10 Most Common Birds Of North America


Although it is easy to focus on the rare birds of the world, the birds that frequent our backyards here in North America are just as fascinating.

There are so many beautiful, yet common birds spread across the continent. These birds are usually so familiar because they are adaptable and can live just about anywhere. Many of them are comfortable in suburban areas, living right alongside us.

Read on to discover the top 10 most common birds in North America and learn how they thrive here.

If you want to attract some of these birds to your garden then there are some fantastic bird houses on Amazon.

10. Northern Cardinal

NPS Flickr CC1.0

The Northern cardinal is a fairly large, beautiful songbird. They are very common throughout North America, ranging from southeastern Canada, through the United States, to southern Mexico.

The Northern Cardinal is one of the most popular birds in the United States. They are the state bird of seven different states, the most out of any bird.

It is estimated that there are 120 million cardinals in North America. They are among the easier birds to identify. Males are brilliant red while females are brown with reddish tinges.

Northern cardinals are very adaptable, they tend to inhabit woodland edges or grassland landscapes with shrubbery they can hide in. As adults they tend to feed mostly on fruits and seeds, however, they feed their nestlings mostly insects. They also thrive near urban areas and are frequent visitors to bird feeders. This adaptability has allowed their populations to grow and spread across most of North America.

9. Red-eyed Vireo

Red eyed Vireo
Kelly Colgan Azar Flickr CCND2.0

Red-eyed vireos are small, stocky songbirds. With 130 million members of their population, they are spread across much of Canada and the eastern United States. They migrate south for the winter and spend the season in eastern Mexico.

Red-eyed vireos are olive green and white and get their name because their eyes turn red after about a year old. Their diet varies drastically throughout the year. In the summer, up to 50% of their meals are caterpillars. When they are approaching fall migration, the amount of fruit they eat rises, and in the winter they eat almost exclusively fruit.

They prefer large expanses of deciduous forest, which is why the eastern United States is the perfect habitat for their population to flourish.

8. Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow rumped warbler
Judy Gallagher Flickr CC2.0

Yellow-rumped warblers are striking, active birds. These warblers are small streaky brown and yellow birds. They barely have greater numbers than the red-eyed vireo at just over 130 million.

They spend their summers in Canada and then migrate southeast to Mexico and the Eastern United States. They typically spend their time foraging in the outer tree canopies of coniferous forests, often darting out after bugs.

However, they are adaptable and will spend their time in any type of forest available. In the winter they often travel in large flocks and spend lots of time eating berries.

7. Red-winged Blackbird

Red winged blackbird
Curt Hart Flickr CC2.0

Red-winged blackbirds are medium-sized, stocky birds. They are very common in North America with about 150 million birds in their population. However, males are the ones people normally see. They are hard to mistake with their black body and striking red and yellow shoulder patches. Females are brown and prefer to hide unseen in the undergrowth.

In many cultures, red-winged blackbirds are seen as good omens. They are spread from coast to coast and range from northern Canada to Southern Mexico. They thrive in a variety of habitats but prefer wetlands. They primarily feed on seeds but about 25% of their diet is made up of insects and other small animals. This allows them to find a place to live throughout North America.

6. European Starling

European starling
Becky Matsubara Flickr CC2.0

European starlings are one of North America’s most numerous songbirds. They are a blackbird with an iridescent sheen and a long, pointed bill. European starlings are not a native species in North America. There are approximately 200 million birds here that all descended from 100 birds released in Central Park in New York City.

They are very common in cities and towns and their adaptability to humans has contributed to their success. Many people view them as a pest.

European starlings cause trouble for native birds because they literally push them out and steal their nests. They have been particularly detrimental to bluebirds and woodpeckers. They are often spotted walking across suburban lawns, stabbing their bills into the ground every few steps in search of insects. European starlings often travel in large flocks with up to 100,000 individuals which are truly a sight to behold.

5.Chipping Sparrow

Chipping sparrow
Photo by 611catbirds Flickr CC2.0

Chipping sparrows are slender, small birds. They are a buff-brown with darkly streaked wings and back and a reddish cap on their heads.

Chipping sparrows thrive in open woodlands and forests with grassy clearings across North America. They also enjoy parks and backyards, particularly if you have bird feeders. Their ability to thrive in these areas has supported their large population of 230 million birds.

They have a breeding range through Canada and the Northern United States. When they are not breeding they migrate south to the southern United States. Their loud, trilling songs are one of the most common sounds of spring in the woodlands and suburbs they inhabit.

4. American Robin

American robin
Domingo Mora Flickr CC1.0

American robins are common sights across North America. Many people view robins as a sign of spring as they pull earthworms up out of the ground. With 320 million robins in North America, it is no wonder that most people know about them.

American robins are a beautiful bird with a red-orange underside, grey wings and back, and a slightly darker head. The variety of habitats they live in is remarkable. They thrive anywhere, from the Alaskan wilderness to the backyards of the southern United States.

They often spend their winters in Mexico, where they gather in large groups. These roosts can have 250,000 individuals gathered in a single area. American robins are adaptable, iconic birds of North America.

3. Mourning Dove

Mourning dove
Photo by 611catbirds Flickr CC2.0

A mourning dove perched on a telephone wire is an extremely common sight across North America. They are a beautiful tan with grey edged wings and black flecks.

When mourning doves fly, their wings make a sharp whistling sound. It is believed that this is an adaptation to warn others that there is danger nearby. Their numbers are monitored closely because they are the only bird on this list that is legal to hunt. Recent estimates have put their numbers at nearly 400 million birds.

Mourning doves are seen from coast to coast in the United States with their range dipping into southern Canada and extending through Mexico. They can often be seen foraging in bare patches of ground, gathering seeds and grit.

Mourning doves enjoy a range of habitats including urban areas, farms, grasslands, and wooded areas. A single pair can nest six times a year, producing up to twelve offspring. This allows the mourning dove population to remain stable despite urban pressures and hunting.

2. House Sparrow

House sparrow
Vidyasagar Duvvuru Flickr CC1.0

House sparrows are small, chunky birds with a short black bill. The males have darkly striped wings with a grey underside and dark tan and grey head. Females are much lighter with darkly striped wings and a buff tan color overall.

House sparrows are not native to North America, they originated in the Middle East and spread throughout the world. Today, they are believed to be the most common bird in the world. North America has a population of approximately 540 million house sparrows.

House sparrows have lived around humans for centuries. In fact, they are not even found in undisturbed forests or grasslands. Instead, they thrive in cities and farmlands.

They can often be seen building a nest in unsuspecting places. House sparrow nests are frequently found in the letters of signs, gas-station roofs and in traffic lights. They live year-round in every state in America and most of Mexico. House sparrows thrive alongside humans and this has allowed their numbers to grow to 540 million in North America.

1. Dark-eyed Junco

Dark eyed junco
Colin Durfee Flickr CC2.0

Dark-eyed juncos are dark grey or brown birds with white outer tail feathers. They are small birds that prefer to forage on the ground. Dark-eyed juncos are the most common bird in America with an estimated population of 630 million birds.

They can often be seen hopping around the bases of trees and shrubs or venturing around lawns looking for fallen seeds. While they prefer seeds, dark-eyed juncos are generalists. In the summer, half of their food is made up of insects and they will also eat berries.

They prefer to breed and nest in the conifer forests of Canada. These birds can nest up to three times a year, potentially producing 15 offspring per pair. They can be found everywhere in North America except for southern Mexico and the extreme northern regions of Canada. They can survive in many different habitats. Their versatility and large numbers of offspring combine to make the dark-eyed junco the most common bird in North America.

Even the most common birds in our own backyards are amazing creatures. There is a good chance that if you get outside today, you could spot one of North America’s most common birds. With 630 million dark-eyed juncos, you just might see one the next time you go for a walk!

If you want to attract some of these birds to your garden then there are some fantastic bird houses on Amazon.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

Recent Content