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Help Us Build Our Top 120 List

Some of us have been wedged into meeting rooms this week, talking about how to make a great bird ID tool. One thing is clear: it’s going to take some time to develop the perfect Ident-O-Matic (some might call it the Petertron) – a tool that can pinpoint any of North America’s 700+ bird species based solely on a user’s recollections of traits like size, color, shape, beak size or, say, number of toes or aroma….

But we don’t want you to get impatient. So we’ll develop the tool in discrete stages that we can roll out over the course of development. (We’ll likely show you test versions of each stage in advance – keep your eyes on this blog).

For the first stage, we envision a tool that guides you to identifying around 120 common bird species through a short series of questions covering location, plumage color(s), general size, shape, and behavior. Later, upgrades will expand the number of species covered and make the searches more pictorial.

So naturally, the first question is: Which 120 birds make the list? Four of us squared off around a table to answer: Alex (representing Boston), Laura (Minnesota), Sam (Texas), and me (California). After agreeing on American Goldfinch, Black-capped Chickadee, and Red-breasted Nuthatch, the discussion branched out.

“Scissor-tailed Flycatcher? Bohemian Waxwing?”

“If we do California Quail, should we do Gambel’s Quail?”

“Sorry Hugh. Marbled Murrelet is not a backyard bird.”

To build our list, we’re also looking at Project FeederWatch results and popular All About Birds species accounts. Right now we’re whittling down a list of about 150 – but we’re concerned we might be forgetting some. So let us know: What kinds of birds do you have flitting around your town, or singing from your hedges, that we ought to be thinking about?

Coming next week: What makes identification hard or easy?

(Image: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher by Laura Erickson)

43 Comments

  1. Posted June 13, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Neat! In my Austin, TX neighborhood I’m writing an article for my neighborhood association that lists the 20 most common year-round resident backyard birds. Based on my 3 years of eBird records for the neighborhood, I came up with this list:

    Red-shouldered Hawk
    White-winged Dove
    Mourning Dove
    Eastern Screech-Owl
    Red-bellied Woodpecker
    Downy Woodpecker
    Blue Jay
    Carolina Chickadee
    Black-crested Titmouse
    Carolina Wren
    Bewick’s Wren
    American Robin
    Northern Mockingbird
    European Starling
    Northern Cardinal
    Common Grackle
    Great-tailed Grackle
    Lesser Goldfinch
    House Finch
    House Sparrow

  2. Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I would include a lot of prairie birds:

    Dickcissel
    Bobolink
    Grasshopper Sparrow
    Savananah Sparrow
    Henslow’s Sparrow

    How about all the sparrows?? People claim they are hard to ID, but most are pretty distinct when you get a good look.

    Loads of warblers!!

    How about all 100 birds in the Birder’s Conservation Handbook? That would only leave 20 more…

  3. Kim
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    My favorite is the black-capped chickadee but you already have that one covered. I have Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the Gray Cat Bird (he sings pretty)

  4. Posted June 15, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I posted an answer at my blog, with a top 40 of the local species for me.

  5. Posted June 15, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m a fan of the woodpeckers; especially the southeastern woodpeckers:

    Red-Cockaded
    Hairy
    Downy
    Pileated
    Red-bellied
    Red-headed
    Sapsucker
    Flicker
    Ivorybill(?)

  6. Posted June 16, 2008 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I’m with Alan on the woodpeckers – espcially the Red-headed vs. Red-bellied for comparison purposes for those unfamiliar with them. (People tell me all the time about the “red-headed woodpecker” they have coming to their feeder here in Mass – every time it’s been a Red-bellied)

    A few other suggestions (not mentioned yet by others):
    Scarlet Tananger, Blue-headed Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, Dark-eyed Junco, House and Carolina Wrens.

  7. Posted June 16, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Here in FL, the most common birds I see are:

    Tufted Titmouse
    Blue Jay
    Cardinal
    Carolina Chickadee
    Carolina Wren
    Pileated Woodpecker
    Red-bellied Woodpecker
    Mourning Dove
    American & Fish Crows
    Laughing Gull
    Red-shouldered Hawk
    Osprey
    Turkey & Black Vultures
    Cattle Egret
    White Ibis

    In the winter here I see more variety, such as warblers, sparrows, finches, and other migrants, but the above list is fairly consistant year-round for my area.

  8. Jessica
    Posted June 16, 2008 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I would like you to focus on the identification challenges… how to tell all those “little grey birds” and “little brown birds” apart. For example, I’m having a hellofa time IDing a little grey and tan bird I see in the mountains that hovers at Aspen buds/flowers. I’d love to see a list of possibles narrowed by region and habitat, so I could listen to the calls and compare them.

    My backyard birds… Salt Lake City, Utah:

    Mourning Dove
    Downy Woodpecker
    Scrub Jay
    Black-capped Chickadee
    American Robin
    European Starling
    American Goldfinch
    Lesser Goldfinch
    House Finch
    House Sparrow
    Lazuli Bunting
    American Kestrel
    White-crowned Sparrow
    Song Sparrow
    Black-billed Magpie
    Red-crowned Kinglet
    Northern Flicker
    Pine Siskin

  9. Amanda B.
    Posted June 16, 2008 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    That’s an interesting challenge. We’ve had visiting our feeder – on the Kenai Peninsula (AK):
    Gray Jay
    Stellar Jay – coastal form
    Yellow Rumped Myrtle Warbler
    Townsend Warbler
    Blackpoll Warbler
    Orange Crowned Warbler
    Boreal and Black-capped chickadee
    Red Breasted Nuthatch
    Junco
    Sooty Fox Sparrow
    Breaking down by region would be helpful, as I probably won’t see a Vireo – any variety – any time soon.

  10. Posted June 17, 2008 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    I live in Vallejo, at the NE corner of the San Francisco bay. We see a lot of migratory birds and wetland residents. I’d like help identifying similar breeds, for example, I’m not sure if I’m seeing Killdeers or Semipalmated Plovers at a marsh near my house, or maybe both. I’ve seen them do the fake broken wing thing, but that isn’t mentioned in my Sibley guidebook. I started doing ebird but I’m still unsure about a lot of birds and I didn’t want to fill it up with wrong information.

    There is another bird I’ve seen around here that I’m not sure of – it looks like a sparrow with a lot of yellow around the breast and neck – there are lots of similar birds in the book! Maybe a Townsend Warbler?

    here are locals that I am sure of:

    Black phoebe
    House Finch
    Cliff Swallow
    Nuttall’s woodpecker (frequent our old fruit trees & phone poles)
    Mockingbirds
    Scrub Jays
    doves (probably mourning)
    Red shouldered hawk
    red winged blackbird (bicolored – variety)
    Greater egret
    Lesser egret
    Black Necked stilt
    Great blue heron
    coots
    cormorants
    mallards
    lesser scaup
    brown pelicans
    white pelicans
    Grebes (western?)
    Canada Geese
    Turkey Vulture
    Crows
    Ravens
    Starlings
    pigeons
    house sparrows (way too many of these)

    seen only once or twice:
    Robin
    peregrine falcon
    American Kestrel
    white tailed kite
    Pheasants (a pair, in semi-developed area last fall)
    Black crowned night heron (more common in Oakland)

    Not sure of identification
    California Thrasher
    Western Kingbird
    Killdeer/Plover
    various seagulls

    Thanks for this site!

  11. Derry Hoggatt
    Posted June 18, 2008 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I personally would like to see the following:
    Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
    Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
    Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
    Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
    Great Egret (Ardea alba)
    Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
    Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
    Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
    Least Tern (Sternula antillarum)
    Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
    Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
    Barred Owl (Strix varia)
    Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)
    Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)
    Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)
    Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus)
    Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
    American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
    Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
    Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
    Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)
    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
    Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina)
    American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
    Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
    White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
    Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
    Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)
    Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
    Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
    House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
    House Sparrow (Passer domesticus).
    Thank you.

  12. Mary Beth James-Thib
    Posted June 19, 2008 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    From the SF bay area:
    Anna’s Hummingbirds
    Black phoebes
    Chestnut backed chickadee
    California Towhee
    House Finch
    Bushtit
    Nuttall’s woodpecker
    Redshafted flicker
    Mockingbird
    Scrub Jays
    Mourning doves
    Common egret
    Snowy Egret
    Blackbird
    Great blue heron
    Cooper’s hawk
    Brown pelicans
    Canada Geese
    Turkey
    Crows
    Ravens
    Starlings
    Pigeons
    Black crowned sparrows

  13. birdude
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I live in San Ramon California, and here are the top 15
    bird species that I see around my neighborhood.

    1. House Finch
    2. California Towhee
    3. Black Phoebe
    4. Mourning Dove
    5. White-tailed Kite
    6. Downy Woodpecker
    7. Peregrine Falcon
    8. Hairy Woodpecker
    9. House Sparrow (Much more common in Spring)
    10. California Quail
    11. Great Egret
    12. Purple Finch
    13. California(n) Scrub Jays (Though very common in Summer)
    14. Cooper/Sharp-shinned Hawks
    15. Great Blue Heron

  14. Hugh
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Thanks birdude – and the other listers on this thread. Your suggestions are updated in the word cloud at the top of the Listmania post. Check’em out…

  15. spring-blossom
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Here are a few of the birds I see and would like them to be on the list:

    1. Eastern Bluebird
    2. White-tailed Tropicbird
    3. Bermuda Petrel
    4. Northern Cardinal
    5. Greater black-backed gull
    6. House Sparrow
    7. European Starling
    8. European Goldfinch
    9. Barn Owl
    10.White-eyed Vireo

  16. Waiting
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Top 15 common birds around my apartment at Pasadena, CA:
    Mourning Dove
    Northern Mockingbird
    House Finch
    House Sparrow
    European Starling
    Rock Pigeon
    Allen’s Hummingbird
    Anna’s Hummingbird
    Acorn Woodpecker
    American Crow
    Western Scrub-Jay
    Cedar Waxwing
    Yellow-rumped Warbler
    Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
    Bushtit

  17. Adele in Minnesota
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Well, foremost in my mind (and ears) right now is the House Wren. I’m sure many people across the country and world are hearing what I’ve been hearing for at least 14 hours a day lately, male house wrens singing their heads off.

  18. Tizzie
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    As a northeast birder my suggestion would be to focus some on the identification of sparrows and wrens (one from another) as well as hawks, falcons, waders, gulls and warblers. In my own experience these are the hardest to identify either because of great similarities or having to view from a great distance. The shore birds are just tough to identify in general. Of course these do not apply to al regions so…

  19. Beryl Moody
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I live in a rural section of Nevada County, CA and see many birds that are not commonly seen in the rest of the county. But here is a list of birds that I think are quite common in the county as a whole.

    Mourning Dove
    Anna’s Hummingbird
    American Crow
    Common Raven
    House Finch
    Lesser Goldfinch
    Brewer’s Blackbird
    Spotted Towhee
    Stellar’s Jay
    Western Scrub Jay
    Turkey Vulture
    Canada Goose
    American Robin
    English Sparrow
    Dark Eyed Junco

  20. West
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Western Bluebird
    Mountain Bluebird

  21. Jean
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Great ideas! I would add that in this northernmost coastal corner of California, our backyard populations vary enormously by season. Whereas I would put Dark-eyed Junco first in winter, they are gone in summer. All year, though, the Steller’s Jay is our most frequent visitor. Right now, they are joined by red breasted woodpeckers, northern flickers, black headed grosbeaks and American finches in numbers, augmented by Allen’s and Anna’s hummingbirds as the flowers appear.

  22. Paula Sites
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Where I live in south central Indiana, the following are the most common:

    Mourning Dove
    House Finch
    House Sparrow
    Gold Finch
    Northern Cardinal
    European Starling
    Downy Woodpecker
    Blue Jay
    American Robin
    Song Sparrow
    Dark-eyed Junco
    Black-capped Chickadee
    Yellow-rumped Warbler
    Yellow Warbler
    Ruby-crowned Kinglet
    Ruby-throated Hummingbird
    Indigo Bunting
    Blue Bird
    American Crow
    Sharp-shinned Hawk
    Red-tailed Hawk
    Mallard
    Canada Goose
    Great Blue Heron
    Green-backed Heron
    Belted Kingfisher
    Cedar Waxwing
    Hairy Woodpecker
    Pileated Woodpecker
    Red-headed Woodpecker
    Tufted Titmouse

  23. Annie K. Prestwood
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Birds that I see in my yard:

    brown-headed nuthatch
    red-breasted nuthatch
    white-breasted nuthatch

    American goldfinch
    Carolina chickadee
    Carolina wren

    Northern cardinal
    Bluejay

    Pileated woodpecker
    red bellied woodpecker
    downy woodpecker

    mourning dove
    common crow

    Robin
    Purple finch

    Wild turkey

  24. Eva Galson
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    We spend part of our summer on an island in the St Lawrence River. Would the birds we see commonly in our “backyard” qualify for the list?
    Great Blue Heron Common Tern
    Osprey Phoebe
    American Eagle Gold Finch
    Canada Goose Purple Finch
    Mallard Cormorant
    Ring Billed Gull House Wren
    Common Merganser
    Ruby Throated Hummingbird

  25. Jan Christian
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Western NC mountains
    These are the year-round most common
    Cardinal
    Carolina Chickadee
    Tufted Titmouse
    Towhee
    House Finch
    Goldfinch
    European Starling
    Common Grackle
    Eastern Bluebird
    Mourning Dove
    Downy Woodpecker
    Carolina Wren
    Song Sparrow
    Blue Jay
    White-breasted Nuthatch
    Brown-headed Cowbird

    Those that visit by season
    Indigo Bunting – summer
    Rose Breasted Grosbeak – summer
    Junco – winter
    Brown Thrasher – summer
    Ruby-throated Hummingbird – summer
    White-throated Sparrow – winter
    Catbird – summer
    Fox Sparrow -winter

  26. G in INdiana
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got a long list of species we’ve seen here at our farm in SE Indiana. We “run” it for the wild animals so it is no wonder we have so many birds visiting here.
    American Bittern
    Great Blue Heron
    Green Heron (yearly breeding pair with 3-4 chicks per year)
    Black Vulture
    Turkey Vulture (breeding site less than 1/2 mile from farm)
    Canada Geese
    American Black Duck
    Blue Winged Teal
    Mallard
    Ring Necked Duck
    Lesser Scaup
    Hooded Merganser
    Bufflehead
    Osprey
    Bald Eagle
    Northern Harrier
    Sharp Shinned Hawk
    Cooper’s Hawk
    Red-shouldered Hawk (breeding site less than 1/2 mile from farm)
    Broad winged Hawk
    Red-tailed Hawk
    American Kestrel
    Wild Turkey (flock located in woods behind farm)
    American Coot
    Killdeer
    Spotted Sandpiper
    Mourning Dove
    Rock Dove
    Great Horned Owl
    Barred Owl
    Common Nighthawk
    Whip-poor-will
    Ruby-throated Hummingbird
    Belted Kingfisher (breeds by our creek)
    Red -headed Woodpecker
    Red-bellied Woodpecker
    Downy Woodpecker
    Hairy Woodpecker
    Northern Flicker
    Pileated Woodpecker
    (all above woodpecker species breed in our woods)
    Olive-sided Fly Catcher
    Eastern Pewee (breeds in woods)
    Acadian Flycatcher
    Eastern Phoebe (has chicks on my front porch right now!!!)
    Great Crested Flycatcher
    Eastern Kingbird
    White-eyed Vireo
    Red-eyed Vireo
    Blue Jay
    American Crow
    Purple Martin
    Tree Swallow
    Northern Rough Winged Swallow
    barn Swallow
    Carolina Chickadee
    Tufted Titmouse
    Red-breasted Nuthatch
    White-breasted Nuthatch
    Brown Creeper
    Carolina Wren
    House Wren
    Winter Wren
    Gold-crowned Kinglet
    Ruby-crowned Kinglet
    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
    Eastern Bluebird
    Wood Thrush
    American Robin (breeding in front garden spruce tree)
    Gray Catbird (breeding in backyard Viburnum bush)
    Northern Mockingbird
    Brown Thrasher
    European Starling
    Cedar Waxwing
    Yellow Warbler
    Chestnut-sided Warbler
    Yellow-rumped Warbler
    Black-throated green Warbler
    Blackburnian Warbler
    Yellow-throated Warbler (first time seen this year on our farm!)
    Pine Warbler
    Palm Warbler
    Bay-breasted Warbler
    Louisiana Water Thrush
    Common Yellow Throat
    Yellow-breasted Chat
    Summer Tanager
    Scarlet Tanager
    Eastern Towhee
    American Tree Sparrow
    Chipping Sparrow
    Field Sparrow
    Savannah Sparrow
    Grasshopper Sparrow
    Fox Sparrow
    Song Sparrow
    Lincoln’s Sparrow
    White-throated Sparrow
    White-crowned Sparrow
    Dark-eyed Junco
    Northern Cardinal
    Rose-breasted Grosbeak
    Indigo Bunting
    bobolink
    Red-winged Blackbird
    Eastern Meadowlark
    Rusty Blackbird
    Common Grackle
    Brown-headed Cowbird
    Orchard Oriole (nesting in Catalpa trees less than 200 feet from house)
    Baltimore Oriole
    Purple Finch
    House Finch
    Pine Siskin
    American Goldfinch
    House Sparrow

    Sorry this is so long, but after 10 years and building this place to be
    for animals and birds, we are very proud to be able to host so many
    full time residents, breeding pairs, and migrants who stop in to
    fish and hunt for their food on their way to breeding or wintering
    grounds.

  27. Rita Kempf
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    You already have my lists from Project Feeder Watch for winter. For summer, I would have to add the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and the Catbird too. Once you have the most common bird list how about adding how high they typically like to feed in the trees? My trees are 80 feet tall and it would be a great help in my ID’s.
    Auburn, Al.

  28. MSC
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Here are birds I see around Santa Cruz, CA. I’m a beginner birder, so these may not necessarily be the most common, but they’re the ones I’ve figured out.

    western grebe
    brown pelican
    double-crested cormorant
    great blue heron
    snowy egret
    pigeon guillemot
    turkey vulture
    Canada goose
    mallard
    red-tailed hawk
    California quail
    American coot
    black turnstone
    herring gull
    ring-billed gull
    mourning dove
    Anna’s hummingbird
    black phoebe
    western scrub jay
    American crow
    barn swallow
    American robin
    northern mockingbird
    European starling
    California towhee
    dark-eyed junco
    red-winged blackbird
    house finch
    house sparrow

  29. ali rodgers
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Birds in my garden in Corrales, New Mexico are

    spotted towhee
    blue grosbeak
    white-breasted nuthatch
    american goldfinch
    lesser goldfinch
    pine siskin
    cassin’s finch
    broad-tailed hummingbird
    rufous hummingbird
    gambel’s quail
    downy woodpecker
    northern flicker
    curved-bill thrasher
    bewick’s wren
    mourning dove
    cooper’s hawk
    sharp-shinned hawk
    american kestrel
    screech owl
    long-eared owl
    western tanager
    red-winged blackbird
    american robin
    steller’s jay
    starling
    barn swallow

  30. James McVoy
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Here are some common birds from our feeders and general neighborhood:(Southeastern PA)

    American Robins
    Tufted Titmice
    Carolina Chickadees
    Indigo Buntings
    Chipping Sparrows
    Song Sparrows
    Field Sparrows
    Mourning Doves
    Downy Woodpeckers
    Hairy Woodpeckers
    Red-bellied Woodpeckers
    Northern Flickers
    Pileated Woodpeckers
    Great-horned Owls
    Eastern Screech-owls
    Gray Catbirds
    Northern Mockingbirds
    White-breasted Nuthatches
    Red-breasted Nuthatches
    Red-winged Blackbirds
    Common Grackles
    American Goldfinches
    House Finches
    Wood Thrushes
    Eastern Bluebirds
    Ovenbirds
    Eastern Phoebes
    Eastern Wood-pewees
    Great-crested Flycatchers
    Brown Creepers
    White-throated Sparrows (winter)
    Wild Turkeys
    Brown-headed Cowbirds
    Blue Jays
    American Crows
    Cooper’s Hawks
    Turkey Vultures
    Black Vultures
    Red-tailed Hawks
    American Kestrels
    Killdeer
    Canada Geese
    Mallards
    Great Blue Herons

    That is all I can come up with off the top of my head…

  31. Linda
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    In my northern New Mexico yard, the most common birds in winter are:

    house finch
    juniper titmouse
    bushtit
    pinyon jay
    western scrub jay
    bewick’s wren
    canyon towhee
    spotted towhee
    red shafted flicker
    junco
    common raven
    magpie
    american goldfinch
    mountain chickadee
    cassin’s finch

    In summer the common birds are:

    black headed grosbeak
    mourning dove
    western bluebird
    lesser goldfinch
    common nighthawk
    turkey vulture
    house finch
    juniper titmouse
    spotted towhee
    canyon towhee
    common raven
    western scrub jay
    magpie
    bewick’s wren
    say’s phoebe

  32. Posted June 23, 2008 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Here’s what I’ve seen in my backyard in Central Florida:
    brown thrasher
    white winged dove
    mourning dove
    common ground dove
    northern mockingbird
    northern cardinal
    blue jay
    quail (FL species)
    palm warbler
    sandhill crane (flyover)
    red shouldered hawk
    white crowned sparrow
    goldfinch
    red bellied woodpecker
    chipping sparrow
    grey catbird
    vulture
    whip-poor-will (heard only)

  33. Posted June 24, 2008 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Where is our little, humble, ever busy, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird? They are at my feeder ALL summer, and I love them!

  34. Heather Johnson
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Here in Smyrna, GA, our favorite visitors are the woodpeckers and nuthatches. We currently have a resident family of redheads, whose startling beauty stops me in my tracks every time I see them.

    We see daily this time of year:
    Redheaded woodpecker
    Red-bellied woodpecker
    Downy woodpecker
    White-breasted nuthatch
    Brown-headed nuthatch
    Eastern bluebird
    Northern cardinal
    Rufous-sided towhee
    Mockingbird
    Brown thrasher
    Robin
    Chickadee
    Titmouse
    House finch
    Mourning dove
    Blue jay
    Carolina Wren
    Rubythroated hummingbird

  35. Deb Wagner
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I would like to see how to identify the blue gray gnat catcher, phoebe, eastern king bird,parula warbler, red shoulder, red tailed sharp shinned hawk. I believe I have all of these at our school campus.
    We alos have the mourning dove, ground dove, rock pigeon, tufted titmouse, cardinal, blue jay, red-wing blackbird, great blue heron, anhinga, osprey, sand hill crane, egret, cattle egret, ibis, turkey vulture

  36. Kitty & Kris Knaphus
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    We live on the high plains near Great Falls, MT.
    Some of our most common birds:

    Western Meadowlark
    Horned Lark
    Savannah Sparrow
    Vesper Sparrow
    Long-billed Curlew
    Kestrel
    Short-eared owl
    Northern Harrier
    Cliff Swallow
    Swainson’s Hawk
    Red-tailed Hawk
    Rough-legged Hawk (winter)
    Sharp-tailed Grouse
    Ring-necked Pheasant
    Great Horned Owl
    Osprey
    Canada Goose

    In the yard:

    Goldfinch
    House Finch
    Brewers Blackbird
    Red-wing Blackbird
    Pine Siskin (winter)
    Common Redpoll (winter)
    Tree Swallow
    Mourning Dove
    Robin
    Say’s Phoebe
    Eastern Kingbird
    Western Kingbird

  37. Mary
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    In interior Alaska, in the boreal forest with fields across the road near Delta Junction, summer bird identification is the difficulty. In the winter I can easily tell a Black-capped Chickadee from a Boreal or a Red-Breasted Nuthatch and a Downy Woodpecker from a Hairy. It’s those summer birds that look so much alike that are hard to identify as they flit through my birch and spruce, picking bugs from the top, running on the floor or sitting somewhere near making an odd call. So, my list would include:
    Ruby-crowned Kinglet
    Yellow Warbler
    Yellow-rumped Myrtle Warbler
    Townsend’s Warbler
    Blackpoll Warbler
    Wilson’s Warbler
    Swainson’s Thrush
    Hermit Thrush
    Gray-cheeked Thrush
    Varied Thrush
    American Robin
    American Tree Sparrow
    Chipping Sparrow
    Golden-crowned Sparrow
    Fox Sparrow
    White-crowned Sparrow
    Lincoln’s Sparrow
    Dark-eyed Junco
    Olive-sided Flycatcher
    Alder Flycatcher
    Western Wood-Pewee
    Hammond’s Flycatcher
    Violet-green Swallow
    Tree Swallow
    Bank Swallow
    Cliff Swallow
    Northern Goshawk
    American Kestrel
    Merlin
    Sharp-shinned Hawk
    Northern Harrier
    Red-tailed Hawk
    Rough-legged Hawk
    Spruce Grouse
    Ruffed Grouse
    Sharp-tailed Grouse
    Rufous Hummingbird (an oddity in late summer)
    Boreal Owl
    Short-eared Owl
    Great Gray Owl
    Great Horned Owl
    Northern Hawk Owl

  38. Posted June 26, 2008 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    I echo the birds listed by James McVoy as I also live in Southeastern PA. But also add vireos to the list.

  39. Posted June 27, 2008 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    The Carolina wren is one of my favorite birds. As a West Coast to North Carolina transplant, this creature is a real treat in every way. The bird exhibits a true curiosity and tenacity I’ve not really observed in most others – she just has an enormous vigor for life.

    Other favorites… some specific to our new home in the NC Piedmont.

    Mockingbird
    Black-capped or Carolina Chickadee
    Brown thrasher
    Barred owl (remarkably common in NC yards)
    Carolina chickadee

    California favorites…

    Black phoebe (a handsome bird!)
    Scrub jay

  40. Zelda Ladan
    Posted July 5, 2008 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    My central FL summer backyard bird list:

    Northern Cardinal
    Mockingbird
    Blue Jay
    Brown Thrasher
    Tufted Titmouse
    Blue Grey Gnatcatcher
    Morning Dove
    House Finch
    Common Grackle
    White Ibis
    Red Shoulder Hawk
    Red Bellied Woodpecker
    Downy Woodpecker
    Pileated Woodpecker
    Northern Parula Warbler
    Carolina Wren
    Red Wing Blackbird
    American Crow
    Ruby Throat Hummingbird
    Great Crested Flycatcher

    frequent vulture & Osprey sightings
    occasionally hear an owl, don’t know which, and if I go to our pond at the end of the street there are often mallard ducks, egrets, great blue herons, blue green bitterns, etc.

  41. Jim
    Posted July 9, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Mourning dove

  42. Jim
    Posted July 9, 2008 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    white dove

  43. Jean & Mike
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I wish I had seen this blog entry back in June. Drat! I was very pleased to see the vast georgraphy of the country represented at your roundtable. There are a large number of us birders in the south (east, central, and west), and we get more species in winter than in summer. What fun! Especially since the weather can be absolutely terrific in winter. So you *must* consider winter plumages in your ID tool.


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  1. [...] Skip navigation About « Help Us Build Our Top 120 List [...]

  2. [...] starter list 180 species long, including everything from Mourning Dove (the overall frontrunner) to Bermuda Petrel (all I can say is: Where do you live, and can I come [...]

  3. [...] idea! (Now, in addition to the Bird ID tool we’re working on, and the Song ID tool that many of you have nominated in comments, it seems [...]

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