Spotting birds can be great fun, particularly when we know which birds we are seeing. There’s something about being able to say, That’s a ______, that makes all the difference. Luckily, several stunning birds are found throughout the United States or, in a pinch, half of the United States. Often, different species will be residents of either east or west of the Rockies.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a nice list of beauties that can be commonly spotted in the spring—and often year-round—in much of the United States. Of course, springtime is an ideal time to spot birds, both because these mainstays or return visitors are around, and there are lots of others migrating or breeding. In short, there are tons of pretty songs to appreciate and amazing flashes of colors to spy.
Here are a dozen birds to keep an eye for this spring, and who knows, maybe you’ll be able to impress someone with a tidbit of knowledge. Or, perhaps it’ll be rewarding enough to simply recognize what’s fluttering around out in the yard.
1. American Robin
Found throughout the US, the American robin is usually an easy bird to spot. They have flashy breasts and bellies to make them stand out in the fresh green landscape. Robins are year-round residents in most of the United States, apart from the steamy southernmost counties of Florida, Texas, Louisiana, California, and Arizona.
2. Downy & Hairy woodpecker
These two woodpeckers—the downy woodpecker and the hairy woodpecker—look very similar and are both found throughout the USA. They are largely black and white with white undersides. Males have red napes just behind their eyes. Hairy woodpeckers have a longer bill than downy woodpeckers, but it’s very difficult to distinguish between the two.
Source: Free School/Youtube
3. American Goldfinch
The goldfinch is attractive in the wintertime, with olive-brown colors amongst white and black accents. In the summertime/late spring, however, the plumage becomes a flashier yellow, with the males being quite vibrantly yellow and females a bit duller. They can be spotted throughout the contiguous States and are a common visitor in backyards.
4. White-Breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted nuthatches are largely gray on their backs, with black lines and a black cap on their heads. Their breasts are, of course, white. These are common to see around birdfeeders as they have a taste for sunflower seeds, peanuts, and safflower seeds. In addition to being attractive, these birds are good singers as well.
Source: Nature On The GO! LLC/Youtube
5. European Starling
European starlings look like two different birds when comparing their summer coloring with their winter coats. During the warmer, breeding months, European starlings have shiny black, greenish, purplish throats with black-and-white speckled wings and tails. During the winter, they mostly speckled. Their wings have orange accents along the feather’s edges.
Source: Longleaf Imagery/Youtube
6. Northern Cardinal
Though they are only found east of the Rockies, the northern cardinal has nationwide acclaim, often as mascots for sports teams. They are also the state bird for several states. The males are wildly red, the females a bit grayer with hints of red on the wings and tails. Each has a dark mask. Cardinals love birdfeeders.
7. Blue Jay
Often an underappreciated bird, blue jays are incredibly beautiful with amazing shades of blue over their bodies, as well as strategically placed black stripes and stark white features. Blue jays are found east of the Rockies, where they are quite common. They are very intelligent birds and capable of mimicking the calls of other birds, including red-tailed hawks.
Source: Birds Walking Down/Youtube
8. Tufted Titmouse
These are tiny birds that frequent bird-feeders. They have striking tufts atop their heads. Their wings are gray, bellies and breasts white, with a patch of red beneath their wings. Tufted titmice are year-round residents east of the Rocky Mountains. They are very acrobatic and prone to hanging upside down from tree branches.
9. Eastern Bluebird
Oddly, some birds are much bluer than bluebirds, but these are remarkably beautiful birds to see in the backyards. Eastern bluebirds have blue wings and blue heads, offset with red breasts and white bellies. The colors are much more pronounced in males. This is another species found east of the Rockies.
Source: Animal Fact Files/Youtube
10. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Hummingbirds of all sorts are always a pleasure to see. They zip and dart and hum as they flitter from flower to flower in search of nectar. The male ruby-throated hummingbird has a flashy red neck, a greenish cap and wings, and a white undercarriage. They migrate to the eastern side of the US to breed.
11. Rufous Hummingbird
Like ruby-throated hummingbirds, male rufous hummingbirds have notably red feathers on their throats. However, they migrate west of the Rockies. Furthermore, they have largely red/copper wings, heads, and bellies. They also have flashes of white and iridescent green. They are very aggressive birds.
Source: Smithsonian Channel/Youtube
12. Baltimore Oriole
Orioles are stunning birds with eye-catching blocks of color, especially the Baltimore oriole. Male Baltimore orioles have bright orange undersides and dark black heads and backs. Their wings are black with dashes of white. The females are similar but with dull yellow rather than orange. These live east of the Colorado Rockies.
13. Bullock’s Oriole
West of the Rockies, there is a different species of oriole: the bullock’s oriole. They have similar coloring to the Baltimore oriole. The males have orange undersides moving up to their faces, with wings that are black with flashes of white. The females have yellow heads, gray bodies, and black wings.
Hey, we aren’t all birders, but that’s not to say we can’t enjoy spotting pretty birds in the backyard or when out on hikes. These are some great ones and are easy to recognize for the average wildlife enthusiast.
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