorial and will defend their territory during breeding season. They may also exhibit territorial behavior towards other small birds, chasing them away from their area.
During the winter months, house wrens may form flocks with other small bird species and can often be seen foraging on the ground in open fields or parks.
European Starlings, also known as Common Starlings, can be identified by their iridescent black feathers with speckles of green and purple. They have long, pointed yellow beaks and short legs.
In the wild, they mainly eat insects and fruits. In urban areas, they will also eat scraps from human food sources.
They range in size from 7.1-8.3 inches in length and have a wingspan of 13-15 inches.
These birds can be found in open areas, including meadows, fields, and parks, as well as more urban settings like farmland and city streets.
European Starlings are social birds and often flock with other starlings or mixed species flocks. They are known for their complex vocalizations and displays of aerial acrobatics. They also have a habit of imitating the sounds of other animals and machinery.
However, their tendency to gather in large numbers and outcompete native bird species for resources has garnered them a negative reputation among some bird enthusiasts.
(Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a common bird found throughout Colorado. They can be identified by their all black feathers, cawing calls, and muscular build. Their diet consists mainly of insects, grains, fruits, and small animals.
Adult crows typically measure 17-21 inches in length with a wingspan of around 34 inches. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, and urban areas.
Crows are known to be intelligent and social birds, often seen gathering in large groups or “murders.” They have also been observed using tools to obtain food and engaging in cooperative hunting with other bird species.
Common Grackle in Colorado can be identified by their iridescent black feathers and long tails. They are omnivores, eating insects, grains, berries, and even small animals. Grackles can range in size from 11-13 inches in length.
These birds can typically be found near wetlands or open fields. In terms of behavior, grackles are known for their loud and sometimes aggressive nature, as well as their clever problem-solving abilities. They are also known to form large flocks and can be seen flying in unison.
Dark-eyed Junco is a small bird with a dark hood, white belly, and gray wings and back. They typically eat seeds and insects. In Colorado, they can be found in coniferous or mixed forests, as well as gardens and urban areas. Juncos are often seen foraging on the ground in flocks.
During breeding season, they can become territorial and can often be heard singing their high-pitched, trilling song. They typically build their nests on the ground, lined with grass and bark. In winter, they may form large flocks with other juncos and sparrows.
Broad tailed Hummingbird, known for their bright green backs and distinct red throat patch, can be found in open woodlands and gardens throughout Colorado.
These tiny birds primarily feed on the nectar of flowers and small insects. They are able to hover mid-air while feeding from flowers using their specialized wing muscles.
Males have a unique courtship behavior, where they will fly high in the air and dive towards the ground, producing a loud humming noise.
On average, these birds measure three to four inches in length and weigh just over half an ounce.
Some populations of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds migrate to warmer climates in the winter, while others stay in Colorado year-round.
Due to loss of habitat and rising temperatures, the population of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds has decreased in recent years. Conservation efforts aimed at preserving their natural habitats are crucial for the survival of these beautiful birds.
Black-billed Magpie is a large bird with black and white plumage and a long, graduated tail. Its most distinguishing feature is its bright yellow-orange bill.
In Colorado, they can be found in open areas such as grasslands, fields, and parks.
These birds are omnivores, feeding on insects, small mammals, berries, garbage, and birdseed.
They often forage in flocks and can be seen using their bills to probe the ground or pick through vegetation. They are also known for their bold behavior, such as stealing food from other birds.
These magpies build large nests made of sticks and twigs high up in trees, sometimes reusing old nests from previous years.
They are also known for their complex social behavior, including the practice of allomothering, where non-breeding adults help care for and feed nestlings.
(Haemorhous mexicanus) can be identified by its brown back, streaked breast, and red forehead or crown. These birds are primarily seed eaters, but also enjoy fruits and insects. They typically grow to be about 5-6 inches in length.
In Colorado, House Finches can be found in a variety of habitats, including urban areas, forests, and grasslands.
These social birds often flock in large numbers and can be seen at bird feeders or nesting in eaves and trees. They also have a distinctive song consisting of various chirps and trills. Overall, the House Finch is a common sight in Colorado and throughout much of North America.
Northern Flicker, a member of the woodpecker family, can be identified by its red-shafted wings and yellow underbelly. They primarily eat insects, but will also feed on fruits and berries. Northern Flickers can range in size from 11-14 inches in length with a wingspan of 18-22 inches. They can be found in open woodlands or urban areas with trees, often seen on the ground searching for food.
They have a loud call and will also tap on objects to communicate or search for insects. Northern Flickers mate for life and nest in cavities, either excavated by themselves or previously made by other birds.
The Northern Flicker is a common sight in Colorado and can often be spotted flitting through trees or foraging on the ground. However, their populations have been declining due to the loss of habitat and competition with invasive species. It is important to protect and preserve suitable habitats for this beautiful bird to thrive.
Barn Swallows are easily identified by their sleek, slender bodies and forked tails. Their diet primarily consists of flying insects caught in mid-air. They typically reach lengths of 5 to 6 inches and can be found near open fields, grasslands, and near water sources. Barn Swallows are highly social birds and often nest in colonies or large groups.
They are known for their aerobatic flying abilities and can often be seen swooping and diving in search of food. In Colorado, Barn Swallows can typically be seen during the spring and summer months before migrating to warmer climates for the winter.
(Agelaius phoeniceus) can be easily recognized by their black body and distinct red shoulder patches. They primarily eat insects, seeds, and grains. Males are larger in size, measuring about 9 inches in length, while females are smaller at about 7 inches. These birds can be found in a variety of wetland habitats including marshes, ponds, and flooded fields.
Red-winged Blackbirds are known for their territorial behavior and can often be heard singing from cattails or fence posts. They may also form large flocks during migration and winter.
Yellow-rumped Warbler is a small, migratory bird with distinctive yellow patches on its rump and shoulders. In Colorado, it can be found in coniferous forests and shrubby areas during the summer months. Its diet consists mainly of insects and berries.
This warbler is known for its acrobatic behavior as it searches for food by hovering and catching insects mid-air. It also has a loud, clear song often heard during the breeding season.
Steller’s jay is a common bird found in forests and mountainous regions of Colorado. It has a blue head, wings, and tail with black accents on the face and back, and white markings on the neck and underbelly. This omnivorous bird eats insects, nuts, berries, and seeds. Steller’s jays can grow up to 11 inches in length and have a wingspan of 16 inches.
In their habitat, Steller’s jays are known for their loud, harsh calls and aggressive behavior towards other birds. They also have the ability to imitate the sounds of other animals, such as hawks, squirrels, and even humans.
These social birds often gather in small flocks or family groups. Despite their sometimes aggressive behavior, Steller’s jays play an important role in the ecosystem by dispersing seeds and controlling insect populations.
Violet-green Swallow, scientific name Tachycineta thalassina, is a small bird with bright green upperparts and white underparts. They have pointed wings and forked tails, and can often be seen swooping through the air catching insects.
In Colorado, these birds can be found near open areas such as meadows, parks, and farmland. They build cup-shaped nests made of grass and twigs on cliff ledges or in tree cavities.
Their diet primarily consists of flying insects, which they catch mid-flight using their agile aerial skills.
Violet-green Swallows are social birds, often seen in small flocks or mixed flocks with other swallow species. They are known for their acrobatic flying displays and vocal chirping sounds.
These birds range in size from 4 to 5 inches in length with a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches. Males and females have similar plumage, but males tend to be slightly larger in size.
Song Sparrows, found in Colorado, can be identified by their brown streaks on a gray body and white throat patch. They have a varied diet consisting of seeds, insects, and berries. These sparrows typically range from 5 to 6 inches in size. They can be found in a variety of habitats including fields, parks, and shrubby areas near water.
Song Sparrows are known for their territorial behavior and will aggressively defend their territory through song and airborne attacks on intruding birds. They also have a unique courtship display where they fly up high and then dive back down while singing.
Say’s Phoebe, a small gray and brown bird, can often be found perching on branches or power lines in open areas with scattered trees. Its diet consists mainly of insects, which it catches mid-flight or by hovering and diving down to catch them off the ground.
In terms of size, Say’s Phoebe typically measures around 5.5 to 6.5 inches in length and has a wingspan of 9.5 to 11 inches.
In Colorado, Say’s Phoebe can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from desert scrubland to mountain meadows and riparian areas near water sources.
This bird is known for its distinctive “fee-bee” call and its habit of constantly fanning and cocking its tail. When nesting, Say’s Phoebe builds a cup-shaped nest made of mud on rocks or structures such as bridge beams or buildings. The female typically lays 3 to 5 eggs, which both parents will help incubate for about 2 weeks before they hatch.
Mountain Bluebird is a small thrush with bright blue feathers and a contrasting orange breast. It feeds mainly on insects, but will also eat berries and seeds. Its habitat includes open fields and meadows at higher elevations in the Rocky Mountains.
The bird is socially monogamous, forming breeding pairs to raise their young together. Outside of the breeding season, they can often be found in small flocks. Mountain Bluebirds are known for their beautiful singing voices and aerial acrobatics.
They also have a unique nesting behavior, often using abandoned woodpecker holes or nest boxes to raise their young.
Western Wood-Pewees are small grayish-olive birds with white wing bars and a light yellow belly. Its diet consists mainly of flying insects, which it catches by perching on tree branches and swooping down to catch its prey mid-air.
This bird can typically be found in open woodlands, forests, and riparian areas. It is known for its territorial behaviors and distinctive “pee-a-wee” call, which it uses to mark its territory. Western Wood-Pewees can be spotted in Colorado during the summer months, when they migrate to the area for breeding. In winter, they can be found in Mexico and Central America.
Western Kingbird, the most common flycatcher found in Colorado, can be identified by its gray head and back, yellow underside, and distinct red crown patch. These birds primarily feed on insects, caught mid-air or gleaned from foliage. Western Kingbirds typically range in size from 7-8 inches in length with a wingspan of 13-14 inches.
These birds can be found in open habitats such as grasslands, agricultural fields, and occasionally urban areas. Western Kingbirds are often seen perched on wires or fenceposts, hawking for insects. They also engage in aggressive territorial behavior, chasing away larger bird species from their claimed area.
During the breeding season, male Western Kingbirds perform aerial displays, diving and swooping to attract a mate. They build cup-shaped nests made of grass, twigs, and hair, typically placed in trees or shrubs. Both male and female will work together to raise their young until they fledge the nest.
Eurasian Collared-Dove can be identified by its dark gray body and distinctive black collar on the back of its neck. These birds primarily eat seeds, grains, and fruits. They can range in size from 32-35 cm in length with a wingspan of 43-46 cm.
In Colorado, they can be found in urban areas and open grasslands. They often perch on telephone wires and can be seen in small flocks. These doves are typically ground foragers, but will also feed from bird feeders. Their behavior includes cooing and wing-whistling sounds.
They build flimsy stick nests on structures or trees and typically lay 2 white eggs per clutch. This species is not native to North America and was introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s. It has since spread throughout the United States and Canada.
Bushtit, or grey catbird, can be identified by its grey plumage and black cap. These birds primarily eat insects, berries, and fruit. They are small in size, measuring about 9-11 inches in length. Bushtits can be found in shrubby areas and thick vegetation.
They are known for their mimicking behavior and ability to imitate the calls of other birds. In Colorado, Bushtits can often be spotted near riparian areas and in urban parks.
Hairy Woodpecker, a black and white bird with a distinctive red patch on the back of its head, can be found in Colorado’s coniferous forests. Their diet consists mainly of insects and their larvae, as well as nuts and berries. The Hairy Woodpecker is on the larger side for woodpeckers, measuring around 9-10 inches in length with a wingspan of 16-20 inches.
Their behavior includes drumming on trees to establish territory and find food, as well as storing excess food in crevices for later consumption.
Overall, the Hairy Woodpecker is a common sight in Colorado’s woods and can easily be identified by its size, markings, and characteristic woodpecker behavior.
The red-breasted nuthatch is a small songbird with a white face, black crown, and rusty red breast. It feeds on insects, seeds, nuts, and berries found in coniferous trees.
In Colorado, it can typically be found in evergreen forests at elevations of 6,000-10,000 feet. These birds are known for their acrobatic tendencies, often hanging upside down while foraging.
They also have a unique call that sounds like they are saying “yank yank.” Red-breasted Nuthatches form small flocks during the winter and may join mixed species flocks as well. In the nesting season, they drill holes into dead tree trunks to create their nests.
The red-breasted nuthatch population has seen a decline in recent years, likely due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Conservation efforts are being made to protect this species and its habitat.
Blue Jays are easily identifiable by their bright blue feathers and distinctive crest on top of their heads. They primarily feed on nuts and seeds, but will also eat insects, fruits, and even small vertebrates.
In terms of size, they are larger than most songbirds, measuring around 10 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 15 inches.
In Colorado, they can be found in both urban and suburban areas as well as woodlands and forests.
Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities. They have been observed using tools to obtain food, and also have the ability to mimic the calls of other birds. They are also highly social, often seen in groups or families. They have a loud and distinctive call, which they use to communicate with each other.
Blue Jays play an important role in spreading tree seeds and controlling insect populations.
American Goldfinch have a distinct bright yellow body with black wings and tail. Their diet consists primarily of seeds, but they also eat insects during the breeding season. They are small birds, measuring around 4-6 inches in length.
In Colorado, American Goldfinches can be found in open woodlands and meadows near sources of water. These social birds often travel in flocks and can often be seen in backyard feeders. During breeding season, males perform aerial displays to attract a mate.
They construct their nests using plant fibers and line them with soft materials such as hair or feathers. Female goldfinches typically lay 4-6 eggs per clutch and both parents participate in incubation and feeding of the young.
White-crowned Sparrows can be identified by their black and white striped head, brown upper parts, and yellow patches on their wings.
These birds primarily eat black oil sunflower seeds and insects.
On average, they measure about 6 inches in length and have a wingspan of 9 inches.
In Colorado, White-crowned Sparrows can be found in open areas with scattered trees and bushes, such as parks and suburban yards.
During the breeding season, they can often be seen energetically hopping on the ground while foraging for food. They also have a distinctive song consisting of several clear notes. When not breeding, White-crowned Sparrows may form large flocks with other sparrow species.
Lewis’s Woodpecker – Melanerpes lewis
The Lewis’s woodpecker can be identified by its black and white plumage, with a red crown on the male. Its diet includes insects, acorns, berries, and small fruits. The average size of this bird is 10-12 inches in length with a wingspan of 17-20 inches.
In Colorado, Lewis’s woodpeckers can be found inhabiting open woodlands and riparian areas.
This bird primarily forages on tree trunks and branches, but will also catch insects in mid-air. They have been known to store acorns for later consumption during the winter months.
Their behavior includes drumming on trees as well as aerial acrobatics. They are also known to form strong pair bonds and nest in cavities created by other woodpeckers.
Purple Finch – Haemorhous purpureus
The Purple Finch is a small songbird commonly found in coniferous forests, suburban areas, and backyard bird feeders. These birds are easily identified by their vibrant reddish-purple coloration on the head, breast, and back, with light brown wings and tail feathers. They have a slightly pointed bill and white stripes above their eyes.
These finches primarily feed on seeds and insects, often foraging on the ground or in low shrubs. They will also visit bird feeders to eat sunflower seeds and suet.
On average, Purple Finches measure about 5-6 inches in length with a wingspan of 8-9 inches.
In Colorado, Purple Finches can be found in the mountainous regions, especially during the breeding season in spring and summer. During winter, they may migrate to lower elevation or move to coastal areas.
In addition to their melodic songs, Purple Finches are known for their acrobatic behavior as they hang upside down from branches while feeding. They often form small flocks with other finches, and may engage in playful chasing or swinging from tree branches. They will also aggressively defend their territory from intruders during breeding season.
Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch – Leucosticte australis
The Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch has a brown crown and nape, gray cheeks and throat, pinkish body, and black wings with white patches. They primarily feed on seeds and insects found on the ground or in the air.
In Colorado, these birds can mainly be found above timberline in alpine tundra and rocky slopes. They often form large flocks during the winter season, but can also be seen in smaller groups during the summer while they nest on cliff faces.
Their behavior includes social interaction within their flock as well as playing a role in territorial defense. They have been known to aggressively chase away larger birds such as ravens and eagles from their territory.
The average size of a Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch ranges from 5 to 6 inches in length with a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches. They have a lifespan of about 10 years in the wild.
Townsend’s Solitaire – Myadestes townsendi
Townsend’s Solitaire is a small gray bird with white eye-rings and a black bill. It can be found in open conifer forests, often perching on top of tall trees. Its diet consists mainly of juniper berries and insects. These birds are known for their solitary behavior, usually only gathering in small groups during winter months.
They are also known for their distinctive song, a series of repeated whistles. Townsend’s Solitaire is typically around 9 inches in size. Overall, Townsend’s Solitaire is a solitary bird that can be found in conifer forests of Colorado, feeding on juniper berries and insects.
It has a gray body with white eye-rings and a black bill, and is recognized by its repeated whistling song.
What birds can you find in Colorado?
Some common birds found in Colorado include American Robins, Red-tailed Hawks, Canada Geese, Western Bluebirds, and Dark-eyed Juncos.
Other species that can be seen in the state include Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls, Mountain Bluebirds, and Steller’s Jays. Birders may also spot various types of waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors in Colorado.
It is important to note that some bird species may only be present during certain times of the year as they migrate to and from the state.
What is the most common bird in Colorado?
The most common bird in Colorado is the American robin. This species can be found throughout the state, mostly frequenting areas with open fields and lawns. They are easily recognizable by their brown backs and orange breast. Other common birds in Colorado include the house sparrow, rock pigeon, dark-eyed junco, and northern cardinal.
These birds can often be seen in urban and suburban areas, as well as in natural habitats such as forests and mountains. However, due to habitat loss and human development, some bird species are becoming less common in Colorado, including the mountain bluebird and western meadowlark.
What is the rarest bird in Colorado?
The answer may surprise you – it is the Sprague’s pipit. This bird can only be found in a few areas of Colorado’s grasslands, and its population has been declining due to habitat loss and degradation. In fact, the Sprague’s pipit is currently listed as a species of conservation concern by the state of Colorado.
However, conservation efforts, including habitat restoration and protection, are helping to increase the population of this rare bird. So keep an eye out for the Sprague’s pipit – a true gem in Colorado’s birding world.
What kind of birds are black and white in Colorado?
Some common black and white birds found in Colorado include American Crows, Eurasian Magpies, Common Grackles, and Pied-billed Grebes. Other less common black and white birds that may be seen in Colorado include Black-and-white Warblers, Black-backed Woodpeckers, and White-throated Sparrows.
It is important to note that some of these birds may not have entirely black and white plumage, but rather a mix of black, white, and other colors. Additionally, the overall appearance of a bird can vary based on its age or seasonal changes in plumage.
Winter Birds in Colorado:
Winter is a great time for birding in Colorado, as many species migrate to the state for the colder months. Some common winter birds include Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, Northern Flickers, and Evening Grosbeaks.
Other winter visitors to watch out for include Bohemian Waxwings, Rough-legged Hawks, and Snow Buntings. These birds can be found in a variety of habitats, from conifer forests to open fields and wetlands. So bundle up and hit the trails – you never know what winter bird sightings you may discover.