Backyard Birds of Pennsylvania

Backyard Birds of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a state that is home to many things. Known as the Keystone State due to its role in helping to establish many of the backbones of the Unites States of America, it’s easy to see why the state is so popular with locals and tourists alike.

Pennsylvania is home to attractions such as Independence National Park and the Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and of course, Hershey Park to celebrate the town’s rich history with chocolate.

Today, though, the attractions we’re looking at are the avian kind, as we’re looking at several of the most popular and common backyard birds of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania birds can come in all shapes, sizes, and colours and if you’re a keen birdwatcher, you needn’t venture out into the wilderness to see them in the flesh. In fact, you needn’t even leave your house as there are a wide variety of Pa birds that can be spotted in your very own backyard.

Here is a definitive list of some of the most common and popular backyard birds of Pennsylvania.


American Robin, image

American Robin

American Robins are very commonly found in backyards across Pa, and indeed in many parts of Northern US.

American Robins also often visit southern US during the winter when they seek out warmer weather.

The American Robin is roughly the same size as a Blue Jay, it has a rusty red/orange breast and is a grey/brown colour. It is usually found in farmland, woodland, and rural backyards and it commonly feeds on worms along with other invertebrates found in the garden.


Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is another bird that is commonly found in backyards in Pa.

Just a tad smaller than American Robins, at around 8-9 inches or so, they have a gorgeous bright red colour that instantly helps them stand out and become a firm favourite amongst bird lovers.

The female Northern Cardinal is less red and features more brown and grey than the male.

Thanks to their large conical shaped bill, Northern Cardinals are great at cracking open seed so be sure to fill your birdfeeder up.

There are many birds of Pennsylvania, yet the Northern Cardinal is easily one of the most eye catching and is commonly found in shrubs and woodland, though they do often venture more inland in search of food.


Mourning Dove, image

Mourning Dove

The next bird on our list is another example of popular Pennsylvania birds, as it is known as the Mourning Dove.

These are actually the most common backyard birds of Pennsylvania as you will find more Mourning Doves in your garden than any other bird on our list today.

Roughly 12-inches in size from the top of the bill to the tip of the tail, these doves are very plump and they have small heads in comparison with their bodies. They are typically grey/pale brown and are very similar to domestic pigeons in terms of appearance, though they are slightly smaller.

Their diet is almost exclusively seed based and they particularly enjoy sunflower seeds so if you do wish to attract them, be sure to stock up.


Blue Jay, image

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are very popular birds in the US, yet as we’re looking at Pa birds, they’re especially popular in the state of Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas.

Blue Jays are roughly 10-inches in size, featuring large and powerful legs, a large, crested head and a ample tail.

Their colour is especially eye catching as they are a brilliant blue colour on the top, and white on the bottom, with a black collar on the neck.

Blue Jays are quite brave birds and will often venture further inland than other species of Pennsylvania birds and can be quite tame. They eat seeds and insects and are particularly fond of peanuts.


Song Sparrow, image

Song Sparrow

Out of the many Pa birds on our list today, this has to be one of the most common.

The song sparrow is often confused with a house finch as they are similar in colour and size. However, one thing that sets song sparrows apart is the fact that they are variable in terms of darkness as they can vary from pale grey to dark rusty, and everything in between.

Song sparrows are never far from civilization and will commonly be found in backyard shrubs, near ponds and watering holes, and thickets and hedgerows.

They’re omnivores so will feed on seeds and insects, and as they’re often found near people’s homes and gardens, be sure to stock up on bird seed to help attract more to your home.


American Crow, image

American Crow

Next on our list of common backyard birds of Pennsylvania we have the backyard crow.

This is the largest bird on our list so far and is more urbanized than other species as it not only resides in towns, it can also be found in cities.

Typically around 17 – 18 inches in size, this is a very big boy, though some can easily surpass 20-inches.

As far as appearance goes, the American Crow has a large head, a thick chest and a large bill that is as long as its head. It is as black as the ace of spades, with a shiny and glossy appearance that looks especially shiny and vibrant when the sun catches it.

These Pa birds, despite never being far from towns and cities, prefer quieter more open spaces such as large farmer’s fields and clearings.

The American Crow’s diet consists of insects, small mammals such as shrews and mice, seeds, grain, and even carrion. They can get aggressive towards smaller birds and can pose a threat, so it is best not to encourage them into your gardens.


American Goldfinch, image

American Goldfinch

This is another of the more popular backyard birds of Pennsylvania that is instantly unrecognisable due to its gorgeous golden yellow plumage.

Locals don’t actually call the American Goldfinch by its actual name, instead, colloquially, it is known as the ‘Wild Canary’.

The American Goldfinch is likely the smallest of the Pa birds on our list so far, averaging just 5-inches in size from bill to tail.

Despite their small size, they are quite plump and have a large head which is useful for feeding on seeds, which is what they prefer to eat. They enjoy the seeds of weeds, as well as seeds rich in healthy fats such as the black oil sunflower seed.

American Goldfinches are typically found in overgrown fields and hedgerows as they do enjoy feeding on weed seeds.


Downy Woodpecker, image

Downy Woodpecker

Now, on our list of common backyard birds of Pennsylvania, we have one of the smallest woodpeckers in existence, the downy woodpecker.

Slightly larger than a house finch, the downy woodpecker is roughly the same size as a white-crowned sparrow and features a black and white striped head and black wings with white spots.

The downy woodpecker prefers wooded areas complete with deciduous trees, weed stocks, and willows, usually located close to water. They can be located across the US, apart from desert areas and in the very northern points of Canada and Alaska, where it can get too cold for them.

These Pennsylvania birds enjoy a diet consisting of insects, seeds, and fruit. If you want to attract them to your garden, a bird feeder complete with suet seed balls works very well.


Tufted Titmouse, image

Tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse is another very popular example of Pennsylvania birds and if you confuse it with a chickadee, you would be forgiven as they are related. The only difference is that the Tufted Titmouse has a crest instead of the black bib associated with the chickadee.

This is a small bird but a large titmouse and is found in deciduous forests, woodland, and parks.

The tufted titmouse is pale below and dark grey/blue above, with black feathers located around its eye.

This is another one of the birds of Pennsylvania that enjoys to eat insects and seeds, and they will indeed venture into backyards to enjoy food from feeders, so be sure to set some up if you want to see these magnificent birds in person.


Red bellied woodpecker, image

Red bellied woodpecker

This is one of the birds of Pennsylvania, that, if we could re-name, we’d call the red-headed woodpecker, as opposed to the red-bellied woodpecker.

The red-bellied woodpecker gets its name because it does indeed have a red belly, though you will find a more bright and vibrant red on the head of this beautiful bird. It is a pale grey bird with thin black and white stripes and the aforementioned red sections.

This is surprisingly large for a backyard bird that is slightly larger than a starling. As it is a woodpecker, it is never far from a tree and they tend to prefer woodland and forests with trees such as oak, pine, and hickory.

They enjoy eating seeds and nuts and are particularly fond of peanuts and suet bird feeders.


European Starling, image

European Starling

The European Starling is another of the birds of Pennsylvania that is commonly found in and around backyards across the state.

The European starling was introduced to the USA around the end of the 1800s, and surprisingly it is actually an invasive species.

From bill to tail, the European starling is around 8 – 9 inches in size, with a stocky body along with a large head and longer than average legs.

This is one of the Pa birds that can actually change colour depending on the seasons. If you see a European starling in the spring, it will be a pale-yellow colour, yet for the rest of the time it’ll be a dark brown colour.

They stay close to trees and woodland as they need trees for nesting, and they enjoy a diet that mainly consists of insects, though they also eat seeds too.


White-breasted nuthatch, image

White-breasted nuthatch

Up next on this list of common backyard birds of Pennsylvania, we have the white-breasted nuthatch.

Of the many Pennsylvania birds on our list today, this is one of the most popular due largely to its behaviour and its antics.

The white-breasted nuthatch is a small bird, though it is the largest breed of nuthatch and it is also very active, and very fearless.

Roughly the same length as a chickadee, the white-breasted nuthatch features a white lower half and grey/light blue upper half with rusty amber feathers located under its tail.

You will find this bird in oak and pine trees and woodland across most of the US, as well as southern Canada and even central Mexico.

These Pa birds love to eat acorns, black oil sunflower seeds, insects, and a variety of other nuts as well. They also go crazy for suet blocks, so be sure to stock up on them in your garden.


House finch, image

House finch

This is one of the Pennsylvania birds that many people wish they could see more of in their gardens. Don’t get us wrong, these birds do indeed make an appearance in gardens across the state, it’s just that they aren’t as common as some of the other birds of Pennsylvania on our list today.

The House Finch used to be a bird primarily found in the West, but now it is common across much of the USA.

Roughly 6 inches in size, the House Finch has a round head and a short, conically shaped bill, along with a medium sized body. As far as colour goes, this bird is typically a grey and brown colour, though the males tend to have slightly more red/amber on them.

You’ll commonly find House Finches in flocks, usually atop small trees, bushes, and even telephone wires. As you can imagine, they are fairly urbanized birds and are commonly found in rural towns and small cities.

As far as their favourite foods are concerned, House Finches tend to enjoy seeds, particularly sunflower seeds so go ahead and stock up your tube feeder full of these seeds and watch them flock to your backyard.


Carolina Wren, image

Carolina Wren

This is one of the more common Pa birds that also happens to be found in much of Eastern USA.

This is certainly one of the smaller Pennsylvania birds that we’re going to be looking at today, as it is roughly the same size as house finch and a gold finch.

This little chap has a plump round body, a flat head, a short neck, and a long tail. They are a rusty brown colour with black bars on their wings and tails.

You’ll find the Carolina Wren in overgrown suburban yards, hedges, and thickets, where the male, despite being small, can make one heck of a racket when he sings, which he also happens to do all year long.

The Carolina Wren’s diet largely consists of insects and spiders (spiders are not insects by the way, they’re arachnids).


Dark eyed Junco, image

Dark eyed Junco

Of all of the birds of Pennsylvania that we’re looking at today, this one is perhaps the most unusually named.

The dark eyed Junco, also known colloquially as the ‘Snow Bird’ will often be found in your backyard in winter – hence the name.

These birds are small, roughly the same size as a house finch, with a round body, a round head, and a short neck. Birds from the West feature a brown back, pink sides, and a jet black hood over their heads, Birds from the East are a dark grey and feature a white under belly.

You will find these Pennsylvania birds in coniferous forests which aren’t too enclosed. Needless to say, you’ll find them in Canada, Alaska, and many other cooler states of the US.

As far as what these winter Pa birds like to eat, like many other birds of Pennsylvania, they enjoy a diet consisting of seeds and insects, especially in the summer as insects in the winter can be scarce.


House sparrow, image

House sparrow

As we’re talking about common backyard birds of Pennsylvania, we have to include the house sparrow.

The house sparrow was, like the starling, introduced to the US from Europe, so technically it too is an invasive species, despite it being so small and cute to look at. They’re messy birds despite being so small, and they also happen to have a large appetite so they can eat a lot.

This bird has a chunky and sturdy frame, a stocky barrel chest, a medium tail, a short neck, and a short conical bill. They’re a grey and brown colour with a dark face if they’re male, whereas the females are browner and also happen to lack the dark face of their male counterparts.

You’ll find these Pa birds in farms and cities across the US, where they are considered a pest as they can eat a heck of a lot of seed (including freshly planted seeds) and they can also get quite aggressive towards other birds. These are very much the bruisers of the avian variety.

Their diets, as we just talked about, consist largely of seeds, along with grain (sorry, farmers) and bugs and insects. They will eat from feeds, though because of their size and shape, tube feeders can sometimes be a struggle.


White throated sparrow, image

White throated sparrow

This is another example of one of the popular birds of Pennsylvania that are becoming more and more common in gardens up and down the state.

The white throated sparrow is commonly found in forests and woodlands in the North of the US, though as mentioned, don’t be shocked to find these Pa birds visiting your backyard throughout much of the year either.

These birds of Pennsylvania are larger than a house finch, they have a short neck and a round head with a long body and a short conical bill. As far as their colour goes, they’re a brown and orange colour above, with pale grey under feathers.

As mentioned, you’ll find these Pennsylvania birds in woodland, forests, and overgrown grasslands, though they also reside on the edges of open woodland and are getting braver and often venture into more urbanised areas. You’ll normally find them in small flocks on lower levels.

Like most of the other Pa birds we’ve listed already, the white throated sparrow likes to eat seeds and berries in the winter months, and fruit and insects in the summer. You can attract them to your garden with tray seed feeders and suet blocks/balls.


Grey catbird, image

Grey catbird

Another of the more uniquely named birds of Pennsylvania, the grey catbird is quite a shy bird, though they are surprisingly common.

For scale, they are roughly the same size as a Northern Cardinal, or a red-winged blackbird, with a long tail, medium body, and a round, circular head. Unlike many of the other Pennsylvania birds we’ve listed today, the grey catbird has a pointed, medium-length bill that makes it great at catching insects.

As far as the grey catbird’s colours go, it has a black cap, a black tail and is predominantly…grey, surprise, surprise.

These are shy Pa birds, yet they reside close to civilization. Expect to find these Pennsylvania birds on the edges of dense woodland, overgrown farmlands, orchards, and dense scrubs. What sets these birds apart is the fact that they are not scared of confrontation and in the winter they will defend winter territory for feeding.

Their diet is typical of what you would expect of birds of Pennsylvania, in that they enjoy seeds, insects, fruits, and berries. They have a surprisingly sweet tooth so you can actually attract them quite easily with mixed berry jams, jellies, and compotes.


Baltimore Oriole, image

Baltimore Oriole

Up next, we have the Baltimore Oriole.

Okay, yes, we’re talking about Pennsylvania birds, but don’t let the name fool you, because this bird is quite common in Pennsylvania backyards, though don’t expect to attract it with seed alone.

The Baltimore Oriole looks very impressive, as the male has a dark black head with a bright orange chest and body. The females are less vibrant, in that they have more of a yellow chest and body, though they too are very attractive to look at.

You’ll find these birds in trees and woodland, and you are most likely to find one in your garden in the springtime, just as the trees are beginning to blossom.

As far as their diets are concerned, we mentioned how you’ll struggle to attract these Pennsylvania birds through seed alone, and that’s because they have more of a sweet tooth and enjoy fruit, or specially designed nectar feeders made specifically for Orioles.


Black-Capped Chickadee, image

Black-Capped Chickadee

We’ve spoken about chickadees quite a bit already in this list of Pa birds, and now we have one of the most common, the black-capped chickadee.

The black-capped chickadee is one of the smallest Pennsylvania birds you will see in your backyard this year and next, but don’t let its small stature fool you, because it is also one of the bravest. These Pa birds are bold and are quite timid and will tolerate humans more than most, especially if you happen to be feeding them. In fact, some of the braver of these birds of Pennsylvania have been known to eat from a person’s hand.

The black-capped chickadee is predominantly white, light grey, and light brown, though as the name implies, these small birds also have a jet black cap on their heads.

They reside in grassland and open woodland, as well as trees and hedgerows and as they are so bold, they’re also not afraid to nest in trees in people’s gardens.

They enjoy seeds and berries, so if you wish to attract them, a seed feeder in your garden will work wonders. Just remember to go with a small feeder so that they aren’t bullied off the food by larger birds.


Chipping Sparrow, image

Chipping Sparrow

This is one of the more majestic songbirds of Pennsylvania.

Sparrows in Pa are not uncommon, yet the chipping sparrow is one of the Pa birds that people seem to really enjoy, especially when listening to them in song.

Telling the chipping sparrow apart from other sparrows, and some other Pennsylvania birds for that matter, can be tricky, but if you look at their caps, you’ll see that, unlike other sparrows, the chipping sparrow has a red/orange/brown cap. Their breasts are also fairly white and are paler than other songbirds.

Chipping sparrows tend to reside on the edges of farmland, grassland, and woodland located near to towns and built-up areas. They are brave little birds and also have no problems with mingling with other birds when there is food involved.

As you can probably guess, like the other birds of Pennsylvania that we’ve covered today, the chipping sparrow’s diet consists primarily of seeds, nuts and berries.

Incidentally, the chipping sparrow gets its name from the fact that it can often be heard from atop trees, making a “chipping” sound, in case you were wondering.


Eastern Bluebird, image

Eastern Bluebird

There are plenty of stunning looking Pennsylvania birds on our list today, in fact, you could argue that all birds are beautiful in their own way. However, the Eastern Bluebird is particularly eye-catching thanks to its vibrant blue plumage.

The Eastern Bluebird has a gorgeous blue coloured head, wings, and lower belly, with an ashen grey chest and hints of white. They’re only small birds, and are quite timid, but they are Pa birds that can be found in backyards across the state, especially if you attract them with the right food.

The Eastern Bluebird typically resides in hedgerows, trees, and the outskirts of fields and grasslands. You can typically find them perched atop trees, telephone poles and wires where they like to take in their surroundings and keep an eye out for food.

Speaking of food, these Pennsylvania birds like to eat seeds and small bugs and insects. Feeders will attract them to your garden and if possible, it is recommended that you install nesting boxes to help build up the population.


Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, image

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Finally, last, but by no means least on our list of common birds of Pennsylvania, we have the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

This bird is a migrant bird that spends its time between the backyards of Pennsylvania, and much warmer tropical climates in the winter months.

The males of this species of Pa bird are very difficult to miss as they have black and white patterns along with red spots upon their plumage. The females are much harder to identify as they are simply light brown/grey, with a white plumage.

As you can imagine, with a name like this, their beaks are a light pink rose colour, and the birds, male and female, are very beautiful to behold.

You’ll find the rose-breasted grosbeak hiding in trees, and overgrown shrubs and hedges away from people as they are quite shy. Once they find out that you’ve got food however, they will be back again and again.

These are just like any other of the Pennsylvania birds on our list today, in that they eat a diet consisting largely of seeds. With that said, if you want to enjoy these beautiful birds in the flesh, a bird feeder complete with a healthy combination of seed mix is all that you’ll need.

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