Our Bird ID Guide

Now that you have begun to attract birds to your backyard, it's time to learn which species you are seeing.  While this can seem daunting at first, it really isn't.  Start with one or two, then continue to grow your knowledge.  Once you get started, most likely you'll become fascinated and want to learn more.  That's how it happened for us.  And we're here to help you along the way.  Here is our bird ID guide, along with links to our accounts for the most commonly seen birds in backyards across North America.

For those of you needing some help on how to get started, click here.  This post has information on the different keys to use for identifying birds.  It has tips on what to look for regarding shape, color, size, behavior, vocalizations, and range.

The names of birds, primarily the scientific names, but also their common names, is a fascinating topic all by itself.  Here's a short primer on bird names.


There are over 700 species of birds that occur in North America.  Some are widespread; others have a very limited range, while some have been seen here at most only a handful of times.  We are going to focus only on those that are most likely to occur in your backyard.  What follows doesn't include all the species that could occur; there are other resources that cover every species known to have been seen in North America.  At the end you'll find links to some of those resources we consider the best.  Keep in mind, though, that those resources are best used after you've gained a bit of knowledge.  It is too easy to get lost among the mass of information available today.  We certainly don't want you to do that and get overwhelmed.  So, if you're a beginner, start with the species accounts below, and then expand your knowledge.

Species Accounts

Here are accounts of some of the most commonly found birds in backyards across North America.  Each account has information on how to identify males, females, and immatures, as well as how to distinguish them from similar-looking species.  There's also information on size, range, habitat, nesting, and diet.  Dive in.  Enjoy.  And don't hesitate to ask questions.

Mourning Dove

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Kingbird

Blue Jay

American Crow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

House Sparrow

House Finch

American Goldfinch

White-throated Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Northern Cardinal

There are more species accounts to come.  Stay tuned!

Other Resources

Here are some additional resources:


Hosted by the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology, this is a great resource covering all the birds found in North America.

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America

One of the best field guides to identifying the birds of North America.  As such, it does not contain much information on nesting or diets.  We consider this one of the "must have" books on birds.

The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Sibley

Another of the "must have" books on birds.  It contains more details than the National Geographic, but is larger and less like a field guide.  Overall, this is a great resource.