Exploring Connecticut’s Diverse Wild Bird Species: A Guide to 25 Backyard Birds
Connecticut boasts a rich variety of wild birds, and in this article, we’ll focus on some of the common and well-known avian residents, particularly those frequently found in local neighborhoods. While some of these birds are year-round inhabitants, others are migratory, adding seasonal charm to the state’s bird population. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of 25 backyard birds in Connecticut and glean insights into each species.
Following this exploration, we’ll discuss effective ways to attract these birds to your yard. Additionally, we’ll provide a brief overview of ten types of bird feeders suitable for this purpose. For enthusiasts seeking prime birdwatching experiences, we’ll highlight a few hotspots and introduce notable birding organizations in Connecticut.
Diversity of Bird Species in Connecticut
Determining the exact number of bird species in Connecticut, or even North America, can be challenging. While Wikipedia cites 446 documented species on the official state list, other sources suggest varying figures, ranging from 2,059 to 914 species in North America. Though these numbers might lack precision, they offer a general understanding of the bird population.
For the scope of this article, our focus will remain on beloved backyard species prevalent in Connecticut.
25 Backyard Birds in Connecticut
Below, we’ll showcase 25 species of backyard birds in Connecticut, encompassing both year-round residents and seasonal visitors. Although these represent only a fraction of the state’s diverse birdlife, they are noteworthy and easily recognizable, often frequenting bird feeders. Let’s embark on this avian journey!
[Following content would provide detailed information on the 25 backyard bird species, their characteristics, and behaviors.]
Scientific Name: Spizella passerina
- Length: 4.7-5.9 in
- Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz
- Wingspan: 8.3 in
Chipping Sparrows exhibit their crispest feathers during the summer, featuring a buffy gray breast, brown and tan streaked wings, a rusty red cap, and a distinctive black line through the eye with white above. In winter, their markings may appear less defined, and their coloring tends towards buffy-brown. Commonly found foraging on open ground, these sparrows are prevalent in Connecticut during the spring and summer breeding season.
They are frequent visitors to backyard feeders, particularly enjoying ground-feeding. Attract them with a mix of sunflower and scattered seeds.
2. Downy Woodpecker
Scientific Name: Picoides pubescens
- Length: 5.5-6.7 in
- Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
- Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
Downy Woodpeckers, the smallest woodpeckers in North America, are familiar sights at backyard bird feeders. Distinguished by their all-white underbodies, black wings with white spots, black and white striped heads, and a red spot on the back of the males’ heads, these woodpeckers are year-round residents in Connecticut. Despite their resemblance to the larger Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpeckers are noticeably smaller.
They readily visit various bird feeders, showing a preference for mixed seeds, black sunflower seeds, and suet.
3. Red-bellied Woodpecker
Scientific Name: Melanerpes carolinus
- Length: 9.4 in
- Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
- Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in
Medium-sized and common in the eastern U.S., Red-bellied Woodpeckers are characterized by a bright red streak along the back of their heads. While the “red-bellied” descriptor might be misleading, their wings’ white and black barring makes them easily identifiable. These woodpeckers are year-round residents in Connecticut.
To attract Red-bellied Woodpeckers, use suet feeders, although they may also feed on seeds, especially if peanuts are offered.
4. Common Grackle
Scientific Name: Quiscalus quiscula
- Length: 11.0-13.4 in
- Weight: 2.6-5.0 oz
- Wingspan: 14.2-18.1 in
Despite their classification as bully birds, Common Grackles display iridescent feathers in hues of blue, green, brown, and purple. Recognizable by their solid coloring, long narrow bodies, and distinctive yellow-ringed eyes, Grackles are year-round residents in Connecticut. Often forming massive flocks, they are foragers and may be considered pests.
5. White-breasted Nuthatch
Scientific Name: Sitta carolinensis
- Length: 5.1-5.5 in
- Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz
- Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 in
Named for their behavior of stuffing nuts and seeds under tree bark, White-breasted Nuthatches are skilled at walking vertically on trees. Identified by a thick black stripe on top of their heads, white on either side, and on their bellies, these birds are year-round residents and common backyard visitors in Connecticut.
White-breasted Nuthatches will visit various seed feeders, showing a preference for mixed seed blends, black sunflower seeds, peanuts, or suet. They are known for grabbing and quickly flying off to eat or cache their finds.
Scientific Name: Sialia sialis
- Length: 6.3-8.3 in
- Weight: 1.0-1.1 oz
- Wingspan: 9.8-12.6 in
True to their name, Eastern Bluebirds boast royal blue plumage on top, complemented by rusty reddish-orange chests and white bellies. Both males and females share this coloration, although females tend to exhibit duller and more faded hues, especially in the blue spectrum. Highly sought after as occupants of birdhouses, Eastern Bluebirds are common in Connecticut backyards, particularly during the year-round. While they are not frequent visitors to feeders, providing mealworms on a tray feeder or in a dish may attract them.
7. Song Sparrow
Scientific Name: Melospiza melodia
- Length: 4.7-6.7 in
- Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz
- Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in
Recognizable by their mostly brown back and wings, with distinct brown streaks on a white breast, Song Sparrows are widespread throughout North America. Plumage can vary slightly from region to region, and males use their song both to attract mates and defend territory. Present in Connecticut year-round, Song Sparrows occasionally visit bird feeders, showing a preference for mixed seeds and sunflower seeds.
8. American Robin
Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius
- Length: 7.9-11.0 in
- Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz
- Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
Highly common in Connecticut backyards and designated as the state bird, American Robins are frequently seen hopping around grassy areas in search of worms and invertebrates. While they may visit bird feeders on occasion, their diet does not primarily consist of seeds. Identified by their bright red round bellies and yellow beaks, robins stay in Connecticut throughout the year, often retreating to wooded areas during winter.
9. Mourning Dove
Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura
- Length: 9.1-13.4 in
- Weight: 3.0-6.0 oz
- Wingspan: 17.7 in
About the size of a robin, Mourning Doves are commonplace in Connecticut backyards, often perched on wires or in groups in trees. Recognizable by their soft cooing sounds, these doves may visit seed feeders, but they prefer foraging on the ground. With mostly gray plumage, black spots on top, a pale peachy color below, and pink legs, Mourning Doves are year-round residents in the entire state.
10. European Starling
Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris
- Length: 7.9-9.1 in
- Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz
- Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
Introduced to the U.S. in the 1890s, European Starlings have become an invasive species, present in every one of the lower 48 states year-round, including Connecticut. Recognizable by their mostly dark coloring with white specks, yellow beaks, and feet, starlings can also display iridescence in purple and green hues. Known for aggressive behavior, they may disrupt other birds’ nests and monopolize feeders.
Given their invasive nature, it’s advisable not to intentionally attract European Starlings.
11. American Goldfinch
Scientific Name: Spinus tristis
- Length: 4.3-5.1 in
- Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz
- Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in
A favorite at feeders, especially in spring and summer when their bright yellow feathers dominate, American Goldfinches exhibit a gold and black coloration. During winter, they molt, and their vibrant yellow fades to a more subdued brownish or olive tone. Identified by the black on their wings and finch-like beaks, Goldfinches can be found year-round in Connecticut. To attract them, thistle feeders are recommended, although they may also consume sunflower chips.
Scientific Name: Passer domesticus
- Length: 5.9-6.7 in
- Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz
- Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in
Often regarded as pests, House Sparrows are one of the few wild bird species in the U.S. that can be legally trapped and humanely killed. Introduced in New York in the 1800s, they have since proliferated across the country. Predominantly brown with streaks of black and brown on their wings and a buffy chest, House Sparrows display aggressive behavior, especially around nests. Found throughout Connecticut, they are invasive, posing a threat to native species, and are omnivores.
13. White-throated Sparrow
Scientific Name: Zonotrichia albicollis
- Length: 6.3-7.1 in
- Weight: 0.8-1.1 oz
- Wingspan: 7.9-9.1 in
Contrary to most regions where White-throated Sparrows are winter birds, they are year-round residents in Connecticut. Identified by their white throat patch, bold facial pattern with black and white stripes, and yellow spots between the eyes, these sparrows may seem more abundant during winter. They readily visit feeders, picking up fallen seeds, and are attracted to sunflower, millet, and mixed seed blends.
14. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris
- Length: 2.8-3.5 in
- Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
- Wingspan: 3.1-4.3 in
Common in the eastern U.S., Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the most abundant hummingbird species in the country, breeding exclusively in the Eastern U.S. Males boast a bright ruby-red throat, while their bodies are emerald-green with white underparts. Females lack the red throat feathers. Found in Connecticut from spring to fall, these hummingbirds are easily attracted to nectar feeders.
15. Red-eyed Vireo
Scientific Name: Vireo olivaceus
- Length: Varies
- Weight: Varies
- Wingspan: Varies
Common summer birds in the eastern U.S., Red-eyed Vireos migrate from South America for the breeding season. Identified by faded olive backs and tails, a lighter breast and belly, dark streaks through their eyes, a white eyebrow, and a red eye-ring, these vireos are often heard rather than seen. They can be found throughout Connecticut in spring and summer, primarily consuming insects. While they don’t visit bird feeders, attracting them is possible with native deciduous trees and insect-supporting vegetation.
16. House Wren
Scientific Name: Troglodytes aedon
- Length: 4.3-5.1 in
- Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
- Wingspan: 5.9 in
Tiny yet vociferous, House Wrens are widespread throughout the U.S. Known for nesting in various small cavities, even unconventional ones like boots or old cans, they frequently investigate birdhouses. Their drab coloring and small size might make them easy to miss, but their dark above and light below plumage with black barring on wings and tail sets them apart. Found in Connecticut during spring and summer, they exclusively feed on insects and spiders and won’t visit bird feeders. Attracting them is possible with insect-supporting plants or birdhouses.
17. Northern Flicker
Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus
- Length: 11.0-12.2 in
- Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
- Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
Medium to large-sized woodpeckers, Northern Flickers are renowned for their vibrant colors. Common in U.S. backyards, these woodpeckers primarily feed on insects, often finding them on the ground. Identified by black spots on their bellies, a solid black bib, red patches on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings, Connecticut hosts the “yellow-shafted” variety with bright yellow feathers on the underside of their wings and tail. Found year-round in the state, Northern Flickers may occasionally visit suet feeders and bird baths.
Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis
- Length: 8.3-9.1 in
- Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz
- Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in
Northern Cardinals, with their bright red feathers and distinctive black masks in males, stand as one of North America’s most recognizable and prevalent backyard birds. While females exhibit duller colors, both genders share distinctive “mohawks” and reddish-orange beaks. Found year-round in Connecticut, these birds readily visit seed feeders, displaying a preference for mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.
19. Tufted Titmouse
Scientific Name: Baeolophus bicolor
- Length: 5.5-6.3 in
- Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
- Wingspan: 7.9-10.2 in
Characterized by a small crest reminiscent of a mohawk, Tufted Titmice are common visitors to feeders and backyards within their range. Sporting silver-gray upper parts and lighter underparts with a distinctive black patch above their beaks, these birds are prevalent year-round in Connecticut. Much like Cardinals, Titmice readily visit most seed feeders, showing a particular fondness for mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.
20. Black-capped Chickadee
Scientific Name: Poecile atricapillus
- Length: 4.7-5.9 in
- Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz
- Wingspan: 6.3-8.3 in
Recognizable by their tiny size and distinctive “black cap” and bib, Black-capped Chickadees are a common sight at bird feeders. With solid white cheeks, blackish-gray wings and backs, and fluffy, light underbodies, these birds are bold for their size. Found year-round in Connecticut, Chickadees are quick and agile, darting back and forth between feeders and cover. They readily visit most seed feeders, favoring mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.
21. Blue Jay
Scientific Name: Cyanocitta cristata
- Length: 9.8-11.8 in
- Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz
- Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in
With a large blue crest atop their heads, Blue Jays are another iconic North American bird species. Featuring mostly blue feathers along their back and white feathers on their chest and belly, they exhibit distinctive black stripes on their wings and tail. A black ring resembling a necklace adorns their necks. Known for their loud, metallic calls, Blue Jays are year-round residents in Connecticut, common in backyards, and frequent visitors to feeders. They prefer platform feeders, peanut feeders, and those with large perches, enjoying black sunflower seeds, mixed seeds, and peanuts.
Scientific Name: Junco hyemalis
- Length: 5.5-6.3 in
- Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz
- Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in
Juncos in the eastern U.S., specifically the “slate-colored” variety, exhibit dark gray coloring on their head, chest, back, wings, and tail, with a white belly extending to the bottom of the tail. Females may have a buffy brown appearance. Noteworthy features for identification include their pale pink beak and roundish body shape. Common in forests and wooded areas, these birds are often seen hopping around on the ground. In Connecticut, Dark-eyed Juncos are prevalent during winter, with some staying year-round in more northern regions. While they may visit feeders, they typically prefer foraging on the ground for dropped seeds.
23. Gray Catbird
Scientific Name: Dumetella carolinensis
- Length: 8.3-9.4 in
- Weight: 0.8-2.0 oz
- Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in
Resembling robin-sized birds, Gray Catbirds feature dark slate gray coloring, a black cap on their heads, and a long tail. Often overlooked is a rusty red patch beneath their tails. Thriving on fruit, these birds can be attracted with native fruit-bearing trees and bushes. Named for their calls reminiscent of a meowing cat, Gray Catbirds are present throughout Connecticut in the summer, with some areas near the coast hosting them year-round. Attracting them may involve offering fruits, berries, and sweet treats, but they prefer foraging on the ground or in bushes.
24. House Finch
Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus
- Length: 5.1-5.5 in
- Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
- Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in
Common in Connecticut, the House Finch is distinguishable by its streaked brown coloring with red on the head and chest in males. Females lack the red coloring. Though invasive to the eastern U.S., they are not universally disliked. Prone to a transmittable eye disease, caution is advised at feeders. House Finches remain in Connecticut throughout the year and readily visit thistle feeders, as well as seed feeders with black sunflower seeds.
25. Red-winged Blackbird
Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus
- Length: 6.7-9.1 in
- Weight: 1.1-2.7 oz
- Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
Among North America’s most abundant birds, male Red-winged Blackbirds are easily recognizable by their red and yellow “shoulders” contrasting with their black bodies. Females, on the other hand, are mostly brown with light streaks. Characterized as polygynous, males may mate with up to 15 females. These birds can be found year-round in Connecticut, occasionally flocking to feeders and consuming seeds rapidly. They visit various feeder types and consume both seed and suet.
BIRD WATCHING IN CONNECTICUT
Connecticut offers an exceptional environment for birding enthusiasts looking to expand their hobby beyond their backyard. The Connecticut Audubon Society provides various opportunities for engagement, including meetups, workshops, field trips, and birding tours.
For Connecticut residents eager to enhance their life list with new bird species, here is a compilation of popular birding locations in the state.
If you wish to immerse yourself further in birding activities, the Connecticut Audubon Society’s organized events can provide valuable experiences and opportunities to connect with fellow bird watchers.
HOW TO ATTRACT BIRDS TO YOUR YARD
If you’re keen on inviting these delightful birds into your backyard, here are 5 simple tips to get you started, beginning with the most straightforward.
- PUT OUT BIRD FEEDERS The most effective and apparent method to attract birds to your yard is by installing bird feeders. Consider starting with a simple tube feeder, hopper feeder, platform feeder, or a window feeder. See below for recommendations for each.
- ADD A WATER SOURCE A pedestal birdbath, like the one available on Amazon, is excellent, or you can use something as basic as a terra cotta flower pot saucer. Birds require water not only for bathing but also for drinking, and introducing a water feature to your yard will heighten your chances of attracting birds. Additionally, think about incorporating a solar fountain, as moving water tends to entice birds even more.
- OFFER BIRDHOUSES Many bird species readily inhabit birdhouses if placed in the right spot at the appropriate time of year. Eastern Bluebirds, in particular, are commonly sought after for birdhouses. Installing a birdhouse, such as the one in my backyard, led to a mating pair of bluebirds exploring it the same day.
- PROVIDE SHELTER Ensure that your yard has trees, bushes, and shrubs where birds can quickly navigate to when they sense danger. This serves as their primary defense against predators. If your yard lacks mature trees, consider adding landscaping features that create a safe environment for birds.
- ADD NATIVE PLANTS For birds that consume nuts, berries, and seeds, incorporating native plants that produce these items will enhance your efforts to attract more birds. Avoid invasive and non-native plants, as they can be detrimental to native birds unfamiliar with these plant species.
10 DIFFERENT TYPES OF BIRD FEEDERS
Here are 10 of the most common bird feeders that people set up in their yards.1.HOPPER FEEDER
Hopper feeders, shaped like houses, have a compartment in the middle (the hopper) to hold bird seed. They come with perches on the sides for birds to land on and eat. Ideal for black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed. Here’s a recommended squirrel-proof hopper feeder.
Also known as tray feeders, these open feeders can be hung from a tree or pole-mounted. Great for feeding a variety of birds, but be mindful that they are accessible to any animal in your yard. Suitable for black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed. Using this platform feeder in my backyard currently.
Clear plastic tube-shaped feeders, ranging in size, keep seed fresh and dry. Ideal for various bird species. Use black sunflower seeds and mixed seeds. Squirrel Buster offers quality squirrel-proof tube feeders.
Suet feeders are designed for suet cakes, favored by woodpeckers, especially in winter. Opt for a suet feeder with a long tail prop to attract larger woodpeckers like Pileated and Northern Flicker.
Small feeders that mount onto glass windows with suction cups. Similar to tray feeders, they’re easy to use and attract various bird species. Suitable for black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed. Popular window feeder on Amazon.
Specialized for thistle seed, these feeders attract finches like the American Goldfinch and House Finch. Often tube-shaped with tiny holes along the sides. Droll Yankees offers a good thistle feeder.
Tray feeders at ground level, popular with Mourning Doves and Juncos. Also attracts ground animals like squirrels and raccoons. Use black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed. Recycled plastic ground feeder.
Specialty feeders for orioles, often orange, with dishes for holding jelly and spaces for orange halves. Simple oriole feeder with jelly trays.
Nectar feeders designed for hummingbirds. Inexpensive and simple. Also attracts birds like Downy Woodpeckers. Personally used hummingbird feeder.
Tube-shaped feeders with wider mesh for whole peanuts. Attracts birds like Blue Jays. Squirrel Buster peanut feeder recommended to keep squirrels out