backyard birds of Pennsylvania

Backyard Birds of Pennsylvania: Top 15 with Pictures

There are 435 species of birds in the Keystone State, as listed in the PORC (Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee) Official Tally of the Birds in July of 2020.

If you live in Pennsylvania and you’re curious about the sorts of birds you can commonly spot in your yard, then you’ve come to the right place!

In today’s article, we’re sharing interesting facts and easy descriptions of backyard birds of Pennsylvania to help you better attract and identify them. Let’s jump in!

1. Northern Cardinal

northern cardinal

Scientifically referred to as Cardinalis cardinalis, the Northern Cardinal is one of the most widespread and easily distinguished backyard birds across the entire of North America, not only in Pennsylvania.

With a wingspan ranging between 8.9 to 12.2 inches, this bird has a body length of 8.3 to 9.1 inches and weighs around 1.5 to 1.7 ounces. The males of this species feature a bright red plumage whereas the females look more pale brown.

Author Note: Both cardinal sexes possess an iconic mohawk accompanied by a reddish-orange beak that takes no time to pinpoint.

A highly territorial bird especially during the breeding season, the Northern Cardinal likes to munch on sunflower seeds, berries, millet, and peanuts. You can attract more of these birds to your backyard by scattering food on the ground or offering it in platform feeders, tube feeders, or hoppers.

2. Blue Jay

blue jay in fall

The Blue Jay, known as Cyanocitta cristata in the scientific community, is one of the prettiest and distinctly looking backyard birds you can come across. It has a length of 9.8 to 11.8 inches and a wingspan ranging between 13.3 to 16.9 inches.

Blue Jays sport vivid blue heads and backs with black bands. They also feature blue crests on top of their heads that rise and flatten depending on the bird’s “emotional” condition.

Weighing about 2.5 to 3.5 ounces, Blue Jays also possess a black line outlining their necks, creating a necklace-like appearance. These birds are year-round residents of the state and like to eat suet, nuts, berries, and sunflower seeds.

You can present food on platform feeders or hopper feeders to attract more of these beauties. They also enjoy birdbaths.

3. American Robin

American robin

Scientifically known as Turdus migratorius, the American robin measures around 9.0 to 11.0 inches long and weighs about 2.3 to 2.8 pounds, with a wingspan falling somewhere between 14.7 to 16.5 inches.

American Robins are common visitors of backyards and lawns in Pennsylvania. They possess a rusty orange breast and belly with a contrasting black head and back. They also feature a yellow beak that stands out against its dark color.

These birds enjoy eating mealworms and other small invertebrates. Additionally, they like fruiting plants, but never prefer seeds. You can attract more of them by scattering food on the ground or providing it on platform feeders.

4. Mourning Dove

mourning dove on log

The Mourning Dove, also known as Zenaida macroura, is a bit bigger than the American Robin with a length measuring between 9.1 and 13.4 inches. It weighs around 3.0 to 6.0 ounces -depending on the sex- and has a wingspan of just over 17.5 inches.

Mourning doves possess light brown and grey bodies coupled with black spots on their wings. Their breasts and bellies are a pale peach color and their pitch-black eyes are surrounded by a unique cyan ring.

You can often spot Mourning Doves perched on trees, fences, or wires. They like to feed at ground level but may visit your tray feeder from time to time; just make you load those with black sunflower seeds to lure in the birds.

5. American Crow

crows feeding

Referred to as Corvus brachyrhynchos if you want to get scientific, the length of an American Crow ranges from 15.8 to 20.9 inches and its wingspan extends between 33.5 to 39.4 inches.

Weighing between 11.2 to 21.9 ounces, this bird has a black body from beak to claw. It’s considered relatively large and produces a characteristic cawing call that you probably already know.

A very intelligent species, American Crows often stay perched on high treetops to keep a thorough bird’s eye view of the area. They’re omnivorous birds but you can get them to visit your backyard by offering peanuts.

Keep in mind, however, that they can become annoying since they’re also tempted by trash or pet food sitting outside.

6. Song Sparrow

common song sparrow

The scientific name of a Song Sparrow is Melospiza melodia and its length falls between 4.7 to 6.7 inches. It has a wingspan of 7.1 to 9.4 inches and weighs about 0.4 to 1.9 ounces.

Author Note: Song Sparrows feature a light brown and dark brown plumage. The males of the species use their special songs to attract females and defend their territories.

This bird likes to eat mixed seeds and will often visit feeders to snack. If you want to attract more song sparrows to your backyard, offer nyjer seeds, black sunflower seeds, and cracked corn on platform feeders.

7. American Goldfinch

singing american goldfinch

Scientifically referred to as Spinus tristis, the American Goldfinch measures between 4.3 to 5.5 inches long and has a wingspan of around 7.5 to 8.7 inches. It usually weighs well under a single ounce.

This little bird is commonly known as the wild canary, and many birdwatching enthusiasts consider it among their all-time favorites particularly during the summer. That’s when the males of the species feature brilliant lemon yellow feathers all over their bodies with black wingtips and a black cap.

Throughout the winter, however, both males and females sport a dull plumage colored a mixture of olive, brown, and greyish-yellow. The American Goldfinch prefers thistle feeders, but it’ll visit most types of feeders as long as they contain black sunflower seeds and nyjer seeds.

8. Downy Woodpecker

downy woodpecker

With its scientific name, Dryobates pubescens, the Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker you can spot in North America. It measures 5.5 to 7.1 inches long, has a wingspan ranging from  9.8 to 12.2 inches, and weighs approximately 1 ounce.

This bird loves visiting backyard feeders throughout the whole state. You can easily recognize Downy Woodpeckers thanks to the characteristic red patch sitting on the back of their heads and contrasting against their black and white plumages.

They like to munch on black sunflower seeds, miller, and peanuts from platform or suet feeders.

9. Tufted Titmouse

perched tufted titmouse

Scientifically called Baeolophus bicolor, get ready to meet one of the most adorable birds on today’s list; the Tufted Titmouse. It weighs less than an ounce and measures between 5.5 to 6.3 inches long.

This bird possesses a silver plumage at the top with a greyish white color at the bottom. It also sports a black beak with a black spot just above it. Similar to Northern Cardinals, these birds feature a unique grey mohawk that’ll help you pinpoint them.

The wingspan of the Tufted Titmouse ranges from 7.9 to 10.2 inches. If you want to encourage more of this species to visit your backyard, provide sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet on platform or tube feeders.

10. Red-bellied Woodpecker

red bellied woodpecker bird feeder

Another woodpecker that you can see in your backyard in Pennsylvania is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Also known as Melanerpes carolinus, the body of this bird measures around 9.2 to 10.3 inches long and weighs about 2.2 and 3.2 ounces.

Author Note: Sporting a wingspan of 15.7 to 17.8 inches, these medium-sized woodpeckers like visiting suet feeders, but will occasionally drop by seed and hummingbird feeders.

Despite their name, the red on their bellies can sometimes be tricky to notice. They also possess a streak of bright red running from their beaks down to the back of their heads and necks.

Not to mention, their wings look unique with their black and white stripes.

11. European Starling

European starling

The European Starling is scientifically named Sturnus vulgaris and is a prime example of an invasive bird that’s often regarded as a pest. It measures 7.9 to 9.1 inches long, has a wingspan of 12.2 to 15.8 inches, and weighs around 2.1 to 3.4 ounces.

European Starlings were first released in New York in the 1890s and their exceptional adaptability helped them take the county by storm. Their predominantly aggressive behavior doesn’t dismiss the fact that these birds look gorgeous as their all-dark plumage shines with purple, blue, and green hues under sunlight.

European Starlings also possess long yellow beaks and legs, as well as white specks down their backs and wings.

These birds equally appreciate all types of feeders and they love to eat black sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts. However, there’s no need to present any specific food to attract them, they’ll probably invite themselves to your yard anyway.

12. White-breasted Nuthatch

white breasted nuthatch snow

The White-breasted Nuthatch, also known as Sitta carolinensis, is a little ball of energy with a length around 5 inches and a wingspan falling between 7.9 and 10.6 inches.

Weighing in at an average of 1 ounce, this bird gets its “nuthatch” name from its habit of shoving nuts under the bark of a tree then using its sharp beak to hatch them out.

These birds are quite easy to identify thanks to the bold black band decorating the top of their head starting from their black beaks. These birds also have greyish-white faces and bellies with black, white, and grey wings.

To attract the White-breasted Nuthatch, offer sunflower seeds and peanuts on suet or tube feeders.

13. Carolina Wren

Carolina wren

Carolina Wrens, scientifically called Thryothorus ludovicianus, are shy birds with dark brown backs and light brown bellies.  They possess a unique white eyebrow stripe, an upright tail, and produce a loud teakettle song.

These birds have a length of 4.7 to 5.5 inches, a wingspan of 11.4 inches, and a weight of less than an ounce. They like to visit backyards with suet feeders and tube or platform feeders offering sunflower seeds or peanut hearts.

Author Note: Carolina Wrens may nest in nest boxes, particularly in the presence of brush piles.

14. House Finch

The House Finch -also referred to as Haemorhous mexicanus- is an intrusive bird species that measures 4.9 to 6.1 inches long, has a wingspan of 8.1 to 10.5 inches, and weighs under an ounce.

House Finches are likely to visit your backyard in large flocks and end up hoarding the feeders. It’s easier to recognize the males as they possess a reddish-orange color spreading across their heads and breasts. On the other hand, females are brown all over.

If you want to attract more House Finches to your backyard, install tube or platform feeders and load them with black sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds.

15. Red-winged Blackbird

sitting red winged blackbird

Last but not least, we have the Red-winged Blackbirds, also referred to as Agelaius phoeniceus. This is one of the most common and easiest birds to identify as it has an all-black body except for a bright red and yellow patch on each shoulder.

However, the females are dull in comparison to males with brown streaky plumage. These birds like to perch on telephone wires.

The males are very territorial and will fiercely defend their homes even if it means attacking people if they get too close to their nests, especially in the breeding season.

If you want to attract more Red-winged Blackbirds to your backyard, you can sprinkle mixed seeds and grain on the ground or set up platform feeders or tube feeders.

Wrap Up

There you have it,15 of the most common backyard birds of Pennsylvania. The descriptions and information we discussed today will help you attract and recognize pretty much any bird that visits you. All you need to do is follow our feeding tips and keep your eyes open!

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