I spend a lot of time in the woods hiking and just enjoying nature. One of my favorite parts of being in the woods is seeing and hearing all the kinds of birds in Pennsylvania.
There are so many birds native to Pennsylvania that it would be impossible to list them all here. Still, they are all unique in their coloration, vocalizations, and habits.
Are you looking to explore bits of Pennsylvania, whether the woods, the countryside, or the city? Here are some of the ones you’re most likely to see.
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Common “Backyard” Birds Of Pennsylvania
Largest Pennsylvania Birds
1. Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus)
Okay, so these are more of a game bird than a “backyard” bird. They’re also not easily spotted. But, they are really common in Pennsylvania, and they are the state bird! They had to be included here.
15.8 to 19.7 inches (40.13 cm to 50.03 cm) in length with a wingspan of 19.7 to 25.2 inches (40.13 cm to 64 cm). Short, triangular chest with a long and fan-like tail. They typically weigh between 15.9 to 26.5 ounces (450.75 g to 751.26 g).
Dark bars and spots are patterned all over the bird’s body. The body itself is usually gray or brown with some reds. The tail has lots of thin bars, with one large black bar near the edge of the tail.
It can be quite difficult to spot Ruffed Grouse when you’re out and about in the woods because they blend in so well. They also move in slow, deliberate movements so as not to be spotted. They will even walk between the tangled branches of low-hanging trees and shrubs, picking berries off of branches.
If you go into the woods while it’s snowing, you may come across a Ruffed Grouse resting in the snow. They like to bury themselves in the fresh powder to roost.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
When they’re ready to mate, the male ruffed grouse will stand high up on a log. They will then beat their wings in a circular motion which draws in a bunch of air. This will create a deep drumming sound. Males will also do this to defend their territory.
Once a mate has been attracted, the actual mating process only lasts a few seconds. The female will then carry on with her day in search of the perfect place to build her nest. She will choose a place at the base of a rock or tree.
They will lay 10-14 eggs that she will stay in the nest for about 3 weeks. When the chicks hatch, they are covered in down and are able to leave the nest accompanied by their mother almost immediately.
The chicks will stay with the mother until they are about 4 months old and full grown. Unfortunately, only about half of the chicks will make it to this point. They are easily picked off by predators and suffer in cold, rainy weather.
Chicks will reach full maturity at about 2 years of age and can live for up to 8 years.
Ruffed Grouse are usually found in deciduous and coniferous forests with lots of small clearings. Some of their favorite trees include all types of pine trees, hickories, and oaks.
They prefer forests that are near streams. They also prefer new-growth forests that are making a comeback after a fire. New growth areas with logging or burning create lots of cover space and food for the Ruffed Grouse, which is why they are so commonly found in these areas.
These birds prefer to stay at the bottom of the forest floor where they’ll forage for plant matter like leaves, fruits, shrubs, and woody plants. In the fall, when these items become more scarce, they tend to eat lots of acorns and fruits. They can eat bitter and sometimes toxic plants that many other animals can’t digest.
They also eat large amounts of fiber-filled vegetation. They’re able to do this because of the long pouches found near the small and large intestines.
Ruffed Grouse do not really migrate, although they make short movements depending on the season. This is most often done over winter to look for more coverage.
Ruffed Grouse are not considered to be threatened, as of now. Scientists say that their populations may have declined between 1966-2014. Still, there is an estimated 18 million Ruffed Grouse across the world. About 14% of these live in the United States while the other 86% live in Canada.
Their populations have declined because of humans. Fire control and logging have both eliminated some habitat for the Ruffed Grouse.
Although they are not considered threatened by most, they are listed as a species in steep decline by Partners in Flight.
Their decline has also led to restrictions on hunting. The Ruffed Grouse is a very popular game bird for hunters. Because of this, the birds can only be hunted during certain seasons. There are also restrictions on how many birds can be harvested.
Not only that, but work is being done to improve the Ruffed Grouse’s habitats. Land is being purchased and management practices are being put in place to protect these birds.
Climate Change Impacts
The Ruffed Grouse is listed as a moderate concern for climate change impacts.
With an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 Fahrenheit), the Ruffed Grouse is estimated to lose 17% of its current range, but will gain 28% in Canada. At this point, spring heat waves will be a threat to young nesting birds. Heavy rainfall may also cause flooding of nests.
With an increase of 3.0 degrees Celsius (37.4 Fahrenheit), the Ruffed Grouse is estimated to lose 52% of its current range, and will only gain 49% of that range back in the northernmost parts of Canada and Alaska. At this point, there likely will be no more Ruffed Grouse in the contingent 48 states.
2. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Crows are typically 15.8 to 20.9 inches (40.13 cm to 53.08 cm) in length, and their wingspan is 33.5 to 39.4 inches (85.09 cm to 100.07 cm). They will weigh between 11.2 to 21.9 ounces (317.51 g to 620.85 g).
When it comes to colors, the crow keeps it quite simple. American Crows are solid black in coloration. However, when they molt, you might notice that their feathers appear more brown.
They are large birds with long legs and thin necks. Their beaks are also very long and heavy, but they’re thin. They have broad, but rounded feathers and their feathers spread apart almost like fingers. Their tail, on the other hand, is short and rounded
Crows are incredibly social animals and can form flocks with thousands of other crows. They are very curious about things, so they are quick learners and can easily be taught things.
However, they can be quite aggressive, eagerly chasing off larger birds and animals like hawks and owls.
It’s even said that crows are so intelligent that they can remember a person’s face. If you are cruel to them, you might find yourself being chased by the crow you angered as well as its friends. But if you’re kind to a crow — if you give it food, for example — it will often return to visit you and may sometimes bring little trinkets.
Also, you’re likely to know a crow is around before you even see it because of its voice. Crows have a very distinctive “cawing” sound that sounds nothing like other birds.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
Mating doesn’t begin until the crow is at least a few years old. The minimum age for breeding is 2 years old, but some won’t begin until they are 4 years old or older.
In most flocks, crows that are too young to breed will help their parents raise the new checks. They may help for a few years until they begin to breed themselves.
A single family can include up to 15 crows and there may be juveniles from 5 separate years at a time.
The interesting thing about this is that crows will only stay with their “extended family” for part of the year. For part of the year, a crow’s family will live and search for food together. But, during other parts of the year, the crows will go off to join larger flocks.
When crows are old enough to mate, they’ll form monogamous pairs and work together to care for the young. Mating occurs most often in April and they will nest between March and June.
The female will take almost full responsibility for incubating the eggs. Still, the male will stay close by and bring her food. The female will lay between 3-7 eggs, and incubation takes about 18 days. Hatchlings will grow into fledglings about 30 days after hatching.
Crows will generally live to be 7-8 years old.
Crows are very common and can be found almost anywhere. You’ll find them in the woods and forests, and fields, most commonly. However, they love being where people are because they know they can get easy food. Because of this, you’ll often find them along the roads, in towns, parking lots, yards, and agricultural fields.
Crows are not picky about what they eat and are commonly found in human-inhabited areas for a quick meal. Their natural diet consists of things like earthworms, small bugs and insects, seeds, fruits, and other small animals like chicks.
Just a reminder that crows are incredibly intelligent. They will sometimes follow other adult birds back to their nests to eat them if they’re small and exhausted enough. They’ll also steal food from other animals.
However, you’ll commonly find them feeding on garbage and carrion in human-inhabited areas. But, their beaks are not designed for larger animals like squirrels. A crow must wait for a larger animal to kill and tear open the flesh before they can eat. For this reason, carrion is only a small portion of a crow’s diet.
American crows are thought to complete “partial migration”. Some crows in a particular population will migrate, while others stay put.
Studies have shown that about 83% of crows on the east coast migrate to breed. The crows studied traveled an average distance of 500 kilometers.
Researchers also found that the crows returned to the same mating spot every year. They did this regardless of the year’s environmental conditions.
Climate Change Impact
The American Crow is considered to be a low vulnerability species for climate change impact.
With a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, Crows will only lose about 5% of their current range, but will gain 8% in Canada. At this point, there are no real threats for American Crows associated with climate change.
With a temperature increase of 3.0 degrees Celsius, Crows will lose about 8% of their current range, and will gain 12% in Canada. Although their range won’t be highly impacted, they will be at increased vulnerability to wildfires, spring heat waves, and habitat loss due to urbanization.
In both scenarios, American Crows will still be abundant across Pennsylvania and the rest of the country.
Crows are considered an important part of Native American culture. They are revered for their intelligence, and it is considered good luck to spot one. In many tribes, the crow is used as a clan animal. There is also a god named “Hopi” that is referred to as the Crow Mother.
There are many legends surrounding the crow in Native American culture as well. One legend tells about crows bringing fire to people. Another tells of an alliance the crows formed with the buffalo which turned their feathers black.
3. Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus)
Their body length is between 15.8 to 19.3 inches (40.13 cm to 49.02 cm) long and the wingspan can reach 26.0 to 29.5 inches (66.04 cm to 74.93 cm). It weighs anywhere from 8.8 to 12.3 ounces (249.47 g to 348.69 g)
These birds have a mostly black body, but you’ll find white stripes along the neck and face. What makes them stand out most is the bright red crest at the top of their head. Besides the red in their crest, males will also have a red streak on the side of their face. When they’re flying, you’ll see that the underside of their wings is mostly white.
The Pileated Woodpecker is rather large for the woodpecker species, and they are almost as large as crows. It has a long neck and crest that rises off the top of its head in a triangle. The beak is also very large because it’s as long as the head itself. In flight, the wings are broad and crow-like.
As the name suggests, these woodpeckers like to drill deep holes into the trunks of trees. They choose mostly rotten wood because that’s where their favorite food resides. You’ll notice that the holes are triangular in shape to match the beak shape.
They have very loud, screeching calls. The most recognizable sound, though, is the deep pounding of their beaks against the bark of the trees they’re pecking.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers will choose their nesting site and will remain there all year. They will choose a spot about 50 feet (15.24 m) high in a large, dead tree. They will then proceed to hollow out a spot in the tree themselves. They will defend their territory all year.
The female will lay about 4 eggs, and both parents will work to incubate the eggs. The eggs will incubate for about 2 weeks, and when they hatch, they will both work to raise them. The hatchlings will become fledglings in about a month, but will stay with the parents for 4 weeks up to a few months.
Pileated Woodpeckers love to carve into dead and decaying trees. This means that they need to reside in areas with lots of rotting wood. They’re not picky about which kind of wood they’ll drill into and will be happy with either evergreen or deciduous trees.
In the East, however, they are also seen in young forests and backyards.
Pileated Woodpeckers do not migrate. Instead, they prefer to stay in their chosen nesting location.
Climate Change Impact
The Pileated Woodpecker is considered a stable species for climate change impact.
With an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 Fahrenheit), the Pileated Woodpecker will lose 11% of its current range, but will gain 40% in Canada. At this point, there will be no major threats to the woodpeckers.
With an increase of 3.0 degrees Celsius (37.4 Fahrenheit), the Pileated Woodpecker will lose 18% of its current range, but will gain 86% in Canada. At this point, young nesting woodpeckers will be in increased danger of spring heat waves. They will also be in danger of increased urbanization.
In both scenarios, no range will be lost in Pennsylvania.
Pileated Woodpeckers get their name from the Latin word, “pileatus” which means “capped”.
These woodpeckers also provided some inspiration for the cartoon character, “Woody Woodpecker”. The woodpecker itself was inspired by an Acorn Woodpecker that interrupted the animator’s honeymoon. But, the cartoon itself took on more of the look of a Pileated Woodpecker with its red cap and Pileated Woodpecker-sounding laugh.
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Smallest Birds of Pennsylvania
4. Ruby Throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris)
These birds are incredibly small with a length of just 2.8 to 3.5 inches (7.11 cm to 8.89 cm) and a wingspan of 3.1 to 4.3 inches (7.87 cm to 10.92 cm). As if that weren’t tiny enough, the birds only weigh 0.1-0.2 ounces (2.83 g to 5.66 g).
The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is extraordinarily small. It is so small that its legs will not allow it to walk or hop. They’re simply too short. Because of this, they heavily rely on their wings to be able to fly.
Hummingbirds are beautiful creatures. They have shiny emerald feathers that gleam in the sunlight. The males even have a bright red throat from which they get their name.
Not only are they incredibly small, but they are also incredibly fast. They can beat their wings 53 times a second and are capable of flying backwards.
As if flying backwards wasn’t impressive enough, hummingbirds can fly in a straight line and come to a complete stop in an instant. They have precise control over their bodies and can move any direction they like with ease.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
Pairs don’t like to be together for very long. They will only come together for the courting and mating process, and then the pair will go their separate ways.
This means that a pair will be together for as little as a few days to a few weeks. However, the female will establish her nest within the male’s territory. Mating occurs between March and August.
To attract a female, the male will go through an elaborate dance. He may dive from heights of up to 50 feets (15.24 m), swooping in U-shaped loops that are sure to impress anyone watching. While he’s doing this, he will make a low chattering noise. His wings will even make a similar sound during these displays.
The female will create a very small nest made of lichens and spider webs. She will only lay 2-3 pea-sized eggs, and she will be the sole provider for the eggs. Each egg will be laid 2-3 days apart, and incubation takes 10-16 days.
The hatchlings will grow into fledglings in only 2-3 weeks. They will leave the nest when they are 18-31 days old. This means that they are completely independent just 4-7 after becoming fledglings.
Females can have 2-3 broods a year.
A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird can live for 3-5 years.
You will most commonly find hummingbirds in flower gardens or on the edges of forests. They can also be found in woodlands, meadows, and parks.
They are unafraid of people and will often come into yards searching for flowers. They are quite common in suburbs and towns in addition to rural areas.
These hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar. There are over 30 different plant species they’ll choose from. Still, they prefer plants with long, red, tubular flowers. They also prefer flowers that produce nectar with lots of sugar content. Once they find these flowers, they will protect them from intruders.
Some of their favorite plants include bergamots, bee balms, red buckeye, red morning-glory, honeysuckle, and cardinal flowers.
You will only see hummingbirds around during the spring and summer. When the weather begins to drop in the fall, they will begin their migration towards Central America. Many of these birds can even cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight.
In September, they will begin to gather in Florida, Louisiana, and the south Texas coast to prepare for the long flight to Central America.
With the coming of spring, males will begin to arrive in Texas and Louisiana. They’ll make this journey in late February and March. We will not begin to see them up north until April or May.
Climate Change Impact
Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are considered a stable species for climate change impact.
With an increase in temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 Fahrenheit), they will lose 9% of their total current range, but will gain 24% in southern Canada. At this point, no negative impacts will be noted.
With an increase in temperature of 3.0 degrees Celsius (37.4 Fahrenheit), they will lose 15% of their current range, but will gain 42% in southern Canada. At this point, young nesting birds may be negatively impacted by spring heat waves. They may also be impacted by increased urbanization.
In neither of these scenarios will we see a loss of hummingbirds in Pennsylvania. In fact, we may see a slight increase in the southeastern parts of the state.
5. American Yellow Warbler
The Yellow Warbler is a regularly sized bird with a body length of 4.7-5.1 inches. Its wingspan can reach 6.3 to 7.9 inches (16 cm to 20.06 cm) in length. These little birds only weigh 0.3 to 0.4 ounces (8.50 g to 11.33 g).
There are over 50 species of warblers in North America, but the Yellow Warbler is by far the most colorful. The males stand out the most brilliantly with their bright yellow coloration. The females aren’t as brightly colored, but they have warm yellow tones. The males also have chestnut-colored markings on their chests that the females lack. Both males and females will have yellow markings on their tails, and their faces are uniformly yellow.
The singing of the male Yellow Warbler is easily distinguishable and is heard throughout all of Pennsylvania in the spring. Their song comes out as a whistle that sounds like “sweet sweet sweet, I’m so sweet”.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
When Yellow Warblers build nests, they’re often taken over by the Brown-Headed Cowbird. Rather than choose a new location for their nest, the Yellow Warbler will simply build its nest on top of the original. Over time, a warbler may end up with six nests stacked on top of each other.
After she has successfully put together her nest, the Yellow Warbler will lay 4-5 eggs. Once a Yellow Warbler lays her eggs, she will incubate them for 11 days. Both parents take part in caring for the young. The hatchlings will grow into fledglings in 9-12 days, at which point they’ll leave the nest.
Yellow Warblers can be expected to live for up to 9 years in the wild.
Over winter, Yellow Warblers reside in Central America and Northern South America. They begin moving to the United States in March and early April.
When these birds migrate, they can be found in mangrove forests, marshes, and forests. They like to hide out in the lowlands during the winter months, but you can sometimes find them up to 8,500 feet (2590.8 m) above sea level.
Climate Change Impact
Yellow Warblers are considered to be at moderate vulnerability to climate change impact.
With an increase in temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 Fahrenheit), the Yellow Warbler will lose 21% of its current range, and will only gain 17% farther north in Canada. At this point, young nestlings will be at risk of spring heatwaves. About half of their range in Pennsylvania will be gone.
With an increase in temperature of 3.0 (37.4 Fahrenheit) degrees Celsius, the Yellow Warbler will lose 41% of its current range, and will only gain 22% in parts of Canada. At this point, the warblers will be at risk of wildfires, and young nestlings will be at risk of spring heat waves. We can expect Yellow Warblers to be completely gone from Pennsylvania.
6. Blue-Headed Vireo
The Blue-Headed Vireo is an average sized bird with a body length of 4.7 to 5.9 inches (11.93 cm to 14.98 cm). Its wingspan can reach double that at 8.7 to 9.5 inches (22.08 cm to 24.13 cm) and it can weigh 0.5 to 0.6 ounces (14.17 g to 17 g).
These birds are incredibly colorful. The bodies are a combination of greens, blues, grays, greens, and yellows. Their wings and tails are quite different with colorations of stark white and black. What is most unique about these birds is that they look like they’re wearing glasses. There are thick white markings around their eyes that resemble spectacles.
The breeding population of Blue-Headed Vireo across the globe is estimated at 9 million.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
Blue-Headed Vireos form monogamous bonded pairs. Unmated pairs will form bonds by choosing a nesting site and waiting for the acceptance of one another.
The males are the ones that choose the nesting site, but the female must accept it. The male will go to his selected nesting site and begin to sing to lure the female over. Once she accepts, they will work together to create the nest.
The nest will be created in the crook of a tree branch about 6 to 15 feet (1,82 m to 4.57 m) up in the tree. The male will do most of the nesting work, creating the foundation. Once the foundation is completed, the female will come in for the finishing touches, lining the nest with grass, roots, pine needles, and vines.
Mating occurs just once a year between April and August. The female will lay 3-5 eggs that will incubate for 13-15 days. Both the male and female share in the incubation duties with the male sitting on the eggs during the day and the female sitting at night.
Even after hatching, both parents continue to share responsibility for the offspring. The hatchlings will become fledglings in 12-13 days. 1-4 days before this, the females will leave the offspring with the male to go find another mate.
These birds may live up to 7 years in the wild.
The Blue-Headed Vireo is not partial to forest types and can be found in all kinds of trees. Still, in the north, it is most commonly found in coniferous forests of pine, hemlock, spruce, or fir. These areas will commonly have undergrowth of alder and willow trees.
Although those trees are their favorite, they will also use birch, maple, and poplar trees in the north.
Climate Change Impact
The Blue-Headed Vireo is considered a high risk for climate change impact.
With a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 Fahrentheit), the Blue-Headed Vireo will lose 48% of its current range, including all of its range in Pennsylvania. It will only gain 40% in the northern parts of Canada. At this point, these birds will likely no longer be found in the contingent 48 states.
With a temperature increase of 3.0 degrees Celsius (37.4 Fahrenheit), the Blue-Headed Vireo will lose 92% of its current range. It will have only gained 43% in the northernmost parts of Canada and Alaska.
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Most Common Birds in Pennsylvania
7. American Robins (Turdus migratorius)
American Robins are one of the largest North American songbirds reaching body lengths of 7.9 to 11.0 inches (20.06 cm to 27.94 cm). Their wingspans will reach about 12.2 to 15.8 inches (30.98 cm to 40.13 cm), and they can weigh 2.7 to 3.0 ounces (76.54 cm to 85.04 cm).
Everyone looks forward to seeing Robins in their yard because it signals the coming of spring. Their familiar bodies are a grayish brown with an orange chest. The heads of the males will be a dark black, while the female’s heads are paler and more gray.
Their large bodies are round, and they have long legs. To accompany all that, they also have long tails. American Robins are a type of Thrush, and they are the largest Thrush bird in North America.
American Robins are fun little birds to have around your yard. It’s entertaining to watch them scurry around the grass looking for earthworms. When they’re not foraging for earthworms, you’ll notice them standing stick-straight in your yard with their heads upward, looking for something.
They also sing a lot, and urban dwellers enjoy their clear and uplifting whistling.
Reproduction & Lifespan
Robins will mate in the springtime from April to July. The Robin will lay between 2-5 eggs and will incubate them for two weeks.
Technically, a brooding pair can produce three clutches of eggs in a year. Although this is possible, it’s not very likely. In reality, only about 40% of Robin nests actually produce young. Of that 40%, only 25% of the young will survive to November.
Even if a Robin has made it that far, they only have a 50% chance of making it to the next year.
After the eggs hatch, both the mother and father will assist in feeding them. After just 2 weeks, the chicks will leave the nest for the very first time. However, they won’t be able to get back to the nest and will take cover on the ground where they’ll beg their parents for food.
After another two weeks, the Robins will be fully capable of flying.
It’s possible for a robin to live to be 14 years old, but most die before they reach 6 years old.
Robins will create giant groups together called “roosts”. These roosts can be up to a quarter-million birds at one time. They mostly take advantage of these roosts over winter to stay warm.
But, in summer, the males will still sleep in roosts while the females sleep in the nests. Juvenile Robins that are slowly gaining their independence will also sleep in the roosts with the males. Females will only sleep with the roosts after their nesting season has ended.
American Robins will eat a variety of foods, and they aren’t all that picky. They love to eat fruit, particularly in the fall and winter. During this time, they will often eat honeysuckle berries. Sometimes, this is the only thing they’ll eat over winter, and it’s possible for them to become intoxicated from the berries.
Robins love their insects, especially earthworms. You’ll commonly see them scurrying about your yard, looking for earthworms to pull out of the ground.
In fact, what a Robin will eat depends on the time of day. They eat mostly earthworms in the morning when the bugs are most active. As the day goes on, they switch to eating mostly fruits.
Many Robins will migrate over winter, and that is why their appearance is considered a marker of spring. However, lots of Robins will stay in the same location over winter, choosing to roost in trees rather than foraging on the ground. Whether a Robin chooses to stay or migrate really depends on a location’s given climate each year.
Climate Change Impact
The American Robin is considered at moderate risk of climate change impact.
With a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 Fahrenheit), the American Robin will have lost 9% of its current range and will have gained 6% in Canada. At this point, no major threats are apparent.
With a temperature increase of 3.0 degrees Celsius (37.4 Fahrenheit), the American Robin will have lost 23% of its current range and will have only gained 9% in Canada. At this point, these birds will be at risk for wildfires. The young nestlings will also be at risk of spring heat waves.
The American Robin was named after the European Robin. Settlers named it after one of their favorite birds that they were missing when they moved to the new country.
The American Robin is so common and loved in the United States that it is the state bird for Michigan, Wisconsin, and Connecticut. It can often be found on state flags, shields, seals, and coins.
Robins are also a part of folklore from Indigenous tribes. Legends differ between tribes, but the consensus is that these birds are a symbol of peace and safety. Other stories explain the bird’s orange chest by stating that they are guardians of fire.
8. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Reproduction & Life Cycle
To attract a mate, males and females will both raise their heads high into the air. They will sway back and forth while singing to each other. The males will sometimes bring the female something to eat.
When they have chosen a mate, they will build a nest that is aggressively defended by the male. Males are so territorial about their nests that they will attack their own reflections if they come across a window.
The female is the one that builds the nest out of twigs, grasses, leaves, and hairs. She will build it 3 to10 feet (0.91 m to 3.04 m) off the ground in dense shrubbery or trees.
The female will then lay 3-4 eggs that she will incubate for 12-13 days. After they hatch, both parents will work to care for the young. They will transform from hatchlings to fledglings in 9-11 days at which point they’ll leave the nest.
The female will have 2-3 broods a year. She may even begin on her next batch of eggs while the male is still caring for the original batch.
The Northern Cardinal can be found mostly on the eastern coast of North America. It is most common in the south, but has been traveling steadily northward and can be found in parts of southeastern Canada. These birds are not usually found west of the Great Plains.
They are not picky about where they spend their time and can often be found in gardens and towns. They are naturally found along the edges of woodlands, in thickets, and in desert washes.
These birds simply like to have a good place to nest, and this means dense bushes.
Climate Change Impact
Northern Cardinals are considered stable in terms of climate change impact.
With a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 Fahrenheit), the Cardinal is only expected to lose 1% of its current range, but will gain 21% across the United States and southern Canada. At this point, there are no threats to note.
With a temperature rise of 3.0 degrees Celsius (37.4 Fahrenheit), the Cardinal will lose 1% of its current range, but will gain 31%. Still, with increasing temperatures, they will be at risk of spring heat waves and wildfires. They will also be impacted by further urbanization.
The Northern Cardinal is a very popular sight across the United States. So popular, in fact, that it is the state bird for 7 different states along the east coast.
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Other Common “Backyard” Birds in Pennsylvania
I went into more detail about the above birds because I believe they’re the most common and popular birds in the state. Still, there are other common “backyard” birds that deserve to be mentioned. So, here are some others you’ll find across Pennsylvania.
9. White-Throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
The White-Throated Sparrow are common “winter” birds found in the eastern parts of the United States. You’ll often see them frolicking around on the ground in flocks, looking for seed. They’re also commonly seen at bird feeders.
These birds are most often found in conifer woodlands, but can be found in mixed forests, too. They like to hide in thickets, brush, and undergrowth.
Their diet consists mostly of seeds and insects. They feed mostly on insects during the breeding season.
The mother will usually lay 4-5 eggs that she will incubate for 11-14 days. The fledglings will then leave the nest within 8-9 days.
These birds like to migrate at night. They will begin to move south in late fall. They’ll slowly make their way down to areas more suitable for winter.
10. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura
The Mourning Dove has a very distinctive “cooing” call. Most people know this bird just from hearing it.
They are found everywhere from southern Canada to central Mexico. You’ll commonly see them in rural areas like farms, woods, and grasslands. They’re often seen along roadsides where they’ll perch on power lines.
The vast majority of their diet consists of seeds like those of cultivated grains and grasses.
Mourning Doves breed more than most other birds which is the main reason they’re so common. A single female can have up to 6 broods a year which is more than any other bird native to the United States.
Some stay in their breeding area over winter while others move south in flocks.
11. Downy Woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens)
The Downy Woodpecker is the most common and widespread woodpecker in North America. It is also the smallest. Because of its small size, it’s able to move about easily. In winter, it will even join flocks of chickadees and nuthatches.
These birds are not shy and you’ll often see them in towns, parks, and backyards. Naturally, they like woodlands, river groves, and orchards.
They feast mostly on insects like beetles and ants.
The female will have 4-5 eggs that will be incubated for 12 days. Both parents take care of the young before they leave the nest 20-25 days after hatching.
Many don’t migrate, but those that live in the far north will usually head south for winter.
12. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
The Blue Jay is one of the most intelligent backyard birds. Not only that, but they are beautiful and are great imitators. Most people enjoy having them at their bird feeders.
They love to live in oak and pine trees, but are also commonly seen in suburbs and towns.
Blue Jays eat mostly plant matter like nuts, seeds, and berries. They will also eat some insects.
Females will lay 4-5 eggs that will incubate for 16-18 days. Both parents take care of the young until they leave the nest after 17-21 days.
Most will stay put for the duration of the year. There are some that will migrate south during the fall. Eastern
13. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
There are three different kinds of bluebirds in the United States, but the Eastern Bluebird is the most common.
These birds can be found in many rural areas. They like open spaces with trees here and there. They are also found on farms and along roads, traveling in small flocks
Eastern Bluebirds eat lots of insects like crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles. They also love to feast on berries.
Females will lay 4-5 eggs that will incubate for 13-16 days. Both parents will care for the young before they leave the nest at 18-19 days. In some cases, the young from previous broods will help with feedings as well. A female can have up to 3 broods per year.
Those that live in the south usually do not migrate. Northern birds will migrate south in the late fall.
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Invasive Birds in Pennsylvania
14. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)
The House Finch was considered invasive at one time. New York pet shop owners irresponsibly released these birds into the wild in 1940. They were not native to the area, but came from the southwest. Now, it is a bird commonly seen across the east coast.
Their natural habitat consists of trees by stream sides and woodland edges. However, they are most often seen now in cities, suburbs, and on farms.
Their diet consists mainly of weed seeds, but they will also eat flower buds and berries.
Females will lay 4-5 eggs that are incubated for 13-14 days. Both parents will care for the young before they leave the nest at 12-15 days old. Females can have up to 3 broods a year.
Because they are not native to the east, they will migrate south in the fall.