backyard birds of Virginia

Birds of Virginia: Top 18 with Pictures

Tobacco mass production, a lot of oysters, and Presidential houses—Virginia is quite an interesting state to live in, don’t you think?

The state is famous for many things, but its bordering lakes and parks remain a widely sought-after attraction for bird enthusiasts.

Thanks to its strategic location along the seashore, Virginia hosts almost all bird species of the east coast. As a result, the state alone contains more than 400 different bird kinds. A large chunk of those are backyard birds, and they may visit you if you leave some seeds and dried fruits out.

If you want to know all about the backyard birds of Virginia, follow this article for the most common species that you may see.

Top 15 Most Common Backyard Birds of Virginia

1.  Northern Cardinal

Red cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is pretty famous in all 50 states. If you look up backyard birds in absolutely any state, you’ll find it topping the list.

The bird is relatively small, with bright red foliage and a round body. Thanks to its unique characteristics, you won’t mistake it for any other bird. It stands out in the crowd with its crest that looks like it’s been styled by a professional.

Top Tip: Other than the crest, you’ll notice that Northern Cardinals have tall tails compared to their bodies.

You may identify the differences between males and females because males have all-red bodies. Meanwhile, females may have grayish foliages, and they’re paler overall.

Cardinals stay in Virginia throughout the year. If you want to get them to your backyard, leave them some sunflower seeds.

2.  Downy Woodpecker

downy woodpecker at feeder

The Downy Woodpecker isn’t only the smallest woodpecker species in Virginia, but in all North America as well. It’s also one of the smallest species in the world, coming shortly after Red-headed Woodpeckers, Rufous Piculets, and Cardinal Woodpeckers.

Downy Woodpeckers have large heads relative to their bodies. Their tails are also shorter than average, and their stocky bodies are covered in black and white. They have a tiny red edge on their crests, but it may not be visible from afar. You’ll only notice it if you look up close.

These birds prefer staying close to water streams, and they scour deciduous forests for food.

When they can’t find it, they’ll resort to backyard feeders. Leave out some insects and dried fruits, and a couple of downies are sure to follow.

3.  Carolina Chickadees

Carolina Chickadee

All chickadees come in the same size, and most of them even look the same.

For example, Carolina Chickadees and Black-capped ones may be hard to identify because they’re basically twins. Both have black caps on top of their heads, and they feature the same coloration.

You can identify Carolina Chickadees by their shorter tails, and their bodies are less rounded. It’s pretty hard to realize the difference, though. Luckily for you, they eat the same seeds, so you can treat them as one, and you won’t face any issues.

Author Note: Carolina Chickadees visit backyard feeders often because they can’t always find food in parks and forests. They’ll come looking for crushed peanuts, suet, or sunflower seeds.

4.  Blue Jays

blue jay close up

Blue Jays numbers are abundant in the Eastern half of the United States, and they’re pretty common in the other half as well. You can stumble across them in streets, parks, near water streams, and basically, everywhere you can find birds.

You’ll know Blue Jays at first glance because of their unique blue bodies. They don icy blue bodies with crests on top of their heads. A black line surrounds their necks, and both their wings and tails are decorated with black marks.

If you want to attract Blue Jays to your backyard feeder, you’ll need to be aware of a couple of facts. First, these birds are notorious for scaring away smaller birds and stealing their food. If you have wrens or chickadees feasting in your feeder, a Blue Jay will scare them away.

So, you may want to keep a separate feeder for smaller birds and keep its door only fit for them to keep the jays out.

5.  Eastern Towhee

Male Eastern Towhee Close-up Artistically Composed

Eastern Towhees stay in Virginia year-round. However, in the summer, they mostly stay in the Northwestern half, particularly near the high mountains in the area.

These birds are known for their unique coloration. They have white underbellies, orange sides, and their wings and heads are black.

Top Tip: You’ll find them slightly smaller than blackbirds, but they’re definitely larger than hummingbirds.

They mostly stay in brushy areas and lawns and feed on insects. You may try your luck and leave them some dried fruits and seeds. Most backyard birds love those, anyway.

6.  Tufted Titmouse

perched tufted titmouse

You can see the Tufted Titmouse throughout the year in Virginia. They stay in the state for the whole year, and their numbers are on the rise.

These birds are listed as blue, but I think they better belong in the gray category. They have light gray bodies with high crests on their heads. Their underbellies are white, but there are peachy hues under their wings. As for their wings and backs, they’re all gray.

You’ll recognize the Tufted Titmouse in an instant because of their short bills and round black eyes. From afar, their eyes look like they’re literal black balls.

You can leave out some sunflower seeds and suet for tufted titmice to feed on.

7.  American Robins

american robin

Like most of the previously mentioned birds, American Robins stay in Virginia for the whole year as well. They’re larger than chickadees and wrens, falling in the same size category as blue jays.

Their bodies are plumper than Blue Jays, though, and they may be a bit rounded too. Nevertheless, you don’t have to worry about mistaking them for any other bird; they’re pretty easy to recognize with their deep orange bodies.

They have brown wings and heads, but their fronts are all orange.

Robins spend most of their time in parks and open woodlands. In their free time, or when they can’t find enough food, they’ll pay backyard feeders a visit. They primarily look for insects, but they’ll also eat dried fruits.

8.  House Sparrow

house sparrow on fence

House Sparrows are among the less common backyard birds of Virginia, but your chances of seeing them are still high. Their coloration is a bit close to that of Carolina Wrens, and they have the same size.

However, when you look up close, you’ll see the colors are distributed differently. House Sparrows have off-white or beige bellies, and they have black collars on their necks. Their wings are brown with black streaks, and they have brown caps on top of their heads.

House Sparrows will mostly stay around city streets, but they may visit your backyard feeders every now and then.

9.  Red-Bellied Woodpecker

red bellied woodpecker on tree

Red-bellied Woodpeckers live in Virginia for the whole year without migrating. You can expect to see them a lot around your backyard feeder because they visit lawns frequently. Beware, though, that you won’t be seeing any red bellies.

These woodpeckers have white bellies and checkered wings in black and white. The only red around is the cap around their heads. However, they gained their tricky name because they blush a deep red.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are larger than most birds on this list, outshining blue jays and American robins in size. They visit backyards mainly to look for dead drunks to peck at; that’s why they also spend most of their time in oak woodlands. You’ll commonly find them clinging to trees using their sharp legs.

Top Tip: They’ll eat anything they can find in your backyard feeder, whether it’s seeds, crushed nuts, or insects.

10.   Mourning Doves

Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are common backyard birds throughout the US; I bet you’ve seen them at least once before if you live in the US.

Compared to other backyard birds, they have relatively large bodies; you’ll find them slightly larger than American robins. Their bodies are tan-colored, and some don black spots on their wings. Their legs are also short compared to their bodies.

Mourning Doves have a distinctive call that sounds as if they’re mourning someone. That explains their naming.

If you want to attract them to your backyard, you may provide suet or black oil sunflower seeds.

11.   American Goldfinch

You’ll recognize an American Goldfinch among a hundred birds, even from a far distance. It’s hard to mistake it with its bright yellow foliage and black forehead cap.

The bird’s foliage screams ‘unique,’ and it’s one of the easiest species to identify.

American Goldfinches have black wings with white streaks. Other than that, their whole bodies are yellow. The females have a paler coloration, though, leaning more towards olive. You’ll only see the bright, strobing yellow on males—particularly in the summer because the color dulls down in the winter.

These birds are relatively small, barely reaching the size of a Blue Jay. So they’ll surely fit in your feeder; you can leave some weed seeds and thistles for them to feed on.

It’s worth noting that they prefer eating from tube feeders, so you may want to buy one of those if you want to see a lot of goldfinches in your backyard.

12.   European Starlings

three starlings

European starlings have quite a unique coloration. Are they black? Purple? Blue? You never know. Their iridescent feathers hide their colors well, and they’re only revealed under direct light.

In fact, these beautiful birds have feathers of all dark colors. Some of them even have dark green bits, but they won’t appear unless they’re close to the light.

European Starlings live in Virginia for the whole year, so you may see them frequently in your backyard. However, it’s worth noting that the species is now officially considered invasive.

The birds are frowned upon because they transmit diseases to humans, such as histoplasmosis and encephalitis. They also have quite the reputation for ruining gardens and bullying smaller birds.

Luckily for tube feeder owners, starlings can’t climb on tubes. This is because their legs are weak; they’ll only be able to reach your tray feeder if you have one.

13.   Carolina Wrens

carolina wren close up

Carolina Wrens spend their whole year in Virginia, and they’re pretty common throughout the state. They’ll fit into any backyard feeder with ease with their small size. They also love window feeders—those with suction cups.

These birds have beige and light brown feathers, with white dots lining their wings. However, they may not be noticeable from afar.

You can identify Carolina Wrens by their tall, flipped tall.

You won’t need any identification tips, though, because those birds love to make their presence known. They’re avid singers, known for their extra loud call. There’s a high chance you’ll hear them in your backyard before you can see them.

You can attract them to your feeder by leaving some suet or insects.

14.  Red-Winged Blackbird

red winged blackbird on branches

Red-winged Blackbirds have attractive colorations. Their bodies are all black, but one bright red spot stands out on their shoulders. It almost looks like the ranks army men wear on their shoulders.

These birds are avid attention seekers. So they don’t stay hidden during the day like many birds do. Instead, they land the highest branch they can find and keep singing their hearts out, louder than ever. They like to make their presence known, so they’ll keep singing even if they notice someone is watching.

Blackbirds mostly move in flocks and live near fresh marshes and saltwater streams. They’ll visit your backyard if you leave some grains out.

15.   Common Grackles

Common Grackle

Common Grackles look a bit similar to European Starlings, except they have slimmer bodies. Some of them also have bluish-green heads, contrary to starlings, which are all black.

They, too, have iridescent feathers that show their colors under direct light.

Author Note: In Virginia, Common Grackles are widespread, and they’re among the most clever birds of the state. They feed on all kinds of grains, including rice and corn.

They also mostly move in flocks; you’ll find them near corn farms, and they may visit backyard feeders every now and then.

To Wrap Up

Well, now you don’t only have one backyard bird to wait for, but a whopping 15! You know what they look like, how to identify them, and what they feed on.

You only need to provide their food, and you’ll find them munching happily in your backyard feeder. We hope you enjoyed our guide on common backyard birds of Virginia!


What is the most common bird in Virginia?

The most common bird in Virginia is the Northern Cardinal.

What is the rarest bird in Virginia?

The rarest bird in Virginia is the Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

What kind of birds do they have in Virginia?

Virginia is home to a diverse range of birds, including waterbirds, warblers, sparrows, woodpeckers, and raptors.

What is the official bird of Virginia?

The official bird of Virginia is the Northern Cardinal.

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