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48 Birds Of The Northeast (With Photos!)

Despite being among the smallest regions in the USA, the Northeast is brimming with avifauna. In this article, you will find beautiful pictures and a lot of useful information about the habitat and behavioral patterns of many backyard bird species in the northeastern United States.

Examples of birds of the northeast include purple finches, northern cardinals, great horned owls, belted kingfishers, blue jays, turkey vultures, and many others.

48 Backyard Birds Of The Northeast

Purple Finch

purple finch
  • Scientific Name: Haemorhous purpureus
  • Length: 4.7-6.3 in 
  • Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz

Despite the name, purple finches aren’t purple. Males have pink-reddish heads, breasts, backs, rumps, and streaked backs. Females are light brown above and white below and have a white line on the face above the eye.

These small birds also have short forked brown tails and brown wings. 

Purple finches breed in coniferous forests of Northern Canada and the northeastern United States before migrating to the southern US to spend the winter; some populations can be seen year-round in the Northeast.

They are omnivores that feed on seeds, berries, and insects. You will often find them around bird feeders. If you want to attract purple finches to your backyard, make sure to add sunflower seeds, millet, and thistle to your feeder.

These pinkish birds forage in trees and bushes, sometimes in ground vegetation. They nest in lowland coniferous and mixed forests and build their nests high in vegetation from twigs, weeds, grass, hair, and moss.

The purple finch is the state bird of New Hampshire.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

ruby crowned kinglet
  • Scientific Name: Regulus calendula
  • Length: 3.5-4.3 in
  • Weight: 0.2-0.4 oz 

Ruby-crowned kinglets are miniature birds that measure 3.9 inches on average in length and weigh just 0.3 ounces. 

They are one of the smallest North American songbirds and can be identified by their olive-green colors, two white wing bars, and white eye-rings. Males also have red crown patches, which are usually concealed. 

Ruby-crowned kinglets can be found throughout North America, breeding in the northeastern USA during summer and darting low in woods and thickets of the southern USA during winter. Despite their miniature size, these tiny green birds make very loud and complex sounds. 

Ruby-crowned kinglets build cup-shaped nests and have the largest clutch of any North American passerine for their size. A female may lay up to 12 eggs and that entire clutch can weigh as much as the female herself. These birds are omnivores that mainly feed on insects, some fruits, and seeds.

Cedar Waxwing

cedar waxwing
  • Scientific Name: Bombycilla cedrorum
  • Length: 6-7 in
  • Weight: 1.1 oz

Cedar waxwings are one of the most striking and handsome birds in the Northeast. Their scientific name translates as “silk-tail” and refers to their silky-soft plumage.

Cedar waxwings are medium-sized songbirds that have large heads and crests, black masks, and short necks and beaks. They also have pale brown heads, soft gray wings, pale yellow bellies, and gray tails with bright yellow tips. 

If they consume a lot of honeysuckle fruits while growing up, the tips of their tails will turn from yellow to orange.

Cedar waxwings are permanent residents of the northeastern USA and can be seen around wooded areas with access to water and berries. They are one of the few North American birds that can survive eating only fruit for several months. Scientists recorded cases of them becoming drunk from eating too much of the fermented fruit.

Cedar waxwings are classified as songbirds but have no song. Instead, they use several short and simple calls, a high-pitched “bzee” and a sighing whistle.

These yellow-tailed birds got their common name from the waxy red tips on their secondary wing feathers. Cedar waxwings are monogamous and both partners will build a nest of grass, twigs, bark, and hair; both parents take care of the young. 

Dark-eyed Junco

dark eyed junco
  • Scientific Name: Junco hyemalis
  • Length: 5.1-6.9 in
  • Weight: 0.63-1.06 oz

Dark-eyed juncos are small songbirds that belong to a group of New World sparrows. There are around 15 recognized subspecies that look similar and make taxonomists’ lives a misery. 

Dark-eyed juncos can be recognized by their rounded heads, short beaks, and fairly long tails. They also have black plumage, white underbellies, dark heads, and pale beaks. 

Dark-eyed juncos are one of the most common birds in North America that can be seen around woodlands, brushy fields, parks, and thickets. The song of males is a strong musical trill that lasts around two seconds and consists of up to 20 notes. Both sexes usually have a quieter song that includes different whistles, trills, and warbles. 

These tiny dark birds often forage while hopping and running on the ground and might even scratch the ground/snow with their feet in pursuit of food. Dark-eyed juncos are nicknamed “snowbirds” because they’re commonly sighted during winter; they are permanent residents of the northeastern states. 

Juncos are omnivores that have a diet consisting of seeds and some insects in summer.

Evening Grosbeak

pronounced eyebrows on a evening grosbeak head
  • Scientific Name: Coccothraustes vespertinus
  • Length: 6.3-8.7 in 
  • Weight: 1.37-3.04 oz

Evening grosbeaks are large finches with prominent bright yellow eyebrows. They can be identified by their yellow upperparts, black crowns, wings, and tails, and large white wing stripes.

These stocky songbirds also have thick beaks and necks, full chests, and relatively short tails.

Evening grosbeaks breed in coniferous and mixed forests across Canada, northeastern and western areas of the US and Mexico. Listen for their song which consists of a series of short, musical whistles.

Evening grosbeaks are very fast eaters that can devour almost 100 seeds in five minutes, so make sure to add sunflower seeds to your bird feeder, if you wish to attract them. They are omnivores that also feed on insects and berries.

Eastern Kingbird

eastern kingbird
  • Scientific Name: Tyrannus tyrannus
  • Length: 7.5–9.1 in 
  • Weight: 1.2–1.9 oz

Eastern kingbirds are large flycatchers found in North, Central, and South America. They live in the open country, farms, and fields; areas that have bushes and scattered trees where they can perch while foraging for insects.

The name “kingbird” comes from the birds’ crowns. Eastern kingbirds also have dark gray-black plumage, white underparts, dark caps on their heads, and white bands at the tips of their tails.

They breed across the entire North America, nest in trees and shrubs, lay 2-5 cream-colored eggs with reddish spots, and migrate to winter in South America, primarily northwestern Amazonia

During their breeding season, they are very aggressive and territorial and will chase away any bird that enters their territories, including large ones like hawks and crows. 

Eastern kingbirds have a song that consists of high, sputtering notes; their calls include the high-pitched “kit-kit” and “dzee-dzee” sounds. They will often sit perched on wires, watch for large insects, and make quick flights to snatch them. Eastern kingbirds also feed on berries and fruit, mainly during winter. 


  • Scientific Name: Dolichonyx oryzivorus 
  • Length: 5.9-8.3 in
  • Weight: 1-2 oz

Bobolinks are small songbirds that are easy to recognize by their black color, flat heads, and short necks and tails.

Male bobolinks are mostly black with buff-yellow backs of their heads (on the napes), white scapulars, lower backs, and rumps. Females are mostly light brown with black streaks on the back and flanks. They weigh from one to two ounces and have a wingspan of around 10.6 in.

People often call them “rice birds” for their tendency to feed on cultivated grains during winter. Bobolinks are omnivores whose diet mostly consists of seeds and insects. 

They breed throughout the northeastern United States; these long-distance migrants travel over 12,000 miles to and from central South America each year. During a lifetime, one bobolink may travel the same distance as four or five laps around the planet. 

Bobolinks are polygynous but also often polyandrous. This means that each clutch of eggs laid by a single female may have multiple fathers. A group of bobolinks is known as a “chain”.

Belted Kingfisher

belted kingfisher
  • Scientific Name: Megaceryle alcyon
  • Length: 11-14 in
  • Weight: 4-6.3 oz

Belted kingfishers are rather large and conspicuous water kingfishers that can be identified by their large heads, long and heavy beaks, and shaggy crests on top. 

Males are slate blue with white underparts, while the females have orange patches on their bellies and flanks and are a lot brighter than males – brighter female plumage is not very common among birds. 

Belted kingfishers can be also identified by their harsh mechanical rattles and scream calls. When the breeding season comes, they become very territorial – males will often charge at and chase intruders away. 

Usually found along lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, and ponds, belted kingfishers will breed in the northeastern USA and Canada before migrating to the southern USA, Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies in winter. 

Belted kingfishers are carnivores that dive to catch fish and crayfish with their heavy beaks; they also feed on mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians, and lizards. They can’t digest bones, so just like owls, they regurgitate the undigested pieces as pellets.

They are just one of many birds seen in Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Texas, Western Washington, and Southern California.

Northern Flicker

northern flicker
  • Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus
  • Length: 11-14 in
  • Weight: 3-5.9 oz

Northern flickers are large brown woodpeckers that are native to the United States and among the few that migrate.

There are 9 subspecies of the northern flickers. Adult northern flickers are easy to recognize by the brown plumage with black bars on the backs and wings. During the flight, these birds will flash the red-orange color under their wings and tails. 

Northern red-shafted flickers can be seen around woodlands, open areas, suburban lawns, parks, and grasslands. They are also the state bird of Alabama and are known as yellowhammers.

Northern flickers play an important role in the ecosystem – they make nesting and roosting holes in the trees that other birds, animals, and reptiles use.

Although they eat fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts, northern flickers’ primary food is insects, with ants making almost 50% of their diet. Scientists once discovered over 5,000 ants in one flicker’s stomach!

Pileated Woodpecker

pileated woodpecker
  • Scientific Name: Dryocopus pileatus
  • Length: 16-19 in
  • Weight: 7.9-14.1 oz

Pileated woodpeckers are one of the largest woodpeckers native to North America. They breed in the forests of Canada, the Eastern USA, and on the Pacific coast. 

The word “pileated” comes from the Latin word “pileatus” which means “capped” – pileated woodpeckers are primarily black with a prominent red crest on their heads. 

They also have white lines on their throats and white on their wings. Males also have red lines on the side of their heads; this is absent in females. 

Look for them hitting dead trees in pursuit of ants and making rectangular holes in the process. These black and red woodpeckers are omnivores that feed on insects (especially carpenter ants), fruits, nuts, and berries. 

These woodpeckers with red heads are rare around bird feeders; the only way they visit them is if the winter is extremely cold. Try to attract pileated woodpeckers to your backyard by adding suet to your feeders, leaving dead trees for them to forage or roost there, or putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. 

Pileated woodpeckers are crucial for making tree holes that other bird and animal species use to nest. The famous cartoon character, Woody Woodpecker, is said to have been based on pileated woodpeckers.

Cliff Swallow

cliff swallow
  • Scientific Name: Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  • Length: 5-6 in
  • Weight: 0.67–1.09 oz

Cliff swallows are gregarious songbirds with broad pointed wings, small heads, and squared tails. They have dark brown upperparts, maroon-colored throats, white foreheads, and streaked backs. 

Cliff swallows are breeding residents of the northeast that can be seen around steep banks, cliffs, bridges, and buildings near the waterways of the states. They migrate in early October to their wintering grounds in South America. 

The song of cliff swallows is a 6-second-long series of guttural grating sounds and squeaks. They also have several calls, including the alarm call, begging, recognition, and squeak call; the most common one is a soft “chur“. 

Cliff swallows are very social birds that can form large groups and create colonies ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand nests. Occasionally, these unique songbirds may lay eggs in other swallows’ nests for them to raise their chicks. Cliff swallows are insectivores and mainly consume flies, bees, moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, etc.

Eastern Phoebe

eastern phoebe
  • Scientific Name: Sayornis phoebe
  • Length: 5.5-6.7 in
  • Weight: 0.6-0.7 oz

Eastern phoebes are small songbirds that have large heads and medium-sized tails. These flycatchers also have dark gray bodies and wings with two light or no wing bars, and grayish breasts with yellow to white colors. 

Eastern phoebes are commonly found in the northeast during the summer breeding season. They breed around open woodlands, farmlands, and suburbs of the region, often close to water, and head south around September. They migrate to winter in southern Gulf Coast states and southernmost Atlantic Coast states. 

The song of eastern phoebes they were named from is the two-noted “fee-bee”, while their call is a sharp “chip”. 

They like to sit upright and will often pump (wag) their tail after landing. Eastern phoebes tend to avoid open areas and prefer spots under trees, brushy areas, and overhangs. 

These birds will use mud, grass, and moss to build their nests and will attach them to the sides of limestone outcroppings or under rock ledges. They usually have two broods per year, and each clutch will have from two to six eggs. Eastern phoebes are omnivores and feed on insects and some fruits.


  • Scientific Name: Pandion haliaetus
  • Length: 19.7-26 in
  • Weight: 2-4.6 lb

Ospreys are large diurnal birds of prey found on every continent, except Antarctica. Due to their small white heads, wide wingspans, and sharp beaks and talons, people sometimes mistake them for bald eagles. 

Ospreys are white below, brown above, and overall they are whiter than most birds of prey. They also have M-shaped wings when soaring and a broad brown stripe through the eyes. 

In North America, ospreys breed from Alaska and Newfoundland south to the Gulf Coast and Florida. When winter comes, they move south to winter from the southern parts of the USA to Argentina. They are widespread there and can be found around the coast, lakes, rivers, and swamps. 

Ospreys have several vocalizations: a slow whistled “kyew-kyew” guard call and a short clear whistle “cheereek” alarm call. These raptors are piscivorous and fish makes up 99% of their diet, hence their nickname “fish hawks.” 

They will hover above the water, locate their prey and then swoop down with their talons extended. Their toes are covered with short spines which help them grasp slippery fish better. 

During their 20-year-long lifetime, these migratory birds can travel over 160,000 miles!

Summer Tanager

summer tanagers
  • Scientific Name: Piranga rubra
  • Length: 6.7 in
  • Weight: 1 oz

Summer tanagers are medium-sized American songbirds that have big bodies, large heads, and thick blunt-tipped beaks. Males are bright all-red with heavy beaks and dark legs while females are olive above and yellowish below. 

Summer tanagers can be seen in several northeastern states, including parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey during summer, around pine and oak woods. They migrate to Mexico, Central America, and northern parts of South America.

Summer tanagers have a song that consists of a series of robin-like musical phrases; their calls are sharp “pik-i-tuk-i-tuk”. Despite having one of the most striking colors in the state, summer tanagers might be hard to spot as they prefer to forage high in the tree canopy. 

They are omnivores that mainly feed on insects, especially bees and wasps, but might also consume some fruit outside of breeding season. These beautiful birds will have a clutch of 3-4 pale blue to pale green eggs with brown markings. Females will incubate the eggs while the males feed them. Both partners will take care of the chicks.

Indigo Bunting

blue indigo bunting
  • Scientific Name: Passerina cyanea
  • Length: 4.5–5.9 in
  • Weight: 0.4–0.75 oz

Indigo buntings are tiny seed-eating birds common around woodlands, forests, parks, and gardens; they are also frequent visitors of bird feeders. In the Northeast, they can be seen during summer before departing to Southern Florida, Mexico, Central, and South America for the winter.

Males have cerulean blue plumage during the breeding season. Their heads are indigo blue and the wings and tails are black with cerulean blue edges. They become brown during the non-breeding season; females are brown year-round. 

Males love to sing and have a rapid, excited warble song with each note or phrase being given twice. When marking their territory or attracting females, males will emit a high-pitched song that lasts from two to four seconds and sounds like “sweet-sweet chew-chew.” Both sexes will also use a sharp “chip” alarm call. 

Indigo buntings are territorial birds and omnivores that feed on insects, seeds, and berries. These birds usually mate for life; occasionally, they may switch partners within a single breeding season. 

Blue Jay

Blue Jay With a Beak
  • Scientific Name: Cyanocitta cristata
  • Length: 9–12 in
  • Weight: 2.5–3.5 oz

Common around forests, woods, parks, and other urban areas with large oak trees, blue jays are rather small blue songbirds. Males and females are alike and have lavender-blue color above and white color below. They also have black collars, white tails and throats, and blue wings with white spots. 

On top of their head, there is a crest that can be used to indicate the birds’ mood – when agitated, the crest goes up and when frightened, the crest goes down.

According to Bergmann’s rule stating that animals living in warmer areas tend to be smaller than those living in colder ones, blue jays from warm Florida weigh less (2.6 oz) than those from colder Connecticut (3.26 oz on average). 

These noisy birds will often mimic hawk sounds when approaching a feeding site to drive away other birds. They make a large variety of sounds, may even learn to mimic human speech, and can even use tools. They are not state birds in any US state but mascots of Toronto Blue Jays, a Major League Baseball team.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

ruby-throated hummingbird
  • Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris
  • Length: 2.8-3.6 in
  • Weight: 0.07-0.2 oz

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are one of the smallest birds in North America. They can have a wingspan of as little as 3.1 inches and weigh less than a penny (0.07 oz)!

Males have metallic emerald green upperparts, grayish-white underparts, black wings, and a gorget (throat patch) of iridescent ruby red. Their tails are forked. Females are larger than males, have slightly shorter beaks, and have white throats. 

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are one of the most common hummingbirds found east of the Mississippi River in the USA. Look for them in the northeast during their summer breeding season. When the winter comes, these tiny green birds can also be found in southern Florida

Ruby-throated hummingbirds move very quickly, around 25 mph, and will beat their wing over 50 times per second. They only have about 940 feathers on average which is the smallest number of any bird.

To attract these hummingbirds with red necks to your backyard, you can set up hummingbird feeders or plant tubular flowers. They are quite bold and might even feed at hanging plants and feeders on your porch or next to your windows!

Red-eyed Vireo

red-eyed vireo
  • Scientific Name: Vireo olivaceus
  • Length: 4.7-5.1 in 
  • Weight: 0.4-0.9 oz

Red-eyed vireos are common songbirds that are olive-green above, dingy below, and have dark eye lines, light eyebrows, heavy beaks, and hard-to-spot red eyes.

These tireless singers will usually sit high up in the trees and emit different sounds – scientists even recorded one red-eyed vireo singing 117 different types of songs!

Red-eyed vireos can be seen from spring to fall in the Northeastern parts, around woodlands and gardens. They breed there from around April to August.

The first to arrive at the breeding grounds will be males to establish territories and form pairs shortly after the arrival of the females. After pairing, females will build the nests (males do not help) and lay a clutch of three to five spotted eggs. Both parents will feed the chicks.

These small songbirds are susceptible to brood parasitism – in one instance, scientists found one red-eyed vireo female incubating four eggs of other birds; there were no vireo eggs in its nest as the other bird had punctured or pitched out the vireo’s eggs.

They are omnivores and usually feed on insects and berries. Males will feed in the high canopy, while females forage lower down.

Red-eyed vireos are very common birds in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

American Crow

american crow
  • Scientific Name: Corvus brachyrhynchos 
  • Length: 16-20 in
  • Weight: 11-21 oz

These large and aggressive black birds with long tails are found throughout most of North America. Despite having very harsh-sounding calls, American crows are considered songbirds. 

Adults can be recognized by their all-black plumage, fan-shaped tails, and large bills. American crows measure from 16 to 20 inches in total – almost 40% of which is the tail. 

They can be often found around woods and urban areas and can be recognized by their loud, short, and rapid “caaw-caaw” calls. Often associated with trickery and death, American crows are large and intelligent birds with an IQ similar to that of chimpanzees. 

These birds are omnivores and feed on earthworms, insects, other small animals, seeds, fruit, even garbage, and carrion.

Northern Mockingbird

northern mockingbird
  • Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottos
  • Length: 8.1-11 in
  • Weight: 1.4-2.0 oz

Northern mockingbirds have been the state birds of Florida since 1927. These medium-sized songbirds are widespread and are common in habitats ranging from open country to suburbs. 

Both males and females sing and you will often hear them singing at night. Listen for a long series of musical and grating phrases, each repeated 3 or more times. Northern mockingbirds have four recognized calls: the nest relief call, hew call, chat, and the begging call.

The Latin name of these birds translates to “many-tongued mimic,” and for a reason – a northern mockingbird can imitate chirps of up to 35 species and learn over 200 different songs in its lifetime. 

Northern mockingbirds can mimic sounds of rusty hinges, car alarms, cackling hens, and dog barks; they can mimic so well that it’s very hard to tell a difference even with an electronic analysis.

In person, you will easily identify them by their gray plumage with whitish underparts and long tails. In case you see one while it’s flying, notice the large white patches on its black wings and tail. Those white patches help them to show off during the mating season and to flash them when defending territory against some snakes and hawks. 

They are the only species out of 16 with the name “mockingbird” that are native to the US.

Northern mockingbirds are territorial birds that can be extremely good at breeding – scientists once recorded a female that managed to lay 27 eggs in a single season! 

Red-tailed Hawk

red-tailed hawk
  • Scientific Name: Buteo jamaicensis
  • Length: 18–26 in
  • Weight: 1.5-3.5 lb

Red-tailed hawks are large birds with broad rounded wings and short wide tails. There are several variations of their colors; most are brown with light bellies, streaky breast bands, and rusty tails. Females tend to be larger than males. 

Red-tailed hawks are large birds of prey that can be seen throughout the Northeast, in almost every habitat with open areas and patches of trees or other elevated perches. You will often see them sitting perched near a roadside or soaring in the sky and looking for prey. 

They can spot a mouse from 100 feet in the air and will grab it using their almost inch-and-a-half-long talons. Red-tailed hawks are carnivores that feed on small mammals, especially rodents and rabbits, birds, reptiles, occasionally fish, and large insects. 

These raptors are monogamous and will usually nest in hardwood trees, especially black cottonwood or red alder. Red-tailed hawks are legally protected in the United States by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and you can’t hunt them. There are 14 subspecies of red-tailed hawks.

Gray Catbird

gray catbird
  • Scientific Name: Dumetella carolinensis
  • Length: 8.1-9.4 in
  • Weight: 0.8-2.0 oz

Gray catbirds are medium-sized songbirds commonly found around woods, brush piles, and urban areas. Look for dark gray birds with black caps, beaks, legs, tails, and rufous undertails. 

Gray catbirds are unmistakable for their cat-like call after which they got their name. They have a song that consists of a long, irregular succession of musical and mechanical notes and phrases. Gray catbirds’ songs can last for 10 minutes!

Just like mockingbirds, gray catbirds can mimic the songs of other birds. Instead of singing perched on trees, catbirds will often sing from inside a bush or small tree while being hidden by the vegetation. 

You might be able to attract them by “pishing” sounds. These fearless birds are not scared of invaders and will often attack and peck predators that come close to their nests. Gray catbirds will also destroy brood parasitic eggs laid in their nests.

Read More: 25 examples of Ohio songbirds

Mourning Dove

mourning dove
  • Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura
  • Length: 12 in
  • Weight: 4-6 oz

Mourning doves are one of the most abundant and widespread North American birds; they can be seen year-round in the Northeast around suburban yards and parks.

These popular gamebirds were named after the sad cooing sounds they make while singing. They have light brown-gray bodies, black spots on their wings, long tails, and iridescent necks. 

They have several vocalizations: distinctive “coo-woo-woo” calls when attracting females, soft greeting “ork” calls, and short “roo-oo” alarm calls. 

Mourning doves are monogamous birds where both parents incubate the eggs and raise the young. They are excellent at breeding and can raise up to 12 young per year. Mourning doves are also omnivores with seeds making 99% of their diet; they might also consume some insects or snails.

Read More: 25 examples of North Carolina songbirds

Turkey Vulture

turkey vulture
  • Scientific Name: Cathartes aura 
  • Length: 24-32 in
  • Weight: 1.8-5.3 lb

These big black birds are the most widespread of the New World vultures. Turkey vultures, also known as turkey buzzards, or just buzzards, got named for their resemblance to wild turkeys. 

With a wingspan of around 6 feet, black-brown plumage, bare red heads, and white legs, turkey vultures are hard to miss in the sky. Look for their silvery flight feathers that are contrasted with dark wing linings while they fly. 

Using their keen vision and sharp sense of smell, turkey vultures can locate carrion easily. They lack a syrinx (the vocal organ) which makes them voiceless; all turkey vultures can do is hiss, whine, and grunt. 

They are one of the largest raptors in the USA, just after the eagles and condors. Some wildlife experts estimate a population of over 18 million turkey vultures in total. 

They are very social birds that roost in large community groups with several hundred individuals. You might also spot them sitting in trees on the sides of roads waiting for their next meal. They do a great service across the US by removing dead animals and preventing the transmission of any diseases those dead animals could have carried. 

Because of their extremely strong stomach acids, turkey vultures can eat and digest carcasses tainted with anthrax, tuberculosis, and rabies, without getting sick.

Common Loon

common loon
  • Scientific Name: Gavia immer
  • Length: 26-36 in
  • Weight: 4.9-16.8 lb

Common loons are large diving waterbirds with rounded heads and dagger-like beaks. During summer, adults are black above, white below, and have black heads and bills, and black-and-white spots on their backs. When the non-breeding season comes, the dramatic black and white colors will change into a winter plumage of dull dark gray with white on the front of the neck and breast. 

Common loons breed in Canada, the Northern and Northeastern USA, and southern parts of Greenland and Iceland. After that, they migrate to their wintering grounds on both US coasts down to Mexico, and on the Atlantic coast of Europe. 

During the breeding season, these black water birds are common on forested lakes and large ponds; during the non-breeding season, look for common loons on inland lakes, bays, inlets, and streams. 

These excellent divers can stealthily submerge without a splash to catch fish, go over 200 feet below the water’s surface, stay there for up to 5 minutes, and swallow their prey underwater. 

Common loons primarily feed on fish, crustaceans, insect larvae, mollusks, and occasionally aquatic plants. They are monogamous and the pair may breed together for a decade or more. Both the male and the female will often together defend a territory.

Barn Swallow

barn swallow
  • Scientific Name: Hirundo rustica
  • Length: 7 in
  • Weight: 0.67 oz

Barn swallows are the most widespread species of swallow in the world. They have blue heads and wings, rusty-orange throats and foreheads, and pale orange chests and undersides. 

Barn swallows are distinguished for their long, slender, and deeply forked tails. Males and females look similar – the female’s tail is a little less forked.


  • Scientific Name: Seiurus aurocapilla
  • Length: 4.3-6.3 in
  • Weight: 0.49-1.02 oz

These small migratory songbirds can be identified by their olive-green upperparts, black and white underparts, white rings around the eyes, and the black stripe below the cheeks. 

They also have dark eyes, a dark upper part of a thin pointed beak, a horn-colored lower part, and pinkish legs and feet. Ovenbirds spend summer in the eastern and northeastern parts of North America before moving to winter in Central America, Florida, several Caribbean islands, and northern Venezuela.

American Goldfinch

american goldfinch
  • Scientific Name: Spinus tristis
  • Length: 4.3-5.5 in
  • Weight: 0.39-0.71 oz

The American goldfinch is a small migratory bird with a small head, long wings, and a short, notched tail. Male and female American goldfinches have colorful carotenoid-based orange bills during the breeding season.

The bill serves as an indicator of the overall health of the bird – the more saturated with orange a bill is, the higher the testosterone levels are in that specific bird. American goldfinches are common around open woodlands, backyards, and parks in the Northeast.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

rose-breasted grosbeak
  • Scientific Name: Pheucticus ludovicianus 
  • Length: 7.1–8.7 in
  • Weight: 1.2-2.3 oz

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are large grosbeaks and medium-sized songbirds with large triangular beaks, stocky bodies, short necks, and squared tails. 

They breed in open deciduous woods of Canada and the northeastern USA and migrate to their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central, and South America. Attract rose-breasted grosbeaks to your bird feeder by adding sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and raw peanuts.

These multicolored birds do not spend too much time building nests and their eggs can be often seen from the bottom.

House Sparrow

house sparrow
  • Scientific NamePasser domesticus
  • Length: 6.3 in
  • Weight: 0.85–1.39 oz

House sparrows are small brightly colored birds, with gray heads, white cheeks, black bibs, and reddish-brown necks. They are the most widely distributed wild birds; house sparrows are common around human habitats and will live in urban or rural areas.

European Starling

Common starling
  • Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris 
  • Length: 7.5-9.1 in
  • Weight: 2-3.6 oz

House Finch

house finch
  • Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus 
  • Length: 5-6 in 
  • Weight: 0.74 oz

Brown-headed Cowbird

brown headed blackbird
  • Scientific Name: Molothrus ater 
  • Length: 6.3-8.7 in 
  • Weight: 1.1-2.1 oz

Common Grackle

common blackbird grackle
  • Scientific Name: Quiscalus quiscula 
  • Length: 11-13 in 
  • Weight: 2.6-5 oz

Yellow Warbler

american yellow warbler
  • Scientific Name: Setophaga petechia 
  • Length: 3.9-7.1 in 
  • Weight: 0.25-0.88 oz

Red-breasted Nuthatch

red-breasted nuthatch
  • Scientific Name: Sitta canadensis 
  • Length: 4.5 in  
  • Weight: 0.35 oz

Eastern Bluebird

eastern bluebird
  • Scientific Name: Sialia sialis
  • Length: 6.3–8.3 in
  • Weight: 0.95–1.2 oz

Hairy Woodpecker

hairy woodpecker
  • Scientific Name: Leuconotopicus villosus  
  • Length: 7.1–10.2 in 
  • Weight: 1.4–3.4 oz

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird
  • Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus
  • Length: 6.7-9.4 in
  • Weight: 1.46-2.3 oz


Malard With a Beak
  • Scientific Name: Anas platyrhynchos 
  • Length: 20–26 in
  • Weight: 1.5–3.5 lb

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper
  • Scientific Name: Certhia americana 
  • Length: 4.7–5.5 in
  • Weight: 0.2–0.3 oz

Red-shouldered Hawk

red-shouldered hawk
  • Scientific Name: Buteo lineatus 
  • Length: 15 to 24 in 
  • Weight: 1.2-1.5 lb

Great Horned Owl

great horned owl
  • Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus     
  • Length: 17-25 in
  • Weight: 2.7-3.5 lb

Black-capped Chickadee

black-capped chickadee
  • Scientific Name: Poecile atricapillus 
  • Length: 4.7–5.9 in
  • Weight: 0.32–0.49 oz

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal With Beak
  • Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis
  • Length: 8.3–9.1 in
  • Weight: 1.19-2.29 oz

Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse
  • Scientific Name: Baeolophus bicolor 
  • Length: 5.5–6.3 in 
  • Weight: 0.6–0.9 oz

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk
  • Scientific Name: Accipiter cooperii 
  • Length: 14-20 in 
  • Weight: 1-15 lb

American Redstart

female american redstard with yellow tail
  • Scientific Name: Setophaga ruticilla 
  • Length: 4.3-5.5 in
  • Weight: 0.24-0.3 oz


This list of birds in the Northeast includes several types of songbirds, hawks, owls, vultures, loons, ducks, and many other species.

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