The Cutest Birds in America

The votes are in—see if your favorite bird made our list of the cutest birds in America, then get the birding basics to attract them to your yard.

How do you define cute? If you think about it, it’s rather subjective. What one person thinks is cute, another might not find attractive at all. So “cute,” in and of itself, is tricky, but now add the complication of trying to define cute birds. You’re sure to have all sorts of opinions!

Now, we wouldn’t dream of identifying the cutest birds in America all on our own. So we put together an online poll and asked you, the readers, to vote for the cutest, prettiest, best-looking birds in America. Take a look at the Top 10 results. You’ll also want to see the write-in winner that we accidentally left off the ballot!

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #1: Northern cardinal

    It must be the bright red feathers of the male cardinal that won over voters, who gave this bird top honors. Even female cardinals have gorgeous hints of red along their wings, tail feathers and crest. Together, their behavior can be defined as cute, too. In late winter or early spring, courtship begins. Keep an eye out, because the male will sometimes offer the female a seed, touching his bill lightly to hers. Put out black-oil sunflower seed if you live in the East and want to attract cardinals to your backyard.

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #2: American goldfinch

    During the height of summer, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more colorful visitor to your yard than the American goldfinch. They look almost like canaries. Remember, these birds turn a fuller olive green in winter. Then it’s fun to observe them as they make a transformation from early spring through fall. They really seem to brighten along with the sun as the days get longer, and then they;ll start to fade again in fall. Offer thistle seed to attract these beauties.

    Backyard Tip: Use an upside-down thistle feeder to keep goldfinches around but bully birds away!

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #3: Snowy owl

    It was hard to decide which owl to put on the nomination list, but the snowy owl claimed an impressive third place. Not bad for a bird that barely makes it into the lower 48 states! In winter, this owl looks like a big puffy cotton ball with flecks of black. If you’re lucky enough to live in or visit someplace where the snowies have gone for winter, look for them perched atop buildings and other structures in open areas so they can search for food. They even have a reputation for frequenting the open fields at airports.

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #4: Indigo bunting

    The color of the male indigo bunting has to be one of the most vibrant, gorgeous blues found in nature. It’s almost iridescent, like a peacock. Females are a dull brown, but you can still identify them by their thicker grosbeak bill. These birds are migrants and are common throughout the East in late spring and summer. If you want to attract them to your yard, try mealworms or a thistle feeder.

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #5: Rufous hummingbird

    We couldn’t put every hummingbird on the nomination list for cute birds, because we were afraid they would dominate. After all, nearly everyone can agree that a 3- to 4-inch hummingbird is cute! The rufous came in at a solid fifth on our list. It’s found mostly in the West, though some rufous are gaining a reputation for wintering in the lower Southeast. The male has a stunning gorget and beautiful cinnamon coloring across his back. Offer sugar water for this and all hummingbirds.

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #6: Cedar waxwing

    This charmer may have some of the sleekest, shiniest feathers in the whole bird world. If you get the chance to take a closer look at these handsome birds, notice the black masks across their eyes, and the way every feather seems to be in perfect place. Males and females of both cedar and Bohemian waxwings look similar and travel in groups. If you want to see these in person, either plant a tree with plenty of berries or take a trip to your local park or nature center where berry shrubs and trees are planted.

    Backyard Tip: Make this the year you plant a new shrub with berries. The cedar waxwings will love it!

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #7: Mountain bluebird

    All bluebirds are beloved for the brilliant spots of color they offer, but we put the mountain bluebird on the nomination list because the male is blue all over. Females are grayer overall, but they have baby blue highlights along their wings and tail feathers. As we learned from our Kaufman Field Guide, this western species has a unique habit of hovering in midair before it drops down to pick an insect up off the ground. Offer mealworms to this and all other bluebirds.

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #8: Bald eagle

    Bald eagles seem to hold a lot of sentimental value for people. Conservationists have worked hard to bring our national bird back in greater numbers since it was labeled endangered back in 1967. Immature eagles take three or four years to reach maturity, so they’ll be a brown-and-white mix until they get their signature white tails and heads. If you want to see a bald eagle, look near open water, since they mostly eat fish.

    Backyard Tip: Watch the famous Decorah eagles nesting online at ustream.tv/decoraheagles.

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #9: Baltimore oriole

    This list wouldn’t be complete without a flash of orange on it. Orioles are one of the most colorful birds you can attract to your backyard—just put out oranges or a special oriole sugar-water feeder. The females aren’t quite as stunning as their male counterparts, but their softer hue is still pretty.

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    #10: Painted bunting

    You’ll probably do a double take the first time you see a painted bunting. I know I did! Females don’t boast as many colors as the amazing males, but they’re still an intriguing lime green. You’ll have to go south if you want to see these birds. Try Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas or Louisiana in summertime, or southern Florida in winter. Those lucky enough to live in their range can attract them with millet.

  • The Cutest Birds in America

    Write-in Winner: Black-capped chickadee

    Don’t be mad, but we left this cutie off our list the first time. We heard about it, too! Several people wrote in, asking us how we could forget the black-capped chickadee. We publicly apologize to those who were shocked by our omission, and we’re crowning the black-capped chickadee our write-in winner. Who doesn’t love this little black-and-white flier, found throughout much of the U.S.? You can easily attract it with black-oil sunflower seed.

  • More From Birds & Blooms
    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #1: Northern cardinal

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #2: American goldfinch

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #3: Snowy owl

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #4: Indigo bunting

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #5: Rufous hummingbird

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #6: Cedar waxwing

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #7: Mountain bluebird

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #8: Bald eagle

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #9: Baltimore oriole

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      #10: Painted bunting

    • The Cutest Birds in America

      Write-in Winner: Black-capped chickadee

    1. Eleanor Prugh says

      From where I sit it’s the tufted titmouse … especially if you want cute. Cute and gorgeous are not the same thing.

    2. Pam Morris says

      I agree that the cutest is the chickadee. I cannot look at one without smiling and feeling a warm spot in my heart.

    3. Barbra says

      I agree, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches are at the top of the cute list; other more colorful birds are just beautiful.

    4. Lynda Hiles says

      My very favorite is the chickadee! My garden is always full of them, winter or summer. They even come when I call them.

    5. Tom DeCarlo says

      chickadee it is. I lived in south Jersey and they were always in my feeders. Moved to central Florida and don’t see them here. I do miss them. Also the red-breasted nuthatch

    6. Babs says

      I love cardinals more than any other bird but to me the cutest is the homely woodstork. I just love those guys.

    7. Linda Jameson says

      Yes I agree. These birds are not the cutest. How can you say a Bald Eagle is cute? Cute in the bird world implies small. Have you ever seen a young bush tit. Now that’s cute.

    8. says

      I thought the same things as did so many others. The Black-Capped Chickadee and the Tufted Titmouse are simply adorable, and they tend to fly together as well. So is the White-Breasted Nuthatch! I’m amazed (and dismayed) that they are not on this list.

    9. Liz Lawless says

      I agree the big birds are majestic. The little guys are the cutest! All Hummingbirds top my list but also black topped Chickadees, Oregon Juncos, all Finches especially Gold Finches

    10. birder beth says

      You forgot the very cute snowy egret. I am lucky to have some of these jokesters in my backyard. They are cute and they know it!

    11. Michelle says

      I am with everyone else…love the Chickadees, White Breasted Nuthatcher (crack me up with their neh-neh-neh sounds) and the Titmouse. They are ‘cute’ birds. Also love the Eastern Blue Bird and the Rufus sided Towhee (now known as the Eastern Towhee). Can’t leave out the Pileated Woodpecker, as their calls make me laugh every time!

    12. Michelle says

      I am with everyone else…love the Chickadees, White Breasted Nuthatcher (crack me up with their neh-neh-neh sounds) and the Titmouse. They are ‘cute’ birds. Also love the Eastern Blue Bird and the Rufus sided Towhee (now known as the Eastern Towhee). Can’t leave out the Pileated Woodpecker, as their calls make me laugh every time!

    13. Don & Kate says

      Other comments already netioned chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches, which we agree should be on the list. So we’ll have to add the petite chipping sparrow, always a welcome sign of spring.

    14. MCB says

      I agree that the chosen birds are beautiful not cute. No one has mentioned a cute baby owl! But then maybe baby dose not count???

    15. Michel says

      When I am sitting in my car at a local hamburger drive-through, there are bushes right in front of the car, and I LOVE it as the ‘gang’ of tiny birds will WHIP UP to the top, look around quickly for any discarded ‘goodies’ to swoop in on, then it’s, “QUICK!!! BACK TO THE BUSH” with any human activity seen by the lookout. And to hear then fussing in the bushes is so fun. I believe they are the chickadees.

    16. says

      Oh Michelle, I am afraid that what you are seeing are house sparrows, not native to the US at all. They are actually very mean birds, they kill our native birds, a horde of them can clean out a full feeder in one afternoon, and will leave nothing behind for anything else. They are very plain brown, black and white birds, and the males even look mean. Black Capped Chicadees are tiny little puffs of black and white. They will fly to a feeder, grab a seed or a nut, and take it to a tree or somewhere else to eat it,allowing other birds to also eat. The titmouse does the same thing. They are not greedy and are oh so willing to share. They even warn everything within earshot of danger from cats, birds of prey, just anything. I started out with simple seed feeders then soon learned the good birds from the bad. It takes a long time to learn their habits. House sparrows are very bad news. They are usually the ones you will find flying around in Home Depot, Lowe’s, or even Walmart, and also the ones you find flocking around fast food restaurants. Birds are fascinating, take some extra time to learn about them, and they will fascinate you for the rest of your days :)

      • lkalliancelkalliance says

        I didn’t see house sparrows at my feeders until I added peanuts…and especially after I hung a suet cage. I see them lots now, though I would not say that they clean me out at all. Red-winged blackbirds eat a lot of my seed, and chase other birds away aggressively.

    17. Amanda says

      I agree with the others about the Chickadee being the cutest and some of the birds being beautiful and majestic. What, no woodpeckers?

    18. Rita says

      I am pleased to see I am not alone in disagreeing with the poll results. The bald eagle could be described as majestic, certainly, but hardly cute. The Cedar Waxwing is sleek, but not cute. I agree with the Tufter Titmouse and Chickadee (we had Black-capped up north and now Carolina here in Florida). I’d also have to add the Carolina Wren. C-U-T-E!

    19. Jere says

      Snowy Owls and Bald Eagles are totally ‘cool’ but far from cute? We central New Yorkers now get to see the resurgent Bald Eagles Year round @ Montezuma! At 67, I ‘ve only seen 2 Snowy Owls.
      My favorite is my cute Eastern Bluebirds, in my younger years these too were rare in NY. Over the past 5-6 years I have 2-3 families each year! In my mind 8-10 Cardinals @ the feeder in the snow are beautiful but 3-4 electric Bluebird males flitting in the morning dew are both beautiful and CUTE! Hands down THe Cutest!
      Jere

    20. B Meyer says

      I enjoy most birds and find many are cute. Love the house finches that talk to me, they really do in their language of course. Hummers I enjoy…only one I worry about is a coopers hawk who has killed some birds and rabbits. I really watch my pets when that hawk is around!!

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