This list of West Virginia birds contains species that have been documented in the state of West Virginia and accepted by the Brooks Bird Club’s West Virginia Bird Records Committee (BBC). The published list contains 354 species as of July 2021. Sixty-five are rare, five have been brought to North America, and two have become extinct. A total of 14 species are categorized as hypothetical (see below), and all of them are rare, except the extinct ivory-billed woodpecker.
This list follows the taxonomic sequence of the American Ornithological Society’s Check-list of North and Middle American Birds, 7th edition through the 62nd Supplement (AOS)
20 Most Common Backyard Birds in West Virginia
- Northern Cardinal
- Blue Jay
- American Robin
- American Crow
- Song Sparrow
- Tufted Titmouse
- Mourning Dove
- American Goldfinch
- Carolina Wren
- Downy Woodpecker
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- House Sparrow
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Carolina Chickadee
- European Starling
- Eastern Towhee
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- House Finch
- Eastern Bluebird
- Pileated Woodpecker
The 20 most common birds in West Virginia
1. Northern Cardinal
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The northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a species of bird of the Cardinalis genus. It is also known as the redbird, common cardinal, red cardinal, or simply cardinal (which was its name before 1985). It can be found from southeastern Canada to Texas, New Mexico, southern Arizona, and southern California, as well as south to Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.
In a few places, such as Bermuda and Hawaii, it is also an imported species. Woodlands, gardens, shrublands, and marshes are all part of its habitat.
The brilliant red male Northern Cardinal with black around his face stands out against the white winter background. With their brown coloring, pointed brown crest, red accents, and red beaks, the females are likewise a little spectacular.
During the breeding season, Northern Cardinals will occasionally attack their reflections to fiercely protect their territories. Sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo attract more Northern Cardinals to backyard feeders. Large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, and food was thrown on the ground will all be used to feed them.
2. Blue Jay
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The blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird that is native to eastern North America and belongs to the Corvidae family. It can be found in most of eastern and central America, with some eastern populations being migratory. Newfoundland, Canada, has resident populations, and breeding populations can be found throughout southern Canada. It can be found in both deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as in urban settings.
It has a blue crest, a black U-shaped collar around its neck, and a black border behind the crest. It has a primarily blue coloring with a white chest and underparts and a blue crest. Males and females are about the same size and have the same plumage throughout the year. There are four subspecies of this species.
Blue Jays have a blue erect crest, blue and black backs, and white undersides, and are common songbirds. They are loud birds that fly in family groups in search of acorns.
Peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet are favorites, but they prefer to eat them from tray feeders or hopper feeders mounted on a post. They’ll also appreciate a birdbath.
3. American Robin
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The American robin (Turdus migratorius) is a migratory songbird belonging to the Turdidae family of genuine thrushes. Because of its reddish-orange breast, it is called after the European robin, even though the two species are not closely related, with the European robin belonging to the Old World flycatcher family.
The American robin can be found all over North America, wintering anywhere from southern Canada to central Mexico and along the Pacific Coast. Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin all have it as their state bird.
American Robins, which consume earthworms, are a common sight on lawns. Their heads and backs are black, while their breasts are crimson or orange. Because they prefer to roost in trees during the winter, you’re more likely to see them in your backyard starting in the spring.
Sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, berries, and mealworms are among their favorite foods. They might even consume mealworms straight from your hand. Platform feeders or food distributed on the ground are ideal.
4. American Crow
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The American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) belongs to the Corvidae family of passerine birds. It’s a common bird that may be found across much of North America. The carrion crow and the hooded crow’s New World counterparts are American crows.
The American crow and the hooded crow are similar in size, structure, and behavior, but their calls and visual appearance are distinct. Nonetheless, the American crow shares an ecological niche with the hooded crow and carrion crow in Eurasia.
Crows in the United States are huge black birdblackbirdsuce a harsh cawing sound. They are common birds that can be found in a variety of environments such as trees, woods, fields, beaches, and cities.
They eat a wide variety of foods and like to graze on the ground, where they eat earthworms, insects, seeds, and fruit. By throwing peanuts in your yard, you can attract additional American Crows.
5. Song Sparrow
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Song sparrows aren’t as noticeable as other backyard birds, but in the spring and summer, these primarily brown-streaked birds use their almost continual song to attract mates.
They are commonly perched on a low shrub singing in open, shrubby, and damp settings. They’re frequently seen at backyard feeders. Put black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders to attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders.
Adult song sparrows have brown upper parts with black streaks on the back and white underparts with dark striping and a dark brown mark on the breast. They have a long brown rounded tail and a brown cap. Each eye has a brown streak running through it, and their face is gray.
6. Tufted Titmouse
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The tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) is a small North American songbird that belongs to the titmouse and chickadee families (Paridae). The black-crested titmouse, which can be found from central and southern Texas southward, was previously considered a subspecies but is now classified as a distinct species, Baeolophus atricristatus.
The Tufted Titmouse is gray on the back and white underneath with a cute gray crest and large eyes that often flock with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.
They can be assertive over smaller birds and are found in woodlands, parks, and backyard feeders.
You can attract Tufted Titmice to your backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts on tube feeders or suet cages. They will also eat from platform feeders.
7. Mourning Dove
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The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) belongs to the Columbidae family of doves. The American mourning dove, the rain dove, and the turtle dove are all names given to the bird, which was previously known as the Carolina pigeon and Carolina turtledove.
It is one of the most numerous and widely distributed North American birds, as well as a popular game game birdith over 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot for sport and meat in the United States each year. Its capacity to maintain a population under such stress is owing to its prolific mating; in warm climates, one pair can rear up to six broods of two young each year.
Mourning Doves are small, graceful birds with plump bodies and long tails. The wings have a light brown color with black markings.
Perching on telephone wires and foraging for seeds on the ground, they can be observed.
By sprinkling millet on the ground or platform feeders, you can attract more Mourning Doves to your yard. They’ll consume black sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and peanut hearts, among other things.
8. American Goldfinch
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The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is a tiny finch that lives in North America. During the breeding season, it migrates from mid-Alberta to North Carolina, and during the winter, it migrates from just south of the Canada–United States border to Mexico.
The American goldfinch is the only finch in its subfamily to go through a complete molt. The male is a vivid yellow in the summer and an olive color in the winter, while the female is a dull yellow-brown shade that brightens just slightly throughout the summer. During the breeding season, the male wears brightly colored plumage to attract a mate.
The males of American Goldfinches have a striking yellow and black plumage in the spring. In the winter, females and males are both a dull brown color.
Plant thistles and milkweed in your yard to attract more American Goldfinches. Most bird feeders will attract them, and they like sunflower and nyjer seed.
9. Carolina Wren
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The Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) is a common bird found in the eastern part of the United States, Canada’s extreme south, and Mexico’s extreme northeast. Winters are harsh, limiting their distribution to the north, while favorable weather conditions allow them to expand their breeding area northward.
Their preferred habitat is deea p cover, such as that found in forests, farmland margins, and suburban areas. South Carolina’s state bird is this wren.
Carolina Wrens are shy birds with dark brown tops and light brown bottoms. Their white eyebrow stripe, erect tail, and booming teakettle song distinguish them.
They frequent backyard feeders and can be found in wooded or densely overgrown areas.
Suet feeders, hulled sunflower seeds, or peanut hearts in large tube feeders or on-platform feeders will attract more Carolina Wrens to your backyard feeders.
10. Downy Woodpecker
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Downy Woodpeckers are tiny birds that use feeders in backyards. They’re frequently mistaken for other birds like chickadees and nuthatches. They have a red patch on the back of their heads and are black and white in appearance. They have a similar appearance to the Hairy Woodpecker.
Suet feeders are a good way to attract more Downy Woodpeckers to your yard, but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts from platform feeders.
11. Red-bellied Woodpecker
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The red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) belongs to the Picidae family of woodpeckers. It breeds primarily in the eastern United States, with populations reaching from Florida to Canada. It is not to be mistaken with the red-headed woodpecker, a distinct species of woodpecker in the same genus with a fully red head and neck, solid black back, and white belly. The faint reddish blush of the red-lower bellied’s underside gives it its name.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a faint red belly that can be hard to see, as well as a redhead and neck and a black-and-white striped back.
In the spring and summer, they have a loud call and can be found in woods and forests, especially near deadwood. Suet feeders will attract more Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and they will occasionally feed on hummingbird feeders.
12. House Sparrow
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The house sparrow is closely related to human settlement and can be found in both urban and rural areas. Though it can be found in a wide range of habitats and climates, it prefers to stay away from human development in large woodlands, grasslands, and deserts.
It eats largely grain and weed seeds, although it is an opportunistic feeder that also eats insects and a variety of other foods. Domestic cats, hawks, and a variety of other carnivorous birds and mammals are among its predators.
Another introduced species that has thrived and is now one of the most frequent birds is the House Sparrow. They’re common near homes and buildings, and they’re extremely tame, so they’ll eat right out of your hand.
They are pests since they are non-native, yet they will still be found in backyards if you do not feed them.
Most types of birdseed, such as millet, corn, and sunflower seeds, will attract more House Sparrows to your backyard feeders.
13. Red-winged Blackbird
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The red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a passerine bird of the Icteridae family that may be found throughout North America and Central America. It can be found breeding from Alaska and Newfoundland south to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, and Guatemala, with isolated populations in western El Salvador, northwestern Honduras, and northwestern Costa Rica.
It may spend the winter in places as far north as Pennsylvania and British Columbia, but the majority of northern populations migrate south to Mexico and the southern United States.
The all-black plumage of red-winged blackbirds, save for the vivid red and yellow shoulder patches, makes them simple to distinguish. In comparison to the brown streaky coloring of the males, the females are quite drab.
They are frequently seen sitting on telephone wires, and during the breeding season, the males will fiercely protect their territory, even attacking individuals who come too close to nests. During the winter, they roost in enormous flocks, numbering in the millions.
Spread mixed grain and seeds on the ground to attract more Red-winged blackbirds to your yard. They’ll eat enormous tube feeders or platform feeders as well.
14. Carolina Chickadee
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They have a somewhat long tail, a short dark beak, and short wings. The Carolina chickadee is distinguished from the black-capped chickadee by a somewhat browner wing with brown larger coverts (not whitish fringed) and less apparent white fringing on secondary feathers; the tail is also significantly shorter and more square-ended.
Carolina Chickadees have huge heads, blackcaps and necks, white cheeks and bellies, and silky gray backs, wings, and tails.
They have a lot in common with the Black-capped Chickadee in terms of appearance, and they interbreed where their ranges intersect. Forested regions, parks, and backyards are all good places to look for them.
Black oil sunflower seeds, Nyjer seeds, suet feeders, or peanuts can all be used to attract additional Carolina Chickadees to your backyard feeders. Tube feeders, suet cages, and platform feeders are all acceptable sources of food for them.
15. European Starling
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European starlings are not native to the United States, yet they have become one of the most common songbirds. They’re stocky black birds with purple, green, and blue iridescent tones. In addition to its original range in temperate Europe and across the Palearctic to western Mongolia, the common starling has been imported to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, and Fiji, where it breeds in open environments.
Some consider these birds to be pests because of their aggressive demeanor. They can be found perched in groups on the tops of trees or flying over fields in flocks.
Black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts can all be used to attract more European Starlings to your backyard feeders.
16. Eastern Towhee
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Eastern Towhees are large sparrows with black backs and breasts, brown sides, and white bellies in males and brown backs and bellies in females.
They breed in the Northeast before moving south, but they will stay in the Southeast all year. If you’re seeking seeds or insects in dense undergrowth at the edges of woodlands, you’ll have to look down to discover this bird. They are usually lonely and secluded, making them difficult to find.
Eastern Towees may come out to get fallen seeds from feeders if they visit or live in backyards with overgrown borders.
17. White-breasted Nuthatch
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Except in cooler and drier locations, the white-breasted nuthatch breeds across much of North America. It can be found primarily at low elevations, in deciduous or mixed woodlands. The distributions, vocalizations, and colors of the seven to nine subspecies are all slightly different.
White-breasted Nuthatches are small, energetic birds with a gray-blue back and white face and belly, as well as a black crown.
They cram huge nuts and acorns into tree bark and then beat them open with their bills to get the seed out. Sunflower seeds and peanuts in tube feeders or suet feeders will attract more White-breasted Nuthatches to your yard.
18. House Finch
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The house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) belongs to the Fringillidae family of finches. It is native to western North America, but has since been imported to the continent’s eastern half as well as Hawaii. The genus Haemorhous includes this species as well as the other “American rosefinches.”
Male House Finches have a red head and breast, while females have brown-streaked coloring. It was originally exclusively found in western states, but it was introduced to eastern states and has thrived, even displacing the Purple Finch.
Parks, farms, woodland margins, and backyard feeders are all good places to look for them. They congregate in large, boisterous groups that are difficult to miss.
Black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders will attract more House Finches to backyard feeders.
19. Eastern Bluebird
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The eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) is a little migratory thrush that can be found in open forests, farmlands, and orchards across North America.
This species is popular with birders due to the male’s brilliant blue breeding plumage, which can be seen on a wire or open perch. Soft jeew or chir-wi warbles or the melodic tune chiti WEEW wewidoo are examples of the male’s calls.
Before migrating south, Eastern Bluebirds breed in northern states and Canada.
They’re a little thrush with a rusty red underbelly and a deep blue head and back. Females have a grayish upper body, bluish wings and tails, and orange-brown underbelly. They can be found feeding for insects in open areas or perched on powerlines and fences. Mealworms might help you attract more Eastern Bluebirds to your yard.
20. Pileated Woodpecker
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Pileated Woodpeckers are one of the largest woodpeckers, approaching the size of a crow, and they have a stunning flaming-red triangular crest. It’s predominantly black with a white stripe, and the white underside of the wings may be seen when it’s flying.
Carpenter ants from dead trees and fallen logs are eaten by the Pileated Woodpecker. They emit a harsh whinnying call and a heavy thumping sound.
Pileated Woodpeckers will occasionally visit backyard bird feeders, especially if there is suet available.