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25 Stunning Songbirds Of North Carolina (+Song ID!)

Living in North Carolina and heard some birds but are not sure which ones they were? 

North Carolina is known for its wildlife, and according to the North Carolina Bird Records Committee (NCBRC), there are almost 480 species of birds there. Plenty of those have beautiful songs.

Examples of North Carolina songbirds include the northern cardinal, blue jay, purple martin, veery, hooded warbler, and many others. 

Some of these birds, like the northern mockingbird and blue jay, can be seen year-round in the state, while others, like the purple martin, will only spend summers there. 

Here are their photos, songs, and some fun facts.

Songbirds Of North Carolina

1. Northern Cardinal

red northern cardinal
  • Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis

The NC General Assembly named the northern cardinal as the official state bird of North Carolina in 1943.

These popular songbirds can be seen year-round throughout the state. Northern cardinals are common around woodlands, brushy fields, parks, and other urban areas – something North Carolina has in abundance. They are also familiar sights in many backyards.

Also known as redbirds, they get their red color from the food they eat – if there are not enough carotenoids in their meals, they become brownish. 

Both male and female cardinals sing almost year-round. Listen for their 2-3 second song which is a loud string of clear down-slurred or two-parted whistles that sound like “cheer-cheer,” “birdie-birdie,” and “wheet-wheet.” 

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Northern cardinals’ most common call is a loud, metallic chip they use to chase away other males entering their territories.

The species is sexually dimorphic – males and females look different. You will recognize males by their bright red plumage, crests on their heads, and black throats and faces. Females are mostly brown with crests, reddish wings and tails, and without facial masks.

These monogamous birds are very territorial and aggressive – northern cardinals will often try to attack their reflections in the mirrors and windows. To attract northern cardinals to your bird feeder, make sure to add some sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, or milo. 

Read More: List Of Red And Black Animals (With Photos)

2. Barn Swallow 

Barn Swallow Nest With Chicks
  • Scientific name: Hirundo rustica

Barn swallows are the most widespread species of swallow in the world. They move from their North American breeding ground around early fall and migrate to Central and South America for the winter.

If you live in North Carolina, look for barn swallows during the summer months. They are common in open areas, parks, and fields, especially in places near water.

Barn swallows can be easily identified by their forked tails, dark blue upperparts, rusty throats, cinnamon-colored bellies, and squeaky songs.

Barn swallows have a “twitter-warble” song during the breeding season that consists of a long series of continuous warbling sounds and rapid, mechanical-sounding “whirrs.”

Source: Record by Justin Wasack as stated on this site: BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

These birds build open-cup nests using mud and dried grass. They used to nest around caves and rocky crevices, but today, they mainly use man-made structures that have overhanging eaves or flat surfaces. 

According to the legend, barn swallows stole fire from the gods and gave it to people. Gods became so angry that they threw a firebrand at the bird, burning its middle tail feathers.

Read More: List of birds that have forked tails (With Photos)

3. Blue Jay 

Blue Jay With a Beak
  • Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata

These large and nonmigratory songbirds are found throughout North Carolina. Blue jays are one of North Carolina’s best-known birds, widespread from forests to city parks.

These blue and white songbirds are easy to recognize as males and females look the same. Blue jays are blue above, and gray below, and have crests and black collars. They also have blue wings with white spots. 

Blue jays will often mimic hawk sounds when approaching a feeding site to drive away other birds. They make a large variety of sounds and may even learn to mimic human speech.

Blue jays have a song that is a mixture of clicks, chucks, whirrs, whines, liquid notes, and elements of other calls. Their alarm call is a loud, almost gull-like scream.

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite not being a state bird in any US state, blue jays are the mascot of a Major League Baseball team called the Toronto Blue Jays. These songbirds are highly intelligent and can even use tools.

4. Cedar Waxwing 

cedar waxwing
  • Scientific name: Bombycilla cedrorum

Cedar waxwings are medium-sized sleek birds with large heads with a crest, a black facial mask, and short necks and bills. They got their names from the waxy red tips on their secondary wing feathers. 

Cedar waxwings are mostly winter residents in North Carolina with some populations staying year-long in western parts of the state. During the breeding season, most of the birds will nest in the mountains.

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

Source: Jonathon JongsmaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cedar waxwings are one of the few North American birds that can survive eating only fruit for several months. If the birds eat enough of the honeysuckle fruit while growing up, the tips of their tails will turn from yellow to orange.

Sociable in all seasons, it is very rare to spot just one waxwing. They lay a clutch of bluish-gray eggs with dark spots with both parents feeding nestlings.

5. Tufted Titmouse 

tufted titmouse
  • Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor

Common in various areas ranging from forests and parks to suburbs, the tufted titmouse is a permanent resident of North Carolina. This songbird is essentially non-migratory and nests in all 100 North Carolina counties.

You will recognize this small bird by its gray plumage, black eyes, a spot on the forehead, and a head crested with fawn flanks. Listen for its whistled “peter-peter-peter” song.

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Some estimates claim that there are over 8 million of these birds in existence today.

The tufted titmouse is a common visitor to bird feeders where it will first scout a feeder from cover, fly in to grab a seed, and then fly back to cover to eat it. If you want to attract them to your backyard, try adding sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts.

6. Eastern Kingbird 

eastern kingbird
  • Scientific name: Tyrannus tyrannus

Eastern kingbirds are another North Carolina songbirds that nest in essentially every county in the state. They are summer visitors from late March to mid-October, commonly found in various habitats, including open country, farms, and fields.

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.

After breeding in North Carolina, these songbirds will completely depart the USA and migrate south to South America, primarily northwestern Amazonia

You will recognize them by their gray-black upperparts, white underbelly, and pointed wings. Notice the white band at the tip of their tails and listen for their high-pitched “kit-kit” and “dzee-dzee” calls. 

Source: Jonathon JongsmaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They will often perch on wires, watch for large insects, and make quick flights to snatch them. 

These black and white birds are also commonly found in Colorado.

7. Purple Martin 

purple martin
  • Scientific name: Progne subis

Purple martins are the largest swallows in North America, famous for their chattering song and aerial acrobatics. They are breeding residents found throughout most of North Carolina, nesting all over the state, except in the higher mountains.

These migratory songbirds winter in the rainforests of Brazil and then undertake a 7,000-mile-long migration trip back into the eastern United States and Canada. 

The first purple martins of the year can be spotted in the state around late February, you will see males that usually arrive before the females. They will scout for new or unoccupied martin houses but the females are the ones that make the final decision. 

Pairs typically build their nests out of straw, twigs, and pine needles. Purple martins used to make their nests in tree cavities, but now they’ve become totally dependent on the birdhouses people provide for them.

They are easy to identify too; just look for birds with slightly hooked beaks, short and forked tails, and long, tapered wings. Males have glossy purple-blue plumage while females are gray to mottled purple.

Purple martins are very vocal birds. Their most common songs are chirps, chortles, rattles, and croaks. When fighting over territory, purple martins will make a “hee-hee” sound and a “zwrack” call when interacting with other species.

Source: Jonathon JongsmaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They are very social and colonial birds – the largest roosting colony ever discovered had over 700,000 birds! Purple martins are carnivores that use the hawking strategy to catch insects – they will swoop down and catch them mid-flight. 

Read More: List of animals active at night in North Carolina

8. Carolina Chickadee 

carolina chickadee
  • Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis

Carolina chickadees are small songbirds with distinctive black caps and bibs, dull white cheeks, gray backs, and white underparts. Their beaks are dark and short, their wings are short, and their tails are moderately long.

They are permanent residents and can be seen statewide throughout the year. One of only a few songbirds of North Carolina that is completely non-migratory, Carolina chickadees nests in all 100 counties, being absent only from the highest mountains and the Outer Banks.

The song of Carolina chickadees consists of 4 notes that sound like “fee-bee-fee-bay” and the call they were named after, is a familiar “chick-a-dee-dee.” 

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

When the weather gets very cold, instead of migrating south, Carolina chickadees will enter torpor – a hibernation-like state of sleep where they lower their body temperature, breathing rate, heart rate, and metabolic rate to survive the winter months. 

During summer, they mainly consume insects; when winter comes, they add in some seeds and berries. They might also store food for later use. 

Attract Carolina chickadees to your backyard by adding black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts, suet, and peanut butter to your feeders.

9. Brown-headed Nuthatch 

brown-headed nuthatch
  • Scientific name: Sitta pusilla

Brown-headed nuthatches don’t migrate at all in North Carolina. Look for them there throughout the Coastal Plain, most parts of Piedmont, and a few of the southern mountain counties; keep in mind that they tend to stick to lower elevations.

If heard or seen well, brown-headed nuthatches are almost unmistakable in nature. Look for charismatic birds that are climbing headfirst down tree trunks of the pine forests.

You will identify them by their plumage which is gray above and white below. Brown-headed nuthatches also have long beaks, short tails, white spots on the back of their heads, and brown caps.

Pay close attention to their two-syllable songs that resemble toy rubber ducks being squeezed. Brown-headed nuthatches might also make softer “pit pit pit” calls when flying. 

Brown-headed nuthatch song

These birds will frequently visit feeding stations; make sure to add sunflower seeds and suet cakes in case you want to attract one.

10. Brown Thrasher 

brown thrasher
  • Scientific name: Toxostoma rufum

Brown thrashers are brown birds native to Eastern North America. These medium-sized songbirds are brown above, buffy white, heavy speckled below, and have long tails, curved beaks, and yellow eyes. 

Brown thrashers nest in all 100 counties of North Carolina but mostly spend their winters in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, with small numbers in the lower mountains. They are common in areas ranging from woodlands to suburbs but become quite secretive during winter. 

Brown thrashers are also very vocal mimics that have a repertoire of over 1,000 songs. The songs can include rough imitations of other bird species like the chuck-will’s-widow, northern flicker, white-eyed vireo, tufted titmouse, wood thrush, and northern cardinal.

Males sing a lengthy, loud series of phrases without a clear start or end, often described as “plant a seed, plant a seed, bury it, bury it, cover it up, cover it up, let it grow, let it grow, pull it up, pull it up, eat it, eat it.” They will typically sing each phrase only twice before moving on.

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Brown thrashers are susceptible to brood parasitism – another bird will lay its eggs in their nests for thrashers to raise. They are also very aggressive and will fiercely protect their nests and territories. 

Brown thrashers are also state birds of Georgia; read about the other 25 birds found there in this article.

11. Gray Catbird 

gray catbird
  • Scientific name: Dumetella carolinensis

Gray catbirds are familiar songbirds of North Carolina. They breed statewide but when the fall comes, they move southward to the Coastal Plain. 

Unlike most other songbirds of the state, they prefer dark and moist habitats, including high-elevation thickets and wooded edges, dense shrubbery in yards, pocosins, and maritime shrub thickets.

Look for dark gray birds with black caps, beaks, legs, tails, and rufous undertails; they are most active in the early morning and again late in the day.

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. 

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Just like mockingbirds and thrashers, gray catbirds can mimic the songs of other birds. However, unlike mockingbirds that sing 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 lay 1-6 turquoise green eggs that occasionally have white spots. They will also destroy brood parasitic eggs laid in their nests. 

12. White-eyed Vireo 

white-eyed vireo
White-eyed Vireo | Source: nate steiner, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific name: Vireo griseus

White-eyed vireos are extremely small songbirds that were named after their white irises.

You can also identify them by their olive-green upperparts, white underparts, yellow foreheads, green sides, gray necks, and dark wings.

White-eyed vireos are common over much or most of North Carolina, but their presence is noticeably lower in mountainous regions. Some populations might winter in parts of the Coastal Plain of this range; look for them around woodlands and brushy forest undergrowths.

These shy birds love to stay in tree understory and out of sight but will sing the whole day to let you know they are there. White-eyed vireos have a song that consists of rapid 6-7 notes that start and end with a sharp “chick“. 

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

White-eyed vireos also have an interesting way of bathing: they will rub their bodies against wet leaves in the morning. They lay a clutch of 3-5 dark-spotted white eggs that both parents incubate for 12-16 days.

13. Red-eyed Vireo

red-eyed vireo
  • Scientific nameVireo olivaceus

Red-eyed vireos have been and continue to be the most commonly found breeding birds in the Eastern deciduous forests.

They can be spotted throughout the entire North Carolina during summer, with the exception of a few coastal islands. From late April to June, it becomes almost impossible to miss them while birdwatching in any hardwood or mixed forest. 

These birds prefer middle-aged to mature hardwood forests, with a slight preference for moist and mesic forests like bottomlands (although less so in swamps) over dry forests.

Look for birds 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!

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Red-eyed vireos breed from around April to August and the first to arrive at the breeding grounds will be males to establish territories. 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 also 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.

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

14. Indigo Bunting

blue indigo bunting
  • Scientific name: Passerina cyanea

Quick to adapt to wooded borders and ecotones, indigo buntings are becoming one of the most abundant breeding birds in the East, including North Carolina.

These small seed-eating birds can be seen statewide during summer before departing to Mexico, South, and Central America. Indigo buntings are common in open woodlands, brushy fields, and parks of the state.

You can identify adult males by their vibrant blue plumage during summer, with slightly richer blue colors on their heads. During the winter months, they become brown. Females are brown year-round. 

Their song is a rapid, excited warble with each note or phrase being given twice. When marking their territory or attracting females, males will emit a high-pitched song that lasts 2-4 seconds and sounds like “sweet-sweet chew-chew.” Both sexes will also use a sharp “chip” alarm call.

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Even during the sweltering summer months of July and August, indigo buntings prove to be one of North Carolina’s most tenacious songbirds, persistently filling the air with their melodious tunes.

15. Northern Mockingbird 

northern mockingbird
  • Scientific nameMimus polyglottos

The northern mockingbird is one of the most conspicuous of North Carolina’s songbirds, at least during the summer breeding season. They are permanent residents in the state and can be found around open country, farmyards, residential areas, towns, and cities.

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

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

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.

Source: Sandtouch Limited Company, a Texas limited liability companyCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Northern mockingbirds have four recognized calls: the nest relief call, hew call, chat, and the begging call.

You will easily identify them in person by their gray plumage with whitish underparts and long tails. In case you see them in flight, keep an eye on large patches of white on their dark wings and tails. 

Those patches help them to show off during the mating season and to flash them when defending territory against some snakes and hawks. 

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! You can identify their pale blue or greenish eggs by splotches of reddish-brown concentrated at the larger end.

Read More: What are some other birds that sing at night in North Carolina?

16. Scarlet Tanager

scarlet tanager
  • Scientific name: Piranga olivacea

Scarlet tanagers are medium-sized songbirds with thick, rounded beaks, fairly large heads, and short and broad tails. Males are bright red with dark wings and tails; females are lime to yellow-green with white wing linings, and gray flanks.

Scarlet tanagers are breeding residents of North Carolina’s mountains and foothills, entire Piedmont, and most of the northern half of the Coastal Plain. They are most common around mature hardwood forests; they do not nest in the southeastern parts of the Coastal Plain.

First to arrive at their breeding grounds are males, followed by females a week later. After breeding, the pair will have a clutch of around 4 light blue eggs with reddish-brown spots.

Male scarlet tanagers have a song consisting of a series of 4-5 chirruping phrases with a hurried quality. Females will sing more softly. People often compare scarlet tanagers’ song to one of a robin with a sore throat. The call is a distinctive “chip-burr.” 

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

17. Eastern Bluebird 

eastern bluebird
  • Scientific name: Sialia sialis

Eastern bluebirds are permanent residents in the state, typically found in open country with scattered trees or groves and fences and phone lines for perching. Even some residential areas might provide suitable habitats for these songbirds.

Marvelous birds to capture in your binoculars, you will recognize them by their big, rounded heads, large eyes, and alert posture. Males have vivid royal blue wings, heads, and backs, and warm red-brown and white breasts. 

To attract a female, a male bluebird will sing over 1,000 songs per hour; it sings without opening its beak wide. Listen for their soft melodious warble song and their liquid and musical “turee” or “queedle” call. They will often sing while perched on a fencepost or power line.

Source: Jonathon JongsmaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Eastern bluebirds are cavity nesters that often use nest boxes. In case you want to attract one, try placing your nestbox some 40 yards from a wood edge and away from a seed feeding station. Eastern bluebirds might be also attracted to peanut butter mixes, suet, fruit, raisins soaked in hot water, and mealworms.

Bluebirds, like other songbirds, are protected by federal law through the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This means it is against the law to harm them, their nests, or their eggs due to their protected status.

18. Veery 

  • Scientific name: Catharus fuscescens

Veery is one of the most fascinating songbirds you can encounter in North Carolina during summer.

These medium-sized thrushes with a charming appearance are slightly smaller than American robins but similar in shape. They boast a plump body, round head, a straight, narrow bill, and relatively long wings and legs. 

Sporting a vibrant cinnamon-brown plumage, veeries have subtle spotting on the chests and pale underparts. What sets them apart is their distinctive song, which includes the melodic “veer” sounds they were named after.

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

While breeding in North Carolina, veeries can be primarily found in middle and high elevations, although they pass through various parts of the state during migration. Over the past few decades, their breeding range and population in the mountains have remained relatively consistent. 

These beautiful birds prefer cool forests as their habitats, particularly spruce-fir stands, mixed spruce and hardwoods, northern hardwoods, and certain cove forests. 

19. American Robin 

american robin
  • Scientific name: Turdus migratorius

These migratory songbirds are a common sight on lawns, backyards, and open woodlands throughout North Carolina year-round. 

Males are easy to identify by their black heads, yellow beaks with gray tips, and brick-red breasts. Females are slightly duller and have brown heads. Look for large flocks of birds, sometimes up to 10,000 individuals. 

Their song is described as a “cheery” carol consisting of a string of 10 or so clear whistles; American robins also have a sharp “yeep” alarm call or a mumbled “tuk” when communicating with one another. 

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

American robins are the state birds of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin. They are omnivores with a sweet tooth and will feast on fruits, berries, and even cakes and pastries. 

20. Rose-breasted Grosbeak 

rose-breasted grosbeak
  • Scientific name: Pheucticus ludovicianus

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

Males are black above, white below, have rose-red upper breasts and underwings, and white spots on wings and tail tips. Females are brown and streaky.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks breed in all of the mountain counties in North Carolina; otherwise, they can be typically encountered in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions only during spring and fall migrations.

The best time to see them would be around early May when the hardwoods are still just leafing out. These birds spend winter in the tropics.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks have a song that is a subdued mellow warbling, resembling a sweeter version of the song of the American robin. They also have a sharp “pink” call that resembles a woodpecker’s call. 

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Attract them to your bird feeder by adding sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and raw peanuts.

Read More: 5 examples of beautiful pink birds found in Florida

21. American Goldfinch 

american goldfinch
  • Scientific name: Spinus tristis

American goldfinches are one of the tiniest finches found in North Carolina. These songbirds with small heads, long wings, and short, notched tails, can be seen year-round in most parts of the state.

Common around brushy and edge habitats, such as old fields, wooded margins, and thickets, American goldfinches breed in most of the state, except for the extreme eastern and southeastern parts, and can be seen in largest numbers during winter. 

They are very late nesters and wait for July and August to do most of their reproductive activities. During that period, males are easy to spot by their stunning bumblebee pattern, orange beaks, black foreheads, and white bars over their black wings. 

During the winter months, males get an olive color while the females become dull yellow-brown. American goldfinches can be also identified by their winter calls that sound like “per-chi-cor-ree.”

Source: G McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Males and females also have colorful orange-colored beaks 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.

These cute songbirds also love to visit bird feeders in cold weather, so make sure to sunflower seeds and nyjer seeds to attract them.

22. Prothonotary Warbler 

prothonotary warbler
  • Scientific name: Protonotaria citrea 

In North Carolina, prothonotary warblers can be commonly seen in the swamps of the Coastal Plain. However, their population decreases noticeably as you move farther inland, and they do not appear to breed in the mountains. 

These stunning songbirds are typically found in swamps, bottomlands, nonriverine forests, wooded beaver ponds, and other wet habitats that offer suitable nesting spots such as dead trees and stubs.

These small birds also have blue-gray wings, an olive-colored back, yellow underparts, a long pointed beak, and black legs. Listen for their ringing “sweet-sweet-sweet” song and a canary-like flight song. The call of a prothonotary warbler is a loud, metallic “tisk” or “tschip.”

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Prothonotary warblers earned the nickname “golden swamp warbler” due to the striking golden coloration of the males’ heads and breasts, which beautifully contrast with the dark green surroundings of their swampy habitat.

23. Hooded Warbler 

female hooded warbler
  • Scientific name: Setophaga citrina

Hooded warblers are small songbirds that were named after the distinctive back hoods on their head. Males have bright yellow faces and undersides, black hoods and throats, and olive upperparts. Females have much more subdued hoods.

Hooded warblers are breeding residents of the entire North Carolina and can be seen there from spring to fall. These stunning green and yellow songbirds are most common around swamps, woodlands, and forests, often near water.

The song of hooded warblers consists of a series of musical notes that resemble “wheeta wheeta whee-tee-oh.” They will also emit loud “chip” or “chink” calls.

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Brown-headed cowbirds, parasitic small black birds, might occasionally lay eggs in the warblers’ nests for them to raise their young.

24. Chestnut-sided Warbler

chestnut-sided warbler
  • Scientific name: Setophaga pensylvanica

Chestnut-sided warblers are colorful New World warblers that breed in the eastern US and southern Canada. They have rather long tails they hold cocked (raised above the body line). 

Males have bright yellow foreheads, white underparts, black teardrops, and chestnut flanks. Females have slightly duller plumage than males and lack their strong head patterns.

Chestnut-sided warblers are breeding residents of North Carolina and nest in forests of the Appalachian mountains.

Chestnut-sided warblers have 2 main songs, one is accented at the end and consists of high whistled lines people describe as “pleased-pleased-pleased-to-MEECHA,” and the other is unaccented.

Source: G. McGrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Accented songs are used to attract females, unaccented ones are for settling territorial disputes. Some males might only sing unaccented songs; they are less successful at finding partners than those that sing both songs.

Their most common call is a harsh “chip,” similar to one of the yellow warblers.

Chestnut-sided warblers forage in tree foliage and feed on insects, spiders, and other arthropods. They will build cup-shaped nests, close to the ground, and lay 3–5 creamy-white eggs with brown speckles.

25. American Redstart 

Male American Redstart
  • Scientific name: Setophaga ruticilla

These lively warblers with relatively wide, flat beaks and fairly long tails, are one of North America’s most recognizable birds.

During the breeding season, American redstart can be found throughout North Carolina, although there are peculiar gaps in its distribution, particularly in the Piedmont region. 

These lively birds predominantly nest in broadleaf deciduous forests, favoring moist habitats such as streamside groves, cove forests, and damp slopes in the mountains. In the lower regions of the state, they are primarily found in the bottomlands.

You will recognize female American redstarts and immature males by their yellow or yellow-orange patches on their tails, wings, and sides; adult males are coal-black with vivid orange patches. 

They will quickly open their tails, exposing yellow parts, which will scare the insects, allowing American redstarts to catch them in the air. 

Listen for their high-pitched notes that end with an accented phrase. Males and females will also use different calls, including sharp, sweet-sounding “chips” and soft “tsips.” 

Source: G. Mcgrane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

They are mostly monogamous but some males might breed with several females and females will sometimes have offspring that is not fathered by their current partners.


This concludes our list of songbirds of North Carolina. There are plenty of these in the state, from northern mockingbirds, American robins, and scarlet tanagers to American goldfinches and eastern kingbirds. 

Next time you see or hear any of these birds in person, you should be able to recognize them with ease! 

And if you enjoyed our article, explore our other popular reads on North American songbirds:

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