Mississippi harbors a diverse range of wild birds. This article will explore some of the well-known avian inhabitants of Mississippi, particularly those frequently observed in residential areas. Some species make Mississippi their permanent home, while others are migratory and only reside part-time. Thus, we will delve into 27 backyard birds native to Mississippi, offering insights into each species.
Following that, I will guide you on ways to attract these birds to your yard. Additionally, I’ll provide a concise overview of the ten different types of bird feeders suitable for this purpose. Lastly, we’ll touch upon a few birdwatching hotspots and birding organizations in Mississippi.
Determining the precise number of bird species in Mississippi, North America, or the United States is challenging. As of March 2018, Wikipedia listed 426 species on the official state list. Reputable sources estimate that there are approximately 800 to 1100 bird species in North America. Some examples include the National Wildlife Federation citing more than 800 species, Ornithology.com mentioning about 900 species, Audubon identifying over 800 species, and Wikipedia documenting 1125 species.
For the scope of this article, our focus will be on highlighting some favorite backyard species found in Mississippi.
27 BACKYARD BIRDS IN MISSISSIPPI
Below, we will explore 27 species of backyard birds in Mississippi. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it includes some of the more notable and recognizable Mississippi backyard birds, many of which you can observe at your bird feeders. Let’s delve into it!
Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
Length: 8.3-10.2 in
Weight: 1.6-2.0 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-13.8 in
Northern Mockingbirds, designated as the state bird of Mississippi, derive their name from their remarkable ability to imitate the songs of various bird species. It is approximated that a male mockingbird can acquire proficiency in up to 200 different songs throughout its lifetime. These medium-sized backyard birds exhibit predominantly gray and white plumage and are identifiable by their notably long tail feathers. They are frequently observed inhabiting tall bushes and displaying aggressiveness towards intruding birds.
Northern Mockingbirds are present year-round across the state of Mississippi.
While these birds are common in backyards, they typically do not frequent bird feeders. To attract them to your yard, consider incorporating elements such as fruit-bearing bushes or a bird bath.
Scientific name: Zonotrichia albicollis
Length: 6.3-7.1 in
Weight: 0.8-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-9.1 in
White-throated sparrows are widespread across much of the U.S. during winter, migrating to Canada in the summer for breeding. Distinguished by their white throat patch and a bold facial pattern of black and white stripes with yellow spots between the eyes, these sparrows often nest on or just above the ground in concealed areas amidst dense brush and vegetation.
White-throated sparrows are a common sight throughout Mississippi, particularly in the winter months.
These sparrows readily visit feeders, showing a preference for picking up fallen seeds. Providing sunflower, millet, and mixed seed blends can attract them.
3. House Finch
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
Length: 5.1-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in
The House Finch is another frequently encountered backyard bird in Georgia. Despite being invasive to the eastern U.S., they do not face universal disdain like other invasive birds such as House Sparrows or European Starlings. Easily attracted to bird feeders, they often appear in groups. Males exhibit mostly streaked brown plumage with some red on the head and chest, while females are entirely brown.
House Finches can be found year-round throughout Mississippi.
Similar to other finches, House Finches are drawn to thistle feeders and are often seen at seed feeders. Trying black sunflower seeds can enhance their attraction.
4. Pine warbler
Scientific name: Setophaga pinus
Length: 5.1-5.5 in
Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-9.1 in
Pine Warblers feature yellow bodies and gray wings adorned with two white wingbars on each wing. While males may appear more vibrant, females and immatures can exhibit an olive or brown hue. Named for their habitat, these warblers spend the majority of their time high up in pine trees foraging for insects, their primary diet. However, Pine Warblers, unlike many warblers, also consume seeds and occasionally visit bird feeders.
Pine Warblers can be found throughout most of the state all year, with a possible concentration along the far western Mississippi border during winter.
These warblers may visit seed feeders offering sunflower, peanuts, and millet. They might also be attracted to suet feeders.
Scientific name: Passerina cyanea
Length: 4.7-5.1 in
Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in
Indigo Buntings migrate at night, traveling from their wintering grounds in Mexico and southern Florida. While females are predominantly brown with hints of blue, males exhibit a striking blue coloration all over, with black on their wings. This vibrant coloring results from the reflective properties of their feathers rather than the presence of blue pigment. Look for them in summer, singing along the edges of fields and woods.
Indigo Buntings are found throughout Mississippi only during the summer.
Although not as common at feeders, they may occasionally visit, especially if you offer mixed seed and nyjer.
6. Red- Headed woodpecker
Scientific name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Length: 7.5-9.1 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 16.5 in
Distinguishing an adult red-headed woodpecker is relatively easy with its bold color-blocked pattern featuring a red head and a solid black and white body. Juveniles exhibit a different appearance with a mottled body, white and black striped wings, and a brown head with a small red cheek spot. They are less frequent visitors to feeders compared to other woodpeckers and primarily consume insects and large nuts such as acorns, beechnuts, and pecans, along with fruit.
The red-headed woodpecker can be found in Mississippi throughout the year.
To attract these woodpeckers, consider using a suet feeder, especially in winter. They may also be enticed by a platform feeder offering sunflower chips, peanuts, and corn.
7. American Crow
Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
Length: 15.8-20.9 in
Weight: 11.2-21.9 oz
Wingspan: 33.5-39.4 in
American Crows are characterized by their solid black coloration and substantial size. Known for their high intelligence, akin to their cousin, the raven, they demonstrate problem-solving abilities. Crows roost in large groups high up in tree tops, providing them with a bird’s eye view of their surroundings. If a threat, such as an owl or hawk, appears, the roost communicates the danger to others.
Crows are present throughout the entire state of Mississippi throughout the year.
Omnivorous in nature, American Crows generally do not frequent bird feeders due to their size.
8. Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Scientific name: Setophaga coronata
Length: 4.7-5.5 in
Weight: 0.4-0.5 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-9.1 in
The color pattern on the Yellow-rumped warbler can vary depending on its location. In Mississippi, the “Myrtle” variety is most commonly observed. Males exhibit streaked black and gray plumage with a black mask, white eyebrow, and bright yellow on the top of the head, sides, and above the tail. Females share a similar color pattern but are lighter overall, more tan than gray, lack the dark face mask, and have no yellow on their head. Like most warblers, their colors are most vibrant in spring, fading considerably during winter.
Yellow-rumped Warblers are found in Mississippi only during the winter months.
These warblers may occasionally visit bird feeders. Attract them with offerings such as sunflower seeds, suet, and raisins.
Scientific name: Sialia sialis
Length: 6.3-8.3 in
Weight: 1.0-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-12.6 in
Eastern Bluebirds live up to their name, displaying royal blue on their upper parts, complemented by rusty reddish-orange chests and white bellies. Both females and males share this striking coloration, with females exhibiting somewhat duller and more faded hues, particularly in the blue feathers. Highly sought after as occupants of birdhouses in the U.S., bluebirds are a common sight in backyards, though not as frequent at feeders. Erecting a birdhouse can increase the chances of attracting a mating pair.
While certain North American regions witness bluebird migration, Mississippi hosts Eastern Bluebirds year-round.
Typically not seed eaters, Bluebirds may visit feeders enticed by mealworms on a tray or in a dish.
10. Brown Thrasher
Scientific name: Toxostoma rufum
Length: 9.1-11.8 in
Weight: 2.1-3.1 oz
Wingspan: 11.4-12.6 in
The Brown Thrasher boasts warm brown plumage with a heavily streaked breast and belly, accompanied by a sturdy black beak and a yellow eye. The name “thrasher” might derive from their habit of thrashing through fallen leaves in search of insects, although this is not confirmed. Recognized as accomplished songbirds, Brown Thrashers are believed to have an extensive repertoire of over 1100 different songs, including those of other bird species.
Brown Thrashers can be found in Mississippi throughout the year.
While they do not typically visit bird feeders, Brown Thrashers may pick up seeds on the ground beneath feeders as they forage through leaves and sticks for insects.
Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
Length: 7.9-11.0 in
Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
Frequently observed in backyards, American Robins are commonly seen hopping around on the grass, searching for worms and other invertebrates. Although they occasionally visit bird feeders, their diet does not primarily consist of seeds. With bright red, round bellies, and yellow beaks, they are easily identifiable. In many areas, they retreat to wooded areas during winter, returning to yards in spring, creating an illusion of migration out of the state.
Robins can be found year-round in most of Mississippi.
American Robins are not regular visitors to bird feeders; attract them with mealworms, native fruit-bearing plants, or a bird bath.
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
Length: 9.1-13.4 in
Weight: 3.0-6.0 oz
Wingspan: 17.7 in
Approximately the size of a robin, Mourning Doves are common in backyards and often perch on telephone wires or in groups in trees. While occasionally seen on tray feeders, they more commonly walk around on the ground. With mostly gray plumage, black spots on top, a pale peachy color below, and pink legs, Mourning Doves have a distinctive appearance.
Mourning Doves are found year-round throughout the entire state of Mississippi.
These doves often visit seed feeders but prefer foraging on the ground for fallen seeds. Consider using a ground feeder with a mixed seed blend or scatter seeds on the ground to attract them.
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
Length: 7.9-9.1 in
Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
Introduced in the 1890s, 100 European Starlings released in New York have since proliferated across the country. Known for destructive behavior such as destroying other birds’ nests and killing their young, starlings can dominate feeders, denying access to other birds. Predominantly dark with white specks on their backs and wings, they may also exhibit a purple and green iridescence in the right light.
This invasive species is present year-round in all lower 48 states, including Mississippi.
European Starlings have an opportunistic diet, and attracting them intentionally is discouraged due to their invasive nature.
Scientific name: Spinus tristis
Length: 4.3-5.1 in
Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in
Goldfinches, particularly striking with bright yellow feathers in spring and summer, display predominantly yellow or “gold” plumage during this period. With black-tipped wings and males sporting a black cap on their heads, they undergo molting in winter, transitioning to a more dull brownish or olive tone. Recognizable by the black on their wings and finch-like beaks, Goldfinches can be found year-round in the northern half of Mississippi and only during winter in the southern half.
Attract Goldfinches with thistle feeders, although they may also consume sunflower chips.
15. Carolina Wren
Scientific name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
Length: 4.7-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-0.8 oz
Wingspan: 11.4 in
Carolina Wrens, predominantly reddish-brown on top and a lighter orangish color on the bottom, feature a longish, slightly curved beak and a distinctive bold white “eyebrow.” While they may hide in brush and be challenging to spot, their loud “teakettle-teakettle” song is easily recognizable.
Carolina Wrens are present throughout Mississippi and the entire southeastern United States year-round.
Common in backyards, Carolina Wrens often visit suet feeders.
16. House Sparrow
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Length: 5.9-6.7 in
Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in
Viewed as pests, House Sparrows are legally trapable and humanely killable in the U.S. Introduced in the 1800s, they have rapidly spread across the country, exhibiting mostly brown coloration with black and brown streaking on their wings and a buffy chest. Known for their aggressiveness, especially around nests, they pose a threat to other bird species.
House Sparrows are found year-round throughout Mississippi.
Invasive like the European Starling, House Sparrows will consume almost anything, but their presence is discouraged due to their impact on native species.
17. eastern Towhee
Scientific name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Length: 6.8-8.2 in
Weight: 1.1-1.8 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-11.0 in
The Eastern Towhee, a delightful backyard bird, is a sight to behold with both sexes featuring a dark head and back, white wing spots, orange sides, and a white belly. While males exhibit black in their dark coloration, females display brown. Known for their beautiful song, a familiar sound in the woods during spring and summer, Eastern Towhees excel at foraging, searching through leaf litter and vegetation for insects, seeds, and berries. To enhance the chances of attracting these birds to your yard, maintain brushy edges and leaf litter along your property line.
Eastern Towhees reside in Mississippi throughout the year.
Although Eastern Towhees don’t frequently eat directly from bird feeders in my experience, they can often be seen hopping around the ground beneath feeders, making feeders a potential attractant for them.
18. Brown- Headed CowBird
Scientific name: Molothrus ater
Length: 7.5 – 8.7 in
Weight: 1.5 – 1.8 oz
Wingspan: 12.6 – 15.0 in
Brown-headed Cowbirds are often associated with blackbirds due to the color of the males and their tendency to travel in large flocks, sometimes mixed with actual blackbirds, mobbing feeders. Males exhibit an iridescent black body with a dark brown head, while females are predominantly lighter brown.
Unfortunately, cowbirds engage in nest parasitism, laying eggs in the nests of other birds, reducing the numbers of other species. They may sneak in and lay eggs among others or remove existing eggs from nests to make room for their own. Many birds fail to recognize the imposter egg and raise the chick as their own.
Cowbirds are present year-round in Mississippi.
Brown-headed Cowbirds readily visit feeders, sometimes in large groups, consuming various types of mixed seeds.
19. 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
One of the most abundant birds in North America, male Red-winged Blackbirds stand out with their unmistakable red and yellow “shoulders” amidst their black bodies. Females, however, differ significantly, mostly brown with light streaks. Known as a polygynous species, males may mate with up to 15 different females. Unfortunately, they sometimes flock to feeders, consuming seeds rapidly.
Red-winged Blackbirds can be found in Mississippi throughout the year.
These blackbirds visit various feeders and consume seed as well as suet.
20. 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 woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common at feeders and in backyards. Despite their name, the most noticeable feature is the bright red streak along the back of their heads. While their “belly” area, often not visible, has a pinkish-red tint, their wings are identifiable with white and black barring.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers inhabit the entire state of Mississippi year-round.
Attract these woodpeckers with a suet feeder; they may also visit seed feeders, especially if peanuts are offered.
21. Downy Woodpecker
Scientific name: Picoides pubescens
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
Common backyard visitors, Downy Woodpeckers love bird feeders. As the smallest woodpeckers in North America, they are often among the first species to visit new feeders. Identified by their all-white underbodies, black wings with white spots, black and white striped heads, and a red spot on the back of their heads (in males; females lack the red spot), they closely resemble the Hairy Woodpecker but are smaller.
Downy Woodpeckers are present year-round in Mississippi.
These woodpeckers are frequent visitors to various bird feeders; offer them mixed seed, black sunflower seed, and suet.
22. Common Grackle
Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Length: 11.0-13.4 in
Weight: 2.6-5.0 oz
Wingspan: 14.2-18.1 in
Although categorized as bully birds like the starling, Common Grackles, with their iridescent feathers, can display hues of blue, green, brown, and purple in the right light. Often appearing black, they have a long narrow body and tail, and a yellow-ringed eye. They may roost with other blackbirds and gather in massive flocks numbering in the millions.
Common Grackles are found throughout the state of Mississippi year-round.
Foragers that consume almost anything, Grackles are sometimes considered pests.
23. Barn Swallow
Scientific name: Hirundo rustica
Length: 5.9-7.5 in
Weight: 0.6-0.7 oz
Wingspan: 11.4-12.6 in
Barn Swallows, birds of the open field, boast a dark blue back, orange between the eyes, and on the throat. Their breast and belly range from a light tawny color to bright orange, and they are characterized by their long, deeply forked tail. Agile fliers, they swoop over water, fields, farms, and meadows, catching insects in the air. Known for using mud and grass to create cup-shaped nests, often found in the eaves of barns, gazebos, covered pavilions, and under bridges.
Barn Swallows migrate to the U.S. to breed, and they can be found throughout Mississippi during the spring and summer.
Since Barn Swallows feed on flying insects, they do not visit bird feeders. Attract them by providing nest boxes or access to barns, outbuildings, or gazebos.
24. Northern Cardinal
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
Length: 8.3-9.1 in
Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in
Northern Cardinals stand out as one of the most easily recognizable and common backyard birds in North America. Males boast bright red feathers and a black mask, while females have duller colors, appearing more pale brown with some reddish tones. Both genders are distinguished by their distinctive “mohawks” and reddish-orange beaks.
These cardinals can be found throughout the entire state of Mississippi year-round, as they do not migrate.
To attract Northern Cardinals to your yard, offer mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds in most seed feeders.
25. Tufted Titmous
Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor
Length: 5.5-6.3 in
Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-10.2 in
Tufted Titmice, common at feeders and in backyards within their range, share a resemblance with Cardinals due to their small crest or “mohawk.” Their silver-gray upperparts contrast with lighter underparts, and they feature a distinctive black patch just above their beaks.
These birds are year-round residents throughout Mississippi.
To attract Tufted Titmice, provide mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds in most seed feeders.
Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis
Length: 3.9-4.7 in
Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
Wingspan: 5.9-7.9 in
Carolina Chickadees, tiny and easily recognizable, are characterized by their “black cap” and bib. With solid white cheeks, gray wings and backs, and puffy light underbodies, these birds are frequent visitors to bird feeders. Known for their bold and curious nature despite their size, they are often among the first birds to explore new feeders.
Carolina Chickadees can be found in Mississippi year-round.
To attract Carolina Chickadees, offer mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds in most seed feeders.
27. Blue Jay
Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
Length: 9.8-11.8 in
Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz
Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in
The Blue Jay, another well-known North American bird, sports a large blue crest on its head, predominantly blue back feathers, and white chest and belly feathers. Recognizable features include black stripes on the wings and tail, as well as a black “necklace” around their necks. Blue Jays are known for their loud, metallic calls and their alertness to predators.
Blue Jays are year-round residents throughout the entire state of Mississippi.
To attract Blue Jays, use platform feeders, peanut feeders, and feeders with large perches. Offer black sunflower seeds, mixed seeds, and peanuts.
BIRD WATCHING IN MISSISSIPPI
Mississippi offers a delightful experience for birding enthusiasts seeking to expand their hobby beyond their backyard. The Mississippi Audubon Society provides various opportunities for birders to engage, including meetups, workshops, field trips, and organized birding tours.
For residents eager to enhance their life list with new avian species, the following compilation highlights popular birding locations in Mississippi.
MISSISSIPPI BIRDING LOCATIONS Explore the unique offerings of each location and discover local birding events by visiting birdwatchersdigest.org.
HOW TO ATTRACT BIRDS TO YOUR YARD
If you’re keen on inviting feathered friends into your backyard, consider these 5 straightforward tips, beginning with the most apparent.
- PUT OUT BIRD FEEDERS The most effective and straightforward method to entice birds is by placing bird feeders in your yard. Consider starting with a basic tube feeder, hopper feeder, platform feeder, or a window feeder. Check below for recommendations for each.
- ADD A WATER SOURCE A pedestal birdbath, such as the one available on Amazon, is excellent. Alternatively, you can use something as simple 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 enhance your chances of attracting birds. Also, think about incorporating a solar fountain, as moving water tends to attract birds even more.
- OFFER BIRDHOUSES Numerous bird species readily occupy birdhouses if placed appropriately at the right time of the year. Eastern Bluebirds are particularly sought after. Having a birdhouse in my backyard led to a mating pair of bluebirds checking it out on the same day I installed it.
- PROVIDE SHELTER Ensure your yard has trees, bushes, and shrubs that birds can swiftly navigate to when sensing danger. These act as their primary defense against predators. If your yard lacks mature trees, consider adding landscaping features that create safe spaces for birds.
- ADD NATIVE PLANTS For birds that feed on nuts, berries, and seeds, having native plants that produce these items enhances your chances of attracting more birds. Avoid invasive and non-native plants, as they can be harmful to native birds unaccustomed to these species.
10 DIFFERENT TYPES OF BIRD FEEDERS
Setting up bird feeders in your yard can attract a variety of feathered visitors. Here are 10 common types of bird feeders:
- Hopper Feeder:
- Named for the central compartment, or hopper, that holds bird seed.
- Typically house-shaped with perches for birds.
- Protects seed from the elements.
- Ideal for black sunflower seeds or mixed bird seed.
- Check out this squirrel-proof hopper feeder.
- Platform Feeder:
- Also known as tray feeders, open on top, and can be hung or pole-mounted.
- Suitable for most bird types but accessible to all yard animals.
- Perfect for black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed.
- Consider using a platform feeder like the one in my backyard.
- Tube Feeder:
- Clear plastic tube-shaped feeders keeping seed fresh and dry.
- Available in various sizes.
- Easy to refill and accommodates many bird species.
- Use black sunflower seeds or mixed seeds.
- Squirrel Buster offers excellent tube feeders.
- Suet Feeder:
- Designed exclusively for suet cakes.
- Typically a wire cage, sometimes with a tail prop.
- Popular in winter for high-fat food, attracting woodpeckers.
- Opt for a suet feeder with a long tail prop for larger woodpeckers.
- Window Feeder:
- Small feeders attaching to glass windows with suction cups.
- Similar to tray feeders, easy to set up, and suitable for smaller spaces.
- Pour black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed into the tray.
- Check out this popular window feeder on Amazon.
- Thistle Feeder:
- Specialized for thistle seed, attracting finches like American Goldfinch.
- Often tube-shaped with tiny holes along the sides.
- Consider a quality thistle feeder like this one from Droll Yankees.
- Ground Feeder:
- Tray feeders at ground level, favored by birds like Mourning Doves.
- Attracts ground animals, including squirrels and raccoons.
- Fill with black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed.
- Try this ground feeder made from recycled plastic.
- Oriole Feeder:
- Designed for orioles, often orange with dishes for jelly.
- Allows placement of orange halves, a favorite of orioles.
- Explore this simple oriole feeder with jelly trays.
- Hummingbird Feeder:
- Nectar feeders for hummingbirds, also attracting other species like Downy Woodpeckers.
- Simple and inexpensive, such as this personally recommended one.
- Peanut Feeder:
- Tube-shaped with metal wire mesh for whole peanuts.
- Attracts birds like Blue Jays.
- Choose a squirrel-proof option like this one by Squirrel Buster or a simple one.
Enhance your birdwatching experience with these diverse bird feeders catering to different avian preferences.
- Hopper Feeder: