California is a huge state, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to many different species of birds. Some of these species live in California all year, others are migratory and only spend the summer or winter in the state. In this article, we’re going to take a look at 27 of the most common backyard birds in California and learn a little about each species.
After that I’ll show you how to attract them to your yard, give you a crash course in the 10 different types of bird feeders you can use. Lastly, I’ll mention a few birdwatching hotspots in California and some great local birding organizations.
How many different species of wild birds are in California?
It’s difficult to get an exact number on how many bird species are found in North America, the United States, or even in the state of California. However, according to the California Bird Records Committee, as of 2021 there have been at least 676 species of birds seen in the state of California. One source claims there are 2,059 species in North America, another older source says there are just 914. I’m not sure how much I trust these numbers, but they give us a broad idea of the number of species.
For the purposes of this article we are just going to look at some of the species people frequently see in California, especially in backyards.
27 common backyard birds in California
Below we’ll look at 27 species of backyard birds in California, including some migrants. These obviously aren’t all the species in the state, or even close to it, but they are some of the birds that are most likely to frequent backyards in California. Let’s get to it!
1. Black Phoebe
Scientific name: Sayornis nigricans
Length: 6.3 in
Weight: 0.5-0.8 oz
Black Phoebe’s are sooty and dark all over except for their white belly. They have a thin black beak, and the top of their head often appears to be peaked. Black Phoebe’s are a member of the flycatcher family, and as the name suggests their diet is almost exclusively insects such as flies, beetles, spiders, bees and grasshoppers. You can often see them perching low to the ground, and pumping their tail up and down.
Black Phoebes can be found all along the coastal areas of California year-round, but are rare in central and eastern parts of the state.
Since they are insect eaters, Black Phoebes won’t visit a birdseed feeder. You may be able to attract them by offering mealworms, or having native plants that support insects.
2. Anna’s Hummingbird
Scientific name: Calypte anna
Length: 3.9 in
Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
Wingspan: 4.7 in
The Anna’s Hummingbird is one of the most common hummingbirds along the western coast of the United States. Males have a green body, light breast, and pink feathers on their throat, forehead and behind their eyes. Females lack the bold pink feathers, but may have a few pink/red spots on the throat. Many species of hummingbird migrate south of the border during winter, but the Anna’s generally stay put in the western U.S., migrating only very short distances if they need to find a new feeding ground.
The Anna’s Hummingbird can be found year-round throughout most of California, however they may only be present during the spring and summer in the northwestern corner of the state.
Anna’s will happily visit backyards if you put out a nectar feeder or nectar producing plants.
You may also like: 20 Plants and Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds
3. Northern Mockingbird
Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
Length: 8.3-10.2 in
Weight: 1.6-2.0 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-13.8 in
Mockingbirds get their name from their ability to mimic the songs of other species of birds. It’s estimated that a male mockingbird can learn up to 200 different songs in its lifetime. These medium sized backyard birds are mostly gray and white in color and can also be recognized by their rather long tail feathers. They are often seen living in tall bushes and can often be quite aggressive of intruding birds.
Northern Mockingbirds are found year-round throughout most of California. Along the northwestern border, they may only be present during the spring and summer months.
Northern Mockingbirds are very common in backyards, but don’t really visit bird feeders. Entice them to your yard with some of the other tips below such as fruit bearing bushes or a bird bath.
4. California Scrub-Jay
Scientific name: Aphelocoma californica
Length: 11.0-11.8 in
Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz
Wingspan: 15.3 in
The California Scrub-Jay is a fairly large songbird with beautiful blue coloring on it’s head, back and tail. Across their upper back is a patch that can appear gray or brown. It’s chest and belly are mostly white, with some blue feathers that come around the front like “necklace”. They are known for having a boisterous personality, both with frequent vocalizations and the way they bounce around and always seem to be cocking their heads and hatching schemes. They eat mainly fruit and insects during the spring and summer, then switch to nuts, seeds and acorns in the winter.
The California Scrub-Jay sticks around all year, and can be found throughout northern, coastal and central California. They may be less common to rare along the central and south eastern part of the state.
Attract scrub jays in the warm months with fruit bearing trees, and in the cooler months with acorn producing oak trees. They will also visit bird feeders for sunflower seeds and peanuts.
5. White-crowned Sparrow
Scientific name: Zonotrichia leucophrys
Length: 5.9-6.3 in
Weight: 0.9-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 8.3-9.4 in
White-crowned sparrows spend the summer far north in Canada and Alaska, then migrate back down across the United States during the winter. One of the easier sparrows to identify, white-crowned sparrows have a bold black and white striped head while the rest of their face, chest and belly remain a plain buffy brown-gray. They like to forage in fields, and along the edges of roads and trails. These sparrows will come to bird feeders, but are most likely to stay on the ground and pick up spilt seed.
Throughout most of California these sparrows will only be found during the winter. However right along the coast, many remain year-round.
White-crowned sparrows readily visit feeders and like to pick up fallen seed below feeders. Offer sunflower, millet and mixed seed blends.
6. Red-Winged Blackbird
Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Length: 6.7-9.1 in
Weight: 1.1-2.7 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
Among the most abundant birds in all of North America, male Red-winged Blackbirds are unmistakable because of their red and yellow “shoulders” that stand out amongst their black bodies. The females of this species however, look quite different and are mostly brown with light streaks. They are known as a polygynous species, meaning males will have up to 15 different females that they are mating with. Unfortunately they sometimes show up at feeders in flocks and gobble up seed quickly.
Red-winged Blackbirds can be found throughout California all year.
Red-winged Blackbirds visit most types of feeders and will eat seed as well as suet.
7. American Robin
Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
Length: 7.9-11.0 in
Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
Common in backyards, robins are mostly seen hopping around the grass looking for worms and other invertebrates to eat. While they will occasionally visit bird feeders, they do not typically eat seeds. Their bright orange round bellies, yellow beaks, and larger size make them easy to identify. They are frequent singers and can be heard from dawn to dusk.
Robins live all year throughout the majority of California, but in southern tip of the state they may only be present during the winter.
American Robins do not often visit seed feeders, so attract them with meal worms, native fruit-bearing plants, or a bird bath.
8. Mourning Dove
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
Length: 9.1-13.4 in
Weight: 3.0-6.0 oz
Wingspan: 17.7 in
About the size of a robin, doves are very common in backyards and will often sit perched on telephone wires or in groups in trees. I sometimes see them on my tray feeder, but more often then not they are seen walking around on the ground beneath hanging bird feeders. Mourning Doves are mostly gray with black spots on top, a pale peachy color below, and pink legs. Males and females look the same.
Mourning Doves remain all year throughout California.
Doves will often visit seed feeders, but prefer scouring the ground for seeds that have fallen. Try a ground feeder with a mixed seed blend, or simply scatter some seeds on the ground.
9. European Starling
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
Length: 7.9-9.1 in
Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
100 starlings were set loose in New York in the 1890s and they have since taken over the country. They destroy other birds’ nests, kill their young, and will overtake feeders not allowing other birds to get any of the food that you put out. They are mostly all dark with white specks on their backs and wings, and have yellow beaks and feet. Starlings can also be a purple and green iridescent color and in the right light can actually be quite pretty.
Starlings are found in every one of the lower 48 states year-round, California included.
European Starlings will eat almost anything. They are an invasive species so we suggest you do not attempt to attract them, they’ll show up anyway.
Scientific name: Psaltriparus minimus
Length: 2.8-3.1 in
Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
Bushtits are plump, round looking little birds. Their coloring can vary across the country, but the common “Pacific” variation seen in California are a buffy brownish-gray all over with a slightly lighter throat. Their plain coloring and small size can make them hard to spot, but they are common. Look for them moving from branch to branch in shrubs and thickets. They are typically found in a flock, and their constant hunt for insects mean they don’t sit still for long.
Bushtits can be found year-round along the coast, and along the northern and eastern borders of California. They may be absent or rare along the central corridor and southeastern corner of the state.
Bushtits prefer insects so don’t usually visit feeders. Planting native shrubs and trees that support the insects they are looking for can help attract them to your yard.
11. House Finch
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
Length: 5.1-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in
The House Finch is a very common backyard bird within their range. They are west coast natives, and didn’t spread to the eastern U.S. until the 1940’s, when caged finches they were trying to sell were set loose. If you attract them, which is fairly easy to do, they may show up in small flocks and mob your feeders. Both sexes are brown with heavy white streaking. Males have red splashed on their head, chest, and back.
House Finches are common throughout all of California year round.
House Finches love bird feeders, and will eat black sunflower or mixed seed. Like other finches, House Finches will also visit thistle feeders.
12. House Sparrow
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Length: 5.9-6.7 in
Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in
Generally looked at as pests, House Sparrows are the only other species of wild birds in the U.S. besides starlings that you can legally trap and humanely kill. Like starlings, they were introduced in New York in the 1800s and have since spread across our country like wildfire as an invasive species. They are mostly brown in color, with some black and brown streaking on their wings and buffy chest. Males often stand out with a black mask and chest. They are overall aggressive towards other birds, especially around nests and birdhouses.
House Sparrows are common all year throughout California.
Like the European Starling, House Sparrows are invasive and pose a threat to native species. They will eat most types of seed.
13. Yellow-rumped Warbler
Scientific name: Setophaga coronata
Length: 4.7-5.5 in
Weight: 0.4-0.5 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-9.1 in
The color pattern on the Yellow-rumped warbler can vary depending on it’s location. In California, you are most likely to see the “Audubon’s” variety, which has bright yellow on the throat, rump, and sides. You may even see a dash of yellow on top of their head. Females share the same color pattern, but the colors may appear duller overall and markings less distinct than males. Like most warblers, their colors will be the most crisp and bright in the spring, and fade considerably during the winter.
Location can vary quite a bit in California. In the north, there are some year-round residents, as well as those that arrive in the spring and summer to breed. In the southern half of the state the Yellow-rumped warblers are more likely to be found during the winter months.
Yellow-rumped Warblers will occasionally visit bird feeders. Try attracting them with sunflower seeds, suet and raisins.
14. California Towhee
Scientific name: Melozone crissalis
Length: 8.3-9.8 in
Weight: 1.3-2.4 oz
Wingspan: 11.4 in
The California Towhee is actually a large member of the sparrow family. They are overall a dusty gray-brown, with spots of rusty brown around the eye, on the face and below the tail. They are known to frequently challenge their reflection, so you may encounter them knocking on your window, car mirror or other reflective surface. These towhees actually like to build their nests in poison oak, and eat its white berries.
California Towhees remain in the state year-round, but may be more populous in the western half of the state.
Common in backyards, you may be able to encourage these towhees to visit your feeder by using a ground tray or scattering seed. They like mixed seed blends, including millet.
15. Song Sparrow
Scientific name: Melospiza melodia
Length: 4.7-6.7 in
Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in
Song Sparrows are very common throughout most of North America and their plumage can vary a bit from region to region. Generally, these sparrows are mostly brown on the back and wings, with heavy brown streaks on their chest and a light belly. Song sparrows along the California coast may appear darker, grayer, and with heavier streaking. The male of the species uses his song to attract females as well as to defend his territory.
Song Sparrows may be found in most of California year-round, however they may only be present during the winter in the southeastern corner of the state.
Song Sparrows will sometimes visit bird feeders and snack on mixed seeds and sunflower seeds.
16. Lesser Goldfinch
Scientific name: Spinus psaltria
Length: 3.5-4.3 in
Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
Wingspan: 5.9-7.9 in
The male Lesser Goldfinch has a black cap, yellow underbody, and white patches on its dark wings, as pictured above. There is also another plumage variation that may be present in California where they can appear a dark glossy black all along their entire head and back. Females are yellow below with a more olive colored head and back. You’ll often see these finches in a mixed flock with other goldfinches, house finches and sparrows.
The Lesser Goldfinch can be found year round throughout most of California. In the northeastern corner, they may only be present during the spring and summer.
Lesser Goldfinches will readily visit bird feeders and eat sunflower seeds and nyjer (thistle) seed.
17. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Scientific name: Regulus calendula
Length: 3.5-4.3 in
Weight: 0.2-0.3 oz
Wingspan: 6.3-7.1 in
This tiny kinglet is an olive green with white wing bars, yellow edged wing and tail feathers and a white eye-ring. The male has a small patch of bright red feathers on top of his head that he can flash when excited, however these are usually hidden. High energy foragers, they are often darting through shrubs and trees and flicking their wings. This constant wing-flicking can help with identification. For such a small bird, they can lay up to 12 eggs at a time!
For most of California, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a winter visitor, however there are pockets in the northern portion of the state where they may nest during the breeding season.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets may visit bird feeders. Try to attract them with sunflower chips, suet, peanut pieces and mealworms.
18. Spotted Towhee
Image: flickr/Yellowstone National Park
Scientific name: Pipilo maculatus
Length: 6.7-8.3 in
Weight: 1.2-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 11.0 in
The Spotted Towhee is a lovely species of backyard bird that is always a treat to see. Both sexes have a dark head, back, wings and tail with white wing spots, rusty sides and a white belly. However the dark color on males is black while on females it is brown. Master foragers, towhees search through leaf litter and vegetation for insects, seeds and berries. It can be fun to watch them, they do a doubled footed backwards hop motion to scratch at the ground and move aside brush. If you want a better chance of attracting towhees to your yard, leave some brushy edges and leaf litter along your yard line.
Spotted Towhees can be found year-round throughout most of California, but may be absent from the southeastern corner of the state.
Spotted Towhees do not eat directly from bird feeders very often, but they will look for seed on the ground beneath feeders. Scatter mixed seed on the ground, or keep some brushy vegetation in the yard that may attract them.
19. Northern Flicker
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
These medium to large sized woodpeckers are quite common in backyards throughout the United States. In my opinion they are also among some of the most colorful birds in North America. Flickers feed mainly on insects and unlike other woodpeckers, often like to find them on the ground rather than trees. Identify them by the black spots on their bellies, solid black bib, buffy brown on the face, and barred black and gray wings. Males have a red “mustache”, females do not. In California you get the “red-shafted” variety, and they have bright red feathers on the underside of their wings and tail.
Northern Flickers are common all year in California.
Northern Flickers may not visit feeders as often as other woodpecker species, but they will still come to suet feeders. If you have some leaf piles in the yard, you may see them digging around for bugs.
20. Dark-eyed Junco
Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
Length: 5.5-6.3 in
Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in
Juncos are often thought of by people in the U.S as winter birds, since they spend their summers up in Canada. They are all round little birds with a pale pink beak, but their feather coloration varies across the United States. In California, the “Oregon” variety is common. They have a black head, brown back and pale chest. Females look similar but their heads are gray and their color may be duller overall. Juncos are most common in forests and wooded areas where they can often be seen hopping around on the ground.
Dark-eyed Juncos will typically only be seen in California during the winter months, however there are sections along the coast and in northern California where they stick around all year.
Juncos will sometimes visit feeders, but typically prefer to eat seed from the ground underneath your feeders that other other birds are dropping. They like mixed seeds.
21. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Scientific name: Poecile rufescens
Length: 3.9-4.7 in
Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
Wingspan: 7.5 in
Chickadees are tiny little birds that are very easy to recognize because of their “black cap” and black bib. This western bird can be found all the way up the west coast into Alaska. In the northern areas of its range it has a chestnut back and sides. In California, you are more likely to see just a chestnut back with light sides. These chickadees use a lot of fur in their nests that they collect from many animals including rabbits and deer. They are quick and curious birds, and can appear quite brave around humans near bird feeders.
Chestnut-backed Chickadees are most commonly found in central and coastal California.
Chickadees will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.
22. Western Bluebird
Scientific name: Sialia mexicana
Length: 6.3-7.5 in
Weight: 0.8-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 11.4-13.4 in
Male Western Bluebirds have a beautiful blue on their head, throat, wings and tail. They have a rusty orange on their breast which continues down their sides and above their wings onto their back. Females will appear duller, sometimes significantly duller, and lack any blue on their throat. They are just about the most sought after tenants of birdhouses in the U.S. making the bluebird house industry pretty popular. They are very common in backyards, though not so much at feeders. Put up a birdhouse and try to attract a mating pair.
Western Bluebirds can be found throughout most of California, but may be absent from the southeastern corner. Check out the California Bluebird Recovery Program to learn more.
Bluebirds don’t typically eat seeds, but can be enticed to visit feeders with mealworms on a tray feeder or in a dish.
23. Oak Titmouse
Scientific name: Baeolophus inornatus
Weight: 0.3-0.7 oz
The Oak Titmouse is a bit of a nondescript bird. They have a grayish-brown head and back with lighter chest. The crest on top of their head can help you to identify them, however they can raise and lower it so sometimes it will not be visible. As their name suggests, their preferred habitat is warm, dry oak or pine-oak woodlands. They eat seeds as well as insects and are often busy moving tree to tree in search of food. You can attract them to your yard by putting up a nestbox.
They have a limited range in California, where they are most often seen during the breeding season. Look for them along the coast, the central valley, and the Cape District of south Baja. Some small populations may stay year round in select areas.
The Oak Titmouse will visit bird feeders for sunflowers and mixed seeds. They prefer if there is tree cover near the feeders.
24. Berwick’s Wren
Scientific name: Thryomanes bewickii
Length: 5.1 in
Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
Berwick’s Wren has a rounded body with a brown back and light chest. Like most wren’s, its bill is long with a slightly downward curve. There is black barring on the wings and tail, and a distinctive white “eyebrow”. In humid regions they may appear a warm brown, and in drier areas a more gray-brown. They are always on the move hopping from branch to branch, and can often be seen flicking their tail up and down. While small, the males are quite loud singers and may remember up to 22 distinct songs.
The Berwick’s Wren can be found all year throughout central and northern California, as well as all along the coast. They have a winter-only range at the far southern tip of the state.
While not super common at feeders, you may attract this wren with hulled sunflower, suet or mealworms. Planting native shrubs and keeping brush piles is another way to attract them to the yard.
25. Steller’s Jay
Scientific name: Cyanocitta stelleri
Length: 11.8-13.4 in
Weight: 3.5-4.9 oz
Wingspan: 17.3 in
Steller’s Jay is quite a striking bird! They are large birds, brownish-black on the top half and bright blue on the bottom half. These jay’s also sport a large crest that they can flick and display to dramatic effect during courtship or in aggression. Their main habitat is evergreen forests, but they are also known to frequent campgrounds, parks and backyards in their range.
Steller’s Jays can be found year-round mainly in northern California, but also along the coast and forested regions along the eastern border. They are also seen in state forests in the south such as San Bernardino.
To attract the Steller’s Jay to bird feeders, put out peanuts, large seeds and nuts.
26. Common Raven
Scientific name: Corvus corax
Length: 22.1-27.2 in
Weight: 24.3-57.3 oz
Wingspan: 45.7-46.5 in
Common Ravens are solid black in color, and quite large in size. They are also know for being highly intelligent problem solvers, like their cousin the crow. They seem equally at ease living alongside human activity as out in very remote wilderness. Ravens can make a large number of different vocalizations, the most common sound like a series of croaks.
Ravens are found year round throughout California.
Common Ravens are omnivorous and generally do not visit bird feeders, they are much too large. But keep an eye on your trash or outdoor pet food.
27. Golden-crowned Sparrow
Scientific name: Zonotrichia atricapilla
Length: 5.9-7.1 in
Weight: 1.1-1.2 oz
The Golden-crowned Sparrow is a larger sparrow, and its body is typical of sparrow coloration. Brown, black and white streaked wings with a gray body. Their identifying feature is their dark black cap, with a bright yellow spot in the middle. In the winter, these colors become less crisp, and their heads may appear more brown with a less obvious yellow spot. They breed in the far north of Alaska and British Columbia, but come south into the U.S. for the winter.
Golden-crowned Sparrows are only seen in California during the fall and winter, especially in the northern and western parts of the state.
These sparrows will eat bird seed, but prefer to feed from the ground. Use a ground feeder or scatter seed.
How to attract birds to your yard
Interested in attracting some of these birds to your backyard? Take a look at these 5 simple tips, starting with the most obvious.
1. Put out bird feeders
The best and most obvious way to attract birds to your yard is to put out a bird feeder or two. I suggest starting with a simple tube feeder, hopper feeder, platform feeder, or a window feeder. See below for suggestions for each.
2. Add a water source
A pedestal birdbath like this one on Amazon is great, but you can also use something as simple as a terra cotta flower pot saucer, like this one. Birds need water not only to bathe in but also to drink and adding a water feature to your yard will only increase your chances of attracting birds. Also consider adding a solar fountain since moving water will entice the birds to visit the water even more.
3. Offer birdhouses
Many species of birds will readily take up residence in birdhouses if put out in the right spot at the right time of year. Eastern Bluebirds are among the most common sought after birds to attract to birdhouses. I have this birdhouse in my backyard and a mating pair of bluebirds were checking it out the same day I installed it.
4. Provide shelter
Make sure that your yard has trees, bushes, and shrubs that the birds can dart back and forth to when they sense danger. This is their main defense from predators. If your yard is perhaps in a new subdivision with no mature trees then do your best to add some landscaping features that will allow birds to look at your yard as safe.
5. Add native plants
For many birds that eat nuts, berries, and seeds, having native plants that produce these things will only aide your efforts to attract more birds. Not only that, but native plants foster caterpillars and other insects that feed many birds and support nesting birds since most songbirds feed insects to their hatchlings. Try to avoid invasive and non-native plants that can out-compete the native plants that foster a healthy ecosystem.
10 different types of bird feeders
Here are 10 of the most common bird feeders people set up in their yards.
- Hopper feeder – Hopper feeders get their name because they have a compartment in the middle, the hopper, that holds the bird seed. There are perches on the sides for birds to land on and eat from. Many hopper feeders are in the shape of a house and are covered on top to keep the seed dry. Use black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed for this type of feeder. Here’s one of my favorite hopper feeders, it’s squirrel-proof too.
- Platform feeder – Sometimes called tray feeders, platform feeders are open on top and can usually be hung from a tree or hook, or pole-mounted. They are great for feeding most types of birds and are easy to get set up. Though since they are completely open, every animal in your yard that can reach them will eat from them. Use black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed for this type of feeder. I’m using this platform feeder in my backyard right now.
- Tube feeder – Tube feeders are nothing more than clear plastic tube-shaped bird feeders. They can range in size from holding a few cups of seed to holding 5 lbs or more. They are great because they keep your seed fresh and dry while also allowing you to easily seed when it needs to be refilled. Many types of birds will use a tube feeder. You can use black sunflower seeds and mixed seeds in tube feeders. Squirrel Buster makes some of the best tube feeders on the market, this one is great and is of course squirrel proof.
- Suet feeder – Suet feeders are for one type of bird food, suet cakes. They are a very simple concept, usually made of nothing more than a metal wire cage, sometimes with a tail-prop coming down for larger birds. Suet feeders are popular in the winter time when birds are looking for high-fat foods and are frequently visited by woodpeckers. I suggest getting a suet feeder with a long tail prop so you can attract larger woodpeckers, like the Pileated and Northern Flicker.
- Window feeder – Window feeders are small bird feeders that typically mount right onto a glass window by means of suction cups. They are similar to tray feeders in that they are open on top and you just pour the seed into the tray area to refill them. These feeders are popular with many different types of birds, are super easy to get started with, and great for people who don’t have big yards. Use black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed for this type of feeder. This is by far the most popular window feeder on Amazon, and maybe the most popular bird feeder on Amazon overall.
- Thistle feeder – Thistle feeders, aka Nyjer feeders, are specialized bird feeders made especially for thistle seed. The main types of birds that thistle feeders attract are birds in the finch family, which includes the American Goldfinch and House Finch whom are both on this list. Thistle feeders are often in a tube shape and have tiny holes all along the sides of the tube allowing the birds to pick out the thistle. Here’s a good thistle feeder from Droll Yankees.
- Ground feeder – Ground feeders are more or less tray feeders that sit on ground level. They will be very popular with birds like Mourning Doves and Juncos as well as squirrels, raccoons, and any other type of ground animal. Use black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed for this type of feeder. You might like this ground feeder made from recycled plastic.
- Oriole feeder – Oriole feeders are another type of specialty feeder for pretty much one type of bird, orioles. The feeder itself is often orange in color and usually has little plastic or glass dishes made for holding jelly, which orioles love. They also allow you to stick orange halves onto the feeder, another food that orioles relish. Here’s a simple oriole feeder with 4 jelly trays that holds for orange halves.
- Hummingbird feeder – Nectar feeders, aka hummingbird feeders, are designed specifically for hummingbirds to extract sugar water. Even though they are designed for hummingbirds, I frequently see Downy Woodpeckers at mine who also loves that sweet nectar. See this article to learn how to make hummingbird nectar without boiling the water. Hummingbird feeders are simple and inexpensive so there’s no need to spend much on one, here’s one that I’ve personally used and had success with.
- Peanut feeder – Similar to thistle feeders, peanut feeders are tube-shaped and usually composed of a metal wire mesh material. Only the holes in the wire mesh are much further apart to allow for either whole unshelled or shelled peanuts to pass through the holes. These feeders attract birds like Blue Jays and as the name suggests, should be filled with peanuts. If you want to keep squirrels out of your peanut feeder, then this one by Squirrel Buster is your best bet. Otherwise this simple one will do the trick.
Bird watching in California
California is a wonderful state for birding if you want to go take your hobby outside of your own backyard. The California Audubon Society has many regional chapters, and is always having meetups, workshops, field trips, and birding tours, should you want to get a little more involved.
If you are a California resident and would like to add some new species to your life list, then take a look at this list I’ve compiled some popular birding locations in California.
California birding locations
Learn more about what each of these locations has to offer (as well as local birding events and festivals) at birdwatchersdigest.org
- Point Reyes
- MacKerricher State Park
- Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary
- Henry W. Coe State Park
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
- Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park
Find even more hotspots with Audubon’s California Important Bird Areas.