Most Common Birds of New York

New York City is known for its bustling streets, tall skyscrapers, and diverse population. However, it is also home to a variety of bird species.

The most common birds seen in the city are Rock Pigeons, American Robins, Northern Cardinals, and House Sparrows. These birds can be spotted in parks, rooftops, and even backyards.

The following birds are the most commonly seen in New York with accompanying pictures and key data. This information was collected from only reliable sources and verified by an Ornithologist.

Common Backyard Birds in New York

House Finch

House Finch

(Carpodacus mexicanus) can be identified by their red head and breast, dark brown back, and white belly. They primarily eat seeds and grains, but will also feed on insects and fruit. These finches measure about 5-6 inches in length and can be found in open woodlands, gardens, cities, and suburbs. They are social birds and often travel in flocks.

They build cup-shaped nests made out of twigs, grass, and other materials, typically high up in trees or on buildings. Male finches will sing to attract a mate during the breeding season. They can also be seen at bird feeders, where they may aggressively defend their food from other birds.

Despite a decrease in numbers due to competition with the introduced Eurasian House Sparrow and harassment by humans, the House Finch remains a common sight across much of the eastern and western United States, including in New York.

House Finch range map

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows can be identified by their streaked brown plumage, white eyebrow line, and dark spot in the middle of their chest. They mainly eat insects and seeds. These sparrows are small birds, typically measuring around 5-6 inches in length.

In New York, Song Sparrows can be found in a variety of habitats including marshes, grasslands, and suburban areas.

During breeding season, males will often sing to attract a mate and establish territory. They build cup-shaped nests on the ground or low in shrubs or trees and typically have 2-3 broods per year consisting of 3-5 eggs each. Outside of breeding season, they may be seen foraging in flocks with other sparrows.

Some Song Sparrows are year-round residents in New York, while others migrate to southern regions for the winter.

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrows are small birds with brown and black markings on their upperparts, blue gray body cheeks, and a white underside. They have a stout bill used for eating seeds, grains, and some insects.

In New York, they can be found in urban areas such as parks and backyards, as well as agricultural fields.

These social birds often gather in large flocks and can be seen perching on rooftops or power lines. They may also be seen scavenging for food around garbage areas.

During the breeding season, they build nests made of grass and twigs in sheltered places like tree holes or building eaves. Both male and female assist in raising the young and defending their territory from other sparrows.

Though commonly seen, House Sparrow populations have been declining in recent years due to loss of habitat and competition with other bird species. Conservation efforts are being implemented to help protect this familiar backyard bird.

House Sparrow range map

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch, also known as “wild canary,” is easily identified by its bright yellow feathers and distinct black “cap” on its head. These birds primarily feed on seeds and insects, often found at bird feeders or in open fields. They are small in size, measuring around 4-5 inches in length.

American Goldfinches can be found living in a variety of habitats, including forests, farmland, and suburban areas. These social birds are often seen flocking with other finches or small songbirds.

Their behavior includes acrobatic flight and a playful attitude, often hanging upside down while feeding on thistle seed heads. In the winter months, they may form large flocks and migrate to warmer regions.

American Goldfinch range map

American Crow

American Crow

(Corvus brachyrhynchos) can be identified by its all black plumage, as well as its distinctive cawing call. These birds are omnivores, eating a variety of foods such as insects, grains, fruits, and small animals. They typically measure around 17 inches in length and have a wingspan of about 33 inches.

In New York, American Crows can be found in a variety of habitats including forests, fields, and even urban areas. They are highly social birds and often gather in large groups called “murders.”

In these groups, they communicate with each other using a complex system of visual and vocal cues. American Crows are also known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers can be identified by its black and white striped back, small size (about 6-7 inches in length), and red patch on the back of its head. This bird mainly eats insects, but also feeds on seeds and fruits.

In New York, Downy Woodpeckers can be found in deciduous forests or urban parks. They are known for their characteristic drumming on trees and are often seen clinging to the trunks while searching for food. They also create holes in trees for nesting and storing food.

During mating season, Downy Woodpeckers engage in displays such as wing-flicking and head-bobbing to attract a mate. They typically form monogamous pairs and remain with their partner for several breeding seasons.

European Starlings

European Starlings

European Starlings, also known as Common Starlings, are small birds with iridescent black feathers and a long, slender beak. They have yellow eyes and can often be seen walking on the ground in search for food.

Their diet consists mainly of insects, fruits, seeds, and grains. They will also eat human food scraps if available.

The average size of a European Starling is about 8 inches in length with a wingspan of 12-16 inches.

In New York, European Starlings can be found in a variety of habitats including urban areas, farmlands, parks, and open woodlands.

European Starlings are highly social birds and often form large flocks. They have a variety of vocalizations and are known for their mimicry abilities. They also engage in courtship displays such as aerial acrobatics and feather shaking.

These birds are considered to be invasive species in many parts of the world, including the United States, due to their negative impacts on native bird populations and agriculture. However, they are still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

American Robin

american robin

(Turdus migratorius) is a common and widespread bird in New York. They have a distinct reddish-orange breast, black head, and white underside with dark spots.

Their diet consists primarily of insects and fruits. Adult robins can reach sizes of around 10 inches in length and have a wingspan of 16 inches. These birds can be found in a variety of habitats including open woodlands, gardens, parks, and suburban areas.

They are often seen hopping on lawns looking for food or perching on tree branches. American Robins are also known for their territorial behavior and loud vocalizations.

American Robin range map

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinals are easily identifiable by their bright red feathers and crest on top of their head. They primarily eat seeds and fruits, but will also feast on insects and small invertebrates. On average, they measure around 9 inches in length and have a wingspan of 12 inches.

In New York, Northern Cardinals can be found in wooded areas or gardens near sources of water. They are typically monogamous and maintain a territory while breeding, but may form flocks outside of the breeding season.

Cardinals are also known for their vocalizations, including chirps, whistles, and squeaks.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker, a common resident in New York, can be identified by its red cap and belly, white cheeks, black back, and wings with white spotting.

Its diet consists mainly of insects and nuts. It ranges from 9-11 inches in size with a wingspan of 13-17 inches. This bird can typically be found in deciduous or mixed forests, but can also be spotted in suburban areas with mature trees.

In terms of behavior, they often travel alone or in pairs, and can often be heard drumming on tree trunks to mark their territory. They are also known for storing excess food in crevices for later consumption.

Red-bellied Woodpecker range map

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Common Grackle is a medium-sized black bird with iridescent purple, green and bronze feathers on its body and a long, pointed tail. Its yellow eyes and long bill add to its distinct appearance.

In terms of diet, Common Grackles primarily feed on insects, grains, fruits, and seeds. They have also been known to eat small rodents, eggs, and nestlings.

On average, they measure between 11-13 inches in length with a wingspan of 17-21 inches.

Common Grackles can be found in open areas with scattered trees such as parks, fields, and farmlands. They also thrive in urban environments.

When it comes to behavior, Common Grackles are known for their loud and raucous calls. They often gather in large flocks and can be aggressive toward other bird species, particularly during nesting season. However, they are also known to form mixed-species feeding flocks with other birds.

Common Grackle range map

Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves are small, slender birds with round bodies and long, pointed tails. They have gray-brown plumage with black spots on their wings, and a distinctive white patch on the edge of their tail feathers. Their beaks are thin and tapered, adapted for feeding on small seeds.

In New York, Mourning Doves can be found in a variety of habitats, including open fields, urban parks, and suburban yards. They primarily feed on seeds from grasses and trees, but will also eat fruits and insects.

Mourning Doves are known for their loud, repetitive cooing calls. They often perch on high branches or power lines to survey their surroundings before flying off in a swift, graceful motion. They nest in trees or shrubs, and typically lay two white eggs at a time. These birds typically mate for life and can live up to 13 years in the wild.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are easily identifiable by their bright blue plumage and crest on their head. They have black markings on their wings and tail and a prominent white throat patch.

In terms of diet, Blue Jays are omnivores and will eat both plant and animal matter, including nuts, black oil sunflower seeds, fruits, insects, and small animals such as frogs or mice.

Blue Jays have an average length of 9-12 inches and can weigh 2-3 ounces.

In terms of habitat, Blue Jays are commonly found in deciduous and mixed woodlands as well as suburban areas with trees.

Behaviorally, Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and problem solving skills. They have been observed using tools, such as sticks, to obtain food and can mimic the calls of other birds, including hawks, to scare away competitors or predators.

Blue Jays also have a reputation for being aggressive towards other bird species and will steal their food or nests. However, they do form strong pair bonds and exhibit cooperative breeding behavior.

In New York, Blue Jays can be spotted year-round as they do not migrate. They are common backyard visitors and can often be seen in parks or wooded areas.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern bluebirds can be identified by their bright blue plumage on the top of their body and red-orange breast. They are primarily insectivores, but will also eat berries and seeds. They typically measure around 6-7 inches in length with a wingspan of 9-11 inches.

In New York, Eastern Bluebirds can be found in open fields and meadows, as well as woodland edges. They often perch on wires or low branches to hunt for food. During the breeding season, males will perform aerial displays to attract a mate and establish their territory.

Eastern Bluebirds are known for their beautiful songs and territorial behavior, making them a beloved sight in New York’s landscapes.

Eastern Bluebird range map

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows can be identified by their striped head, chestnut crown and white eyebrow. They mainly eat seeds and insects. These sparrows are small, measuring about 5 inches in length.

In New York, Chipping Sparrows can be found in open woodlands, parks, and suburban areas. They often forage on the ground or low in shrubs.

During the breeding season, Chipping Sparrows can be seen singing from high perches and aggressively defending their territory. They make nests on or near the ground, often using grasses and other plant materials to construct it.

Both males and females take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the young. Outside of the breeding season, these birds can be found in flocks with other sparrows and small birds.

Chipping Sparrow range map

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird, a member of the mimid family, can be identified by its gray plumage, black cap, and reddish under the tail. Its diet consists mainly of insects and fruits. On average, it measures about 9-11 inches in length and has a wingspan of 13-15 inches.

In New York, Gray Catbirds can typically be found in wooded areas and thick shrubbery. They are also known to inhabit urban parks and gardens.

In terms of behavior, Gray Catbirds are known for their mimicry abilities, imitating the songs of other birds as well as non-avian sounds such as car alarms or mechanical noises.

They are also territorial during breeding season and will aggressively defend their territory by diving at intruders. Outside of breeding season, they can often be found in small flocks.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

(Agelaius phoeniceus) can be identified by their black feathers with distinct red and yellow patches on the wings. In New York, they can be found in marshes, wet meadows, and other types of wetlands.

These birds primarily eat insects and seeds. Adult red-winged blackbirds typically have a length of about 8-9 inches and a wingspan of 12-16 inches.

In terms of behavior, red-winged blackbirds are known to be aggressive and territorial, defending their nesting areas against intruders. They also engage in group displays, such as aerial dives and vocalizations, during mating season. These birds typically form large flocks during the non-breeding season.

Red-winged blackbirds are a common sight in New York and can often be heard singing their loud, distinctive songs. They play an important role in wetland ecosystems as both predators and seed dispersers.

American Tree Sparrow – Spizella arborea

American Tree Sparrow

The American Tree Sparrow is a small, brown bird with black and white markings on its face and chest. Its diet primarily consists of seeds and insects.

In terms of size, the American Tree Sparrow measures about 5-6 inches in length with a wingspan of 8-9 inches.

This bird can typically be found in open woodlands and brushy areas, particularly during the winter months.

In terms of behavior, the American Tree Sparrow can often be seen foraging on the ground or in low vegetation. It also forms large flocks with other sparrow species during the winter. Additionally, it has a distinct, high-pitched trill call.

American Tree Sparrow range map

Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus

pileated woodpeckers

This large black and white woodpecker can be easily identified by its red crest, black body, and prominent white cheek patches. They primarily eat insects found in dead or decaying wood, but also consume fruits and nuts.

Pileated woodpeckers can reach sizes of up to 19 inches in length with a wingspan of 29 inches. They can be found in mature forests throughout New York, preferring areas with large trees and dead snags for foraging and nesting opportunities.

Pileated woodpeckers are known for their loud drumming on tree trunks as a form of communication and territorial display. They also use their strong bills to excavate cavities for nesting and roosting. They may reuse these cavities or create new ones each year.

Pair bonding in pileated woodpeckers is strong, with the male and female often seen working together to excavate their nest cavity and caring for young hatchlings. These birds can live up to 11 years in the wild.

In New York, pileated woodpeckers are a common sight and an important component of forest ecosystems. They play a crucial role in controlling insect populations and creating nesting cavities for other bird species.

Pileated Woodpecker range map

White-breasted Nuthatch – Sitta carolinensis

White-breasted Nuthatch

This small bird can be identified by its white breast and gray back, as well as its black cap and eye stripe. Its diet consists mainly of insects and tree nuts, which it obtains by climbing up and down tree trunks.

In New York, the White-breasted Nuthatch can be found in deciduous and mixed woodland habitats. It is known for its acrobatic behavior, often seen hanging upside down while foraging for food.

The average size of a White-breasted Nuthatch ranges from 4.3 to 5.1 inches in length, with a wingspan of 7.5 to 9 inches. They have a lifespan of 7 to 9 years in the wild.

White-breasted Nuthatch range map

Cedar Waxwing – Bombycilla cedrorum

Cedar Waxwing

The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized bird with grayish brown plumage and a bright yellow-tipped tail. They have a black mask-like marking on their face, as well as prominent red wax droplets on the wing feathers, which give them their name.

Their diet consists mainly of fruits and berries, but they also eat insects, flower petals, and sometimes small birds or rodents.

In terms of size, Cedar Waxwings can range from 7-8 inches in length with a wingspan of 12 inches. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, open woodlands, orchards, and suburban areas. In New York, they are frequently seen in parks and urban areas.

Cedar Waxwings have a social behavior and often travel in flocks or family groups. They are known for their acrobatic flight patterns and playful tendencies, such as passing berries back and forth between each other mid-flight.

They also have a unique vocalization, described as a high-pitched, whistling trill.

Baltimore Oriole – Icterus galbula

Baltimore Oriole

The Baltimore Oriole is a medium-sized songbird with a bright orange breasts and black head, wings, and tail. They have a distinctive “V” shaped bib on their chest and a sharp, thin beak.

Their diet consists mainly of insects, fruits, and nectar. They can often be seen hanging from branches and feeding on fruits, or catching insects in mid-air.

The average Baltimore Oriole measures about 7 inches in length and has a wingspan of 12 inches.

In the summer months, they can be found in deciduous forests and wooded areas throughout the eastern United States, including New York. During the winter, they migrate to Central and South America.

Baltimore Orioles are known for their beautiful songs and territorial behavior. They build hanging pouch nests in tree branches, often high up in the canopy. Both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the young.

Baltimore Oriole range map

Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica

Barn Swallow

The Barn Swallow can be easily identified by its distinctive deep blue or purple-tinged upperparts and rusty-red chest. It also has a long, pointed tail and a characteristic swooping flight pattern.

In terms of diet, the Barn Swallow primarily eats insects such as flies and beetles, catching them in mid-air using its agile flight abilities.

On average, Barn Swallows measure about 5-6 inches in length and have a wingspan of approximately 11 inches.

In New York, the Barn Swallow can often be found near open fields or barns, as well as near bodies of water where insects are plentiful. They also frequently construct their cup-shaped nests on manmade structures such as bridges and buildings.

During breeding season, Barn Swallows engage in acrobatic aerial displays to attract mates. They are also very social birds, often seen flying and feeding in large flocks. However, they can become aggressive towards other birds when protecting their nest sites.

Scarlet Tanager – Piranga olivacea

Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanager is a medium-sized songbird with a vibrant red body and black wings. Its diet consists mainly of insects and fruits found in its wooded habitat.

In New York, the Scarlet Tanager can be commonly found in deciduous or mixed forests during the breeding season. During winter, they migrate to areas of South America.

In terms of behavior, males are known to defend their territory aggressively and perform elaborate courtship displays to attract mates. They also have a unique habit of hanging upside down while eating fruits from tree branches.

Scarlet Tanager range map

House Wren – Troglodytes aedon

House Wren

The House Wren is a small bird, measuring about 4-5 inches in length with brown streaked feathers and a white belly. They have a long, slender bills and can often be seen cocking their tails up and down while foraging for insects.

In terms of diet, the House Wren primarily eats insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. They will also eat berries and seeds.

In New York, the House Wren can be found in open woodlands, agricultural areas, and residential neighborhoods with tall trees or shrubs for nest sites. They build their nests in cavities such as birdhouses or tree holes, and will often line the nest with grass, feathers, and other materials.

In terms of behavior, House Wrens can be aggressive toward other birds and will often try to claim multiple nesting sites in their territory. They have been known to destroy the eggs or young of other bird species. They are also known for their loud, high-pitched songs and will often sing throughout the day.

House Wren range map

Black-capped Chickadee – Poecile atricapillus

Black-capped Chickadees

The black-capped chickadee is a small, stout songbird with a recognizable black cap and bib on their heads. They have a white cheek patch and gray wings and underside. Their diet consists mainly of insects, seeds, nuts, and suet.

They are typically 4-5 inches in length and can be found in deciduous and mixed wood forests, as well as suburban yards with bird feeders.

Black-capped chickadees are energetic and acrobatic, often hanging upside down while foraging for food. They have a common call of “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” which can vary in a number of dee sounds depending on the level of excitement.

They also have a distinct “fee-bee” song. Chickadees are known for their boldness and will readily approach humans for food, but they usually mate for life and live in small flocks during non-breeding seasons.

In New York, the black-capped chickadee can be found year-round, but some may migrate to more southern states during the winter months. They are common and abundant in suitable habitats throughout the state.

Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor

tufted titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse, found in New York, is a small songbird with a distinctive dark gray crest on its head. Its body is overall gray and white, with a pale underside and black eyes. These birds have a diet consisting mostly of insects and seeds, which they forage for on tree branches or at bird feeders.

In terms of size, the Tufted Titmouse measures about 5-6 inches in length with a wingspan of 8-9 inches. They inhabit deciduous woodlands and suburban areas, often forming flocks with other titmice and chickadees during non-breeding seasons. In terms of behavior, these birds are known for their bold and curious nature, as well as their loud, high-pitched calls.

They also have the interesting habit of storing food in tree crevices for later consumption.

Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco, commonly known as the “snowbird,” is a small songbird that can be found in New York during the winter months. These birds have a distinct gray head, white belly, and dark hooded back. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and insects.

Juncos typically measure around 6 inches in length and can be found in wooded areas, brushy thickets, and even backyard bird feeders. They are known for their quick movements and short flights while foraging on the ground.

During mating season, male juncos can often be seen performing displays such as wing flicking and tail spreading to attract a mate. They also construct cup-shaped nests made of grass and leaves, and the female will typically lay 4-5 eggs. Both parents work together to care for the young until they are ready to leave the nest.

What kind of birds are in upstate NY?

Some common birds found in upstate New York include American robins, cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, finches, and chickadees. More unique birds such as bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers, and purple finches can also be spotted in the area.

During migration season, a variety of waterfowl and songbirds can also be seen. To spot these birds, one can visit a local park or nature preserve, or even just observe from their own backyard bird feeder.

How many species of birds are in New York State?

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, there are over 450 species of birds that have been recorded in New York State. This number includes both year-round residents and migratory species. Some notable bird species found in the state include the American robin, Canada goose, red-tailed hawk, and ruby-throated hummingbird.

It is important to note that this number is constantly changing as new species are occasionally spotted and added to the list. Birdwatchers and researchers in New York state work diligently to track and document these sightings to better understand bird populations and movements.

How do I identify a bird in my backyard?

First, observe the bird’s physical characteristics such as size, color, shape of beak and feathers. Next, consider its behavior – is it perching on a branch or flying? Is it alone or in a group? Finally, use field guides or online resources to compare your observations with common bird species in your area.

Don’t forget to also listen for the bird’s unique call or song, as this can be a helpful identifier. With a little patience and some research, you’ll be able to confidently identify the birds in your backyard.

What are the little brown birds in NYC?

They are most likely house sparrows or American tree sparrows. These birds can often be found in urban environments, scavenging for food and nesting on buildings. Both species were introduced to the United States from Europe in the 19th century and have since become common city dwellers.

Another possibility is a female house finch, which can also appear brown in color. These birds are native to the western United States but have expanded their range and can now be found throughout the country, including in cities.

Winter birds in New York

New York City may also include juncos, chickadees, and occasionally snow buntings. It is important to note that the specific species of small brown birds in a certain area can vary and it is best to observe their physical characteristics and behavior in order to make an accurate identification.