Delaware is home to many different species of birds. Some of these species live in Delaware all year long, others are migratory and only spend the summer or winter in the state. In this article, we’re going to take a look at 24 of the most common backyard birds in Delaware 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, and even mention a few birdwatching hotspots in Delaware.
How many different species of wild birds are in Delaware?
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 Delaware. However, according to Wikipedia there are at least 420 species of birds in the state of Delaware. 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 Delaware, especially in backyards.
24 common backyard birds in Delaware
Below we’ll look at 24 species of backyard birds in Delaware, 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 Delaware. Let’s get to it!
1. Northern Cardinal
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
Length: 8.3-9.1 in
Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in
Northern Cardinals are among the most recognizable and common backyard birds in North America. Males have bright red feathers and a black mask, females have duller colors and are more tawny brown with some reddish coloring. Both males and females are easily recognized by their crests, which look like mohawks a top their heads, and reddish orange beaks.
Northern cardinals are found throughout Delaware year-round.
Cardinals will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.
2. Tufted Titmouse
Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor
Length: 5.5-6.3 in
Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-10.2 in
These little birds are very common at feeders and in backyards within their range. Like cardinals, they have a small mohawk that helps you tell them apart from other birds. Titmice are silver-gray on top and lighter on bottom, with a black patch just above their beaks. Sometimes an orange patch is visible on their side under the wing.
The tufted titmouse is found throughout Delaware all year.
Titmice will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.
3. Carolina Chickadee
Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis
Length: 3.9-4.7 in
Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
Wingspan: 5.9-7.9 in
Chickadees are tiny little birds that are very easy to recognize because of their “black cap” and black bib. Their cheeks are solid white, their wings and backs are gray, and their underbodies are puffy and light.
Carolina chickadees, not to be confused with their near identical cousins Black-capped Chickadees which live further north, are common backyard birds in Delaware. They frequent bird feeders and are often seen darting back and forth from a feeder to cover and back again for more. Chickadees are always among the first birds I see visiting a new feeder in my yard. They are often thought of a bold and curious for their size.
Carolina chickadees can be found in Delaware year round, but may be rare or absent in the panhandle.
Chickadees will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.
4. Blue Jay
Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
Length: 9.8-11.8 in
Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz
Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in
Another very well-known bird species in North America and the U.S. is the blue jay. They have a large blue crest on top of their heads with mostly blue feathers on top and white feathers on bottom. They also have a black ring around their necks that looks like a necklace. Their wings are barred white, blue, and black. Females and males share the same coloration.
Blue Jays are another year-round resident to the entire state of Delaware. They are common in backyards and at feeders.
Blue Jays like platform feeders, peanut feeders, and feeders with large perches. Offer them black sunflower seeds, mixed seeds, and peanuts.
5. 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 in Delaware all year.
Red-winged Blackbirds visit most types of feeders and will eat seed as well as suet.
6. White-breasted Nuthatch
Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
Length: 5.1-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 in
White-breasted Nuthatches are very common feeder birds found in most backyards within their range. They stuff nuts and seeds under tree bark, then use their sharp beaks to hatch the seed from the shell. These birds also have the ability to walk vertically on trees better than many other types of birds.
White-breasted nuthatches have a thick black stripe on top of their heads, with white on either side and on their bellies. Their wings are mostly gray and black, and they have a chisel-like beak that is longer than many other feeder birds.
White-breasted nuthatches are found year-round throughout Delaware.
Nuthatches will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends, black sunflower seeds or peanuts. They also enjoy suet and are adept at clinging to suet feeders.
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
Highly common in backyards, robins are mostly seen hopping around the grass looking for worms and other invertebrates to eat. They often retreat to the woods during the winter, then emerge back to more public places in the spring, giving the illusion that they migrate out of the state. 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.
Robins live all year throughout the state of Delaware.
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 Delaware.
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, Delaware 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.
10. American Goldfinch
Scientific name: Spinus tristis
Length: 4.3-5.1 in
Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in
Goldfinches are among my favorite birds to see at feeders, especially when they have their bright yellow feathers in the spring and summer. During this period they are mostly yellow, or “gold”, with black-tipped wings. Males also have a black cap on top of their heads. In the winter they will molt and lose these flashy colors and have more brown or olive coloring. Many people mistake them for a different species in the winter, that’s how different they look. You can always recognize them any time of year by their black wings with white bars, and their finch-like beaks.
Goldfinches are found all year throughout Delaware.
Goldfinches prefer thistle (nyjer) feeders. They may also eat sunflower chips but a thistle feeder is your best chance to attract them.
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 yet another very common backyard bird in Delaware. Though they are invasive in the east, they are not universally hated like House Sparrows, and do not cause the problems that the sparrows do. If you attract them, which is fairly easy to do, they may show up in large 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 Delaware any time of year.
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 year round in all parts of Delaware.
Like the european starling, house sparrows are invasive and pose a threat to native species. They will eat most types of seed.
13. 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 throughout the state of Delaware year-round.
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.
14. Common Grackle
Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Length: 11.0-13.4 in
Weight: 2.6-5.0 oz
Wingspan: 14.2-18.1 in
Though they fall into the bully bird category like the starling does, Grackles are also quite pretty in the right light with their iridescent feathers. They often appear black in color, but in the right light you can see hues of blue, green, brown and purple. Grackles sometimes will roost with other types of blackbirds, and appear in massive flocks numbering in the millions of birds. They are easy to identify by their solid coloring, long narrow body and tail, and yellow ringed eye.
Grackles are found throughout the state of Delaware all year.
Grackles are foragers and will eat just about anything, they are often thought of as pests.
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 from region to region. In the east, these sparrows are mostly brown on the back and wings, with heavy brown streaks on their chest and a white belly. The streaks on their chest often converge in a noticeable brown spot, which can help with identification. The male of the species uses his song to attract females as well as to defend his territory.
Song Sparrows migrate in many areas, however they stick around in Delaware all year.
Song Sparrows will sometimes visit bird feeders and snack on mixed seeds and sunflower seeds.
16. Red-bellied Woodpecker
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
Length: 9.4 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in
These medium-sized woodpeckers are fairly common at feeders and backyards in the eastern U.S. Though they are described as “red-bellied” you may first notice the bright red streak along the back of their heads. They have a plain white breast with an area of pinkish-red lower down in their “belly” area which is often not visible. Their wings are what really makes them easy to identify though, with the white and black barring.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers live year-round in Delaware.
Attract Red-bellied woodpeckers with a suet feeder, though they will also sometimes eat at seed feeders, especially if you offer mixes containing peanuts.
17. Downy Woodpecker
Scientific name: Picoides pubescens
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
Downy’s are very common backyard birds that love to visit bird feeders. They are the smallest woodpeckers in North America and are always one of the first species I see at a new bird feeder. They are easily identifiable by their all white underbodies, black wings with white spots, black and white striped heads, and the red spot on the back of their heads (in males, females have no red). Though they do closely resemble the hairy woodpecker, downy’s are smaller with shorter beaks.
Downy woodpeckers are found all year throughout the whole state of Delaware.
Downy Woodpeckers are very common at most types of bird feeders. Offer them mixed seed, black sunflower seed, and suet.
18. Carolina Wren
Scientific name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
Length: 4.7-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-0.8 oz
Wingspan: 11.4 in
These little birds are mostly reddish-brown on top and a lighter orangish color on bottom. Their longish, slightly curved beak and bold white “eyebrow” are good identifiers. They like to hide in brush and may be hard to spot, however their loud “teakettle-teakettle” song is likely one you would recognize.
Carolina wrens are found throughout Delaware all year.
Carolina Wrens are quite common in backyards and are often seen visiting suet feeders.
19. Eastern Towhee
Scientific name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Length: 6.8-8.2 in
Weight: 1.1-1.8 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-11.0 in
The Eastern Towhee is a lovely species of backyard bird that is always a treat to see. Both sexes have a dark head and back with white wing spots, orange sides and a white belly. However the dark color on males is black while on females it is brown. They have a beautiful song that is a familiar sound in the woods during spring and summer. Master foragers, towhees search through leaf litter and vegetation for insects, seeds and berries. If you want a better chance of attracting towhees to your yard, leave some brushy edges and leaf litter along your yard line.
Eastern Towhees stay in Delaware all year.
Eastern Towhees do not eat directly from bird feeders very often in my experience, but I regularly see them hopping around the ground beneath my feeders. So bird feeders may attract towhees in that sense.
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 have many different colorations across the United States. In the eastern U.S. the “slate-colored” variety is common. They are dark gray on their head, chest, back, wings and tail. Their belly all the way to the bottom of the tail is white. Females may look similar or appear a buffy brown instead of gray. Two good things to look for when recognizing junco’s are their pale pink beak and roundish body shape. They are most common in forests and wooded areas where they can often be seen hopping around on the ground.
Dark-eyed Juncos may be found in Delaware only during the winter months.
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. White-throated Sparrow
Scientific name: Zonotrichia albicollis
Length: 6.3-7.1 in
Weight: 0.8-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-9.1 in
White-throated sparrows are common across much of the U.S. during the winter, and then migrate to Canada in the summer to breed. Their white throat patch makes them easier to identify among sparrows, along with their bold facial pattern of black and white stripe with yellow spots between the eyes. The females often nest on or just above the ground in hidden areas of dense brush and vegetation.
White-throated sparrows are common throughout Delaware during the winter months.
White-throated sparrows readily visit feeders and like to pick up fallen seed below feeders. Offer sunflower, millet and mixed seed blends.
22. 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, though not extremely common at feeders. 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, red patch on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings. Males have a black “mustache”. In Delaware you get the “yellow-shafted” variety, and they have bright yellow feathers on the underside of their wings and tail.
Northern Flickers are common all year in Delaware.
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.
23. Gray Catbird
Scientific name: Dumetella carolinensis
Length: 8.3-9.4 in
Weight: 0.8-2.0 oz
Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in
Catbirds are robin-sized birds with dark slate gray coloring all over, a black cap on top of their head and a long tail. They have a rusty red patch just beneath their tails which often goes unseen. Catbirds love to eat fruit, so attract them with native fruit-bearing trees and bushes. They get the name catbird from their calls that somewhat resemble that of a meowing cat.
In most states gray catbirds are only found in the summer, however in Delaware they tend to remain all year.
You may be able to attract catbirds if you offer some fruits, berries, and other sweet things but they prefer to forage on the ground or in bushes for food.
24. American Crow
Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
Length: 15.8-20.9 in
Weight: 11.2-21.9 oz
Wingspan: 33.5-39.4 in
American Crows are solid black in color, and quite large in size. They are also know for being highly intelligent problem solvers, like their cousin the raven. Crows will roost higher up in the tree tops in large groups where they can get a birds eye view of everything below. If an owl or a hawk shows up, the roost will call out and let everyone known that there is danger nearby.
Crows are found throughout the entire state of Delaware all year long.
American Crows are omnivorous and generally do not visit bird feeders, they are much too large.
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 Delaware
There is plenty of birding to be had in Delaware if you want to go take your hobby outside of your own backyard. The Delaware Audubon Society is always having meetups, workshops, field trips, and birding tours, should you want to get a little more involved.
If you are a Delaware 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 Delaware.
Delaware birding locations
- Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
- Ted Harvey Wildlife Management Area
- Milford Neck Wildlife Area
- Cape Henlopen State Park
- Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge
- Assawoman Wildlife Area