man birdwatching

Most Common Backyard Birds in Pennsylvania (Explained)

In Pennsylvania birdwatching is a great way to spend your weekends. You can either go to the city and visit parks or stay at home and enjoy the wonders of nature in your own backyard. There are many wonderful species of birds that are found only in the state. 

When it comes to watching these different birds in your backyard, there are many ways to enjoy this activity. One of the best ways to enjoy watching these animals is to install a backyard birdbath/feeder.

This is a large area of water where you will be able to sit down with your family and enjoy watching the many species of birds that come to eat and bathe.

Installing a backyard birdhouse will also provide shelter for smaller birds that may need shelter from bad weather. Many of the common birds that you will likely see in your backyard are listed below.

Most Common Backyard Birds in Pennsylvania

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Skyler Ewing from Pexels

They are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere with the most common species being found in Central America and near the lower portion of Mexico. It is not uncommon to find this bird in south-central Canada and Alaska, as well as in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Washington State.

In the more northern areas, the bird is most likely to be found in mountainous areas where there is abundant food and cover.

  • Frequency: 40.82%
  • Color: Mostly red with a black mask on the face, short pink bill
  • Habitat:  woodlands, gardens, parks, backyards, and wetlands
  • Range: USA, Canada, Mexico
  • Size: 8.2 – 9.3″ inches
  • Weight: 33 – 65 grams
  • Diet: Fruits, berries, and insects (grasshoppers, beetles, snails, cicadas)
  • Family: Cardinalidae
  • Genus: Cardinalis

Related Posts: 

Blue Jay

Blue Jay
Photo by Chris F from Pexels

The blue jay, a a common passerine bird among the families Corvidae. It is common across most of the continental United States and in some parts of Mexico. It is an omnivore, with an omnivorous diet consisting of fruit, seeds, insects, and carrion.

They prefer to roosts that are built high up in trees or towers and prefer to roost near food and water. Blue jays are fairly quick when flying, and tend not to stay in one place for too long. It breeds in both deciduous, and coniferous forests, and is common in residential areas. 

  • Frequency: 38.15%
  • Color: Blue crest on the head, wings, back, and tail, and has a white face and belly
  • Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests, mixed woodlands, backyards, parks
  • Range: Southern Canada,  Eastern and Central United States, Florida and Texas
  • Size: 8 – 12″ inches
  • Weight: 70 – 100 grams
  • Diet:  Nuts, seeds, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and beetles
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Genus: Cyanocitta

Related Posts: 

American Robin

American Robin
Photo by Skyler Ewing from Pexels

The American Robin is a beautiful migratory bird of the thrush genre and Turdidae. Its natural habitat is now established on the open coastal, wooded swamps of central and southern Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, with some individuals recorded on the edges of Lake George and the Potomac in Virginia. 

The most common birds to be seen together with the American Robin are white-crowned sparrows, and downy woodpeckers. 

  • Frequency: 44.55%
  • Color: Mostly brown on the back with an orange colored breast
  • Habitat: Wooded areas, backyards, parks, fields
  • Range: USA, Canada, Mexico
  • Size: 12 – 16″ inches
  • Weight: 72 – 95 grams
  • Diet: Fruits, berries and insects (earthworms, beetles, caterpillars)
  • Family: Turdidae
  • Genus: Turdus

Related Post: Interesting American Robin Fun Facts

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove
Photo by Amit Mishra from Pexels

The mourning Dove is a member of the pigeon family, Columbidae. Mourning doves are among our country’s most popular songbirds. This type of Dove is actually very happy, flitting about its surroundings delighting in the sights and sounds of its environment.

Its song is also unique, its own, adding a special touch to birdwatching. The mournful doves usually fly together with other doves during migration.

  • Frequency: 38.25%
  • Color: Light gray-brown and lighter and pinkish below. The wings have black spots.
  • Habitat: Open habitats, urban areas, farms, prairie, grassland, wooded area
  • Range:  USA, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Greater Antilles
  • Size: 12″ inches length
  • Weight: 112 – 170 grams
  • Diet:  Rapeseed, corn, millet, safflower, sunflower seeds, pokeberry, sesame, and wheat.
  • Family: Columbidae
  • Genus: Zenaida

American Crow

American Crow
Photo by Mike from Pexels

The American Crow is an exceptionally large passerine bird, both in size and population, of the genus Corvus. It’s a popular long-distance traveler bird, with an average size of up to 21 inches long (including tail).

It’s a common sight across much of North America, though it’s far less common in the southern half of the continent. It’s a frequent visitor to busy bird feeders, and its signature “feeding frenzy” can be heard throughout the winter.

  • Frequency: 30.47%
  • Color: Black
  • Habitat: Open country, farms, parks, woodlands, towns, cities
  • Range: Canada, USA, Mexico
  • Size: 16 – 21″ inches
  • Weight: 315 -620 grams
  • Diet: invertebrates, carrion, seeds, eggs fish, grains, mice, frogs, and other small animals. 
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Genus: Corvis

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow
Image by u_z4q28nbq from Pixabay

The song Sparrow is a mid-sized common bird found throughout North America. It is probably one of the more widely distributed species in the area, with sparrows being seen in every corner of the continent. It is probably one of the easiest species of songbirds to recognize as well.

The Song Sparrow is an agile bird, being able to quickly take off in search of food. Though these birds are primarily found in daytime flitting around brushlands, and marshes. The Song Sparrow’s noisy call is also a distinctive sound.

  • Frequency: 35.44%
  • Color: Gray head, white cheek, a black bib, rufous neck
  • Habitat: Urban centers, farms, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range:  Europe, Mediterranean, Asia, Australasia, Africa, and the Americas
  • Size: 5.5 – 7.0″ inches
  • Weight: 25 – 40 grams
  • Diet:  Grains, seeds, and insects
  • Family: Passeridea
  • Genus: Passer

Related Post: How to Attract Sparrows to your Backyard

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch
Image by Miles Moody from Pixabay

The American goldfinches are beautiful little North American birds in the songbird family. It’s a winter visitor to the southern states, migrate up the west coast, and eventually you’ll find them all over the United States.  

The birds’ natural habitat in the southern United States is forested, so the birds are hiding behind greenery and bush most of the time. Throughout the summer, they can be found on lawns, parks, and backyards.

  • Frequency: 38.20%
  • Color: Face, neck, and underside are yellow, black wings with white bars
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests and thickets, roadside, grasslands, backyards, meadows
  • Range:  Canada, USA and Mexico
  • Size: 4.3 – 5.5″ inches length
  • Weight: 12 -18 grams
  • Diet:  Grass, dandelions, chickweed, sunflowers and ragweed, thistle, red alder, birch, spruce seeds
  • Family: Carduelinae
  • Genus: Spinus

Related Post: American Goldfinch Interesting Facts

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

The Downy Woodpecker, also known as the ‘dart’ woodpeckers, is a small species of woodpeckers, the smallest in North America. It is common for the Downy to be first noticed near bird feeders or bird baths during spring or early summer when many other birds are seen together. 

They are most commonly found in the southern part of the States in marsh areas and thickets. They have an affinity for hollow trees, logs, tree stumps and even bird houses.

  • Frequency: 34.69%
  • Color: Black with a white throat, belly, and back. White spots on wings
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests and thickets, roadside, grasslands, backyards, parks
  • Range:  Canada, USA, and Mexico
  • Size: 5.5 – 7.1″ inches in length
  • Weight: 20 – 33 grams
  • Diet:  Mostly insects and beetles and ants, also gall wasps, caterpillars
  • Family: Picadae
  • Genus: Dryobates

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

The tufted titmouse,  is a common small songbird in North America, a member of the chickadee and tit family. The tufted titmouse is common in fields, roadsides, fields along rivers, and open plains.

A common visitor to bird feeders, they prefer to feed on a variety of small seeds, nuts, and suet. Its habitat is mixed and decideuous woods, as well as parks, gardens, and shrublands. 

  • Frequency: 22.33%
  • Color: Gray upperparts, white front, a tufted gray crest on the head
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests, river basin, backyards, swamps
  • Range:  Canada, USA, and Mexico
  • Size: 5.5 – 6.4″ inches
  • Weight: 18 – 26 grams
  • Diet:  Nuts, insects, berries, seeds small fruit, and snails
  • Family: Paridae
  • Genus: Baeolophus

Related Post: How to Attract Tufted Titmouse to my Yard

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Image by Scottslm from Pixabay

The red-bellied woodpecker breeds mostly in the southern part of the United States, ranging east of the Mississippi and north of the Canadian border. It was first found in southern Pennsylvania and Maryland, but now it is widespread in several locations in the northeast and Midwest.

The diet of the red-bellied woodpecker includes small insects, worms, carrion, and suet. During the winter, they enjoy a sheltered location in backyards where they roost during the winter and then move to an open area nearby in springtime to feed.

  • Frequency: 26.59%
  • Color: Gray on body and face and underparts. Black and white pattern on wings, back, and tail.
  • Habitat: Forests, backyards
  • Range: Southern Canada,  Eastern United States, Florida 
  • Size: 9 – 10.6″ inches long
  • Weight: 56 -91 grams
  • Diet:  Insects, tree frogs, eggs of small birds, oozing sap, and small fish.
  • Family: Picidae
  • Genus: Melanerpes

European Starling

European Starling
Image by Jacques GAIMARD from Pixabay

During the late spring through early summer they are seen flying around in schools of several hundred, with their wings wide open as they feed on nearly all forms of food available on the ground as well as berries, acorns, weeds, grass, and other plants.

Throughout most of the year, these birds tend to concentrate their activities around nesting opportunities, often building a nest near vegetation or bushes within the neighborhood.

They return to the same area every year to mate, with the exception of the breeding season, they stay in their natal area throughout the year, calling it home year-round.

  • Frequency: 21.18%
  • Color:  Black with glossy iridescence plumage.
  • Habitat: Forests, woodlands, backyards, edges, yards, and parks.
  • Range: North America, Europe, Africa, India, Middle East, China.
  • Size: 7 – 9″ inches long
  • Weight: 60 – 100 grams
  • Diet:  Insects (ants, beetles, invertebrates), fruits, seeds, berries
  • Family: Sturnidae
  • Genus: Sturnus

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

The white-breasted nuthatch is quite a popular songbird throughout much of North America, with the largest population found in central and southern Ohio, southern Illinois, southern Indiana and Iowa. One of the most popular bird feeder buddies for the white-breasted nuthatch are black oil sunflower seeds.

These birds have a very favorite place to roost: beneath conifers and maples in deciduous forests. These birds also seem to enjoy eating fruits that grow near their woodlands.

  • Frequency: 32.97%
  • Color: Has a white face, flanks, and chest. It has a black cap on its head a bluish-gray upper and a brown belly
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests, conifers, roadside, rivers, backyards, parks
  • Range: Southern Canada, USA
  • Size: 5.9″ inches
  • Weight: 20 grams
  • Diet:  Acorn nuts, hickory nuts, ants, caterpillars, scale insects, pine weevils
  • Family: Sittidae
  • Genus: Sitta

Related Post: How to Attract Nuthatches to your Backyard

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren
Image by Naturelady from Pixabay

The Carolina wren is exceptionally common species of woodwren which are a frequent resident in both the eastern half of the country, including parts of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Chicago Illinois, and Florida, and the western half of Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

They prefer dry deciduous woodlands, but also a frequent visitor to bird feeders, urban parks, and backyards because of their small size and vibrant colors.

  • Frequency: 26.23%
  • Color: Black cap and throat with white cheeks. Light gray wings, back, and tail.
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests, suburbs, parks, backyards
  • Range:  USA ( Texas, Florida, New Jersey, and Kansas)
  • Size: 4.5 – 5.1″ inches long
  • Weight: 9 – 12 grams
  • Diet:  Insects, berries, seeds 
  • Family: Paridae
  • Genus:  Poecile

House Finch

House Finch
Image by GeorgiaLens from Pixabay

For many years, the house finch was considered as a rare species in North America with only a few individuals reported seeing. In present times however, this bird has become a popular sighting. The house finch will also eat insectivorous insects, small birds, lizards, and spiders but will only feed on these if there is an adequate supply of food nearby.

They also enjoy hanging around houses and feeding on a variety of foods including weeds, suet, and berries.

  • Frequency: 21.14%
  • Color:  Reddish face and upper breast, brown streaks on back, belly, and tail.
  • Habitat: Urban and suburban areas, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range: Canada, USA, Mexico
  • Size: 5 – 6″ inches
  • Weight: 16 – 27 grams
  • Diet:  Aphids, grains, seeds, berries, nettle, dandelion, sunflower
  • Family: Fringillidae
  • Genus: Haemorhous

Related Post: How to Attract House Finch to Your Yard?

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird
Image by Ryan Panfil from Pixabay

The red-winged blackbird, is a common passerine bird of both the genus Icterina and the family Icteridae. Unlike most other birds, the red-winged blackbird spends a great deal of time hunting in its territory because of its rather slow movement and lack of flight abilities. It has been estimated that these birds spend up to 40% of their time seeking out their nests.

The majority of their territory is made up of bushes and trees and they will take any opportunity they have to swoop in and grab a nest to house their young in. Nests are built high in trees and bush canopies. Once a pair has been successfully secured, the male will leave the female alone to care for her offspring. 

  • Frequency: 25.63%
  • Color: All black with red patches on shoulder and a yellow wing bar
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests, conifers, roadside, rivers, backyards, parks
  • Range: North America, Central America
  • Size: 6.7 – 7.1″ inches length
  • Weight: 41.5 – 65 grams
  • Diet:  Seeds and insects (butterflies, dragonflies, moths, frogs, worms, spider, snails, carrion, flies.)
  •  Family: Icteridae
  • Genus: Agelaius

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco
Image by Bryan Hanson from Pixabay

The dark-eyed juncos spend most of their waking hours below the tree line, foraging for food and looking for mates. During late winter and spring, these birds return to their winter grounds, where they mate and nest. Unlike most other sparrow types that have a preference for a variety of habitats, the dark-eyed juncos prefer rocky cliffs and tall trees to eat from.

They also make nests in cavities excavated into slopes and arches in rocky cliffs – a favorite place being beneath a large tree. Harsh winter weather and long journeys through harsh wintertime climates are what usually killing off this birds populations.

  • Frequency: 20.08%
  • Color:  Gray head, neck, breast, gray/brown backs and wings, white underside
  • Habitat: Wooded areas, forest edges, roadsides, gardens, parks.
  • Range: USA and Canada
  • Size: 5.1 – 6.9″ inches
  • Weight: 18 – 30 grams
  • Diet:  Seeds, insects, and arthropods
  • Family: Passeriformes
  • Genus: Junco

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird
Image by Deb Nyman from Pixabay

This beautiful bird lives in all areas of our country and is common throughout the northern states. A favorite area for breeding is along the central United States, especially around Buffalo, Oklahoma, and Texas. One reason for the species’ prevalence in the southern part of our country may be that they tend to favor woods and brush areas.

They have also been recorded from some central coastal states such as Rhode Island and Massachusetts. They are quite common in parks and other large wild areas where they can be observed in flocks.

  • Frequency: 15.08%
  • Color: Mainly Gray with black on tail and head, white accents on the body
  • Habitat: Woodlands, marshes, meadows
  • Range: East of the Canadian Rockies, Canada, USA,  Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
  • Size: 8 – 9.5″ inches
  • Weight: 23 – 57 grams
  • Diet: Fruits, berries, earthworms, beetles, bugs, ants caterpillars, grasshoppers, moths.
  • Family:  Mimidae
  • Genus:  Dumatella

House Sparrow

The house sparrow is an attractive small bird with a typical size of just 16 inches and a weight of just 24 grams. House sparrows are common throughout most of North America. House sparrows are typically small to mid-sized birds with dark brownish feathers.

They have small bills, that are stout and conical. They also don’t have very good eyesight, but their beaks are very strong and can crack apple seeds, so they can get to their food quickly. House sparrows are among our most popular birds, with many varieties of songs recorded over the years.

  • Frequency: 27.95%
  • Color:  Gray head marking, a reddish-brown back, and gray underparts
  • Habitat: Urban centers, suburban areas, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range: North America, Central America, South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand
  • Size: 5.5 – 7.1″ inches in length
  • Weight: 25 – 39 grams
  • Diet:  Insects, beetles, caterpillars, aphids,, grasshoppers, crustaceans, earthworms, vertebrates
  • Family: Passeridea
  • Genus: Passer

Related Post: How to Attract Sparrows to your Backyard

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow
Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

The white-throated sparrow,  make their living by eating small insects and seeds, crawling on wet ground and scavenging. In colonial times, they were introduced to South America as part of an experimental insectivore effort.  The white-throated sparrow, once found on the shores of Florida, was later introduced to Texas.

With the success of this insectivore in its new tropical environment and the rapid expansion of its population in the southeastern United States, it is now possible to see these handsome birds throughout the year on a variety of shrubs, woody plants, and gardens in the southern United States and Canada.

  • Frequency: 13.89%
  • Color: Brown and gray head pattern. Black-and-white-striped head, white throat, and yellow near the eye.
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests and thickets, roadside, grasslands, backyards
  • Range:  Eastern North America, Atlantic Canada
  • Size: 5.9″ – 7.5″ inches long
  • Weight: 22 – 32 grams
  • Diet: Seeds, insects, and berries
  • Family: Passerellidae
  • Genus: Zonotrichia 

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker
Image by radesigns from Pixabay

The northern flicker is a medium-size bird of the woodpecker family. It is extremely widespread throughout North America, from Mexico to the Canadian Border. Throughout much of its history, the northern flicker has been a widespread woodpecker but has only recently become a common visitor to bird feeders.

It has always been an elusive bird, especially since it is so uncommon, so many people try to catch a glimpse of it. There are a few different theories on the reasons for this. One reason that it is so difficult to spot is that it nests in places where it is not seen by humans, so it is virtually impossible to locate.

  • Frequency: 19.66%
  • Color: Light brown with black bars across back, chest, wings, belly
  • Habitat: Forests, woodlands, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range: North America, Central America, Cuba, Cayman Islands
  • Size: 10 – 14″ inches
  • Weight: 85 – 165 grams
  • Diet:  Insects (ants, beetles, invertebrates), fruits, seeds, berries
  • Family: Picadae
  • Genus: Colaptes

The backyard birds below, have a frequency of less than 19%  ​​​​​​​

  • Common Grackle 18.73%
  • Black-capped Chickadee 18.37%
  • Carolina Chickadee 17.57%
  • Eastern Bluebird 15.98%
  • Chipping Sparrow 15.27%
  • Eastern Towhee 13.84%
  • Hairy Woodpecker 12.10%
  • Tree Swallow 12.07%
  • Brown-headed Cowbird 11.42%
  • Northern Mockingbird 11.40%
  • Eastern Phoebe 11.33%
  • Common Yellowthroat 10.98%
  • Red-eyed Vireo 10.78%
  • House Wren 10.55%
  • Barn Swallow 9.94%
  • Cedar Waxwing 9.80%
  • Belted Kingfisher 8.42%
  • Rock Pigeon 8.36%
  • Pileated Woodpecker 8.20%
  • Wood Thrush 8.15%
  • Chimney Swift 7.84%
  • Field Sparrow 7.51%
  • Baltimore Oriole 7.37%
  • Indigo Bunting 6.86%
  • Yellow Warbler 6.77%
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird 6.57%
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee 6.29%
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler 6.28%
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 6.05%
  • Ovenbird 6.03%
  • Fish Crow 5.83%
  • Scarlet Tanager 5.50%