Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Common backyard birds in Louisiana (lists, photos, ID)

The most common backyard birds throughout the year in the state of Louisiana are these:
  1. Northern Cardinal (59% frequency)
  2. Northern Mockingbird (54%)
  3. Blue Jay (52%)
  4. Mourning Dove (48%)
  5. Carolina Wren (41%)
  6. Carolina Chickadee (41%)
  7. American Crow (39%)
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker (38%)
  9. European Starling (31%)
  10. Downy Woodpecker (30%)
  11. Yellow-rumped Warbler (27%)
  12. Tufted Titmouse (27%)
  13. House Sparrow (23%)
  14. Common Grackle (23%)
These birds occur on more than 20% of eBird checklists for the state.


In this article
Lists of the most common backyard birds in Louisiana
Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Louisiana
Other birds you might see from your backyard in Louisiana
Comparison of the most common backyard birds in New Orleans, Louisiana


This page lists the most common backyard birds as determined by actual bird sightings reported to the citizen science birding program, eBird. These birds are ranked according to frequency--the percentage of all bird checklists on which a species occurs. Below I list common backyard birds in winter and summer.

Photos and identification are next. I tell a little bit about each species and how you might attract them to your yard.

Farther below I've also added a list of other common birds not typically found in backyards.

I conclude with a list comparing the birds of New Orleans with the birds of the state as a whole.



List of the most common feeder birds and backyard birds in Louisiana


The top list on this page is the frequency of birds throughout the year. Many birds are migratory or otherwise vary in abundance between seasons. So the next two lists are the common birds ranked in winter and then in summer.

The most common backyard birds in Louisiana in winter (December to February) are these:
Northern Cardinal (59% frequency)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (55%)
Northern Mockingbird (53%)
Blue Jay (52%)
Mourning Dove (46%)
Carolina Chickadee (45%)
Carolina Wren (42%)
American Crow (41%)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (41%)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (40%)
Eastern Phoebe (37%)
American Goldfinch (35%)
White-throated Sparrow (34%)
American Robin (33%)
Downy Woodpecker (31%)
European Starling (31%)
Orange-crowned Warbler (28%)
Tufted Titmouse (27%)
Eastern Bluebird (23%)
House Sparrow (22%)
Pine Warbler (21%)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (20%)
Northern Flicker (20%)

The most common backyard birds in Louisiana in summer (June to July) are these:
Northern Cardinal (66% frequency)
Northern Mockingbird (59%)
Mourning Dove (59%)
Blue Jay (56%)
Carolina Wren (50%)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (44%)
Carolina Chickadee (44%)
American Crow (43%)
Barn Swallow (36%)
Purple Martin (35%)
Tufted Titmouse (34%)
House Sparrow (33%)
European Starling (33%)
Downy Woodpecker (32%)
Eastern Kingbird (31%)
Common Grackle (31%)
Brown-headed Cowbird (28%)
White-eyed Vireo (28%)
Chimney Swift (28%)
Great Crested Flycatcher (24%)
Indigo Bunting (24%)
Eastern Bluebird (23%)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (22%)
Brown Thrasher (22%)
Orchard Oriole (21%)

How do birds differ between winter and summer?

Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Eastern Phoebes, American Goldfinches, White-throated Sparrows, American Robins, Orange-crowned Warblers are more common in winter.

Mourning Doves, Barn Swallows, Purple Martins, House Sparrows, Eastern Kingbirds, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, White-eyed Vireos, Chimney Swifts, Great Crested Flycatchers, Indigo Buntings, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Orchard Orioles are more common in summer.



Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Louisiana


Photo of Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
Image by GeorgeB2 from Pixaby
1. Northern Cardinal (59%)
Cardinalis cardinalis
This is one of the most common and popular backyard birds in the eastern half of the United States.
Identification: Size: Cardinals are a bit smaller than American Robins, about the same size as Red-winged Blackbirds. Shape: Plump body with fairly long full tail. Wispy crest. Bill: Short, heavy, conical, pink. Color: That bright red color is matched by few other birds. Black face. The female is more gray, but with hints of red in wings and tail, and has a crest, too. Habitat, range & behavior: Cardinals are year-round residents in shrubby woodland edges from the eastern United States to Texas and Arizona south into Mexico. That large conical bill is made for chewing seeds. Watch them crack open sunflower seeds, spit out the hulls, and pluck the kernel with their tongues! Food and feeder preference: Black oil sunflower seeds. Many types of seeds, berries, nuts in larger hopper or tray feeders.

Photo of Northern Mockingbird on the ground
Northern Mockingbird
Photo by Greg Gillson
2. Northern Mockingbird (54%)
Mimus polyglottos
This bird sings from exposed perches most of the year and often through the night. They have an unending supply of their own unique short phrases that they repeat about 3 times each, but frequently intersperse songs of other birds.
Identification: Size: The length of an American Robin. Shape: Slender and long-tailed. Long legs. Bill: Medium length, slender, slightly curved. Color: Gray, darker above, with white patches in wing and tail. Habitat, range & behavior: They prefer edge habitat with scattered trees and bushes, parks and residential areas. It is found in eastern and southern parts of the US, West Indies, and south into Mexico. In summer birds are found a bit farther north. They boldly defend their nests from other birds, cats, and intruders. Food and feeder preference: Eats insects, berries, and fruit. You may attract mockingbirds to your feeder with grapes, raisins, apple slices. They will come to a suet block. They readily use a bird bath.

Photo of Blue Jay enjoying a bath
Blue Jay
Image by skeeze from Pixabay
3. Blue Jay (52%)
Cyanocitta cristata
A common and well-known bird in the eastern half of the United States.
Identification: Size: About that of American Robin. Shape: Fluffy, large crested head, ample tail. Large strong legs. Bill: Black, long and stout. Color: Blue above, white below. Black neck collar. White patches in wing. Habitat, range & behavior: Woodlands and towns in the eastern half of the United States. In summer into southern Canada. Bold and brash. May bully smaller birds. Jays gulp lots of seeds or other food at once, storing it in their crop. Then they fly off and bury food items in a hidden cache. Food and feeder preference: Omnivorous. They can quickly empty your feeder! Because they are also aggressive toward other feeder birds, some people put mesh cages around smaller bird feeders. Small birds can go through, squirrels and larger "pest" birds are prevented entry. Some people feed jays peanuts, perhaps away from the seed feeders.

Photo of Mourning Dove in a tree
Mourning Dove
Photo by Greg Gillson
4. Mourning Dove (48%)
Zenaida macroura
Mourning Doves are the most widespread and most frequent backyard bird in the Lower 48 states of the United States.
Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: About 12 inches long from bill tip to tail tip. About same size as Northern Flicker. Larger than American Robin. Slightly smaller than domestic city pigeon. Shape: Very plump with a small round head. Tail is long and pointed. Legs are short. Bill: Small and rather slender. Color: Pale brown-pink body, darker wings and tail. White edges on side of tail. Habitat, range & behavior: Semi-open areas such as urban areas, farmlands, woods. Often seen perched on wires, fences. It is a resident across the lower-48 states and Mexico, with some movement out of northern areas in winter. Their mournful cooing is a familiar spring birdsong. Food and feeder preference: Mourning Doves eat seeds almost exclusively. Attract with black oil sunflower seeds on a large sturdy tray feeder or on the ground.

Photo of Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren
Image by theSOARnet from Pixabay
5. Carolina Wren (41%)
Thryothorus ludovicianus
This is a fairly common backyard bird in the much of the eastern United States.
Identification: Size: A smaller bird, between the size of American Goldfinch and House Finch. Shape: Round body, short neck, flat head, long tail flipped about actively. Bill: Fairly long, thin, pointed and slightly curved. Color: Upper parts rusty brown with black bars on the wings and tail. A white eyebrow line and buff under parts. Habitat, range & behavior: Shrubby thickets and brushy suburban yards. It is found in the southeastern United States and Yucatan. Northern parts of range expand and contract depending upon harshness of winters. Males sing throughout the year and are very loud for their size. Food and feeder preference: Feed mostly on insects and spiders. They will feed on suet.

Photo of Carolina Chickadee on bird feeder
Carolina Chickadee
Image by GeorgeB2 from Pixabay
6. Carolina Chickadee (41%)
Poecile carolinensis
Chickadees are common feeder birds throughout much of North America. This one is common in the southeastern United Sates.
Identification: Size: This small bid is the size of an American Goldfinch. Shape: Round body, round head, longer tail. Bill: Short, straight, stout. Color: Gray above. Paler below. Black cap, white face, black bib. Habitat, range & behavior: Lower elevation deciduous forests, wooded residential areas. This chickadee is a resident in the southeastern US. Chickadees cannot chew as sparrows do, so they take one large sunflower seed at a time from your feeder and fly off to a branch to pound it open with their stout bills. Food and feeder preference: Most of their diet is insects, also seeds. They will eat black oil sunflower seeds from hopper feeders.

Photo of American Crow
American Crow
Photo by Greg Gillson
7. American Crow (39%)
Corvus brachyrhynchos
This larger all-black bird is common in cities and country. Its cawing call is familiar to most people.
Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: About 17-1/2 inches long from bill tip to tail tip, though there is much size variation throughout its range. Larger than blackbirds and grackles. Smaller than ravens. Shape: Thick neck, large head, rather short square-ended tail. Longer legs. In flight has rounded wing tips with each primary feather separated from others forming "fingers." Bill: As long as head, thick, black. Color: Glossy black throughout. Habitat, range & behavior: They prefer open areas with trees, fields, farms, cities. They are common across most of the United States lower-48, except in the desert southwest. They move into southern Canada in summer. They gather in evening communal roosts in large flocks that may number into the thousands and then move out at dawn into the surrounding area. Food and feeder preference: Omnivorous, they feed on large insects, grain, small mammals, carrion. You probably don't want these large entirely-black birds in your backyard feeders. So don't feed table scraps to birds.

Photo of Red-bellied Woodpecker climbing a tree
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Image by skeeze from Pixabay
8. Red-bellied Woodpecker (38%)
Melanerpes carolinus
This is one of the most common species in the eastern half of the United States.
Identification: Size: Fairly large for a backyard bird. Between a Starling and American Robin in size. Smaller than a Northern Flicker. Shape: Stout with large head and short tail. Clings to tree trunk on strong short legs propped up with short stiff tail. Bill: Long, chisel-shaped. Color: Pale gray body, many thin black-and-white bars across back and wings. Red nape, extending forward on crown on male. Habitat, range & behavior: These birds are found in many woodland types, including oak, hickory and pine. They are found from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in the lower-48 states from Texas to extreme southern Canada, and eastward from Florida northward just to the southern edge of the New England states. In typical woodpecker fashion, it hitches up the tree trunk and larger branches. Food and feeder preference: This species eats insects and nuts. They may eat peanuts from a tray feeder and eat from a suet block.

Photo of European Starling
European Starling
Photo by Greg Gillson
9. European Starling (31%)
Sturnus vulgaris
Introduced to North America in the late 1800's, they crossed the continent, often to the detriment of native cavity-nesting birds. The prime example of an invasive species.
Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: 8-1/2 inches from bill tip to tail tip. About the size of a Red-winged Blackbird. Smaller than an American Robin. Larger than a White-crowned Sparrow or Spotted/Eastern towhee. Shape: Stocky with large head, short square-ended tail. Longer legs. Bill: As long as head. Sharp pointed. Yellow in spring, otherwise dark. Color: They are grayish brown much of the year, with glossy iridescence and white spotting during the spring. Habitat, range & behavior: Lowland birds that need trees large enough for nest cavities but plenty of open area for feeding. They are most abundant in urban and suburban areas where they find food and artificial nest cavities. Resident from coast-to-coast from southern Canada to northern Mexico. In summer north across Canada and Alaska. Native range is Europe to Pakistan, north Africa. Often viewed as a pest, starlings often bully other backyard birds, taking over bird feeders, and stealing nest cavities from smaller native birds. In winter they can form into flocks of ten's of thousands. Food and feeder preference: Primarily insects when available, often feeding on the ground. Discourage them from your backyard hopper and tray feeders by never feeding birds table scraps (including bread or meat). They have weak feet and do not perch well on tube feeders. A cage mesh around smaller hopper feeders may keep them out.

Photo of Downy Woodpecker on suet block
Downy Woodpecker
Photo by Greg Gillson
10. Downy Woodpecker (30%)
Dryobates pubescens
This tiny woodpecker is found across the United States.
Identification: Size: Bigger than a junco or House Finch. Smaller than a Red-winged Blackbird. About the same size as a White-crowned Sparrow, but with a much shorter tail. Shape: Stocky with large head and short stiff tail. Bill: Short, chisel-shaped. Color: Black-and-white striped head. Black wings with white spots. Solid white black. White under parts. Black tail with white outer tail feathers with black bars or spots. Male with small red spot at back of head. Habitat, range & behavior: Found in small deciduous trees, willows, and even weed stocks such as teasel, especially near water. Ranges coast-to-coast across all but northernmost parts of Canada and Alaska south to the southern US. Absent in the desert southwest. Interestingly, I learned today that the males may more often be found in smaller plants and twigs, while females are more likely on tree trunks. Food and feeder preference: Insects, fruits, and seeds. Gleans arthropods from the bark of trees. Attract with suet feeder. Will also eat black oil sunflower seeds.

Photo of winter plumage Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Greg Gillson
11. Yellow-rumped Warbler (27%)
Setophaga coronata
An abundant winter visitor in southern US to tree tops and weedy areas.
Identification: Size: Small, they are a bit larger than chickadees and goldfinches. They are smaller than House Finches and juncos. Shape: Plump and neckless with a shorter tail. Bill: Short, slender, straight, pointed. Color: Breeding plumage in spring is blue-gray on the upper parts, black sides and chest, yellow rump, yellow on sides. Two forms: western form with yellow throat and large white wing patch; eastern and northern form with white throat and two white wing bars. In winter plumage both forms are gray brown above, pale cream below. Yellow rump and white tail corners in flight. Habitat, range & behavior: In breeding season mostly in coniferous or mixed forests, in mountains in west. In winter open areas with fruiting shrubs and scattered trees. Breed across Canada and Alaska and in conifer forests in the west. Winter along both coasts and the southern states through Middle America. There are also non-migratory forms in Mexico and Guatemala. They tend to forage in outer branches about half way up the tree. Food and feeder preference: Mainly insects in the summer, they switch to waxy berries and fruit in winter. They are thus able to winter farther north than other warblers. They are attracted to suet feeders.

Photo of Tufted Titmouse in feeder
Tufted Titmouse
Image by anne773 from Pixabay
12. Tufted Titmouse (27%)
Baeolophus bicolor
Related to chickadees, they lack the black bib, but have a crest instead.
Identification: Size: A small bird, but a large titmouse, this species is larger than chickadees, about the size of a junco or House Finch. Shape: Rounded body, long full tail, big head, long legs. Bill: Short and stout, compressed (taller than wide), black. Color: Dark blue-gray above, pale below. Black feathers around eye accentuates its size. Habitat, range & behavior: Lives in deciduous forests with heavy canopy, parks. Found in eastern and southeastern United States is expanding its range north and west. Backyard bird feeders might be helping this species expand its range northward. Food and feeder preference: Insects and seeds. At your hopper or tray feeder they like black oil sunflower seeds and suet.

Photo of House Sparrow on feeder with sunflower seed
House Sparrow
Photo by Greg Gillson
13. House Sparrow (23%)
Passer domesticus
Like the starling, this is another bird introduced from Europe in the 1800's. This sparrow is commonly found in cities and farmlands. It is considered a pest in most areas where it has been introduced.
Identification: Size: The size of a House Finch or Dark-eyed Junco. Shape: Chunkier than native North American sparrows with large head, barrel chest, short neck, medium tail, short legs. Bill: Short, conical. Color: Males are brown and gray with a black mask. Females lack the black and are tan and brown with a pale line back from the eye. Habitat, range & behavior: Cities and farms. Range in North American from southern Canada through Central America. In summer northward through Canada to southern Alaska. Originated in Middle East and spread to most of Europe and Asia. Introduced in South America, Africa, Australia--nearly anywhere there are people and cities. They tend to be messy... and have a good appetite, and may occur in large noisy chirping flocks. They are aggressive toward other feeder birds. Food and feeder preference: They eat grain, seed, and insects. To discourage them from your hopper and tray feeders do not feed birds human food scraps. They have a bit of difficulty eating from tube feeders.

Photo of Common Grackle on bird bath
Common Grackle
Image by GeorgiaLens from Pixabay
14. Common Grackle (23%)
Quiscalus quiscula
Sometimes considered a pest to crops, grackles are longer and lankier than very similar blackbirds.
Identification: Size: Larger than Red-winged Blackbirds, they are near the length of Mourning Doves. Shape: Long, with long full keel-shaped tail, long legs, flat crown. Bill: Longer than head, pointed, but stouter than other blackbirds. Color: Glossy black with hint of bronze or green on head (depending upon population). Yellow eye. Habitat, range & behavior: They are found in agricultural areas, woodland edges, city parks and lawns. Resident in the southeastern United States. In summer they migrate northward and west to the central United States and Canada. They monopolize feeders and are bullies toward other birds. Food and feeder preference: Grain, corn, acorns, small aquatic fish and amphibians. To discourage them, use tube feeders, rather than hopper or tray feeders. Don't over-feed, keep spilled seed picked up.



Other common birds you might see from your backyard in Louisiana


The following lists contain additional common birds you might see flying over your yard or in a nearby neighborhood. There are also several less common backyard birds in these lists that don't appear in the lists above.

Watch for these additional common Louisiana birds in winter (December to February):
Great Egret (43% frequency)
Red-winged Blackbird (42%)
Double-crested Cormorant (34%)
Great Blue Heron (33%)
Turkey Vulture (32%)
Killdeer (30%)
Red-tailed Hawk (29%)
Ring-billed Gull (24%)
Snowy Egret (22%)
Savannah Sparrow (22%)
Belted Kingfisher (22%)
Pied-billed Grebe (21%)
Swamp Sparrow (21%)
American Kestrel (20%)
Loggerhead Shrike (20%)

Watch for these additional common Louisiana birds in summer (June to July):
Great Egret (46% frequency)
Red-winged Blackbird (43%)
Cattle Egret (35%)
Little Blue Heron (31%)
Mississippi Kite (30%)
Snowy Egret (29%)
Great Blue Heron (27%)
Green Heron (27%)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (26%)
Fish Crow (25%)
Killdeer (25%)
Turkey Vulture (23%)
White Ibis (23%)

Watch for these additional common Louisiana birds in spring (April to May):
Red-winged Blackbird (44% frequency)
Great Egret (37%)
Laughing Gull (27%)
Snowy Egret (24%)
Great Blue Heron (22%)
Red-eyed Vireo (21%)
Killdeer (21%)
Cattle Egret (21%)
Summer Tanager (20%)
Fish Crow (20%)



Comparison of the most common backyard birds in New Orleans, Louisiana


Photo of Downy Woodpecker on a suet feeder
Downy Woodpecker is a common backyard bird in New Orleans.
Photo by Greg Gillson
The following list uses eBird data to compare the birds of New Orleans with the birds of the state as a whole. New Orleans is in Orleans Parish. I will use the data for Orleans Parish to represent the birds in the New Orleans area.

Here are the most common backyard birds throughout the year in New Orleans.
Blue Jay (63% frequency)
Northern Mockingbird (58%)
American Crow (56%)
Northern Cardinal (53%)
Carolina Chickadee (50%)
Mourning Dove (49%)
Downy Woodpecker (45%)
European Starling (43%)
Carolina Wren (34%)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (31%)
Rock Pigeon (31%)
House Sparrow (30%)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (23%)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (21%)
Chimney Swift (20%)

Blue Jays, American Crows, Downy Woodpeckers, European Starlings, Rock Pigeons are more common in New Orleans than in the rest of the state as a whole.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are more common in Louisiana overall than in New Orleans.



You may be interested: Bird books for each individual state in the US

Related: 34 of the most common birds in the United States (with photos)


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