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Nine More Birds We Commonly See in Our Backyard

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more-backyard-birds

More Backyard Birds

In Nine Common Birds in Our Backyard, I list the birds that we see most frequently around our yard and in our garden area in southeast Michigan. But of course we see more than just those nine! Here are a few more that I often see in our neighborhood.

The range of many of these cover a large area of North America, so maybe you'll find them in your own backyards even if you don't live in Michigan!

The birds on this page are easy to identify, either because of their appearance or because of their song. If you or your kids are new to backyard birding, this is another good list to learn to identify. For each species on this page, I show a picture and provide a link to its song or call, along with a few interesting facts.

I hope you enjoy the information here!

Image by Garrett Davis, in the public domain

The Birds We See in Our Michigan Backyard

On these two pages are the birds we most commonly see in our backyard in southeast Michigan

Nine More Common Birds in Our Backyard

This page:

  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Carolina Wren
  • European Starling
  • Common Grackle
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • American Crow

Nine Common Birds in Our Backyard

Nine Common Birds in Our Backyard):

  • American Robin
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Blue Jay
  • Mourning Dove
  • House Wren
  • House Sparrow
  • House Finch
  • American Goldfinch
more-backyard-birds

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Archilochus colubris

The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird in eastern North America, and migrates down to Central America for the winter. Did you know that this tiny bird flaps its wings about 50 - 70 times per second?

My husband plants red canna lilies each year, and the ruby-throated hummingbirds love them. They also visit other brightly-colored flowers that we have in our backyard, especially red flowers such as bee balm and our annual petunias, We also have a nectar feeder next to our deck near a window, and we the hummingbirds stop by a few times a day during the summer. They don't like to share, though, and the bolder (or hungrier!) one will chase off the others.

Sometimes they'll stop by even when we're sitting out on our deck. We'll hear the hum of their wings that notifies us they're around. They may briefly pause to look at us, hovering in mid-air, and then they're off again.

Listen to the hum of wings of a Ruby-throated hummingbird

Photo Credit: Dan Pancamo via Compfight cc

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Thryothorus ludovicianus

The Carolina Wren is fairly new in our area in southeast Michigan. I remember hearing it for the first time in 2005 or 2006, and realizing that it wasn't a familiar bird to me. It's "tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle" call is a loud sound for such a small bird. It's not similar to the songs of other wren species, like the house wren. It's larger than a house wren, with a longer bill.

I haven't seen the Carolina Wren at our feeders, but I've read that they occasionally like peanuts and suet. Usually they eat insects and spiders, finding them on the ground, on tree trunks, or on branches. It can eat large insects by breaking them apart -- hammering them with its bill and shaking them.

The range of the Carolina Wren has slowly been extending northward from the southeastern part of the United States as the winters have become a little warmer further north. This bird doesn't migrate, but after very cold winters, its numbers will drop.

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Listen to the Carolina Wren

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Image by Sean Cuill under Creative Commons license

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

I often see groups of starlings in the grass looking for insects, worms, or other crawly things. From a distance they look like many other dark-colored birds, but up close they have beautiful coloration. In the fall and winter they are dark with white spots and a dark beak, and in spring and summer, they turn a glossy and iridescent with a yellow beak.

I used to think they were called "starlings" because of their many white spots, but apparently they get their name from their appearance as they fly -- a four-pointed star.

Starlings were introduced to the United States in the late 1890s when they were were let loose in Central Park in New York City by a group who wanted the United States to have all the birds that were mentioned in Shakespeare's plays. Now they cover much of North America, and many people think of them as pests.

European Starlings have many different calls, and they're great mimics, sometimes sounding like other birds. Starlings raised in captivity can mimic human speech.

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Listen to European Starling.

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Photo by foxypar4 under Creative Commons 2.0

Common grackle

Common grackle

Common Grackle

Quiscalus quiscula

The Common Grackle is in the Blackbird family, and can be found in all but the western third of the United States. We see grackles all year, along with the rest of the eastern half of the U.S.

This is a large bird with long legs and long tail. Like the starlings, grackles look black from a distance, but up close you can see their glossy, iridescent blue-purple heads.

Grackles are very common in areas where people live, in lawns and fields, with a mix of trees and more open areas. They're omnivores, and will eat seeds, fruit, garbage, insects and other bugs of all kinds, other birds(!), molluscs, fish, crustaceans, salamanders, and frogs. They're a nuisance bird in corn fields, and cost farmers millions of dollars by eating corn. Since grackles are large, they easily crowd smaller birds off of bird feeders.

Common grackles have a variety of whistles, croaks, and squeaks. Their calls are often likened to the sound of a squeaky rusty gate.

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Listen to Common Grackle "squeaky rusty gate".

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Photo by Mdf, CC 3.0

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Sitta carolinensis

White-breasted Nuthatches are very common at our sunflower birdfeeder. I sometimes see them making repeated flights to the feeder, grabbing a sunflower seed, then flying back to a tree. They'll also hang out in our moraine locust tree near the feeder, either on the branches or upside down on the trunk (as in this typical position in the photo).

Nuthatches also like to eat insects and other bugs, including grubs, beetles, and spiders.

The White-breasted Nuthatch has a call that sounds like a persistent "nasal yammering".

Sometimes nuthatches are confused with the Black-capped Chickadee. They're a similar size and have similar coloration, but the nuthatch has a longer bill, and looks more angular than the round little chickadee.


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Listen to the White-breasted Nuthatch

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Photo by qmnonic CC 2.0

Baltimore oriole

Baltimore oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Icterus galbula

Baltimore Orioles are striking to see with their brilliant orange and black coloring in the males and bright yellow and brown-black in the females. Their summer range includes most of the eastern half of the United States and parts of Canada.

They prefer high trees near open areas, such as in our local park areas, but they've made more appearances in our backyard this year too. Their song is a rich whistle that varies from bird to bird. In the past few years when I've occasionally heard it sing, I've been excited because I think I'm hearing a new bird. I've heard it more often this year, and am now more familiar with the variations.

Baltimore Orioles can be attracted to your backyard by pieces of oranges put out for them, or even grape jelly! They may also try to use hummingbird feeders.

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Listen to the Baltimore Oriole

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Image by Sean Cuill CC BY 2.0

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Baeolophus bicolor

Tufted titmice are cute little birds with a crest like the cardinal or blue jay, but in a more subdued gray color. They're also much smaller than cardinals or blue jays. We see them often at our sunflower seed feeder and hanging out with the chickadees and nuthatches.

They live year-round in wooded areas of the Eastern half of the United States.

An interesting fact is that they hoard food in the fall and winter (as do the chickadees). They'll take one sunflower seed, shell it, then fly off to store it, then come back for another seed.

Another interesting fact is that they often line their nests with hair sometimes plucking it directly from the animal itself!

The tufted titmouse song is a fast, repeated whistle, Peter, peter, peter.

Tufted Titmice are very curious, and they'll sometimes come in closer to me to investigate if I make a quiet "psshing" sound.

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Listen to the Tufted titmouse

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Photo by Ken Thomas and released into the public domain.

more-backyard-birds

Downy Woodpecker

Picoides pubescens

We often see Downy Woodpeckers at our feeder along with chickadees and nuthatches, especially in the winter. These three species of birds often group together as a way to more easily protect themselves from predators, and to make it easier to find food.

Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest and most common of the woodpeckers in North America, and can be found in most of the United States and Canada.

An interesting fact is that Downy Woodpeckers use drumming on a tree trunk as a call. They also have high-pitched "whinny" calls and short "pik pik" notes.

Only the male has the small patch of red on its head - otherwise males and females look alike.

Downy Woodpeckers can be confused with Hairy Woodpeckers which are a little larger and have a longer beak.

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Listen to the Downy Woodpecker

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Photo by Jarek Tuszynski under Creative Commons 3.0 license

American Crow

American Crow

American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos

We occasionally have crows trying to feed from the birdfeeder, but they look ungainly and uncomfortable in their attempts. We see them on the lawn sometimes, but more often in trees and flying. They're large, all black birds with a hoarse "caw"-ing sound, and they tend to gather with other crows rather than be by themselves.

I don't remember that crows were common in the city 20 years ago -- I associated them with being more of a "country bird". But they're very common in our neighborhood now. We see flocks of them wheeling across the sky in the evenings, especially in winter, as they settle down to roost for the night.

Crows are omnivorous and will eat almost anything including insects, seeds, fruits, nuts, garbage, carrion, and baby birds.

Crows are curious birds, and very intelligent, and may work together to figure out how to get at different foods. Crows in captivity have been known to make and use tools.

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Listen to the American Crow

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Photo by Mdf under Creative Commons License 3.0

Do You Enjoy Backyard Birding?

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on August 10, 2015:

Lovely hub Karen. Two thumbs up for great descriptions of birds with matching photos for useful!

Karen (author) from U.S. on May 26, 2014:

@tazzytamar: They are really quite fun to see in our yard and garden! The hummingbird is indeed stunning.

Anna from chichester on May 25, 2014:

The hummingbird is stunning! I'm fascinated by all these amazing species - they clearly adore your garden!

Karen (author) from U.S. on November 20, 2013:

@John Dyhouse: Thanks, artyfax. I think the American Crow and your crow are very similar -- but I wouldn't know what the differences are! I think we got the starlings from your country. They can be okay -- but they can also empty our birdfeeders very quickly when I'd rather have other birds there.

John Dyhouse from UK on November 19, 2013:

very informative lens, still wondering about the difference between American Crow and our home grown variety. And of couse we also suffer from the starling

qikey1 lm on August 31, 2013:

We love our birds :) Very nicely organized lens. I like the fact that you added the audio for each bird!

dudokdudok on June 15, 2013:

We are VERY intrested in nature, birds in particullar. We've made a hundreads of bird boxes so far and hanged them in nature. It is great satisfaction to us to go and see what is nesting in them. You have lovely selection of lenses about birds.

Karen (author) from U.S. on May 20, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks for your comment, Tipi! I think the European Starling is the common starling that we often see, although its plumage changes over the course of a year - in the fall and winter they're darker than the photo I included on this page.

anonymous on May 20, 2013:

I love your backyard birding because I grew up seeing most of the same birds in northern Minnesota as you get in Michigan but I don't believe I've ever seen the European Starling....a pretty bird and very intelligent like all starlings....I'll have to look for that 4 pointed star, didn't know that either....thanks for letting me relax with you in your backyard! :)

Beverly Lemley from Raleigh, NC on February 17, 2013:

I love the reference you have with your two great lenses. I have featured them both on my How to Attract Cardinals ~ thanks for the great info and the great picts! It's like looking at a family album almost! SquidAngel blessed! B : )

Infohouse on February 03, 2013:

I have never seem an Oriole in my backyard feeder, I like looking at the Titmouse and Wren.

Karen (author) from U.S. on October 16, 2012:

@Jasonsuffolk: Yes, we see huge flocks of starlings with other blackbirds all swirling and whirling in the sky in the late fall. It really is spectacular :-) Thanks for your comment!

Jasonsuffolk from Ipswich, England on October 15, 2012:

What a wonderful lens. I'm from the UK, so the only bird that I've seen from this list is the European Starling. In late Autumn, early Winter (so soon!) we can see great flocks (tens of thousands) of Starlings gathering in the evening prior to roost. They make a spectacular sight. Do you get these sort of Starling flocks where you live?

Karen (author) from U.S. on October 12, 2012:

@Pat Goltz: I didn't know that Arizona has so many bird species! I agree with you that Starlings have a nice song and they're very pretty birds. I don't mind them, but they do sometimes take over the yard and devour the bird seed, scaring away other birds. But they're fun to watch nevertheless!

Pat Goltz on October 12, 2012:

We see some of your birds in Arizona. We don't have Tufted Titmouse, we have Bridled Titmouse. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Baltimore Orioles have been to Arizona, but they are rare. European Starlings are common here, have a very nice song and are gorgeous. I don't understand why people don't like them. My yard list currently has 30 species on it. I don't spend a lot of time birding in the yard, because there are so many other interesting places here to bird, but I often see something new just coming and going. In Arizona, we have over 400 species that visit us, and climbing toward 450 rapidly. The United States as a whole has about 800, so we are rich in birds. I think only Texas possibly has more.

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on August 22, 2012:

These birds are nice, very pretty colors. We do not have any of these birds in New Zealand. Amazing how did you add the bird sounds? I like that idea. Blessed.

BillyPilgrim LM on August 15, 2012:

So good!

poorwendy lm on July 17, 2012:

We have plenty of crows (I guess they're American crows) in my backyard. Not the most beautiful birds, but they're plentiful.

Ramona from Arkansas on July 08, 2012:

Oh my, a talking Starling??? I didn't know they could be trained to talk. Amazing what animals can do when they are given the time. Wonderful Lens.

anonymous on June 30, 2012:

What a great collection of birds and the way you have added the videos and the bird song was truly wonderful, Thanks so much for this lens

chadwik05 on June 24, 2012:

Great lens, I've seen all of these in my backyard in Ohio as well! The orioles are more rare though.

Karen (author) from U.S. on June 20, 2012:

@SteveKaye: Thanks so much for your comment, Steve. I've enjoyed looking at your bird photos on your lenses.

SteveKaye on June 20, 2012:

Yes. I spend a lot of time taking photos of birds. They are fantastic creatures. Thank you for publishing this lens. I enjoyed reading your stories and seeing the photos.

stillrunnin88 on June 10, 2012:

Great Lense. My favorite backyard bird is the hummingbird.

JustRelax LM on May 17, 2012:

Great lens!The birds you have mentioned here also show up in my backyard!

Wayne Rasku on May 03, 2012:

I love watching (and photographing) the birds in my yard. Many of them are represented here. Great lens!

julieannbrady on April 16, 2012:

I sure do enjoy backyard birding ... I also get quite a few out my front yard as well. Got quite a few mockingbirds too. Lovely page!

Patricia on April 15, 2012:

Great to see the different birds. I have been photographing birds and don't always know what they are. You have me wondering if what I call a bluebird is a gackle now. Still not sure. I love hummingbirds! Great lens on birds! I blessed it!

jlshernandez on March 02, 2012:

I have just taken interest in backyard birding but have not been able to identify as many birds as you have. Now you have inspired me to pay more attention and get my camera ready. Thanks for sharing.

anonymous on January 30, 2012:

amazing photos and videos about birds, this was great to see tonight.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on November 22, 2011:

Our feathered bird friends are so wonderful to watch. I love backyard birding and enjoy the many jays, crows, robins, and chickadees who come to visit us. It is so very relaxing to have the sound of birds around the yard although the blue jays can be rather squawky at times.

Spikey64 on October 17, 2011:

Here in tue uk we do not have as many beautiful birds in our backyards as you do but we I still take pleasure in leaving them food and watching them feed.

David Dove on September 20, 2011:

I'm taking a second job just to feed them all it seems, best entertainment on the planet. Thank you for a lovely lens.

KimGiancaterino on September 15, 2011:

Your love of birds really comes across in this lens. We feed birds too, but do not have this variety in Los Angeles. I did see (and hear) a woodpecker last week, which was exciting.

ellagis on September 09, 2011:

Wonderful, wonderful lens! Here around, where I moved now (in Denmark) I feed Great tits from my windows. They're so lovely!

WindyWintersHubs from Vancouver Island, BC on June 23, 2011:

I love birds and enjoyed learning about the Eastern Birds in your area. The Common Grackle is an interesting looking bird. Congratulations on your Purple Star! :)

Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on June 14, 2011:

Great lens! Very interesting information on several types of birds found in backyards across the US.

Sensitive Fern on May 30, 2011:

I love backyard birds! The Baltimore Orioles have been very vocal here in Iowa lately. *Blessed and listed on my Creative Squid blog.

pawpaw911 on May 23, 2011:

Very nice lens. Just did a lens on Coscoroba Swans, and figured I would check out some bird lenses.

ohcaroline on April 05, 2011:

Where I currently live, I only see a few birds...mostly sand cranes and mockingbirds (our state bird). When I lived in the Smoky Mountains...what an array of unusual birds to feast your eyes on. Excellent job on this lens and I like your purple star!

lemonsqueezy lm on April 01, 2011:

I thought about making a similar list for my backyard. Well done!

Ann from Yorkshire, England on March 17, 2011:

great lens, sprinkled with green Angel dust to celebrate St Patrick's day, I will feature it on my wild bird lens to be republished later - great stuff - it could make several fascinating lenses

JeanJohnson LM on February 24, 2011:

I get a lot of humming birds in a bush in my yard but there a few other types that jump around in there also, eating little bugs, cutest little things ive ever seen. thanks for sharing

dustytoes on February 20, 2011:

With the exception of the Baltimore Oriole I have all these birds in my yard too. I live in NH. One winter I had a Carolina Wren stay all season - his favorite treat was Smartfood popcorn!

CoolFoto on February 18, 2011:

Thanks for visiting my Hawk lens. They are neighborhood birds here in Florida. We have woodpeckers, too. Enjoyed your videos. Blessed by neighborhood Travel USA angel.

Lisa Auch from Scotland on November 21, 2010:

beautiful lens, we enjoyed reading this, congratulations on your Purple Star

Indigo Janson from UK on October 31, 2010:

Another beautiful guide to backyard birds in North America. Again there are some familiar European feathered friends here too but I never cease to be fascinated by the thought of something as exotic and beautiful as a hummingbird visiting a garden birdfeeder! Gorgeous work and a real treat for a bird or nature lover!

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on October 22, 2010:

I enjoyed reading your bird lenses so much! I'm adding them all to my bird unit. :D

anonymous on July 14, 2010:

I loved the video with the tufted titmouse. What a beautiful bird! Living on the west coast we don't get to see these little guys in our backyards. I do know they will frequent bird feeders with sunflower seeds.

LadyFlashman from United Kingdom on June 26, 2010:

In the UK we only have starling and crow amongst the birds here, so it was fascinating reading about the backyard birds in a different country. They are all so sweet, with exception of perhaps the crow!

Delia on June 25, 2010:

very nicely done lens ...all the birds mentioned here come to my yard...a ~Squid Angel Blessing"~

oztoo lm on June 24, 2010:

Apart from the crow we don't have any birds like these in Australia. Backyard bird watching is such a fascinating and rewarding pastime isn't it? Lovely lens.

burgessvillian on June 23, 2010:

I like watching the birds. We get most of the birds you listed. I'm about a 3 hr drive from Detroit. About an hr. west of Toronto. Cool lens. We had a Canada goose fly right over the driveway when my son's dog was just a pup. The honking scared him to death.

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