Top 20 Backyard Birds in North Carolina

If you live in North Carolina, then you must be seeing a lot of different birds in your backyard. There are many varieties of birds that live in this place and I am sure you will want to be able to point at the bird in your back yard and say exactly which species it belongs to. To be able to do this, get Id information, pictures, and printable worksheets that will guide you well.

There is absolutely no doubt that it is amazing when you see birds eating out of bird feeders that you have put out, especially for them. In fact, it gets more engaging and interesting when you are also able to identify the bird in your backyard exactly. And this is surely not at all difficult. This article will give you all the information to help you identify the kind of birds that you see in your backyard and it also gives you useful tips about how to lure different types of birds into your backyard.

If you are a bird lover, then if you observe carefully when you are out of your house, you may be fortunate enough to see hawks in North Carolina.

You will also get bird printables of backyard birds of North Carolina with pictures for free. These pictures will help you succeed in identifying the birds in your backyard and also keeping track of them.

Top 20 backyard birds in North Carolina

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Carolina Chickadee
  3. Carolina Wren
  4. Tufted Titmouse
  5. American Crow
  6. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  7. White-throated Sparrow
  8. Eastern Towhee
  9. American Robin
  10. Northern Mockingbird
  11. Blue Jay
  12. Downy Woodpecker
  13. Mourning Dove
  14. Eastern Bluebird
  15. American Goldfinch
  16. House Finch
  17. Dark-eyed Junco
  18. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  19. Indigo Bunting
  20. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

This list gives the names of birds that are commonly seen in both summers and in winter in North Carolina. They are the birds that frequent backyards and feeders regularly. These names also occur often on state checklists on ebird.org.

This list does not include birds that do not frequent backyards and feeders. It is very useful as it lists out birds that you will probably spot in Tennessee.

People go bird watching at different times of the year and in different seasons and so, this list is comprehensive. So, whenever you decide to bird-watch, these are the birds that you will possibly see.

This is a very handy worksheet that aims at helping you identify birds and keep track of them too. It has all the possible birds that you will spot in North Carolina in different times of the year. Whenever you decide to bird-watch, all you have to do is look at the pictures and keep ticking off the birds that you see. You could also keep track of the number of birds spotted.

Top 20 Backyard Birds in North Carolina

Northern Cardinal

The male of this species is a sight for sore eyes. The principal color, which is a vivid red, is contrasted by the black surrounding their faces. They are strikingly beautiful in the background of the snow in winter. The females of the species are also flashy in their own way. Their body is brown in color. The crown is a mix of sharp brown and red. Their beaks are red.

They furiously defend their territories and they are so particular that they assume their own reflections to be a threat and attack their own reflections.

You can entice them to come to your backyard by setting up backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.

You can choose from large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders as they will feed from all of them. You can also simply scatter the seeds on the ground and they will be happy to eat them.

You will be surprised to see how many species of red birds there are in North Carolina.

Carolina Chickadee

These birds are not at all large. They are pretty small. However, their heads are really big in comparison to their bodies. They have three colors on their bodies. The black on their heads looks like a cap. Their necks are also black. The cheeks and belly are the same color – white. The back, wings, and tail are a lighter color – a soft gray.

These birds bear a lot of resemblance to the Black-capped Chickadee. In fact, at times, breeding occurs between these two species also.

These birds love places with a lot of trees and so they inhabit forested areas, parks, and backyards.

If you want to see these birds in your backyard, it is not at all difficult. Just set up backyard feeders with Black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer seeds, suet feeders, or peanuts. These birds are not at all fussy and so they feel comfortable feeding from different kinds of feeders. So, you can use tube feeders, suet cages or platform feeders.

Since there are many small species of birds in North Carolina, it is not very easy to identify these birds so easily as they are all together.

Carolina Wren

These birds have a combination of light and dark brown colors. The dark brown is more noticeable as it is on top. The light brown, however, is underneath. A white stripe across their eyebrows distinguishes them. Their tail is also pretty upright. The sound that they make is more like a song. To be more particular, it resembles the sound of a teakettle.

As most birds do, these birds also love areas that have a lot of plants and trees and so are commonly found in forests or in any place that has a lot of vegetation. They do get drawn towards backyard feeders too.

If you want to tempt them to visit your backyard, set up suet feeders, hulled sunflower seeds or peanut hearts in tube feeders or platform feeders that are big.

Tufted Titmouse

This beautiful bird has two distinctly different parts that set it apart from other birds. It has a strikingly attractive crown and huge beautiful eyes. The crown and the back of the bird are gray whereas the underneath is a completely different color – white. They are not birds that prefer to spend time only with their species. They are perfectly comfortable flocking up with other species such as chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers too.

This habit of theirs gives us a feeling that they are very friendly. However, they can get pushy with birds that are smaller than they are. They normally populate places like woodlands, parks, and backyard feeders.

They eat conveniently from tube feeders, backyard feeders, and platform feeders. So you can use any one of them to bring these birds to your backyard. They enjoy eating sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts.  

American Crow

Among the many multi-colored birds that we have been discussing, here is a bird that has only one color – black. This bird is called the American crow. The cawing sound of this big bird is typically very gruff. They are everyday, regular birds that can be found in many common places like treetops, woods, fields, beaches, or towns.

These birds are not at all fussy eaters and are content eating anything they find. These birds may not find feeders very alluring as they are in the habit of feeding on the ground. Their diet includes earthworms, insects, seeds, and fruit.

Tempting these birds is not difficult at all. You just have to scatter peanuts in your backyard to make them come.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Though the name makes us believe that this bird has a strikingly red belly, the truth is that their bellies are mildly red. So, the red in their bellies is hardly discernible. In fact, the top of their heads and nape are a bright red which is easier to spot. Their backs are predominantly black with small white stripes on them.

These birds normally inhabit areas like woods and forests. They are particularly fond of places with deadwood rather than fresh wood. During the spring and summer, they make their presence felt as they call out rather loudly.

They are birds that are comfortable eating from feeders. So, it is a good idea to use suet feeders and hummingbird feeders to entice them to your backyard.

White-throated sparrow

These 5 colored birds have a number of characteristic features that distinguish them from other birds. The first thing that strikes us as soon as we see the bird is the neatly striped head. The black and white stripes on the head are unique to this species. The throat matches the stripes as it is a vivid white. The small area that is between the eyes and the beak of the bird is a bright yellow that stands out in the background of the black and white. They have brown backs and their underneath is gray.

Their breeding ground is Canada. Since they are birds that migrate, they do not spend all their time in Canada. They move to the south in winter. They spend the winter in the eastern and southern states in California. They are in no way solitary birds and so, they are always seen in the company of many other birds of the species. They are usually seen on the ground in the woods.

Using millets and black oil sunflower seeds on platform feeders is the best way to make these birds visit your backyard.

Eastern Towhee

These birds belong to the species of sparrows. And the first thing that comes to our minds on hearing the name sparrow is a small bird. However, these impressive birds deny that logic. They are big birds that match the size of Robins. The males of the species are predominantly black as their head, throat and back are completely black. The only other two colors are in their sides and bellies. The sides are reddish and the bellies are white.

They basically live in the southeastern states. However, since they are in the habit of migrating, they head towards the south during the winter.

They usually comb the undergrowth for food and hence, are typically seen along the edges of forests and thickets.

Since they are birds that are used to the undergrowth, they are bound to visit yards that have borders that are overgrown especially if there are seeds in there. This is not the only place that they will feed on though. They also visit platform feeders for black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and millet.

American Robin

The principal color of the American Robin is black as their heads and backs are black. Their breasts may be red or orange. These earthworm-loving birds frequently visit lawns in search of food. However, do not look for them in the winter in your backyard. During this time, they are busy resting in trees. If you want to lure them to your backyard, it is a good idea to try in spring.

They are not fussy about where they eat from. They are equally comfortable eating from platform feeders or from the ground. The most exciting thing about these birds is that you can even get them to eat mealworms out of your hand! Their diet consists of a variety of food such as sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, fruit, and mealworms.

Northern Mockingbird

These birds are not too small or too big. They are medium-sized. Their specialty is that they are songbirds. As far as physical appearance goes, they have small heads and long tails. The predominant color is gray-brown which pales out on the underneath. When they spread out their wings and fly, the two wingbars that they have are visible.

They protect their territory very vigorously and are comfortable alone or in pairs. There is a really surprising fact about this bird. The male of the species is astonishing as it can learn up to 200 songs. They are capable of reproducing the songs sung by other birds. They have the strength to sing throughout the day and also the whole night.

They generally live in the southern and eastern states. However, since they are migratory birds, they head north to migrate.

Feeders are of no great interest to them but they like to visit open lawns. Fruiting trees or bushes such as hawthorns, mulberries, and blackberry brambles will surely entice these birds.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays can also sing and they are also songbirds. They are beautifully blue. They have a combination of three major colors. Their upright crowns are blue, their backs combine black and blue and the underside is completely white.

Their favorite food is corn. They are also migratory birds and they prefer moving around in groups instead of alone. They can also get rather noisy.

Apart from acorns, they also love to eat peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. They will be happier to eat these from feeders or hopper feeders on a post. Setting up a birdbath for them is also a very good idea as they enjoy it.

Downy Woodpecker

These are predominantly black and white birds with only one patch in a different color. The back of their heads is colored red. They are not very big birds and can be seen regularly visiting backyard feeders. There is a lot of resemblance between the Downy Woodpecker and the Hairy Woodpecker.

Drawing these birds to your backyard is not at all difficult. They like suet feeders but are not fussy eaters at all. They also east black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanut from platform feeders too.

Mourning Dove

These are uniformly light brown in color with black spots on the wings only. Their heads are small while their tails are long. Though they are not very thin, they are very elegant.

Their favorite perching spot is telephone wires. They love seeds and spend time searching for them on the ground.

Millet is another favorite food of theirs and scattering millets on the ground or on platform feeders is a sure-shot way of luring these birds to your backyard. Other than millets, they also like sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and peanut hearts.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebirds are rather tiny birds that belong to the species of thrushes. Though they are tiny, their heads, eyes, and bellies are relatively big.

The males and the females of the species are differently colored. The males have blue backs while the females have gray backs. The underbelly of the male is reddish. The females are actually more colorful than the males as they have a little bit of blue in their wings and tails. Their breast is also a different color as it is a mix of orange and brown.

They choose to live in meadows. However, they are often seen sitting on wires and posts. They are also found in low branches as they go there to look for insects. They normally populate the eastern states. However, since they are migratory birds, they move south during the colder season.

They love mealworms and will not hesitate to visit your backyard to eat them. If you have the space, you can also set up nest boxes for them to use

American Goldfinch

In many bird species, the males are different from the females in color and appearance. It is the same with the American Goldfinch too. But, the males of this species have a specialty. They are a different color in spring and another shade in the winter! The males appear more attractive in spring as they are a combination of vivid yellow and contrasting black. However, they become a dull brown in winter. The females of the species do not change color like the males. The females are brown throughout.

They always live in the central states except for the time they migrate to the southern states for the colder season. Their breeding ground is Canada and parts of the United States.

They will want to visit you if you have thistles and milkweed growing in your backyard. However, they seem to like eating from bird feeders and love sunflower and nyjer seeds.

Many yellow birds frequent North Carolina in summer, but the American Goldfinch is very different. It visits North Carolina only in winter.

House Finch

The males and the females of the House Finch look pretty different. The males have red heads and breasts whereas the females are predominantly brown in color. These birds originated in the western states but were introduced to the eastern states later. They are thriving in the eastern states also. In fact, they have outdone the Purple Finch also now.

They often visit parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders. You cannot miss noticing them due to the loud noise that they make.

They can be lured to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.

Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco belongs to the species of sparrows. The specialty of this bird is that the color of the bird actually depends on the area it is in. Birds that live in the east are slate-colored and the ones in the west are black, white, and brown.

They are not rare at all and can be spotted pretty regularly. They are comfortable in areas that are completely open and also in areas that are partly covered with woods. They tend to spend a lot of time on the ground. Their breeding ground is Canada but they move to the South as they are migratory birds.

They have a list of favorite food such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts. Since they are birds that like the ground, they can be lured by scattering their favorite food on the ground in the backyard. Platform feeders also work well in bringing these birds in.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

As the name indicates, these birds have a rump that is yellow. They are a lovely combination of a background of gray with touches of yellow on the face, sides, and rump. Their wings are, however, white. Females also have some brown. In winter, the brown pales but the rump is a vivid yellow.

Their favorite breeding spot is Canada. Since they are migratory birds, they move in huge flocks across most of southern and central North America and the Pacific Coast, and all over Mexico and Central America.

They love sunflower seeds, suet, raisins, and peanut butter. They can be lured to your backyard using one of these.

Indigo Bunting

The males of this species are a brilliant combination of a striking blue with touches of black in the wings and tails. The females are very different and are brown.

Their favorite breeding spot is the eastern states. However, in the colder months, you can see them in Florida, central and South America, and the Caribbean.

They love eating seeds and insects and so, are found in places that are abundant in both. Hence, look for them in fields with weeds and places that have a lot of shrubs where they normally search for food. They will come visiting if your offer small seeds like nyjer and thistle.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

These multi-colored birds are very attractive as the colors on them are quite vivid and appealing. Their backs and crowns are a brilliant green while the throats of the males are adorned by a shimmering red. Their undersides are a combination of gray and white.

The females of this species are a little different. Their backs are also green. However, their undersides are white and their crowns and sides are brown.

Their specialty is that these birds are the only hummingbirds that breed in eastern North America. Since they are migratory birds, they move further south to Central America.

You have to think differently if you want to lure these birds to your backyard as they tend to come for a combination of sugar and water. This mix can be set up in hummingbird feeders. They will also visit you f you have red or orange tubular flowers in your backyard.

The Hummingbirds in North Carolina are so beautiful that you should not miss out on spotting them and enjoying the sight.

Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds

Luring birds to the backyard is an enjoyable and relaxing activity and bird watchers will definitely want to succeed in drawing as many birds as possible to their backyards. The best way to do this is, of course, to feed the birds their favorite food. How do we do this? We use bird feeders to fill with the food that different birds like. Fortunately for us, there are various types of bird feeders that are really good attempting many different bird species in North Carolina to come in. Let us take a look at some of these bird feeders:

  1. Tube feeders: This gives you the convenience of filling it in with various types of bird seeds. This is great as different seeds means you will be able to lure different bird species too. For instance, if you fill it in with black oil sunflower seeds, you can expect to see Goldfinches, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Pine Siskins.
  2. Ground Feeders: This is a tray that is fixed under a tube feeder that is filled with black oil sunflower seeds. With this, you can hope to spot Cardinals, Jays, Finches and sparrows.
  3. Platform feeders: This is ideal to be filled with millet or corn and is capable of tempting small and medium sized birds to your backyard. With this, you can enjoy watching sparrows, blackbirds, towhees, juncos, doves, grackles and starlings.
  4. Peanut feeders: They entice birds such a woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, jays, juncos, finches and sparrow.
  5. Suet feeders: These are best used in winter and are extremely handy in bringing in birds like woodpeckers, cardinals, nuthatches, kinglets, wrens and chickadees.
  6. Hummingbird feeders: Apart from attracting the small, charming hummingbirds, they also bring in other birds also.

How to Attract Birds to your Backyard in North Carolina

If you live in North Carolina and would love to have different kinds of birds visiting your backyard, then, there are many ways to achieve success.

  1. Make sure that you have various types of bird feeders that can get different kinds of birds to come to your backyard.
  2. Water is something that birds love and so it is a very good idea to have some water feature in your backyard. You could think of a birdbath fountain or stream. The most important thing in this is to make sure that the water is always clean and never stagnant. Water must be changed regularly.
  3. There are only a few things that birds look for and food and shelter are very important among them. Having plants in your backyard provides birds with both food and shelter. It is a great idea to have native plants that give fruit, berries and nuts. Examples of such plants include blackberries, wild grasses, elderberries, serviceberries, oaks, beeches, cherries, sumacs, hemlocks, purple coneflowers, sunflowers, milkweed, cardinal flowers, trumpet honeysuckle, virginia creeper, buttonbush and dogwoods.
  4. The grass in your backyard must be tall enough to give the birds protection and seeds.
  5. Leaving a brush pile is also great to attract birds because birds get food, protection from them and are also able to nest in these piles.
  6. What you should never do is use pesticides and herbicides. Using these is not at all a good idea because birds may be poisoned as a result of this. This will also destroy insects and seeds that birds normally search for in backyards.
  7. Birds look for safe places to breed and you could give them this opportunity by setting up nest boxes. The important thing to remember here is that these boxes should compulsorily be cleaned every year.

How to Identify Birds in North Carolina

Now that we have discussed how to lure birds to your backyard, the next thing we have to understand is how to identify the birds that you see in North Carolina. These include birds in your backyard and the ones you spot when you go out.

  1. Size – The first thing that strikes you when you see a bird is whether it is small or large. In fact, this is so important that birds are regularly measured in inches or centimetres in guide books. As soon as we see a bird, we should first classify it under small, medium or large. This will help us when we look for it after some time. It is always better to have an idea about what small, medium and large refer to. Small would mean the size of a sparrow, medium the size of a pigeon and large the size of a goose.
  2. Shape – The next important thing to note is the shape of the bird. You should notice the outline of the bird and it is a good idea to draw the outline somewhere. The length of the tail, and the shape of the bill, wing and body are also very important.
  3. Colour pattern – Birds are variously coloured and these colours are very important identification factors for them. The colour of the head, back, belly, wings and tail should be taken note of. If there are any other colours or designs other than these main colours, they should also be observed and noted. Sometimes, birds have bands, spots or stripes. These are also to be noted.
  4.   Behaviour – The habits of different birds help us identify them to a large extent. For instance, are they in the habit of staying on the ground or perching high up on trees? Are they solitary birds or do they go around in large numbers? What is their favourite food? Answers to these questions are of a lot of importance in identifying birds.
  5. Habitat – Find out where they live. Do they live in woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, shore or marsh land?
  6. Apps – These days, there are many apps that give us a lot of information about birds. There are apps that help us identify the different kinds of birds. Using such an app will help. For instance, you could use the apps by ebird or Audubon.

About the author

Hi, I'm Andrew. I am a highly experienced birder with a passionate interest in bird behavior and ecology. I have worked extensively with both captive and wild birds, conducting research on their natural history, physiology, and conservation. My work has taken me all over the world, and I have been lucky enough to observe some of the rarest and most exclusive species on earth. I am also an experienced teacher, having taught ornithology at both the college and high school levels.

Leave a Comment