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25 Common Backyard Birds in New York City

New York City is known for its bustling streets, towering skyscrapers, and diverse culture. However, amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, there are also a surprising number of common bird species that call this urban landscape home. From the ubiquitous pigeon to the colorful Northern Cardinal, New York City is home to a variety of avian species that can be observed in parks, along city streets, and even on balconies and rooftops. In this article, we will explore some of the most common backyard birds in New York City, their behaviors, and where to spot them.

25 Common Backyard Birds in New York City

When talking about the city, we have to use the term “backyard” a little loosely here. Many people in the city don’t have their own backyard. So whether you actually have a lawn, a patio, small courtyard, landing, or nothing at all, let’s consider your backyard wherever you land when you step out the door. New York City’s many parks and gardens can be your birding haven. 

In general, the best places to see birds in the city are going to be “green spaces” such as parks and gardens. Here are some of the best green spaces to look for birds in New York City:

  • Floyd Bennett Field
  • Central Park
  • Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
  • Prospect Park
  • The High Line
  • Pelham Bay Park
  • Bryant Park
  • Inwood Hill Park
  • Van Cortlandt Park
  • Mount Loretto Unique Area

For lots of great information about places to see birds in the city, check out this resource page from Aubudon NYC. Now, let’s get to the birds!

1. House Sparrow

Scientific name: Passer domesticus

Generally looked at as pests, House Sparrows are a non-native species that were first introduced from Europe to Brooklyn in the 1850’s. At the time they were brought to the U.S. to try and combat pest insect populations, but the unintended consequence was they quickly spread across the entire country. Over the decades they became an invasive species, harmful to native bird populations by competing with them for resources including nest sites, and aggressively destroying nests of other birds to claim the spot for themselves.

House Sparrows have adapted especially well to urban environments, eating food scraps and nesting in man-made structures. It’s common to see them beg at outdoor cafes and nest in storefront signs. They are mostly brown in color, with some black and brown streaking on their wings and a buffy chest. Males have a more chestnut tint, and black around their beak that extends down their throat to a patch on their chest.

House Sparrows are found year-round throughout New York City.

House sparrows will eat almost anything, however feeding them isn’t encouraged because of their invasive species status. 


2. American Robin

American robin
American robin

Scientific name: Turdus migratorius

Robins are one of the most widespread and well-known birds in North America, found in forests, woodlands, parks, and gardens. Adult American Robins have a distinctive appearance, with a bright orange-red breast, gray back, black head, and yellow beak. Males and females look similar, but males tend to have brighter plumage.

American Robins are known for their sweet, melodious song, which is often heard in the early morning and evening. They are also known for their habit of hopping along the ground, especially large grassy areas like lawns, digging up earthworms and insects. During the breeding season, American Robins build cup-shaped nests out of twigs, grasses, and mud, usually in the crotch of a tree, but they also seem to like ledges of man-made structures like windows.

Robins tend to be associated with the return of spring. It is true that many robins will make short migrations south in the winter and return north in spring. However some robins stay in their northern grounds year-round, and are perfectly capable of surviving in the cold. So some will stay in NYC all year, but they are likely to be more plentiful in the warmer months. 

American Robins do not often visit bird feeders, so attract them with meal worms, native fruit-bearing plants, or a bird bath. 


3. European Starling

Adult (front) and juvenile (back) European Starling | Image by Kev from Pixabay

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Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris

The European Starling is a medium-sized dark bird with iridescent feathers that can appear green and purple in the right light. They have a yellow beak and light speckles along their back. They are one of the most common and widespread bird species in North America, but they aren’t a native species!

Native to Europe and Asia, they were first brought here (Central Park, to be exact) in the late 1800s by a group of well-meaning Shakespeare enthusiasts who wanted to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays to the United States. It is believed that all starlings in the U.S. today are descended from those 100 birds set free in Central Park. Unfortunately as with most invasive species, they can be aggressive towards native birds and compete with them for resources. 

One of the most distinctive features of European Starlings is their ability to mimic other bird calls and create a wide variety of sounds from smooth whistles to harsh chattering. They are also known for their large, noisy flocks, which can number in the thousands and cause damage to crops and buildings. These “murmurations” of thousands of birds move as one in synchronized flight displays, which can be a sight to behold. 

European Starlings are found across New York City year round.

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.


4. Rock Pigeon

rock pigeon
Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

Scientific name: Columba livia

Rock Pigeons, also known as feral pigeons, are a common sight in New York City. They have a plump body, small head, and short legs. They are typically blue-gray in color with iridescent feathers on their necks and two dark bands on their wings. However, they can display a wide variety of colors and patterns, even appearing all white. These birds are another common invasive species, introduced to North America over 200 years ago from Europe.

Rock Pigeons are opportunistic feeders and will eat a variety of foods, including seeds, grains, and insects. In urban areas, they often scavenge for food scraps and can be seen congregating around parks, sidewalks, rooftops, and outdoor dining areas. Rock Pigeons are known for their adaptability and can be found in a variety of habitats, from city streets to rural areas. They are social birds that will gather in large flocks, especially during the winter months. In cities their droppings can be a nuisance and can cause damage to buildings and other structures.

Rock Pigeons remain year-round in New York City. Any seeds or grains scattered on the ground will attract them. If you go to the park to feed them, millet or cracked corn would be a healthier option than bread.


5. Blue Jay

Blue Jay | image by: birdfeederhub.com

Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata

Another very well-known bird species in the U.S. is the Blue Jay. They have a large blue crest on top of their heads with mostly blue feathers along their back and wings. They have a black ring around their neck, and beneath that their breast and belly are white. Their wings and tail have black stripes and barring. Females and males share the same coloration.

Blue Jays have several loud, metallic sounding calls, and will often be among the first to alert all the birds in the area to a nearby predator such as a hawk. They are intelligent birds that can problem-solve, and live in social family groups. Blue Jays are omnivores and have a varied diet that includes insects, nuts, seeds, and fruit. They are known for their love of acorns and are often seen burying them in the ground for later consumption. In urban areas, Blue Jays have adapted to eating human food scraps and can often be seen scavenging for food in parks and other public spaces. 

Blue Jays are another year-round resident to New York City, and are likely easiest to find in green spaces.

Blue Jays like platform feeders, peanut feeders, and feeders with large perches. Offer them black sunflower seeds, mixed seeds, and peanuts. 


6. Northern Cardinal

Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Perhaps one of the most recognizable birds in the United States, male Northern Cardinals are known for their bright red plumage, while females have a more subdued brownish-red coloration. Both males and females have distinctive crests on their heads and short, thick reddish-orange beaks.

Northern Cardinals are omnivores and have a varied diet that includes seeds, fruits, insects, and snails. They are generally non-migratory and can be found in wooded areas, gardens, and parks throughout their range. In the spring, males sing with a sweet, clear whistle, which is often heard in the early morning and evening. They are also highly territorial birds and will defend their breeding territories against intruders, including other cardinals. Then outside of the breeding season, they become friendly again and will forage together in groups.

In urban areas, Northern Cardinals have adapted to living in parks and gardens and can often be seen at bird feeders or scavenging for food scraps.

Cardinals will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.


7. White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow | image by: birdfeederhub.com

Scientific name: Zonotrichia albicollis

White-throated sparrows are common across much of the U.S. during the winter, and then migrate to Canada in the summer to breed. While their body is a mix of gray and brown with a streaky back like most sparrows, they do have some easy to identify features. They have a white throat patch, black and white striping on top of their head and yellow spots in front of their eyes.

These sparrows are primarily ground feeders and will eat a variety of foods, including seeds, insects, and berries. In urban areas, they often forage for food on the ground, especially in parks and gardens. During the winter months, they often form small flocks and can be seen feeding together. White-throated Sparrows are generally shy birds and can be difficult to approach, but they may become more accustomed to humans in urban areas where they are exposed to human activity.

Look for white-throated sparrows in New York City from late fall to early spring, foraging in parks and green areas. 

White-throated sparrows readily visit feeders and like to pick up fallen seed below feeders. Offer sunflower, millet and mixed seed blends.


8. Mourning Dove

Image: KarolOlson | pixabay.com

Scientific name: Zenaida macroura

Mourning Doves have a soft mournful cooing call that is hard to mistake for any other bird. They have a soft grayish-brown color with dark spots on their wings, and their heads and necks have a pinkish hue. 

Mourning Doves are primarily seed-eaters and have a diet that includes a variety of seeds from plants such as sunflowers, corn, and wheat. They also eat insects, fruits, and snails. Like pigeons, they are often seen foraging on the ground in open areas, such as parks and gardens.

In urban areas, Mourning Doves are common and can often be seen perched on telephone wires or foraging on the ground in parks and gardens. They are generally non-migratory and can be found in urban areas year-round. Mourning Doves are known for their gentle and peaceful behavior, and they are often considered a symbol of peace and hope.

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. Common Grackle

common grackle
Common Grackle | image by Tom Koerner/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr

Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula

Though they fall into the bully bird category like the Starling does due to their propensity to show up in flocks and aggressively mob bird feeders and agricultural fields, Grackles are a native species. They often appear black in color, but in the right light you can see their iridescent hues of purple and blue on their head, and green and bronze on their body. They 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.

Common Grackles are omnivores and have a varied diet that includes insects, fruits, seeds, and small animals such as frogs and lizards. They are often seen foraging on the ground and can be quite aggressive when competing for food. Common Grackles are also known for their metallic croaks and squawks, which can be quite loud and harsh.

They are adaptable birds and are known for their ability to thrive in urban environments, often seen in parks, parking lots, and other open areas. Common Grackles have also been known to raid bird feeders and garbage cans in search of food.

They are not migratory and remain year-round. Grackles are foragers and will eat just about anything you leave out.


10. Red-bellied Woodpecker

 

Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus

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. The red-stripe in the male goes all the way to the beak, while females have a gray forehead and their red-stripe only extends from the crown of the head to the back of the neck. 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 their heavy white and black barring.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are omnivores and have a varied diet that includes insects, fruits, nuts, and seeds. They will drum on trees to find insects, and they also excavate cavities in trees for nesting and roosting. 

While you may not think of the city as a likely place to find woodpeckers, some species, such as the Red-bellied Woodpecker, have adapted well to suburban and urban areas. In New York City, Red-bellied Woodpeckers can be found in parks and wooded areas throughout the city, including Central Park and Prospect Park. They are generally non-migratory and can be seen year-round. 

Attract Red-bellied Woodpeckers with a suet feeder, though they will also sometimes eat at seed feeders, especially if peanuts are offered. 


11. Gray Catbird

 

Scientific name: Dumetella carolinensis

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.

Gray Catbirds are primarily insectivores and have a diet that includes insects, spiders, and fruit. They are often seen foraging on the ground or in shrubs and bushes. Male Gray Catbirds sing pretty songs that are long strings of sounds and phrases stitched together. Often then include mimicry of other bird species and sounds they hear in the environment. They get the name catbird from their calls that somewhat resemble that of a raspy, meowing cat.  

In New York City, Gray Catbirds can be found in parks and wooded areas throughout the city, and will probably be more plentiful during the warmer months. While they are migratory birds, a population of them remains along the Atlantic coast year-round.

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. 


12. Downy Woodpecker

downy woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker | image by NPS | N. Lewis via Flickr

Scientific name: Picoides pubescens

Downy Woodpeckers are very common backyard birds that love to visit bird feeders. They are the smallest woodpeckers in North America and are found year-round across most of the country. 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, the Downy is smaller. 

Downy Woodpeckers are primarily insectivores and have a diet that includes insects, spiders, and larvae. They are often seen foraging on tree trunks and branches, using their sharp beaks to excavate holes in search of insects. They readily visit bird feeders, and love suet, sunflower seeds and nuts.

Since they rely on insects and trees for most of their food, you’ll find them in parks and wooded areas of the city. 

Downy Woodpeckers are very common at most types of bird feeders. Offer them mixed seed, peanuts, black sunflower seed, and suet. 


13. Song Sparrow

song sparrow
Song Sparrow | image by Brandon Trentler via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Melospiza melodia

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 are primarily seed-eaters, but they also eat insects, spiders, and fruit. They are often seen foraging on the ground in search of food, using their sharp beaks to crack open seeds and insects. In urban areas, Song Sparrows can often be seen scavenging for food in parks and gardens, as well as visiting bird feeders that offer seeds.

Song Sparrows migrate in many areas, however they stick around in New York all year. 

Song Sparrows will visit bird feeders and snack on mixed seeds and sunflower seeds. 


14. Northern Flicker

northern flicker yellow shafted
Northern Flickers (Yellow-Shafted, males) | image by Joseph Gage via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Colaptes auratus

These beautiful, larger sized woodpeckers are common in wooded areas across much of the United States. 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 New York you get the “yellow-shafted” variety, and they have bright yellow feathers on the underside of their wings and tail.

Flickers feed mainly on insects and unlike other woodpeckers, often like to find them on the ground. They will search around through leaf litter, and peck at the ground with their large bill to get at one of their favorite foods, ants. During the mating season you may hear them drumming on metal objects like gutters and pipes, carrying a jackhammer like sound for a good distance. This communicates with other flickers in the area. 

Some will remain year-round in New York City, while others will stop in spring and fall as part of their migration route. Look for them in wooded green spaces. 

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. 


15. Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse | image by: birdfeederhub.com

Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor

These little birds are very common at feeders and in backyards within their range, which is the eastern United States. Like Cardinals, they have a small crest (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 and a buffy streak along their side. 

Tufted Titmice are primarily insectivores and have a diet that includes insects and spiders, but they also eat seeds, berries and nuts. They like to look for the largest nut they can find, and you may notice them grab a large nut or seed from your feeder and fly away to a nearby perch to peck at it. They can be acrobatic when probing for insects or grabbing berries, hanging upside down and flitting around the ends of tree branches.   

In urban areas, Tufted Titmice can be found in parks and wooded areas throughout the city. Listen for their “peter-peter-peter” call from the trees. They are generally non-migratory and can be seen year-round. 

Titmice will readily visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.


16. Red-winged Blackbird

Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus

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 heavy streaking. Females are commonly mistaken for sparrows or finches. 

Their diet is mostly insects during the summer, switching over to seeds during the winter. They like to breed in marshy areas, especially ones with cattails and tall reeds. Look for males perching at the top of cattails singing their “conk-a-lee” song.  

Look for them in parks and marshy areas, such as Floyd Bennett Field and the Rose Arc Pool at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 

Red-winged Blackbirds visit most types of feeders and will eat seed as well as suet.


17. Common Yellowthroat

Scientific name: Geothlypis trichas

Common yellowthroats are one of the most common warblers in the U.S. For most of the country, they only spend the breeding season here then migrate south of the border to winter. Males have a 0live-brown back and tail, black face mask, and bright yellow throat. Females are similarly colored but lack the black mask, making them harder to identify. They love brushy fields, and areas around water such as wetlands and marshes. Common Yellowthroats are primarily insectivores and have a diet that includes a variety of insects such as beetles, flies, moths, and caterpillars. 

While some Common Yellowthroats will remain all summer in NYC, people in the city tend to see them more frequently during spring and fall migration as larger numbers of them pass through the area. The New York Times notes that Willowbrook Park on Staten Island, Prospect Park Lake, and Alley Pond Park in Queens are good places to look for them. 

They will not visit bird feeders as they mainly eat insects, but may visit your yard if you have lots of low-grasses and dense vegetation for them to hunt insects in.


18. House Finch

Male and Female House Finch

Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus

The House Finch is a medium-sized songbird native to North America. Originally they were only found in the western U.S., but have since spread east and are now just as common in the eastern half of the country. They are comfortable in “settled habitats”, which include forest edges, backyards, city parks and other urban areas. Males have red plumage on their heads, chests, and rumps. Females have a more subdued coloration, with brownish-gray feathers and streaks on their breasts.

House Finches are primarily seed-eaters and have a diet that includes seeds from a variety of plants, including sunflowers, thistles, and grasses. They are often seen foraging on the ground or perched on bird feeders, where they can be attracted with sunflower seeds or nyjer seed. House Finches are also known to eat some insects, especially during the breeding season when they need extra protein to feed their young.

They often show up in small groups and can be quite “talkative”, whether giving their sharp ‘cheep’ or the males long but cheerful sounding warbling song. 

House Finches remain in New York all year. They readily visit feeders with mixed seed, sunflower or thistle. 


19. Ovenbird

oven bird
Ovenbird | image by Fyn Kynd via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Seiurus aurocapilla

Ovenbirds have a distinctive orange crown on their heads, a brownish-gray back, and white belly with dark spotting. Their large black eye is framed in white. These members of the wood warbler family are primarily insect eaters, and the search for them on the forest floor.   

Male Ovenbirds are known for their distinctive two-note “tea-cher” call, which they repeat about 8-13 times in rapid succession, starting soft and ending loud. In a quiet forest these sharp notes can really carry. This song is typically used for mating and territory, so you’ll hear it mainly in the spring and summer.

Their interesting name comes from their nesting behavior, building domed nests on the ground that resemble ovens. In New York City, look for them in wooded parks. Most head south for the winter, however some may stick around. Several years ago I read an account of an Ovenbird that stayed through the winter in Bryant Park. 

Ovenbirds aren’t known for visiting feeders, but mealworms or suet might entice them. 


20. White-breasted Nuthatch

white breasted nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch | image by: birdfeederhub.com

Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis

Nuthatches get their name from the fact that 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. And that is most often where you will find them, walking up and down (when moving down a tree they usually go head-first) and all around tree trunks. They use their pointed beak to probe behind the bark for beetles, beetle larvae and other insects.

White-breasted Nuthatches have a white face with a thick black strip running over the top of their head to the back of their neck. Their belly is white, and their back is gray with black markings on the wings. In the right position, you can see a small rusty spot near the underside of their tail. White-breasted Nuthatches are found year-round throughout New York in wooded areas. 

Nuthatches will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends, black sunflower seeds, peanuts, or suet. They usually like to grab and run, taking a seed and immediately flying off to eat it or cache it in a nearby tree.


21. Northern Mockingbird

Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos

Mockingbirds get their name from their ability to mimic the songs of other species of birds what they frequently hear around them in their environment. They may even mimic sounds like car alarms, construction machines or cell phone rings. Their song is a long series of these mimics. 

Appearing mostly gray with a light underbelly, however in flight you can see their distinctive white wing patches and tail edges. Northern Mockingbirds eat mainly insects, but are also known to eat some fruits and berries, especially during the winter months when insects are scarce.

They are also known for their territorial behavior, defending their nesting territories against other birds and animals. Get too close to a mockingbird nest and they may dive bomb your head! Look for them in parks and wooded areas throughout the city year-round. 

Northern Mockingbirds aren’t as commonly seen at bird feeders, but leaving out nuts, suet or mealworms can entice them. Berry-producing bushes are also a good bet.


22. Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee | Image: birdfeederhub.com

Scientific name: Poecile atricapillus

Chickadees are tiny little birds with rounded bodies that are very easy to recognize because of their “black cap”, white cheek and black bib. They have a grayish back, cream belly, short stubby bill and a long, narrow tail.

Black-capped Chickadees are primarily insect eaters, but also eat seeds. They are known for their curious and friendly nature. They seem to be less shy around humans than many other small bird species, and may even eat seeds out of a person’s hand. Black-capped Chickadees are also known for their distinctive vocalizations, which include a “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call that they use to communicate with each other.

Interestingly, these little birds have an amazing memory and are able to remember the location of thousands of individual food caches that they have hidden throughout their territory. Find them year-round in New York City in parks and green spaces. 

Chickadees will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds. They will also use small birdhouses.


23. American Goldfinch

Scientific name: Spinus tristis

Goldfinches are among my favorite birds to see, especially when they have their bright yellow feathers in the spring and summer. Males really stand out in the breeding season with their bright yellow bodies set against black wings, a black forehead and orange beak. Females are much duller yellow with a dark beak and no black on their head. During winter they will molt and their bright yellow fades out to a more dull brownish or olive tone. 

American Goldfinches are primarily seed-eaters and have a diet that includes seeds from a variety of plants, including thistles, sunflowers, and other weeds. They are often seen foraging on the ground or perched on seed heads, using their sharp beaks to crack open seeds. 

One of the latest nesting songbirds, they often wait until late June or early July to begin nesting. This allows them to take advantage of the abundant seeds and insects that are available during the summer months. Some may head south in the winter, while others will remain in New York year-round. 

Goldfinches prefer thistle feeders, they may also eat sunflower chips but a thistle feeder is your best chance to attract them


24. Dark-eyed Junco

Scientific name: Junco hyemalis

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., 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 round body shape.  

In the winter, Juncos are known for their distinctive behavior of foraging on the ground for seeds and other food sources. They are often seen in small flocks, hopping along the ground and scratching at the snow to uncover food. Juncos have a varied diet that includes seeds, insects, and spiders. They have adapted to cold weather by growing thicker feathers and by fluffing up their feathers to trap warm air close to their bodies. This often gives them a round puff-ball appearance.

In New York City, Juncos can be found in parks, gardens, and other green spaces throughout the city from late fall to early spring. 

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. 


25. American Crow

Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos

The American Crow is a large, black bird that is native to North America. They are known for their distinctive cawing calls and their intelligence, with some studies showing that they are capable of problem-solving and tool use.

Crows are omnivores and have a varied diet that includes insects, small mammals, fruits, and carrion. They are often seen foraging on the ground, using their sharp beaks to dig up insects and other small prey. In urban areas, American Crows are able to adapt to a variety of habitats, including parks, gardens, and even urban forests. In cities and suburbs they may scavenge for food in trash cans, near outdoor dining and other outdoor areas were people frequently eat food.

American Crows are also known for their social behavior, with many individuals forming large flocks during the winter months. They are able to communicate with each other using a variety of vocalizations, including caws, clicks, and rattles.

Crows don’t typically eat birdseed but may come if you leave out food scraps.


26. Mallard

mallards
Male and female Mallards | image by Jano Galaxie via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos

With so many rivers, ponds and lakes around NYC, we couldn’t leave the most abundant duck off the list, the Mallard. Male Mallards are known for their distinctive green head and yellow bill, with a brownish-gray body and white neck ring. Female Mallards have a mottled brown coloration, with a distinctive orange bill and a white tail.

Mallards are omnivores and have a varied diet that includes plants, insects, and small aquatic animals. They are dabbling ducks that forage in shallow water or on land, using their broad bills to filter food from the water or to dig up insects from the ground.

In urban areas, Mallards are able to adapt to a variety of habitats, including parks, ponds, and other bodies of water. They’ll even swim around in fountains if they are big enough. Mallard are adaptable and seem to do quite well in urban environments, where they may face fewer predators and have access to abundant food sources.

UsIf you want to feed the ducks in the park, check out this article first to make sure you choose the right foods.


27. Monk Parakeet

monk parakeet

Scientific name: Myiopsitta monachus

Parrots are typically tropical species and certainly aren’t known for living in the mid-Atlantic. And yet, there’s the Monk Parakeet. The Monk Parakeet is a brightly colored parrot species that is native to South America. They are known for their green plumage, with a gray face and breast and a bright blue tail. Monk Parakeets are also known for their distinctive nests, which are made of twigs and can be quite large and elaborate.

Monk Parakeets are not native to New York City, but they have established populations in some areas of the city, especially in Brooklyn and Queens. The origin of these populations is uncertain, but it is believed that they were likely introduced as pets that escaped or were released into the wild. These non-native, local populations have also been seen in places like Chicago, Houston, New Orleans and Miami. They certainly seem to be able to adapt to urban environments! 

In New York City, Monk Parakeets build their large, communal nests on power poles, streetlights, and other structures. They are known for their noisy, social behavior. They primarily forage in trees for berries, fruits and seeds. 


28. Peregrin Falcon

peregrine falcon
Peregrine Falcon on building

Scientific name: Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcons are a large bird of prey that is found throughout much of the world, including the United States. They are known for their distinctive appearance, with a blue-gray back, white chest, and black head and wings. Peregrine Falcons are also known for their incredible speed and agility, with the ability to reach speeds of up to 240 miles per hour when diving for prey.

In the United States, Peregrine Falcons were once endangered due to the widespread use of pesticides, which caused a decline in their population. However, conservation efforts, including the banning of DDT, have helped to bring the Peregrine Falcon population back from the brink of extinction. Today, Peregrine Falcons are still a protected species in the United States, and conservation measures are in place to help protect their habitat and ensure their survival.

In New York City, Peregrine Falcons have adapted to urban environments by using skyscrapers, church towers, tall buildings and bridges as vantage points for hunting and nesting places, rather than the high cliffs they would use in more wild settings. Some spots the Peregrines have been known to nest are 55 Water Street, Throngs Neck Bridge, Verrazzano Bridge and Bayonne Bridge. In 2019 NYDEP reported 25 Peregrin falcon pairs in the city.

So if you live 25 stories up, you may one day look out your window to see a Peregrin Falcon sitting on the ledge, looking back at you! They like to sit up high, surveying the area, then dive down and snatch their prey (usually birds and rodents). 


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5 key tips 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. Try to avoid invasive and non-native plants as they can be harmful to native birds who are not used to these plant species.

10 different types of bird feeders

Here are 10 of the most common bird feeders people set up in their yards. 
  1. 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 bird seed for this type of feeder. Here's one of my favorite hopper feeders, it's squirrel-proof too. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 
  9. 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. 
  10. 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. 

Learn about backyard birds in all 50 U.S. states!