Most Common Birds of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a diverse state, with a variety of habitats ranging from lush forests to open farmland. This diversity provides a home for many different bird species, including both year-round residents and seasonal visitors.

Join us as we explore the most popular birds seen in Pennsylvania through pictures and key data. All of our information has been gathered from reliable sources and verified by an Ornithologist so that you can enjoy your birdwatching experience to the fullest!

Common Backyard Birds in Pennsylvania

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

(Spinus tristis) can be identified by their bright yellow plumage (with black wings and tail), along with their slender, conical bill.

These birds primarily feed on seeds, particularly thistle and sunflower, but will also eat insects and nectar during the summer months. Adult goldfinches typically measure around 4-5 inches in length and have a wingspan of 7-9 inches.

American Goldfinches can be found in a variety of habitats, including open woodlands, fields, parks, and residential areas. They often form large flocks during the winter months and can often be seen visiting bird feeders.

During the breeding season, they construct cup-shaped nests made of plant fibers and line them with soft materials, such as feathers or animal hair. Both male and female goldfinches take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the young.

Additionally, American Goldfinches are known for their acrobatic flight and song, which consists of a series of rattling or tinkling sounds.

In Pennsylvania, American Goldfinches can be seen year-round and are a common sight during the warmer months. They are also a popular bird for backyard birdwatchers in the state.

American Goldfinch range map

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves can be identified by their gray and brown plumage, long tail feathers, and small, black bill. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and grains found on the ground or in low shrubs.

They can reach a size of 11-13 inches in length with a wingspan of around 15 inches. Mourning Doves are often found in open fields or woodlands, near human habitation.

They are known for their distinct, repetitive cooing sounds and can often be seen perched on telephone wires or tree branches. They typically mate for life and build flimsy nests in trees to lay 2 white eggs at a time.

During the winter months, Mourning Doves may flock with other dove species or form small roosts at night.

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinals, also known as “redbirds,” are easily identifiable with their bright red plumage and pointed crest on top of their heads. They have black faces and sturdy, conical bills used for cracking open seeds and eating fruits, insects, and occasionally small frogs or snails.

In Pennsylvania, these birds can be found in woodlands, thickets, and residential areas with trees and shrubbery. They build large, cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs and often stay in pairs for the duration of the breeding season.

Northern Cardinals are typically about 8 to 9 inches in length and have a wingspan of 10 to 12 inches. They are fairly common throughout their range and are not currently threatened or endangered.

Blue Jays

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are easily identifiable by their blue and white plumage, as well as their distinctive crest on top of their head. In terms of diet, Blue Jays are omnivorous and will eat both plant and animal matter such as nuts, seeds, insects, and even smaller birds.

In terms of size, Blue Jays typically measure around 9-12 inches in length and have a wingspan of 13-17 inches.

In terms of habitat, Blue Jays can be found in a variety of wooded areas including forests, parks, and even suburban neighborhoods with mature trees.

In terms of behavior, Blue Jays are known for their loud calls and can often be seen gathering and storing food for the winter. They are also known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities, as well as their aggressive behavior toward other bird species.

Blue Jays can commonly be found in the state of Pennsylvania year-round, with some northern populations migrating south during the winter months.

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrows, also known as English Sparrows, can be identified by their small size, brown and black streaked plumage, and distinct white cheek patches.

These birds are primarily seed eaters and can be found in urban areas such as parks and gardens. In Pennsylvania, House Sparrows can also be spotted in agricultural fields and near human habitation.

In terms of behavior, House Sparrows are highly social and can often be seen in large flocks. They are known to aggressively defend their territory and will sometimes displace native bird species from nest sites. Despite this, they remain a common and widespread bird species.

The average size of a male House Sparrow is 16-18 cm and weighs about 27-39 grams. Females are slightly smaller, measuring 14-16 cm and weighing 22-34 grams.

House Sparrow range map

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker is a small bird, about 6-7 inches in length, with black and white barring on its back, wings, and tail. It has a white underside with black spotting, a black cap on its head, and a distinct red patch on the back of its neck.

In Pennsylvania, Downy Woodpeckers can mostly be found in deciduous forests, where they forage on tree trunks and branches for insects, berries, and nuts. They also may visit the backyard bird feeder for seeds and suet.

These birds are often seen clinging to tree trunks as they search for food using their strong bills. Downy Woodpeckers also use their bills to create holes in trees for nesting and roosting. They have a habit of drumming on tree trunks with their bills, making a distinctive tapping sound that can be heard from a distance.

Downy Woodpeckers form monogamous pairs during the breeding season and both parents help raise their young. They may also form small flocks, especially during migration and in winter.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wrens can be identified by their reddish-brown plumage, white eyebrows, and long slender tails. They primarily eat insects, seeds, and berries.

These birds are small in size, measuring approximately 5 inches in length. Carolina Wrens can be found in a variety of habitats including deciduous forests, brushy areas, and suburban gardens.

Their behavior includes building dome-shaped nests and singing loud, whistling songs. In Pennsylvania, Carolina Wrens can be spotted during the spring and summer months before migrating south for the winter.

American Robin

American Robin

(Turdus migratorius), one of the most recognizable and common birds in Pennsylvania, can be identified by its reddish-orange breast and gray back. Its diet consists primarily of insects and fruits. The average size ranges between 9-11 inches in length with a wingspan of 13-15 inches.

These birds can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, urban parks and yards, and even coastal beaches. In summer months, they can often be seen hopping along the ground in search of food or perched on tree branches singing their familiar cheery songs. During winter, they may form large flocks and forage together on lawns.

American Robins are territorial during breeding season and will aggressively defend their territory against intruders. They build cup-shaped nests to raise their young, often high up in trees or on buildings.

American Robin range map

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows can be identified by their streaked brown plumage, white eyebrow, and reddish breast. These birds primarily feed on seeds and insects.

They typically reach lengths of 4 to 6 inches and have a wingspan of 7 to 9 inches. Song Sparrows can be found in a variety of habitats including open fields, marshes, brushy areas, and suburban gardens.

They often forage on the ground, scratching with their feet to uncover food. In the winter, they may form flocks with other sparrow species. Song Sparrows are also known for their musical songs, which they use to defend their territories.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

(Dumetella carolinensis) can be identified by its gray feathers, black cap, and long tail. Its diet consists mainly of insects, fruits, and berries. It typically ranges in size from 9-11 inches in length. In Pennsylvania, it can be found in shrubby habitats near water sources or wetlands.

This bird is known for its mimicry abilities, imitating the songs of other bird species. It is also known for its territorial behavior, aggressively defending its nesting area from intruders.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

(Agelaius phoeniceus) Their black bodies with distinct red and yellow patches on their wings can be identified. They primarily feed on insects, seeds, and grains.

On average, they measure about 8-9 inches in length with a wingspan of 12-16 inches. These birds can be found in marshlands and wetlands, as well as agricultural fields and backyard bird feeders.

Red-winged Blackbirds are known for their loud, distinctive calls and aggressive behavior towards other birds who may approach their nesting territory. They form large flocks during migration and winter seasons.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker can be identified by its red head and neck, black-and-white barred back, and white underparts with a hint of red on the belly. Its diet consists mainly of insects and tree sap, which it obtains using its strong bill for drilling and chiseling.

On average, these woodpeckers measure about 9 to 10 inches in length and have a wingspan of 13 to 17 inches. They can typically be found in deciduous or mixed forests, as well as suburban areas with trees.

Their behavior includes drumming on trees to establish territory and attract mates, as well as storing excess food by wedging it into tree bark crevices. In Pennsylvania, red-bellied woodpeckers can be seen year-round and are common residents.

Red-bellied Woodpecker range map

American Crow

American Crow

(Corvus brachyrhynchos) can be identified by their all black feathers, thick bills, and loud cawing calls. In Pennsylvania, they can be found in a variety of habitats including fields, forests, and even human-populated areas. Their diet consists mainly of insects, fruits, and grains. American Crows are medium-sized birds, measuring approximately 17 inches in length with a wingspan of 33 inches.

In terms of behavior, American Crows are social and can often be seen in large groups or “murder” (as theyoquially called). They have also been known to demonstrate problem-solving abilities and use tools to obtain food.

Additionally, American Crows are known for their impressive vocal mimicry abilities and have been observed mimicking the sounds of other birds and even humans. They mate for life and establish long-term nesting territories, often using sticks and other materials to construct large nests high in trees or on buildings.

Despite their sometimes negative reputation, American Crows play an important role in our ecosystem as both predators and scavengers.

They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and should not be harmed or harassed. If you spot an American Crow in Pennsylvania, take a moment to appreciate their unique characteristics and role in our environment.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch is a small bird with a white belly and dark gray backs. It has a black stripe on its head and a long black bill. Its diet consists mainly of insects, nuts, and seeds.

In Pennsylvania, White-breasted Nuthatches can be found in deciduous or mixed forest habitats. They are often seen climbing up tree trunks and branches in search of food.

This bird has a distinct call and can often be heard loudly announcing its presence. It is also known for storing extra food in tree crevices for later consumption, a behavior known as “hoarding.”

White-breasted Nuthatches usually form lifelong pairs and are commonly seen with their mate during breeding season. They build cup-shaped nests in tree cavities, typically high up in the trunk or main branches.

Both parents help care for and feed the offspring until they are old enough to leave the nest. Overall, White-breasted Nuthatches are common and widespread throughout Pennsylvania and North America.

White-breasted Nuthatch range map

House Finches

House Finches

(Carpodacus mexicanus)

In Pennsylvania, the House Finch can be identified by its red head and breast, brown back and wings, and white or yellow belly. Its diet consists mainly of seeds and grains, but it also eats insects and fruit.

The House Finch ranges in size from 5-6 inches in length, with a wingspan of 7-9 inches.

In Pennsylvania, the House Finch can be found in open woodlands and suburban areas near human habitation.

The House Finch is a social bird, often seen in flocks or pairs. It builds cup-shaped nests in trees or bushes, and will use birdhouses provided by humans. The male sings to attract a mate and defend its territory.

House Finch range map

European Starlings

European Starling

European Starlings, also known as common starlings, can be identified by their glossy black feathers with speckles of white. These birds are omnivores and will eat insects, fruits, seeds, and grains. On average, they measure about 8 inches in length and have a wingspan of 16 inches. Common starlings reside in open areas such as fields and forests, as well as urban areas.

They are social birds and often gather in large flocks. In the winter, starlings may form huge roosting groups that can number in the millions. These birds are also known for their complex vocalizations and mimicking abilities.

In Pennsylvania, European Starlings can be found year-round in most regions of the state. They are also a common sight at bird feeders during the colder months. However, due to their aggressive behavior and competition with native species for food and nesting sites, these birds have been deemed pests by some.

Conservation efforts are currently being implemented to control and manage the starling population in Pennsylvania.

Cedar Waxwing – Bombycilla cedrorum

Cedar Waxwing

The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized, sleek bird with a crest on top of its head. Its body is mostly brown with yellow underparts and has a black mask-like marking on its face. The distinguishing feature of this bird is the red wax droplets on its gray wings, giving it its name.

In terms of diet, the Cedar Waxwing mainly feeds on fruits and berries, but will also eat insects, flower petals, and nectar.

On average, Cedar Waxwings measure about 7-8 inches in length with a wingspan of 12 inches.

In terms of habitat, the Cedar Waxwing can be found in open woodlands and forests, as well as urban areas with fruiting trees.

In terms of behavior, Cedar Waxwings are often seen in large flocks, foraging for food together. They have a habit of “anting,” where they cover their feathers with formic acid from crushed ants to rid themselves of parasites.

They are also known for “misting,” where they fly up and catch water droplets in their beaks before returning to a perch to sip the water.

In Pennsylvania, Cedar Waxwings can be seen during migration periods as well as in the summer months. They nest in deciduous trees and shrubs, usually laying 3-5 eggs in a cup-shaped nest made of twigs and grass.

Wood Thrush – Hylocichla mustelina

Wood Thrush

The Wood Thrush is a medium-sized songbird with brown upperparts, spotted white underparts, and a buff-colored throat. It has a distinctive call that consists of musical flute-like notes.

In Pennsylvania, the Wood Thrush primarily eats insects, fruits, and snails. They forage on or near the ground and in trees.

The Wood Thrush can range in size from 6 to 8 inches in length with a wingspan of 10 to 12 inches. They prefer mature forest habitats for nesting and foraging.

During the breeding season, males will establish and defend their territories by singing loudly from high perches. They build cup-shaped nests using twigs, grass, and mud, often placing them low in trees or shrubs.

Both male and female Wood Thrushes take part in incubating the eggs and caring for the young. Outside of the breeding season, they can be found in flocks with other thrushes and migrating birds.

Wood Thrush range map

Blackpoll Warbler – Setophaga striata

Blackpoll Warbler

The Blackpoll Warbler can be identified by its black cap and white cheeks, as well as its distinctive black and white striped underside. This bird primarily feeds on insects, but will also eat fruits and sunflower seeds.

In size, the Blackpoll Warbler ranges from 4-5 inches in length with a wingspan of 7-8 inches.

During the summer months, this bird can be found in boreal coniferous forests and shrubby areas near water. In the winter, it migrates to mangrove forests and woodland edges in South America.

The Blackpoll Warbler is known for its long distance migration, flying nonstop over the Atlantic Ocean from its breeding grounds in North America to its wintering grounds in South America. During the breeding season, it can often be seen high up in tree tops as it searches for insects.

Blackpoll Warbler range map

Gray-cheeked Thrush – Catharus minimus

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Gray-cheeked Thrush – is a small songbird, measuring approximately 5 to 6 inches in length. It has grayish brown upperparts and pale underparts with faint dark streaks on its breast and sides. Its face is gray with a white eye-ring and it has a slightly curved bill.

In Pennsylvania, the Gray-cheeked Thrush can be found in coniferous and deciduous forests, often near streams or wetlands.

Its diet consists mainly of insects and fruits. It forages on the ground or in low vegetation, sometimes even following army ants to feed on insects disturbed by their movements.

During the breeding season, Gray-cheeked Thrushes form monogamous pairs and build a cup-shaped nest in trees or shrubs, typically lay 3 to 4 eggs. Both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the young.

Outside of breeding season, these thrushes may form small flocks with other Catharus species. They are known for their rich, fluty songs which they often sing from high perches. They also have a distinct alarm call, consisting of rapid “chip” sounds.

Gray-cheeked Thrush range map

Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus

Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is a medium-sized member of the woodpecker family, with a length ranging from 11 to 13 inches and a wingspan of 17 to 21 inches. They have dark brown and black barred patterns on their upperparts, with a checkered pattern on their underparts. Males have a red patch on the nape of their necks, while females have a black patch.

Their diet consists primarily of ants and other insects, which they dig for with their long pointed tongues. They will also eat fruits and berries during the summer months.

Northern Flickers can be found in open wooded areas, parks, and even suburban yards with trees. They nest in holes in trees, and sometimes will use nest boxes.

In terms of behavior, Northern Flickers are known for their characteristic “drumming” on trees or other objects with their beaks as a form of communication. They also have a distinct vocalization that sounds like “wick-a, wick-a.” These birds are also known for their habit of catching insects on the ground, a behavior known as “gleaning.”

In Pennsylvania, Northern Flickers can be seen year-round, with some birds remaining in the state and others migrating through during the winter months. They can also be found in other parts of North America, as well as parts of Central and South America.

Northern Flicker range map

Black-capped Chickadee – Poecile atricapillus

Black-capped Chickadee

The black-capped chickadee can be easily identified by its small black cap and bib, white cheeks, and gray back and wings. These birds have a varied diet consisting of seeds, insects, and suet. They prefer to live in deciduous and mixed forests where they build their nests in cavities or nest boxes.

They are known for their vocalizations and ability to remember the location of food caches for later retrieval. Chickadees are social birds, often seen in small flocks during the winter months. In Pennsylvania, they can be found year-round and are a common backyard bird.

Purple Finch – Haemorhous purpureus

Purple Finch

The Purple Finch can be identified by its reddish-purple head, breast, and rump, as well as its brown wings and tail. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and insects. They typically measure around 5-6 inches in length and have a wingspan of 8-9 inches.

In Pennsylvania, they can be found in deciduous and mixed forest habitats, as well as backyard feeders. They are known for their energetic behavior and social nature, often seen in small flocks during the winter months.

During the breeding season, male Purple Finches will establish their territory by singing from high perches, while females build the nest and care for the young. Overall, the Purple Finch is a common and enjoyable sight in Pennsylvania’s wooded areas.

Purple Finch range map

Hairy Woodpecker – Dryobates villosus

Hairy Woodpecker

In Pennsylvania, the Hairy Woodpecker can be identified by its black and white plumage, long bill, and white back. Its diet consists mainly of insects, but it will also eat nuts and berries. It ranges in size from about 6-9 inches in length with a wingspan of about 12-16 inches.

This woodpecker can be found in deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as suburban areas with suitable trees. Its behavior includes drumming on trees to establish territory and foraging for food by pecking at tree bark. It also commonly stores excess food by caching it in holes in trees.

The Hairy Woodpecker is often seen alone or in pairs, but may join mixed species foraging flocks during the winter. It nests in cavities excavated by itself or other woodpeckers, and can sometimes be spotted using its bill to prop up against tree trunks while drumming or calling.

Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco – are small birds, sparrow-like birds that can be found in a variety of habitats across Pennsylvania including coniferous and deciduous forests, shrublands, grasslands, and even urban parks.

They have a dark hood on their heads and white outer tail feathers that are noticeable during flight. Their diet primarily consists of seeds and insects. They are known for their social behavior and commonly forage in flocks.

In the winter, juncos can be seen visiting backyard bird feeders where they actively search for black oil sunflower seeds on the ground. During the breeding season, they build cup-shaped nests on or near the ground and typically lay 3-4 eggs at a time. These birds have a wide range across North America and can also be found in parts of Canada and Mexico.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed cowbirds are small black birds with distinct brown heads. They can be found in open habitats such as grasslands and farmland, where they primarily eat insects and seeds. These birds are known for their parasitic breeding behavior, laying their eggs in the nests of other bird species and leaving the host parents to raise their young.

In Pennsylvania, they can commonly be seen in flocks with other blackbirds or swallows, foraging on the ground, or perching on power lines and fences. They are also known to follow herds of cows and horses, feeding on insects stirred up by the animals’ movements.

Though their breeding behavior has caused some controversy among bird enthusiasts, brown-headed cowbirds are still a common sight in Pennsylvania’s open habitats.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird is a small thrush with bright blue plumage on its upperparts and chestnut-brown coloring on its throat and underparts. Its diet consists primarily of insects, berries, and fruits.

In Pennsylvania, these birds can be found in open woodlands, meadows, fields, and backyard habitats with birdhouses or nest boxes. They typically form monogamous pairs and can often be seen perching on low branches or wire fences before swooping down to catch insects. During the breeding season, they also frequently visit bird feeders.

Eastern Bluebirds are known for their beautiful songs and aerial displays during courtship rituals. They usually have one to three broods each year, with females building cup-shaped nests and both parents helping to incubate the eggs and care for the young.

Eastern Bluebird range map

White-throated Sparrow – Zonotrichia albicollis

White-throated Sparrow

This sparrow can be identified by its white throat, yellow stripe above its eye, black and white stripes on its crown, and brown streaks on its back and flanks. It eats mainly seeds and insects. On average, it measures about six inches in length with a wingspan of nine inches.

In Pennsylvania, the white-throated sparrow can be found in thickets, tangles of shrubs, and underbrush in coniferous or mixed forests during the breeding season. During the winter, it may also be found in open woodlands and backyards.

This bird is fairly tame and can often be seen foraging on the ground for food. It also has a distinctive song, often described as “Oh-sweet-Canada Canada Canada.”

White-throated Sparrow range map

Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor

tufted titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse is a small, gray songbird with a distinctive black forehead and white face. They have an upward-pointing crest on their heads, giving them the appearance of constantly being in a state of surprise.

In terms of diet, these birds mainly consume insects and seeds. In the wintertime, they may also feed on suet and nuts from bird feeders.

Tufted Titmice generally measure about 5-6 inches in length with a wingspan of 8-9 inches.

In Pennsylvania, they can typically be found in deciduous woodlands and suburban backyards. They often form flocks with chickadees, nuthatches, and other titmice during the winter months.

In terms of behavior, these birds are highly social and have a variety of intricate vocalizations. They can often be seen hanging upside down while foraging for food in trees and shrubs. They also commonly use acorn caches as a food source during the winter.

How do I identify a bird in my backyard?

First, observe the bird’s physical characteristics, such as its size, shape, coloration, and distinguishing markings. Next, take note of its behavior and habits – is it perching or flying? What does its song sound like?

You can also consult field guides or online resources to compare your observations with known bird species. Don’t forget to consider the bird’s location and habitat – this can also provide clues to its identity. With enough information, you should be able to narrow down your options and confidently identify the bird in your backyard.

What’s the most common bird in Pennsylvania?

The answer may surprise you: it’s the American Robin. These familiar birds can be found throughout the state, in yards and parks as well as forests and fields. They eat a variety of foods including worms, insects, fruits, and berries.

Look for their distinctive orange breast and cheery songs to spot these common backyard visitors. Other common birds in Pennsylvania include the Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, and Red-winged Blackbird.

What birds are native in PA?

Some common native birds in Pennsylvania include American robins, northern cardinals, blue jays, downy woodpeckers, and red-tailed hawks.

Other species that can be found in the state include American goldfinches, eastern bluebirds, black-capped chickadees, barn swallows, and mourning doves. Some of these birds are year-round residents, while others migrate to the state during certain seasons.