backyard birds of Maine

Backyard Birds of Maine: Most Common Species in Summer and Winter

Maine is a beautiful place to live because of its rocky coastline and wonderful, green areas. No wonder it’s home to over 448 bird species! They’ve also recognized how lovely a state it is.

Certainly, you’ve spotted some of them chirping in your backyard or garden. You may have even thought about putting out some bird feed for them. While that’s a nice gesture, have you considered that maybe that unidentified bird is aggressive? Yikes!

It’s true, some of those backyard birds of Maine aren’t as friendly as they’re pretty. It’ll be difficult to cover all 448 species in one article. So we’ll show you the most common ones you’re sure to spot.

We’ll tell you when to expect them, how to attract them, and most importantly if you should be afraid of them or not.

Common Backyard Birds of Maine Throughout the Year

The following ten birds are the ones you’re most likely going to find in your backyard regardless of the season.

1. American Crows

Crow

There’s a good chance that that ominous, blackbird in your garden is an American Crow. Identifying this bird is easy since its cawing call is familiar to most. They also appear more during the winter than summer.

Author Note: These crows are hard to miss. Their bodies are almost 18 inches long, with a large head, thick neck, and long legs. Don’t confuse them with their bigger, but also black, brothers, the ravens.

They love peanuts, kernel corn, and suet. They frequent open areas such as rivers, fields, woodlands, and, fitting for their image, cemeteries. There’s no sure way to identify male crows from female ones since they don’t differ much in either size or behavior.

To no one’s surprise, crows are aggressive birds. And they’re equally as smart too. If you’re ever a threat to them or their nests once, they’ll register your face so they can attack you on sight in the future.

2. Black-capped Chickadees

black-capped chickadee

These cute, tiny birds will visit your backyard often since they’re curious souls who like to investigate. They’ll be your first guests if you put out bird feed. This chickadee prefers sunflower seeds, berries, peanuts, and suet.

They have a small round body, a big round head, and a long tail with a rounded tip. They’re a mix of black, white, and cream colors with a small, straight beak. They frequent mixed forests and are spotted during the winter more.

The sure difference between a male and female chickadee is that only males call by inflating their vocal sacs. Chickadees are friendly birds who have adapted to humans. They won’t shy away from feeding out of your hands.

3. American Goldfinches

American Goldfinches

Because it’s 5 inches long, the Goldfinch is often confused with the Chickadee. They’re found in weedy fields, areas with thistles, and coasts. They feed on weed, thistle, sunflower, and nyjer seeds.

Identifying the males from the females is easy since their colors differ. Males are yellow-colored with black caps and wings, while females are a darker yellow without the black cap. In winter, both their bodies change into an olive color and keep their wing’s color.

These birds are anti-social and are easily scared by humans and bigger birds. They prefer summer to winter, and fun fact: they can eat while upside down!

4. Song Sparrows

song sparrow in winter

The Song Sparrow is more a summer lover than a winter one. Sparrows share similar color hues (from rusty brown to dull grey). That’s why they’re hard to identify from one another.

Top Tip: The Song Sparrow is distinguishable from the rest by its medium size of 6 inches.

Their males are known for their black bib, and the females for the tan line extending behind their eyes. They’ve adapted to humans well so they’re quite bold when approaching us. They’ll feed on your leftover popcorn and bread no problem.

Besides their love for grains, they also enjoy open, shrubby areas near water such as thickets and backyard shrubbery.

5. Blue Jays

Blue jay bird on frozen bird bath

The Blue Jay is as aggressive, smart, and as beautiful as they come. Their bodies are white and their wings are a baby blue color. They’re more a winter bird, and frequent woodlands and forests.

They feed on nuts, soft fruits, and seeds. They’re omnivorous and can pack a lot of food in their throats then fly off to bury it away. They’ll fight other birds for food, often imitating the sound of a hawk to scare them off.

Male and female Blue Jays look the same and are equally aggressive. They’re songbirds who can be noisy when feeding and traveling.

6. Mourning Doves

mourning dove in tree

Male and female mourning doves appear the same and are distinctly known for the blue ring around their eyes. These pink-and-gray-bodied birds favor shelled sunflower, cracked corn, and safflower.

They don’t mind the seasons and like the ground more than the trees so place their food there to make them happy. They have plump bellies, slender beaks, and about a 12 inches body.

They’re called Mourning Doves due to their sorrowful-like call. They’re like sad, old souls who mean no harm so they’re welcome around gardens and backyards.

7. American Robins

American Robin

American Robins are abundant in Maine. The male robin has a plump, rusty red belly, and the female has the same, but paler. They exclusively don’t eat seeds and prefer earthworms, insects, and soft berries.

These birds are human-friendly and inhabit forests, tundras, and urban parks.

They can be aggressive towards fellow robins and other birds. A sight to see is an American Robin fighting its own reflection!

8. Northern Cardinal

northern cardinal

You’re most likely to spot a Northern Cardinal during the winter, in shrubby woodlands. Their kind is easy to spot as they’re identified by the crest on their head. The males especially are a bright red color, while the females are paler, with a reddish tail and wing.

Author Note: They’re smaller than American Robins, around 9 inches. They have thick beaks, perfect for cracking open black oil sunflower seeds and nuts.

They’re familiar with humans and will approach bird feeders.

9. Downy Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpecker male

The relatively small Downy Woodpecker can be found in deciduous trees and willows. They also frequent wet areas near the coastline.

They’re chisel-shaped with white and black bodies. The males are distinguished from the females by the red spot on their heads.

They’re often confused with chickadees and their fellow woodpecker, the Hairy Woodpecker. Thinking of putting a treat out for them?

Their favorite foods include suet, peanut butter, millet, and sunflower seeds. They also enjoy insects and fruits.

10. White-breasted Nuthatches

white breasted nuthatch on tree

White-breasted Nuthatches are almost chickadee-sized. As their name suggests, their breasts are pearly white, while their wings are blue-ish grey. The males have a black cap while females have a pale gray one.

Like the Northern Cardinal, they have strong beaks to crack nuts, sunflower and safflower seeds, and acorns.

Top Tip: These songbirds are commonly found in oak woodlands and forests, where they store their food in the tree trunks.

They’re winter folk and can be very vocal. They’re friendly and don’t mind humans, so they visit parks and wooded backyards often.

Common Backyard Birds of Maine During the Summer

Some backyard birds are season-specific and will only show up when the weather is warm and toasty. Below are the five sun-loving backyard birds of Maine.

1. Common Yellowthroats

common yellowthroat

They’re small-sized birds with yellow throats and black beaks. The males have a front black mask and the females don’t. They frequent wetlands and prefer bushy, thick fields.

Their favorite foods include seeds, berries, green fruits, and nuts.

2. House Finches

House Finch

A House Finch isn’t afraid to approach humans and will probably be among the first to visit a bird feeder. They rarely travel or feed alone, so make sure you have enough seeds, dried worms, and berries for everyone.

Author Note: Their average size is 6 inches and they have brown bodies and tails. The male house finch, however, has rosy red streaks around his head and breast.

They love to hang out in human settlements such as backyards, parks, and other urban areas.

3. Gray Catbirds

gray catbird singing
Catbird portrait close up macro in spring backyard at day

Gray Catbirds are called so because they’re grey all over and their singing sounds like a meowing cat. The males and females are the same and are 8 inches long. You can spot them in forest edges, dense shrubs, and hedgerows.

They like to eat berries so they often are spotted near winterberry or serviceberry bearing shrubs.

They’re territorial birds that attack other birds, such as sparrows and robins. They sometimes destroy their eggs too.

4. Chipping Sparrows

chipping sparrow

These songbirds are small-sized and long-tailed, with brown and gray bodies. Female chipping sparrows are paler than males.

These sparrows are named after the sharp ‘chip’ sound they make. They’re also fond of eating red and white millet.

5. Common Grackles

Common Grackle

Grackles are lanky-looking blackbirds that gather in flocks. They’re loud birds, found high in trees.

Their bodies are a mix of purple, black, and blue colors, with male grackles having a glossier look than females.

They’re omnivorous birds that eat various seeds, acorns, spiders, fish, mice, and even other birds. They gather around farm fields to feed on growing crops. They can be a threat to both humans and small birds when in big flocks.

Common Backyard Birds of Maine During the Winter

On the other hand, you’ll easily spot the following five birds when the temperatures drop outside:

1. Hairy Woodpeckers

hairy woodpecker

These woodpeckers are the larger cousin of the Downy Woodpecker. Both woodpeckers have similar body colors and their males have the same red spot on their heads that the females don’t have!

They have stronger beaks and eat everything from small worms and seeds to the larvae of other birds. You can spot them in mature forests, swamps, orchards, and often cemeteries.

2. Herring Gulls

herring gull

Maine’s coastlines are a popular spot for the winter-loving Herring Gull.

Author Note: Huge flocks of hundreds gather around wetlands, and fewer flocks can be found in parking lots. Their bodies are grayish-white, with pink legs, and a red-tipped yellow beak.

These omnivorous gulls can eat young birds, small mammals, fish, seeds, and fruits. They’re usually peaceful unless provoked or found in large flocks where they can be braver and noisier.

3. Dark-eyed Juncos

Dark-eyed Junco

Juncos are medium-sized sparrows. Male Juncos have black and gray plumage, while female ones are slightly brown colored. Females are also shorter in size. Similar to the Mourning Doves, they’re birds of the ground.

Juncos like to hop around tree bases, shrubs, or lawns, looking for food. They mostly feed on small worms, nuts, seeds, and berries of small plants.

They may enjoy the winter, but if it’s extremely cold, they’ll migrate where it’s warmer.

4. Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse

A snow lover, the tufted titmouse is usually spotted in Maine’s deciduous forests and city parks. They live inside tree trunks and don’t build open nests. They like to hang from branches upside down or sideways.

Their diet consists of sunflower seeds, peanuts, safflower seeds, and suet. They’re shy birds who like to eat and live privately.

The males and females of these species look similar, with white breasts and gray crests.

5. Red-breasted Nuthatches

red breasted nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatches are the winter-loving counterpart of white-breasted ones.

Author Note: They earned their name due to their rusty-colored head and underside. They’re often found in coniferous woods, searching for cones.

During the winter, they like to eat small nuts and mealworms, so make sure to put some in your backyard feeder if you want to attract them.

Wrapping Up

Visiting or living in Maine? Then you’re sure to spot various bird species that enjoy flying and foraging around its beautiful coastlines, parks, and forests.

Also because of its landscapes, the backyard birds of Maine vary. Most of them love approaching humans and don’t fear them, others can be shy, while few are predatory and shouldn’t be provoked.

Take the time to put out some appropriate feed to attract a friendly backyard bird, whether in the summer or the winter.

Perhaps name the bird that frequents you most after identifying its gender and type.

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