most common North American birds

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are native to North America and are common in eastern US and Canada. Male and female are very similar and are light blue with white bellies. Coloring is caused by light interference not a diet like in many birds. Blue Jays mainly eat nuts and soft fruit. Both, male and females, build the round and open nest. Birds name comes from its noisy nature. It may be aggressive to people approaching the nest.  

Blue Jays are 20-25 cm long and have crest on their heads which appearance depends on the birds mood. Four subspecies were distinguished: northern, coastal, interior and Florida Blue Jays.  

Bluejay (Cyanocitta cristata) (1547) - Relic38 Blue Jay 2010-05-09 Blue Jay in Flight
Blue Jay.

Northern Cardinal

Cardinal is a small, around 20 cm long, bird with a characteristic bright red color feathers in males. Female is similar in size, but light grey-brownish. Cardinals eat mainly seeds, insects and fruit. Male cardinal marks his territory singing. Male, in characteristic way, feeds female during courtship. Both, male and female, are of similar colors to adult female when they are chicks. Chicks grow adult feathers in the fall.

In past, it has been sold as a cage bird, however,  it has been forbidden since 1918. Northern cardinal is common to eastern part of the Canada, US and Mexico. Cardinal is a state bird of several states in the US (North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia). 

Northern Cardinal Male-27527-2 Northern Cardinal Female Cardinal
Northern Cardinal, male (left and middle) and female (right).

Mallard Duck

Mallard Duck is the most common duck in the northern hemisphere, outside of North America, Europe and Asia it has been introduced to Australia and New Zeeland. Male and female Mallard Duck differ in colors, but are the same size. Male Mallard has green or blue head and grey and brown body with blue stipes on the wings. Female has light brown and grey feathers with blue stripes on wings. 

Male mallard duck on a lake 3 A Mallard duck airs its wing feathers Landing mallard drake
Mallard duck, male (right and left) and female (middle).
Many common domestic ducks originated from Mallard Ducks. The Mallard is around 50-65 cm long. Mallards reach adulthood at 14 months and live up to 20 years. Ducklings are yellow and initially become similar in colors to female. 

Common Grackle

Common Grackle is a small, about 30 cm long, black bird with distinctive blueish head. Male and female are similar, with female being a bit smaller and less iridescence. Common Grackle is native to the eastern and central North America. Grackles eat insects, frogs, berries, seeds and grain. Grackles often nest in large colonies. 

Grackle in my garden Quiscalus quiscula -Delaware -USA-8 Common Grackle male RWD
Common Grackle.
Grackle is often considered a pest. Despite a decent current population the number of Grackles decreased over 60% during last decades.

European Starling

European Starling is a small blackish bird with characteristic light "V" shape spots present in a winter plumage. Male and female are similar with male being less spotted. Starlings mimic voices and in captivity learn to imitate sounds and speech.

European Startling (Sturnus vulgaris) RWD Sturnus vulgaris Estorninopinto
European starling in the winter plumage. 
Starlings are not native to North America and have been introduced there at late XIX century by Shakespeare lovers that tried to introduce in the US every bird mentioned in his plays. Starlings are considered agressive and are threats to air traffic.

American Robin

Robin is a very common songbird with red-orange belly and grey back. Robins eat mostly insects, fruit and berries. Although Robins are present in the US territory year-round, they migrate south for winter. Robin is around 25 cm long. Male and female Robins are similar. 

Robin was chosen to be a state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin. In XIX century, Robins were hunted for meat. Now Robins are protected although not endangered. American Robins have been observed to migrate east and several of them were reported in UK. 

American Robin 0026 American Robin-27527 American robin
American Robin.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch is about 10-13 cm long, bright yellow-black bird. Male is much more vibrant in colors than female. Both male and female have black wings with a white stripe. American Goldfinch is common to south Canada and the US. Goldfinch migrates south for winter. Goldfinches shed feathers twice a year. Summer plumage is more bright. Female builds a nest during late summer. 

American Goldfinch is a state bird of Iowa, New Jersey and Washington.

American Goldfinch-27527 Carduelis tristis CT Carduelis-tristis-002
American Goldfinch, male and female on the left, male only on the middle and right pictures.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose is a large, 75 - 110 cm long, goose native to North America. Canada Goose has been also introduced to the Northern Europe and New Zeeland. Distinctive black neck and white chin is common for males and females. Goslings are yellow. Smaller Cackling Goose has similar plumage and sometimes may be taken as a small Canada Goose. Geese migrate in characteristic "V" shape formations from Canada to the US. 

Canada Goose is a serious threat to air traffic and has caused plane crushes in the past. Canada Geese introduced in New Zeeland have become a serious problem and since 2011 they are not protected. However, the US and Canada population suffered serious decline in the population at the beginning of XX century caused by overhunting. Birds reach naturally northern Europe and Siberia. 

Canada goose flight cropped and NR Canadian geese Canada goose 093
Canada Goose.

House Finch

House Finch is a small, about 15 cm long, singing bird. Adult male differs from a female in plumage. Males feathers are colored red (head, belly and shoulders), rarely yellow. Female is gray. Coloration is caused by type of diet. House Finches eat mainly grains, seeds, fruit and berries (the type of berries dictates color of plumage).

Carpodacus mexicanus -Madison, Wisconsin, USA-8 Female house finch carpodacus mexicanus Carpodacus purpureus male Delaware
House finch, male (left and right) and female (middle).
House Finches originally were present only in Mexico and southern states of the US and have been introduced in the north-eastern US in 1940.

Rock Pigeon

The most common from pigeons and doves in North America. It is nowadays present close to residential areas, however, its natural nesting sites are close to coastal area with natural cliffs. Rock pigeon is present all around the world in areas habitat by people. Adult rock pigeon is around 35 cm long. It is mainly grey with blueish accents and green neck. Contrary to doves its colors are not uniform. Female looks almost identical to male, with less apparent green neck. Rock pigeons live from 5 years in the wild to almost 15 in captivity. 

Rock dove - natures pics Gołębie Columba livia in Japan
Rock Pigeon.

House Sparrow

House Sparrow is a small bird, nowadays common in all continents (except Antarctica). Sparrows are about 10-13 cm long, with brown-grayish plumage in males and grayish in females. Males and females are similar size. House Sparrows originate in Middle East but spread or have been introduced to other parts of the world. Sparrows eat mainly seeds and grain. House Sparrow is a worlds most widely distributed wild bird.

Passer domesticus -California, USA-8 Passer domesticus -Scotland -male-8b 2003-08 Sparrow
House Sparrow, male (right and middle) and female (left).

3 comments:

allesistgut said...

Thanks for this beautiful series and presentation of birds. I like!

maya said...

A house sparrow is the bird that normaly I see at my home. They are entertaning and loveable birds.

Wilda Morris said...

Shouldn't the Red-winged Blackbird be on this list?

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