Songbirds

With bird calls that range from sweet-sounding to demanding, there are many types of songbirds in North America. From the common American robin to the brightly-colored blue jay, learn about their habitats and hear their bird songs.

BORN IN A BARN Barn swallows (pictured here) are the most abundant swallows in the world. These songbirds used to nest in caves, but now build their nests in the eaves of barns and other structures.

Swallows: The Songbirds of the Sky

Swallows spend much of their time in the wild blue yonder. Learn the birding basics of where to spot these colorful songbirds when they come down to earth.

Wood Thrush

Wood Thrush

The brown-headed cowbird is in part to blame for the declining numbers of this species. While some songbirds expel cowbird eggs laid in their nests, the Wood Thrush raises the babies, a practice that endangers the survival of its own.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Famous as the “upside down bird,” the White-Breasted Nuthatch is equally adept at clambering up, down, or around the trunks and major limbs of trees. When visiting bird feeders it may carry away dozens of seeds, one by one, to hide them in crevices of tree bark.

Western Scrub-Jay

Western Scrub-Jay

The Western Scrub-Jay’s raucous call seems to indicate its mischievous behavior. It has been known to steal food from other animals.

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Long regarded as a southern species, the Tufted Titmouse has been spreading northward in recent years. Now these tame, confiding birds are familiar visitors at feeders from Michigan to New England.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

This around-the-clock songster doesn’t just copy the sounds other birds make. Northern Mockingbirds mimic other things, too – even inanimate objects, like machinery.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

The state bird of Idaho and Nevada, it’s not hard to see why Mountain Bluebirds are among the West’s most sought-after sightings.

House Wren

House Wren

The House Wren is plain to be sure, but its tenacity and nonstop activity make this backyard nester a pleasure to observe.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

Don’t let the Gray Catbird fool you with its mimic calls. It can easily imitate the songs of other popular backyard birds.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

A lucky observer might see a row of sociable Cedar Waxwings perched on a branch, passing a berry down the line and back again, bill to bill, in a ceremony that ends when one swallows the food.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

The loud, ringing call of the Carolina Wren is one of the commonest sounds of southeastern woods, where it is heard even in winter. The bird has been called “mocking wren” because it sometimes sounds like a catbird, kingfisher or certain other birds.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

You won’t have to see this brash blue bird to know it’s on its way to pillage your feeder of sunflower seeds and peanuts. Its harsh cry is unmistakable.

Black Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee

It’s one of the friendliest fliers in North America, and many have convinced the Black-Capped Chickadee to eat from their hand.

American Robin

American Robin

This average-size songbird is the standard by which all other songbirds are measured. Many consider the American Robin’s bright red breast a sign of spring.

Eastern Bluebird, Male

Eastern Bluebird

You won’t attract the Eastern Bluebird to your yard with seed, but there is another secret ingredient that will surely get its attention: mealworms.