Thursday, October 31, 2019

28+ Common backyard birds in Oregon (Photos, ID)

[Updated August 2021] I've put this resource together for you to answer the question: What birds are in my backyard in Oregon?

This article tells you what birds you can expect in your backyard and when they are most common. I also provide a photo and description section to help you with Oregon bird identification of the most common birds native to Oregon backyards.

The most common backyard birds throughout the year in the state of Oregon, in order, are these:

  1. American Robin
  2. Song Sparrow
  3. American Crow
  4. Dark-eyed Junco
  5. Northern Flicker
  6. Black-capped Chickadee
  7. Spotted Towhee
  8. European Starling
  9. California Scrub-Jay
  10. Steller's Jay
  11. House Finch

These birds occur on more than 20% of eBird checklists for the state.

Continue reading to learn about other common birds, and common birds at other seasons.



In this article
  • Lists of the most common backyard birds in Oregon
  • Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Oregon
  • Other birds you might see from your backyard in Oregon
  • Comparison of the most common backyard birds in Portland, Oregon
  • Beyond your backyard


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 Portland with the birds of the state as a whole.




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

The birds listed at the top of the page are those most frequently encountered in backyards throughout the state and throughout the year.

These lists are based on the citizen science program, eBird, using data of actual bird sightings.

Many of the most common backyard birds are year-round residents. But there are seasonal differences as well.

The next parts list birds at different times of year, starting again with the year as a whole.


Most common backyard birds in Oregon throughout the year

The following list is the backyard birds that, on average, are most common throughout the entire year. The list is ordered by most common based on the frequency of how often birds are recorded on checklists submitted to eBird.

The most common backyard birds throughout the year in the state of Oregon, in order, are these:

  1. American Robin (40% frequency)
  2. Song Sparrow (38%)
  3. American Crow (33%)
  4. Dark-eyed Junco (32%)
  5. Northern Flicker (30%)
  6. Black-capped Chickadee (29%)
  7. Spotted Towhee (28%)
  8. European Starling (27%)
  9. California Scrub-Jay (26%)
  10. Steller's Jay (21%)
  11. House Finch (20%)
  12. Anna's Hummingbird (19%)
  13. Mourning Dove (15%)
  14. Red-breasted Nuthatch (15%)
  15. White-crowned Sparrow (14%)
  16. American Goldfinch (14%)
  17. Yellow-rumped Warbler (14%)
  18. Bewick's Wren (13%)
  19. Golden-crowned Sparrow (13%)
  20. Lesser Goldfinch (12%)


Most common backyard birds in Oregon in winter

The following list is the backyard birds that are most common in winter. The list is ordered by most common based on the frequency of how often each species is recorded on checklists submitted to eBird.

The most common backyard birds in Oregon in winter (December to February) are these:

  1. Dark-eyed Junco (47% frequency)
  2. Song Sparrow (41%)
  3. American Robin (35%)
  4. Black-capped Chickadee (33%)
  5. Northern Flicker (32%)
  6. California Scrub-Jay (31%)
  7. American Crow (31%)
  8. European Starling (29%)
  9. Spotted Towhee (29%)
  10. Anna's Hummingbird (23%)
  11. Golden-crowned Sparrow (21%)
  12. House Finch (20%)
  13. Steller's Jay (19%)
  14. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (17%)


Most common backyard birds in Oregon in summer

The following list is the backyard birds that are most common in summer. The list is ordered by most common based on the frequency of how often each species of bird is recorded on checklists submitted to eBird.

The most common backyard birds in Oregon in summer (June to July) are these:

  1. American Robin (44% frequency)
  2. Song Sparrow (35%)
  3. American Crow (29%)
  4. Spotted Towhee (26%)
  5. Northern Flicker (23%)
  6. American Goldfinch (21%)
  7. Black-headed Grosbeak (21%)
  8. Western Wood-Pewee (21%)
  9. Black-capped Chickadee (21%)
  10. Dark-eye Junco (21%)
  11. Barn Swallow (20%)
  12. Swainson's Thrush (20%)
  13. European Starling (20%)
  14. Steller's Jay (19%)
  15. Violet-green Swallow (19%)
  16. Mourning Dove (19%)
  17. California Scrub-Jay (18%)
  18. Cedar Waxwing (17%)
  19. House Finch (17%)
  20. Western Tanager (15%)
  21. Red-breasted Nuthatch (15%)


How do birds differ between winter and summer?

Dark-eyed Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, California Scrub-Jays, Northern Flickers, European Starlings are more common in winter.

Black-headed Grosbeaks, Western Wood-Pewees, Barn Swallows, Swainson's Thrushes are more common in summer.




Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Oregon


1. American Robin

Turdus migratorius

This familiar bird is a resident in the northern half of the United States and a winter visitor in the southern half.


Photo of American Robin
American Robin. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: American Robins are year-round residents throughout Oregon.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. 

Size: 10 inches long from bill tip to tail tip. About the same size as a Blue Jay or one of the Scrub-Jays. Larger than Red-winged Blackbird. Smaller than a Mourning Dove. 

Shape: Very plump with a fairly long tail. 

Bill: Straight and fairly slender, curved at the tip. 

Color: Gray-brown upperparts, rusty orange breast.

Habitat, range & behavior: Open woodlands, farmlands, urban parks and lawns. 

Migratory, breeds north across Alaska and Canada. Resident in most of the United States (lower 48). Winters in the United States, Mexico, to central America. 

Hops on your lawn turning head this way and that looking for food. Their caroling song is one of the early signs of spring in the north.

Food and feeder preference: Worms and other invertebrates in the lawn. May eat fruit from a tray feeder or the ground. Eat small berries from trees and bushes.


2. Song Sparrow

Melospiza melodia

A common bird, but variable, and similar to many other streaked brown sparrows.


Photo of Song Sparrow in bush
Song Sparrow. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: Song Sparrows are year-round residents throughout Oregon.

Identification: 

Size: A smaller bird, similar in size to House Finch and juncos. Larger than chickadees and goldfinches. Smaller than White-crowned Sparrows or Spotted/Eastern towhees. 

Shape: Plump with round head, long rounded tail. 

Bill: Short, conical. 

Color: Highly variable in darkness and color saturation across its range (dark rusty to pale gray). Generally gray-brown above with dark brown streaking on back. Complicated head pattern. Streaking on sides and breast converge into dense central breast spot.

Habitat, range & behavior: Thickets, especially near water. Backyard shrubbery. 

Resident in western United States, western Canada, coastal southern Alaska, northeastern US. In summer also moves into mid-Canada and northern half of US. In the winter found in most of the US lower-48. Also a population in central Mexico. 

Forages on ground, never far from low cover to which they fly if startled.

Food and feeder preference: They feed on seeds and insects near the ground. Will visit hopper and tray feeders for mixed bird seed.


3. American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos

This larger all-black bird is common in cities and country. Its cawing call is familiar to most people.


Photo of American Crow
American Crow. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: American Crows are year-round residents throughout Oregon.

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.


4. Dark-eyed Junco

Junco hyemalis

Colloquially called "snow birds," they often arrive in backyards in winter from nearby mountain forests or more northern climes.


Photo of Dark-eyed Junco on a branch
Dark-eyed Junco. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: Dark-eyed Juncos are year-round residents in most of Oregon, but winter visitors only in the southeastern part of Oregon.

Identification: 

Size: Small birds about the size of a House Finch. 

Shape: Round body, short neck, round head, fairly long square-ended tail. 

Bill: Short, pointed, conical, pink. 

Color: Eastern birds are a darker all-gray with white belly. Western birds have jet black hood over head, brown back, and pink sides.

Habitat, range & behavior: Breed in coniferous forests. Winters widely. Avoids heavy brush, preferring widely spaced bushes. 

Breeds across most of Canada, Alaska, and the western half of the United States. Winters from southern Canada and all of the lower 48-states to extreme northern Mexico. 

Spend much of their time hopping and feeding on the ground.

Food and feeder preference: Eats mostly seeds, also insects in summer. Readily feed at backyard feeders on mixed seeds on hopper or tray feeders and ground.

You may like my in-depth article on attracting Dark-eyed Juncos.


5. Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus

Of all the bird identification questions I get asked, this common larger backyard bird is the bird most people ask about. It doesn't occur to those unfamiliar with it that this could be a woodpecker.


Photo of Northern Flicker on a branch
Northern Flicker. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: Northern Flickers are year-round residents throughout Oregon, except summer residents only in the high Cascades.

Identification: 

Size: About the size of a Mourning Dove. Larger than a robin. 

Shape: Stocky with short legs, short tail, big head. 

Bill: As long as head, thin, slightly curved. 

Color: Back is brown with black bars. Under parts pinkish with black spots. Undersides of black wing and tail feathers are bright salmon red (West) or yellow (East). Head gray (West) or brown (East) and males with red (West) or black (East) whisker marks and nape marks (East). Black crescent across chest. White rump seen in flight.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in woodland edges and forests. 

Year-round resident from extreme southern Canada, across all of the lower-48 states and in the mountains of Mexico and Middle America. In summer breeds northward well into Canada and Alaska. 

Frequently noted hopping on ground pecking in the ground for insects. In late spring, males proclaim their territory by rapid pounding on a hollow tree branch, though the ringing of metal downspouts at dawn is louder and carries much farther, to the exasperation of anyone trying to sleep inside!

Food and feeder preference: Ants and beetles are their primary foods. Will eat black oil sunflower seeds and are attracted to suet.


6. Black-capped Chickadee

Poecile atricapillus

This is a common backyard bird in the northern half of the United States.


Photo of Black-capped Chickadee on bird bath
Black-capped Chickadee. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: Black-capped Chickadees are year-round residents throughout most of Oregon, absent from the southeastern part of the state.

Identification: 

Size: Chickadees are small birds, the same general size as an American Goldfinch. 

Shape: Round body, big round head, long tail with rounded tip. 

Bill: Short, straight, stout. 

Color: Gray above, buffy below. Black cap and bib with white lower face. White edges on wing feathers.

Habitat, range & behavior: Deciduous and mixed forests. 

They range from the northern half of the United States, southern half of Canada, and most of Alaska. 

Small flocks flit actively from tree to tree acrobatically gleaning insects from twig tips. In winter chickadees make up the core of mixed-species flocks also containing nuthatches, kinglets, creepers, woodpeckers and others.

Food and feeder preference: Seeds, insects, berries. They eat at tube, hopper and tray feeders. They love black oil sunflower seeds and suet.

You may like my in-depth article on attracting Black-capped Chickadees.


7. Spotted Towhee

Pipilo maculatus

Look for this bird scratching in the leaf litter under bushes at the edge of your yard.


Photo of a Spotted Towhee on a rock
Spotted Towhee. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: Spotted Towhees are year-round residents throughout most of Oregon, but summer residents only in the high mountains.

Identification: 

Size: A large sparrow, slightly larger than a White-crowned Sparrow. Larger than a House Finch. Smaller than a starling. 

Shape: A plump, large-headed sparrow with a full rounded tail. 

Bill: Short, pointed, conical. 

Color: Black above including hood. Variable number of white spots on back and wings depending upon location. White tail corners. White belly. Rusty orange sides. Red eye. Females paler, more brownish.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in brushy areas, chaparral, mountain forest understory. 

Found throughout the western half of the United States, mountains of Mexico. In summer to southwestern Canada. In winter to Texas.

Food and feeder preference: Insects, seeds, and berries. At your birdfeeder will eat seeds on ground or platform feeder.


8. European Starling

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.


Photo of European Starling
European Starling. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: European Starlings are year-round residents throughout Oregon.

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.


9. California Scrub-Jay

Aphelocoma californica

This is California's common lowland jay, brash and noisy.


Photo of California Scrub-Jay hopping in the lawn
California Scrub-Jay. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: California Scrub-Jays are year-round residents in western Oregon, absent from deep forests in the Cascades and local in the northern coastal region.

Identification: 

Size: This bird is the size of an American Robin or Northern Mockingbird. They are larger than a European Starling or Red-winged Blackbird. Smaller than a Mourning Dove. 

Shape: Strong body, thick neck, big head. Long legs. Fairly long full tail. 

Bill: Long, stout, curved near tip. 

Color: Deep azure blue upperparts, wings and tail with gray-brown back. Black bill and mask. White under parts with partial blue necklace across chest.

Habitat, range & behavior: Oak woodlands, chaparral, residential areas. 

Found along west coast from northern Baja to Washington state. 

They forage on the ground, caching food to save for later.

Food and feeder preference: Omnivorous, they eat insects, berries, small animals, bird eggs. At hopper and tray feeders they may harass other birds, and gulp down large quantities of black oil sunflower seeds and peanuts to go bury. Thus, some people put wire mesh cages over their hopper and tube feeders to keep the jays out--smaller birds can get through the mesh.


10. Steller's Jay

Cyanocitta stelleri

This jay with the black crested head is common in the damp mountain forests of the West.


Photo of Steller's Jay eating on the lawn
Steller's Jay. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: Steller's Jays are year-round residents throughout much of Oregon, but absent in the southeastern part of the state.

Identification: 

Size: These birds are the size of American Robins or Northern Mockingbirds. They are larger than European Starlings or Red-winged Blackbirds. 

Shape: Strong body, thick neck, big head with prominent crest. Strong legs and feet. Full rounded tail. 

Bill: Long, stout, curved near tip. 

Color: Deep blue body throughout. Black head and crest.

Habitat, range & behavior: Coniferous and mixed forests, residential areas near such forests. Damp forests near the coast to mountain forests near timberline. 

A resident from coastal Alaska to Middle America. Northwest coastal forests, mountains of West Coast and Rocky Mountains, south through Mexico. 

Forage on the ground, hopping. Climbs tree by hopping up branches. Scavenge for food in camp grounds. May be found in large flocks. Bold, aggressive, social.

Food and feeder preference: Omnivorous, they eat a wide variety of nuts, fruits, seeds, berries, eggs, invertebrates, small rodents, human food scraps. At hopper and tray feeders will eat sunflower seeds, nuts, including peanuts. Eat suet.


11. House Finch

Haemorhous mexicanus

Originally a bird of the West, now found across most of the US. There are other red finches, but these are the ones most likely in residential areas.


Photo of a House Finch in a bird bath
House Finch. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: House Finches are year-round residents throughout Oregon, except absent in the higher Cascades.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. 

Size: About 6 inches from bill tip to tail tip. Larger than goldfinches and chickadees. Smaller than a White-crowned Sparrows or Spotted/Eastern towhees. 

Shape: Medium build with a medium-long notched tail. Round head. 

Bill: Short, conical. 

Color: Brown and gray above with streaks on the sides of the pale underparts. Males with red (sometimes orange or rarely yellow) crown, chest, rump.

Habitat, range & behavior: You'll find small flocks on wires, in short tree tops and in bushes. Originally deserts and grasslands. Rural areas and towns are where they're now most common. 

Formerly found in the western United States and Mexico. Then introduced into the northeastern United States, but now found in nearly all of the lower-48 states and extreme southern Canada. Rare in plains states (Dakotas to Texas) and southern Florida. 

House Finches are not territorial, but males sing throughout the year--a lively, wiry song ending in a couple of buzzy notes.

Food and feeder preference: They love sunflower seeds and tube feeders. May eat from thistle socks.

You may like my in-depth article on attracting House Finches.


12. Anna's Hummingbird

Calypte anna

California's big resident hummingbird is everywhere there are people!


Photo of Anna's Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Anna's Hummingbirds are summer residents in western half of Oregon, year-round resident in western 1/3 of state.

Identification: 

Size: Slightly larger than widespread hummingbirds like Ruby-throated in the east and Rufous Hummingbird in the west. Smaller than a goldfinch or chickadee. 

Shape: Plump, with long wings covering tail. Unmistakable long bill. 

Bill: Longer than head, round, slightly downcurved. 

Color: Green upper parts, gray under parts with greenish cast on sides. Male with entire head and throat covered in iridescent metallic rose pink. Female usually has pink throat spot.

Habitat, range & behavior: Chaparral, open woods, suburban gardens all host this species. 

Formerly only in northern Baja and southern California they expanded to Arizona, and all the way to southern Alaska along the Pacific coast, following plantings of winter blooming flowers and the popularity of placing out hummingbird feeders. 

Nest early (December to February), even as they colonize northward and encounter snow in winter.

Food and feeder preference: Nectar and small insects is the main food of Anna's Hummingbirds. Both are available in flowering plants. Quickly find hummingbird feeders filled with sugar water.


13. Mourning Dove

Zenaida macroura

Mourning Doves are the most widespread and most frequent backyard bird in the Lower 48 states of the United States.


Photo of Mourning Dove in a tree
Mourning Dove. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Mourning Doves are year-round residents throughout Oregon, but summer resident only in high mountains.

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.


14. Red-breasted Nuthatch

Sitta canadensis

These small birds are common in conifer groves and mountain forests.


Photo of Red-breasted Nuthatch on branch
Red-breasted Nuthatch. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Red-breasted Nuthatches are year-round residents throughout most of Oregon, winter visitors only in southeastern Oregon.

Identification:

Size: Smaller than Black-capped Chickadees and American Goldfinches, larger than kinglets.

Shape: Compact body with large head on short neck. Stubby tail.

Bill: Fairly long and sharp-pointed.

Color: Dark blue-gray back and upper parts. Black crown and line through eye, showing long white eyebrow. White face and rusty underparts. Females paler.

Habitat, range & behavior: Conifer trees in forests and residential areas.

Found from Alaska and across Canada, mountains of Northeast and much of the West. Winter visitor south throughout most of the United States.

Crawls actively on bark on tree trunks and around smaller branches, often head-first down the tree.

Food and feeder preference: Eat insects and invertebrates. Cache nuts and seeds in fall to eat later in the winter. At feeders eat sunflower seeds, peanuts, other nuts from hopper and tube feeders, and suet.


15. White-crowned Sparrow

Zonotrichia leucophrys

A common winter visitor to backyards throughout the United States.


Photo of White-crowned Sparrow in Douglas-fir
White-crowned Sparrow. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Different populations have different ranges and migratory timing. The result is that White-crowned Sparrows are found year-round throughout much of the state, but absent from mountains in winter.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. 

Size: About 7 inches. A large sparrow near size of Spotted/Eastern towhee. Larger than House Finch. Smaller than Starling or Red-winged Blackbird. 

Shape: Longer plump body, round head, long tail. 

Bill: Short and conical. 

Color: Brown back, wings, tail, gray under parts, black-and-white striped crown. For their first year immature birds have tan and reddish-brown striped crowns.

Habitat, range & behavior: Open and shrubby areas. 

Various forms breed across the Arctic Canada and Alaska and in mountains in western Canada and the United States. 

They sing in spring migration as they move northward. Different populations have slightly different songs.

Food and feeder preference: White-crowned Sparrows eat weed seeds, grain, insects. Eat black oil sunflower seeds and other seeds on hopper and tray feeders.


16. American Goldfinch

Spinus tristis

A beautiful tiny finch familiar to many in it's bright yellow summer plumage. Colloquially called a "wild canary."


Photo of American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch. Greg Gillson


Range in Oregon: American Goldfinches are year-round residents through much of Oregon, summer resident only in higher mountains, winter visitors only in parts of southeastern Oregon.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. 

Size: Very small at about 5 inches from bill tip to tail tip. Similar in size to a chickadee. Larger than hummingbirds. Smaller than juncos and House Finches. 

Shape: Tiny, somewhat plump with larger head and short tail. 

Bill: Short, conical, pink. 

Color: Males in summer are bright lemon yellow with black forehead and black wings and tail with white bars. White under tail coverts. Females dull olive, wings and tail browner. Winter birds are pale grayish-yellow with tan and brown wings and tail.

Habitat, range & behavior: This species is found in weedy fields and similar clearings with thistles and similar plants. 

It is found coast-to-coast throughout the year across most of the middle lower-48 states. In summer moves north to the Canada border. In the winter found south to the Mexico border. 

The flight is highly undulating, rising and falling as they flap in short bursts. 

Besides a long, sweet lilting song, they call in flight a lilting 4-part: "potato chip!"

Food and feeder preference: Feeds on weed seeds, thistle seed. May eat black oil sunflower seeds from tube feeder. Love Nyjer seed in a feeder called a "thistle sock."

You may like my in-depth article on attracting American Goldfinches.


17. Yellow-rumped Warbler

Setophaga coronata

An abundant winter visitor in California to tree tops and weedy areas.


Photo of Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Two populations. Myrtle in migration throughout Oregon, and winter visitor in western Oregon. Audubon's summer resident in mountains throughout Oregon, wintering in western Oregon.

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: Yellow-rumped Warblers eat 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.


18. Bewick's Wren

Thryomanes bewickii

This is a brush-loving bird that may hide in your backyard hedges.


Photo of Bewick's Wren on stick
Bewick's Wren. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Bewick's Wren is a year-round resident in western and northern Oregon.

Identification:

Size: These are fairly small birds, about the size of House Finches.

Shape: They are rather stocky, with short neck, long floppy tail, fairly long legs.

Bill: Long, thin, slightly curved.

Color: Different populations can be more gray or more brown. Barred brown and black tail. Pale gray under parts. The white eyebrow is diagnostic.

Habitat, range, and behavior: These birds are found in brushy tangles, chaparral, backyard bushes.

These birds live along the West Coast from southern British Columba southward into Mexico, the Southwest, east to Missouri.

They stay hidden in dense brush except in spring when they sing loudly from exposed perches.

Food and feeder preference: Bewick's Wrens eat primarily insects and invertebrates. They will come to feeders in winter for suet.


19. Golden-crowned Sparrow

Zonotrichia atricapilla

In winter, Golden-crowned Sparrows have a dully striped crown, very similar to the brown-and-tan crown pattern of White-crowned Sparrows in their first winter.


Photo of Golden-crowned Sparrow on bush
Golden-crowned Sparrow. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Golden-crowned Sparrows are migrants throughout Oregon, and winter visitors in western Oregon.

Identification:

Size: These are the same size as White-crowned Sparrows, a larger sparrow.

Shape: These are the same shape as White-crowned Sparrows. They are fairly large and long-tailed sparrows.

Bill: Short and stout conical bill. Dark colored.

Color: Tan brown above and striped with dark brown and pale gray on the back. Under parts gray with buff warm tones on the flanks. Breeding crown has yellow center (dull in winter) outlined with black. In winter the crown is finely streaked brown with a yellow tinge on the fore crown.

Habitat, range, and behavior: Boreal and tree line for breeding. In winter, tangles in woodland edges, brushy roadside edges with small saplings.

These sparrows breed from Alaska to southern British Columbia. They spend the winter from southern British Columbia to northern Baja California.

They tend to spend the winters in flocks with White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. They come out into the open to feed on the ground, such as a road edge, then flush back to into the tangles when disturbed.

Food and feeder preference: They eat more buds and plant material than White-crowned Sparrows. They love black oil sunflower seeds at hopper and platform feeders.


20. Lesser Goldfinch

Spinus psaltria

This bird replaces American Goldfinch in drier parts of the southwestern US.


Photo of Lesser Goldfinch in willow
Lesser Goldfinch. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Most Lesser Goldfinches are year-round residents in western Oregon and summer residents only in eastern Oregon.

Identification: 

Size: A small bird. Slightly smaller than American Goldfinch, but close. 

Shape: Big head, neckless, short forked tail. 

Bill: Short, small, conical. 

Color: Green back, yellow underparts including under tail coverts. Black wings and tail with white marks. Male with black cap on forecrown. Keeps the same bright yellow plumage year-round, unlike American Goldfinch.

Habitat, range & behavior: Open scrubby woodlands of oak or other trees, fields, grasslands. 

Found in the western and southwestern US, into the Great Basin in summer. Found southward to Middle America. 

They sometimes gather into flocks of hundreds to feed in weedy fields.

Food and feeder preference: Lesser Goldfinches eat mostly thistle seeds, some insects. At your feeder they will eat black oil sunflower seeds at a tube feeder, but prefer Niger seeds in a "thistle sock" feeder.


21. Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Regulus calendula

These tiny little hyperactive balls of feathers are very similar in appearance to sluggish Hutton's Vireos. Note the yellow feet and skinny black legs of the kinglet.


Photo of Ruby-crowned Kinglet on twigs
Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Ruby-crowned Kinglets are summer residents in high mountains, winter visitors to remaining lower parts of Oregon.

Identification:

Size: Smaller than a chickadee or goldfinch.

Shape: Plump, almost round body with round head merging into the body almost without neck. Very short tail. Thin legs.

Bill: Very short, rather thin.

Color: Olive-green, tending toward gray, especially on the head. Paler yellow-green below. Wing gray with yellow-green edges to the wing feathers. Two white wing bars with distinctive black panel below the lower wing panel. White eye ring slightly broken on top and bottom. Red crown of male only shows when agitated. Legs very thin, black, with obvious yellow soles to the feet.

Habitat, range, and behavior: Mountain conifers in summer, brushy patches and chaparral in winter. Residential landscaping hedges and bushes.

Breeds in Alaska, across Canada, and mountains of the West. Migrates through all of US. Winters in coastal East, Southeast, West, into Mexico.

Active flitting from branch to branch, in interior of bushes and small trees, in short flap-hops. Constantly twitches wings. Hover-gleans at leaf tips.

Food and feeder preference: Ruby-crowned Kinglets feed in bushes next to house looking for spiders and insects. May eat at suet feeder.


22. Black-headed Grosbeak

Pheucticus melanocephalus

This is the western counterpart of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak that is common in the East.


Photo of Black-headed Grosbeak in feeder
Black-headed Grosbeak. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Black-headed Grosbeaks are summer residents throughout Oregon.

Identification:

Size: Larger than Spotted Towhee. Smaller than American Robin. Similar in size to Red-winged Blackbird.

Shape: Kind of a chunky bird with pot belly. Large head. Somewhat short tail.

Bill: Very heavy and stout. Triangular.

Color: Males: black face. Black and orange striped back. Wings black with white patches and spots. Tail black with white corners. Underparts orange, yellow on the belly. Females and young for first year-and-a-half: face striped black and cream. Pale orange and yellow under parts. Striped brown and orange back. Wings brownish with white wing bars.

Habitat, range & behavior: Deciduous woods and large shade trees in residential yards.

Breeds in western Canada and western United States. Winters in Mexico.

Males often sing a robin-like song from the top of a large shade tree, such as a big leaf maple.

Food and feeder preference: Beetles, spiders, fruit, seeds, and berries are favorite foods. At backyard hopper feeder they love black oil sunflower seeds.


23. Western Wood-Pewee

Contopus sordidulus

These birds sing their burry pee-wee, pee-year song into summer and throughout the day.


Photo of Western Wood-Pewee on stick
Western Wood-Pewee. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Western Wood-Pewees are summer residents throughout Oregon.

Identification:

Size: Just slightly bigger than a House Finch.

Shape: Large head and big chest, long wings and tail. Upright posture.

Bill: Medium length compared to head, but wide at base and flat. Mostly dark, with a touch of yellow-orange at base of lower mandible.

Color: A dull gray-green-brown. Two broad pale wing bars. Under parts pale with grayish sides, often show yellow on the belly when in shade. 

Habitat, range & behavior: A bird of open woodlands.

Summer resident from Alaska, western Canada, western United States and into Mexico. Winters in South America.

These larger flycatchers sit motionless on tip of dead branch, then fly out to snap up a flying insect, then return to their original perch again.

Food and feeder preference: Feed on flying insects. Do not come to feeders.


24. Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

These swallows are widely distributed throughout the world, primarily breeding in the northern hemisphere, and wintering in the mid-latitudes and southern hemisphere.


Photo of a Barn Swallow on a barbed wire fence
Barn Swallow. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Barn Swallows are summer residents throughout Oregon.

Identification: 

Size: About the size of a House Finch but with a much longer tail. 

Shape: Stocky, short necked but with long body and tail. Tail is forked, with very long outer tail feathers. Wings pointed. 

Bill: Short, wide. 

Color: Glossy dark purplish-blue above. Pinkish-orange below. 

Habitat, range & behavior: Barn Swallows live in open country, frequently near humans. Farmlands. Nest in barns, under small bridges. 

In North America breed from Mexico to northern Canada and Alaska, wintering from southern Mexico throughout most of South America. 

Frequently seen swooping low over the ground hunting flying insects. Perch on wires, fences. Voice is twitters and chirps with grating sounds. 

Food and feeder preference: Eat flying insects on the wing and are not attracted to backyard feeders.


25. Swainson's Thrush

Catharus ustulatus

Birds migrate at night. Their distinctive weep calls are often heard in backyards as they fly over, often several birds per minute in late September.


Photo of Swainson's Thrush on branch
Swainson's Thrush. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Swainson's Thrushes are summer residents in western Oregon and the northeastern corner of Oregon. They are found during migration throughout Oregon.

Identification:

Size: These are about the length of a White-crowned Sparrow--but with larger body and shorter tail. Smaller than Red-winged Blackbird.

Shape: Large breast. Square-ended tail. Long face and bill.

Bill: Rather long and straight.

Color: Brown above, western populations showing a slightly rusty cast. Breast is cream and belly paler. Blurry brown spots on upper breast, fainter along sides. Thin buffy eye ring.

Habitat, range & behavior: Alder under story in moist woods, re-growing clear cuts. Streamside woodlands.

Breed in summer from Alaska and across Canada, the Northeast, and widely in forests of the West. Winter in South America.

Food and feeder preference: They eat invertebrates and fruit. Do not come to feeders. Will come to low bird baths.


26. Violet-green Swallow

Tachycineta thalassina


Photo of Violet-green Swallow on branch
Violet-green Swallow. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Violet-green Swallows are summer residents throughout Oregon.

Identification:

Size: About the size of American Goldfinches, but with longer wings.

Shape: Round head, thicker chest and long thin body. Very short tail. Long pointed wings.

Bill: Very short and wide.

Color: Lime green upper back, violet lower back. White sides to rump. Black wings and tail. White underparts and face that nearly encircles eyes.

Habitat, range & behavior: Open skies above forests and residential areas.

Summers from Alaska, western Canada, and the western US and Mexico. Winters in southern Mexico.

Food and feeder preference: Flying insects caught on the wing. Do not come to bird feeders, but will use bird houses.


27. Cedar Waxwing

Bombycilla cedrorum

Waxy red tips to the wing feathers give these birds their unique name. Maybe it's the fancy crest. Maybe it's the bandit mask. Maybe it's the yellow band at the tip of its tail. But these are one of my favorite birds.


Photo of Cedar Waxwing on branch
Cedar Waxwing. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Cedar Waxwings are year-round residents throughout most of Oregon.

Identification:

Size: Smaller than European Starlings. Larger than House Sparrows.

Shape: Similar to European Starling. Rather stocky. Short squared tail, but long under tail coverts. Large head. Pointed wings. Wispy crest.

Bill: Rather short, small, wide.

Color: Warm brown above with wispy crest. Black mask. Yellowish belly. White under tail coverts. Gray wings. Gray tail with yellow tip.

Habitat, range, & behavior: Deciduous woods, wooded streams and lakeshores, residential shade trees, fruit orchards.

Resident across the northern US. Summer resident in Canada. Winter visitor throughout all of US and Mexico.

Keep in tight flocks. Feed in trees and large bushes for berries. Fly catch over ponds and streams.

Food and feeder preference: Berries and flying insects. Usually don't come to feeders unless fruit like cherries offered, but will visit bird baths.


28. Western Tanager

Piranga ludoviciana

These beautiful birds migrate at night. In spring all that night's flying birds may stop when reaching a cold front. In a May morning dozens of birds may be found in hilltop backyards during such a  migratory "fall out."


Photo of Western Tanager on branch
Western Tanager. Greg Gillson.


Range in Oregon: Western Tanagers are summer residents throughout most of Oregon, except treeless grasslands in northcentral and southeastern parts of the state.

Identification:

Size: Bigger than White-crowned Sparrows. About the size of Spotted Towhees.

Shape: Rather plump. Large head and bill. Good sized tail.

Bill: Fairly long and pointed. Swollen in the middle.

Color: Males are bright yellow with black wings and tail. Red face. Females are either paler yellow or grayish with green-gray wings and tail.

Habitat, range & behavior: Conifer forests.

Breed from western Canada throughout western United States. Winters in southern Mexico.

Breeding males often call and sing from tops of tallest conifers. In migration across Great Basin may be found on fence lines, sagebrush.

Food and feeder preference: They eat primarily insects. They like fruit, such as oranges at feeders, and will bathe in bird baths.





Here's a video showing some wild birds in popular birding locations in western Oregon:



Other common birds you might see from your backyard in Oregon


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 Oregon birds in winter (December to February):
Mallard (27% frequency)
Canada Goose (22%)
Red-tailed Hawk (21%)

Watch for these additional common Oregon birds in summer (June to July):
Turkey Vulture (20% frequency)

Watch for these additional common Oregon birds in spring (April to May):
Mallard (31% frequency)
Red-winged Blackbird (30%)
Canada Goose (26%)
Tree Swallow (25%)
Violet-green Swallow (23%)
Turkey Vulture (23%)
White-crowned Sparrow (20%)
Mourning Dove (20%)




Comparison of the most common backyard birds in Portland, Oregon


Photo of Red-breasted Nuthatch on branch
Red-breasted Nuthatch. Greg Gillson

The following list uses eBird data to compare the birds of Portland with the birds of the state as a whole. Portland is in Multnomah County. I will use the data for Multnomah County to represent the birds in the Portland area.

Here are the most common backyard birds throughout the year in Portland.
American Crow (63% frequency)
Song Sparrow (61%)
Black-capped Chickadee (48%)
American Robin (47%)
Dark-eyed Junco (42%)
Northern Flicker (41%)
Spotted Towhee (37%)
California Scrub-Jay (35%)
House Finch (35%)
Anna's Hummingbird (35%)
European Starling (32%)
Steller's Jay (26%)
Bewick's Wren (22%)
Bushtit (21%)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (21%)

American Crows, Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Flickers, Spotted Towhees, California Scrub-Jays, House Finches, Anna's Hummingbirds are more common in Portland than in the state as a whole. This is due to the many different habitats found in the state dropping the average for the entire state.




Beyond your backyard


To create this page on the backyard birds in Oregon I used some of the advanced features of eBird.

You can learn more about what birds are in your own backyard using some easy and helpful features of eBird. Rare birds. Common birds. Winter birds, spring birds, summer birds, and fall birds. In fact, you can determine the abundance of all birds likely in your area for every week of the year! You can also see photos of the birds from your own area.

eBird also has numerous photos and voice recordings of the birds. Thus, you can see pictures of all the variation in each species. And you can listen to recordings of bird songs and calls.

Not all birds can be found in backyards. You may find that you wish to see birds in other places. If so, you'll want to check this out.

First, I'm sending you to eBird (www.ebird.org). Please don't forget me! Bookmark this page to come back.


Explore Regions for birds in your own county


From the eBird home page, select the tab for Explore (https://ebird.org/explore). The Explore page offers several options. Please use the Explore Regions form for now. Start entering your county name into the form. Select your county and state from the drop-down list.

Now your County page pops up.

There are 36 counties in Oregon. There are bird lists for each county. The county with the most birds recorded is Lane County with 409 species. The county with the least birds recorded is Wheeler County with 224 species.

From this County page there are 3 selections that I want to share with you. They are Printable Checklist, Illustrated Checklist, and Hotspots.


1. Printable Checklist


The Printable Checklist is exactly what it sounds like. It is a basic bird checklist of all birds with eBird records in the county, state, or country you choose. It is a professional looking checklist, too. You can print it double-sided on card stock for a quite nice and durable bird checklist.

Bird checklists are useful to keep track of birds in your backyard as you identify them. Or, you may want to print a new list for each time you take a bird watching outing.

But this type of list doesn't help you figure out if a bird in your backyard is common or rare. For that, you need the next type of checklist.


2. Bar Charts


Bar charts combine the species list with abundance over time. The thickness of the line (bar) indicates how frequently a bird is seen. A thicker bar indicates a common bird. A thin line indicates a rare bird. No bars are shown when the birds are absent or not recorded.

In the case of the eBird bar charts, there is a space for every week of the year. There is room for 52 lines, or bars, in each chart. This way, you can tell, week by week, how common birds are in your state, even in each county.

One feature that I like on the county page is the Illustrated Checklist. It is a bar chart for the county. But it also includes photos of birds that have been taken in the county. That way, for unusual birds, I can see the plumage. Are most of the records for breeding males or perhaps dull-looking immatures? That will let me know exactly what I am looking for when I am out in the field. Of course, I always like to add photos to the Illustrated Checklist if any are missing. But that is easier to do with the following list.


3. Hotspots


Hotspots are public bird watching areas with their own species checklists and bar charts. Sometimes these are very famous birding sites with thousands of bird watchers visiting per year. Other hotspots are very rarely visited by birders. These will give you an idea of what other birds (not just backyard birds) may be found near you.

There are hundreds of hotspots for every state. Each county is likely to have numerous hotspots, too. There is a list of the top 100 hotspots in each state. To see all of them you can go to the map.

You may also like my eBird tutorial with illustrations.

Once you start viewing your backyard birds in Oregon, you may find that you want to look for more types of birds than just backyard birds. Then you're on your way to exploring the wildlife in a larger world. There are birds everywhere you go. Different ones in every location. In fact, 10,000 of them. That's enough for several lifetimes of joy just to see them once!

All this because you were curious as to what birds were in your backyard!




Next: Backyard birds of Pennsylvania

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)

Please also check out my recommended products page. There I maintain a list of the best feeders, bird foods, binoculars, bird baths, fountains, books and other bird watching items.






2 comments:

  1. How can I pick out the best service from those listed on this site?
    Oregon Photography

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure what you are asking, David.

      I am leaving your comment with the link to your landscaping photography site.

      Delete

Thank you so much for visiting! Would you please leave a comment to let me know what you thought and how I can make this resource better for you?

--Greg--

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