Did you know there are over 450 bird species recorded in California? That’s a lot of feathers! Even more impressive, there are up to a billion birds that pass through the state every year during the spring migration.
From finches to woodpeckers, there’s a diverse array of birds in California. But although there are hundreds of birds that either call the Golden State home or pass through during migration, there are a handful that you will see more often than others.
Whether you’re hoping to attract more birds into your backyard or you just want to familiarize yourself with your feathered neighbors, keep reading to learn more about 37 of the most common birds in California.
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1. California Towhee (Melozone crissalis)
- Length: 8.3 – 9.8 in (21.1 – 25 cm)
- Weight: 1.3 – 2.4 oz (37 – 68 g)
- Wingspan: 11.4 in (29 cm)
The California Towhee is a stout, brown bird with a rusty patch under its tail. These non-migratory birds can be found in the mountains and western deserts of California year-round.
While there are some small pockets of California Towhees in southwest Oregon and the Baja Peninsula, these sparrow-like birds are typically only found in the Golden State. They tend to stick close to their nesting area for their entire lives.
The California Towhee thrives in both bushy natural environments and developed, urban areas.
You will often see them looking for seeds and insects in city parks, gardens, and even right in your backyard. Aside from seeds, some of their favorite foods are coffeeberry, elderberry, and acorns.
These funny little birds are often spotted chasing their own reflections in car mirrors or windows. This is a frequent sight in the spring and summer as the males aggressively defend their territories and mistake their reflection as an intruder.
2. Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
- Length: 6.7 – 8.3 in (17 – 21 cm)
- Weight: 1.2 – 1.7 oz (34 – 48 g)
- Wingspan: 11.0 in (27.9 cm)
Much like the California Towhee, the Spotted Towhee can be found in the state year-round. They migrate out of the mountains in the winter and leave the desert in the summer.
They also call the western half of the United States and the mountains of Mexico home. The Spotted Towhee can be found in southeast Canada in the summer and in Texas in the winter as well.
Both males and females feature a black head, throat, and back. They also have a red-brown side, white bellies, and white-spotted wings. They are relatively large sparrows with plush, rounded tails.
Spotted Towhees love to root around in leaf litter under bushes to search for insects, seeds, and berries. Some insects they like to hunt are spiders, moths, grasshoppers, beetles, snails, caterpillars, and millipedes.
3. Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
- Length: 14 – 20 in (36 – 51 cm)
- Weight: 1.2 lbs (544 g)
- Wingspan: 29 – 37 in (74 – 94 cm)
Cooper’s Hawk is one of the most common hawks in California. They breed in the woodlands but can be seen in suburbs with lots of trees. You can spot them high up in trees prowling for food in nearby fields. You may also notice them stalking backyard bird feeders for easy prey.
These mid-sized hawks feature a bluish-gray back and wings. Their bellies are a cream shade with reddish barring. The females are roughly 30% larger than the males.
Due to their drastic size difference, the females tend to hunt for larger prey.
The Cooper’s Hawk tends to feed on medium-sized birds such as robins, doves, and starlings. They may also hunt small mammals from time to time too.
4. Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
- Length: 17 – 24 in (43 – 61 cm)
- Weight: 1.3 lbs (590 g)
- Wingspan: 37.0 – 43.7 in (94.0 – 111 cm)
The Red-Shouldered Hawk is another bird of prey that calls California home year-round. They are quite loyal to their territories. They breed in the same location with the same mate year after year.
You may hear their distinct, noisy defensive call. Male Red-Shouldered Hawks also use their powerful call during mating season in the spring.
Red-Shouldered Hawks are far more adaptable to suburban neighborhoods and parks than many of the other species found in the eastern United States. Mated pairs will work together to construct nests near bodies of water in and around neighborhoods. They often reuse the same nest for years.
These red and brown hawks have a relatively long lifespan. The oldest recorded Red-Shouldered Hawk was a female that was recaptured and released in California. She was over 25 years old.
5. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
- Length: 7.9 – 11.0 in (20 – 27.9 cm)
- Weight: 2.7 – 3.0 oz (77 – 85 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2 – 15.8 in (31.0 – 40.1 cm)
If we’re talking about iconic California birds, the American Robin is sure to make the list. It can be found throughout the northern half of the United States as well as in the winter in the southern half.
They can be seen in the Golden State year-round. You can see them roosting in trees during the winter. They will also spend plenty of time in backyards during the spring.
Both male and female robins feature that signature rusty-red belly and brownish-gray back. The males do tend to be brighter, though.
Rather than using flashy feathers to attract a mate, the males will use a mating call to attract a female. Once they are paired, the male will feed their would-be mate to seal the bond and help her gain weight for optimal mating.
Robins will search for their food in woodlands, farmlands, urban parks, and lawns. They tend to eat earthworms and other invertebrates. They also eat fruit and small berries. You won’t see them at your bird feeder because they don’t eat seeds.
6. Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
- Length: 5.5 – 6.3 in (14 – 16 cm)
- Weight: 0.6 – 1.1 oz (17 – 31 g)
- Wingspan: 7.1 – 9.8 in (18 – 25 cm)
Dark-Eyed Juncos have a wide range that spans from Alaska to Mexico and the East Coast to the West Coast. They have a distinct color depending on where they’re from.
They are considered the most abundant songbird in North America. They often appear in the winter throughout the United States so you may hear them referred to as “snowbirds”.
California Dark-Eyed Juncos – or the “Oregon Junco” variety – tend to feature a black or gray head with a brown back and light orange sides.
These medium-sized sparrows are found in the Golden State year-round but may only appear in the southern part of the state in the winter. They are typically found in partially wooded areas.
During the breeding season, they congregate in coniferous forests. The Dark-Eyed Junco tends to feed from the ground. They mostly eat seeds and insects. You may see them at your backyard feeder during the winter months.
7. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
- Length: 9.1 – 13.4 in (23 – 34.0 cm)
- Weight: 3.0 – 6.0 oz (85 – 170 g)
- Wingspan: 17.7 in (45.0 cm)
Mourning Doves are known for their sorrowful cooing. They are one of the most frequent backyard visitors in the lower 48 states of the United States. They live in California year-round but will migrate to lower elevations in the wintertime.
These grayish-tan doves have a similar build to the common rock pigeon. They are slightly smaller with a longer tail. The females look similar to the males.
One key difference between the genders is that the females are slightly smaller and a bit browner.
Mourning Doves almost exclusively eat seeds. They’re considered granivores. Sometimes they will also eat grains, fruits, herbs, and wild grasses. To attract them to your yard, leave black oil sunflower seeds on a tray or in a feeder.
8. American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)
- Length: 4.3 – 5.1 in (11 – 13 cm)
- Weight: 0.4 – 0.7 oz (11 – 20 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5 – 8.7 in (19 – 22 cm)
Found throughout North America, the American Goldfinch calls California home in their non-breeding season. They breed in Canada and the Midwest and move south for the winter months.
As the name suggests, the American Goldfinch is a brilliant bright yellow color. They feature black markings on the head, sides, and tail. Females and non-breeding males are a paler yellow.
Unlike many birds, American Goldfinches are strict vegetarians. They are often spotted in weedy fields where they forage for seeds. Some of their favorite foods are thistles, sunflowers, and grasses.
Since they rely on plants for food, they breed closer to June and July to assure that there are plenty of seeds to feed their babies.
9. Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)
- Length: 3.5 – 4.3 in (8.9 – 11 cm)
- Weight: 0.3 – 0.4 oz (8.5 – 11 g)
- Wingspan: 5.9 – 7.9 in (15 – 20 cm)
The Lesser Goldfinch resides in California all year. They mostly stick to the coastal regions and avoid the high mountains. They tend to cluster in large flocks of hundreds. You’ll see them in thickets, fields, forest clearings, and parks.
Unlike the American Goldfinch, the Lesser Goldfinch will supplement its diet of mostly seeds with some insects. They bear a close resemblance to the American Goldfinch.
The most obvious differences are the smaller stature of the Lesser Goldfinch and its paler yellow. They also feature a full black cap or back whereas the American Goldfinch only has a partial black cap.
10. Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)
- Length: 5 in (13 cm)
- Weight: 0.56 oz (16 g)
- Wingspan: 9 in (23 cm)
The Oak Titmouse lives almost exclusively within the dry slopes of California. Once they select a mate, they will breed with them for life in the same area. They fiercely defend their territory all year round. You’ll often see them in pairs or small groups hunting for insects.
These plump little birds are a pale gray with white bellies. Their pointed crests are their most striking feature. They look almost indistinguishable from the Juniper Titmouse of the Nevada Great Basin.
Oak Titmice tend to eat mostly insects but they will also forage for seeds and nuts too.
If you want to attract them to your backyard, offer them suet or sunflower seeds. They also take well to nest boxes if you’d like to attract a mating pair.
11. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula)
- Length: 3.5 – 4.3 in (8.9 – 11 cm)
- Weight: 0.2 – 0.3 oz (5.7 – 8.5 g)
- Wingspan: 6.3 – 7.1 in (16 – 18 cm)
You may catch a glimpse of the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet from September to mid-May in California. They are an olive green color with a bright red crown in males. Typically, the red crown is only visible when they’re agitated.
The Ruby-Crowned Kinglet breeds in Canada and the western mountains of the United States. In their non-breeding season, they will migrate to the southwest United States and Mexico.
They like to frequent brushy patches and shrublands when they summer in California. You may see them in hedges and bushes but these fast-moving kinglets are hard to spot.
Insects make up a majority of the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet’s diet. They eat spiders, flies, beetles, moths, ants, wasps, and more. In the winter, they will also feast on berries and seeds.
12. Chestnut-Backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)
- Length: 3.9 – 4.7 in (9.9 – 12 cm)
- Weight: 0.3 – 0.4 oz (8.5 – 11 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5 in (19 cm)
Chestnut-Backed Chickadees tend to flock to the wet evergreen forests of the Pacific Coast. They are a non-migratory year-round resident of California.
In the past few decades, these chickadees have expanded their range into the Sierra Nevadas and suburban San Francisco.
These social birds often team up with titmice, nuthatches, and other chickadee species to hunt and forage. They like to eat a variety of insects including spiders, caterpillars, aphids, wasps, and more. They will also opt for seeds, berries, and other fruits.
Chestnut-Backed Chickadees like to nest in tree cavities. They use fur and hair to insulate their nests and cover their eggs when it comes time to look for food.
13. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
- Length: 5.9 – 6.7 in (15 – 17 cm)
- Weight: 0.9 – 1.1 oz (26 – 31 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5 – 9.8 in (19 – 25 cm)
Originally from the Middle East, House Sparrows are actually an invasive species. They are now one of the most abundant birds in not only California but across the globe. They take really well to urban and suburban areas. It seems like they don’t mind the presence of humans close by.
The males have gray caps and black bellies. Their cheeks are white and their sides are striated with brown and black. The females are a dull brown color with black and brown streaks.
Since these birds are so well adapted to humans, they can be extremely tame. Some may even eat from your hand.
They will eat just about anything but they prefer grains and seeds. You will likely spot them rooting around in your backyard at some point even if you don’t have a feeder.
14. White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
- Length: 5.9 – 6.3 in (15 – 16 cm)
- Weight: 0.9 – 1.0 oz (26 – 28 g)
- Wingspan: 8.3 – 9.4 in (21 – 24 cm)
The White-Crowned Sparrow is a frequently-seen backyard visitor in California and much of the United States.
They breed in Alaska and Canada before journeying back down to the lower 48 for the coldest months of the year. There are pockets of White-Crowned Sparrows living along the Pacific Coast year-round.
This large gray and brown sparrow tends to appear in weedy fields, along the treeline of forests, and in suburban backyards. They will root around on the ground for weeds and forage for berries in the bushes. They favor insects such as caterpillars, beetles, and wasps.
15. Golden-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)
- Length: 5.9 – 7.1 in (15 – 18 cm)
- Weight: 1.1 – 1.2 oz (30 – 33 g)
- Wingspan: 9.74 in (24.7 cm)
You may spot the Golden-Crowned Sparrow in California in the fall and winter months.
They breed in Alaska and Canada and find their way west when the weather starts to get cold. Look for them in weedy fields and on your lawn searching for seeds.
During the breeding season, Golden-Crowned Sparrows sport a bright yellow spot on their heads. The larger the crown, the more dominant and well-suited for mating the male.
When it comes time to lay eggs, they will construct nests on or near the ground with twigs, moss, and leaves. By the time they make it down to California for winter, the yellow color fades.
You can count on seeing the Golden-Crowned Sparrow in your backyard if you keep a tray of seeds on the ground. They also like to hang around yards with plenty of native fruit plants.
16. Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
- Length: 4.7 – 6.7 in (12 – 17 cm)
- Weight: 0.67 oz (19 g)
- Wingspan: 7 – 9 in (18 – 23 cm)
The Song Sparrow is another year-round California resident. They aren’t known for their beauty but they do have a very lovely song many bird fans enjoy. You can hear their beautiful call in spring and summer when males are looking for a mate.
These tiny, chestnut-brown birds are often found in shrublands and wetlands in low bushes. You can spot them at backyard feeders regularly too.
They have a distinct fluttering flight pattern observed as they search for food near the ground. The Song Sparrow primarily maintains a diet of seeds and grains but they also eat insects, fruits, and grasses.
17. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)
- Length: 5.1 – 5.5 in (13 – 14 cm)
- Weight: 0.6 – 0.9 oz (17 – 26 g)
- Wingspan: 7.9 – 9.8 in (20 – 25 cm)
The House Finch is another non-migratory bird that you can spot in California year-round.
They are originally from the West Coast but they have since been introduced to the eastern states. They did an exceptional job adapting to this climate and even pushed out the native Purple Finch.
Male House Finches have a red head and chest. The rest of their body is streaked with cream and brown. Female House Finches are completely brown with cream streaks.
In California, you’ll see them in parks, along the edge of forests, farms, and backyards. They’re actually considered California’s most common backyard bird.
A naturally inquisitive species, the House Finch will often be the first to show up to a new bird feeder. Since they typically travel in flocks, they will usually bring a couple of buddies along too.
18. Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)
- Length: 2.8 – 3.1 in (7.1 – 7.9 cm)
- Weight: 0.1 – 0.2 oz (2.8 – 5.7 g)
- Wingspan: 3.5 in (8.9 cm)
The Bushtit is another California local. They stick around all year. You can often see them in large, energetic flocks flitting around in short bursts from bush to bush.
They hunt together for caterpillars, beetles, wasps, and ants. They favor woodlands and scrublands but also appear in suburban parks and neighborhoods.
These tiny birds appear round in shape. They are a light gray color with brown-tinged faces. The males and females look almost identical most of the time. Although, males feature a black face in some regions.
Bushtits craft unique hanging nests made from plant materials and spider webs. They can take up to a month to construct. You can spot them hanging about 6-8 feet off the ground from conifers or other bushy trees.
19. White-Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
- Length: 5.1 – 5.5 in (13 – 14 cm)
- Weight: 0.6 – 1.1 oz (17 – 31 g)
- Wingspan: 7.9 – 10.6 in (20 – 26.9 cm)
You can find these birds in deciduous forests as well as throughout suburban California. White-Breasted Nuthatches are quite skilled at adapting to the environment around them.
These non-migratory California residents don’t seem to let the presence of humans slow them down.
Both males and females look the same. They are primarily a bluish-gray color. The key difference is that females are a bit paler and males have black caps. Females also have caps but they tend to be grayer. Some birds will also feature a chestnut belly.
White-Breasted Nuthatches eat seeds, nuts, and insects. They often smash large nuts and acorns against bark to split them open.
If you want them in your yard, put up a suet or feeder filled with sunflower seeds. They also take well to nesting boxes.
20. Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
- Length: 6.1 in (15 cm)
- Weight: 1.1 oz (31 g)
- Wingspan: 12 in (30 cm)
The Cedar Waxwing is a nomadic songbird that’s found in California during the winter. They travel in large flocks in search of fruit-bearing trees and shrubs. It’s one of the few birds in the United States that primarily eats fruit.
These stunning, plump songbirds have an orangish-pink head and neck. Their chests are pale yellow and their backs are gray. Some feature a small, iridescent patch of red on their wingtips. They also have a distinct crest on their heads. Males and females both look the same.
Cedar Waxwings flock to farms, orchards, and suburban gardens. If you want to attract them to your yard, plant fruiting native plants. Consider planting toyon, dogwood, or coffeeberry. They will also hunt for insects near water.
21. Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
- Length: 11.0 – 12.2 in (27.9 – 31.0 cm)
- Weight: 3.9 – 5.6 oz (111 – 159 g)
- Wingspan: 16.5 – 20.1 in (41.9 – 51.1 cm)
Northern Flickers are year-round California residents. They are most common in northern California but are found more frequently down south in the winter.
These large, brown woodpeckers feature black speckles and white patches on their bottoms. The males sport a red spot on their crown or cheeks depending on the region. You can spot a yellow or red wing flash when the Northern Flicker is in flight.
The Northern Flicker feeds primarily on ants, beetles, fruits, and seeds. They don’t often visit bird feeders but they will use your bird bath or nesting box.
You are more likely to spot one in your backyard if you have plenty of trees and open space or if you live near a forest.
22. Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)
- Length: 6.3 in (16 cm)
- Weight: 0.5 – 0.8 oz (14 – 23 g)
- Wingspan: 11 in (28 cm)
If you live in California, you’ve likely seen the Black Phoebe around. They live in the Golden State all year. They’re most abundant in the Central Valley and southern California. Sometimes they’re also spotted in lower areas and the high mountains.
These compact flycatchers have a sooty black body and a brilliantly white belly. Some birds feature white wing tips. Males and females look the same.
While they don’t visit bird feeders, they will gladly use the water in your birdbath to create their mud nests. They tend to construct them on porches or outbuildings. You may also see them zipping around your lawn in pursuit of beetles, wasps, grasshoppers, wasps, flies, bees, and spiders.
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23. Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
- Length: 8.3 – 10.2 in (21 – 25.9 cm)
- Weight: 1.6 – 2.0 oz (45 – 57 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2 – 13.8 in (31.0 – 35.1 cm)
You can find the Northern Mockingbird in California all year. They do not migrate and also live across the lower 48 and parts of southern Canada.
They’re often seen in pairs fiercely defending their territory. The mockingbird gets its name from the male’s innate ability to pick up on other birds’ songs. They can learn over 200 songs in their lifetime.
Northern Mockingbirds are gray-brown with pale, rounded bellies. Black and white feathers line the tips of their tails. They also have stunning white wing bars that are only visible when they’re in flight.
If you would like to attract this charming bird to your backyard, lay out some grapes, raisins, or apple slices. They also like suet blocks and will readily take advantage of a bird bath. In the wild, the mockingbird will eat insects, berries, and fruit.
24. Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
- Length: 6.7 – 9.1 in (17 – 23 cm)
- Weight: 1.1 – 2.7 oz (31 – 77 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2 – 15.8 in (31.0 – 40.1 cm)
You can spot the Red-Winged Blackbird year-round in California. They like to hang around marshy areas most of the year but will visit backyards in the winter. You may see them sitting atop telephone wires keeping a close eye on their territory. They are known to dive-bomb humans if they get too close to their nest.
The Red-Winged Blackbird is really easy to identify. It has a mostly black body with distinctive reddish-orange wing patches. Females tend to be a bit duller with a more brown hue.
In winter, this blackbird will roost in large flocks together for warmth and protection. This also makes it easier to search for food. They mostly eat grains and seeds in the winter.
25. European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
- Length: 7.9 – 9.1 in (20 – 23 cm)
- Weight: 2.1 – 3.4 oz (60 – 96 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2 – 15.8 in (31.0 – 40.1 cm)
As the name suggests, the European Starling is not originally from California. They were introduced to the United States in the 1890s. Today, they’re found in California year-round. They’re considered an invasive species and tend to harass native birds around feeders.
Both male and female European Starlings feature striking iridescent plumage. Their feathers are a combination of purple, green, and blue. They turn a duller, grayer tone when they aren’t breeding.
These noisy birds tend to travel in flocks. You’ll often see them congregating on treetops. They have quite a wide appetite. European Starlings will eat just about any insects, fruits, grains, and seeds they can get to.
26. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
- Length: 3.9 in (9.9 cm)
- Weight: 0.1 – 0.2 oz (2.8 – 5.7 g)
- Wingspan: 4.7 in (12 cm)
Anna’s Hummingbirds are found anywhere people live in California. They thrive in shrublands, open woods, and suburban gardens.
It’s not unusual to see them feeding on the flowers in your backyard. They used to strictly reside in Baja California and southern California but now live in Arizona and even as far north as Alaska.
Males have an iridescent reddish-pink head and throat. The feathers on their back and chest are a shining emerald green. Females have green iridescent feathers on their backs but are fairly plain otherwise.
They nest relatively early from December to February. Their courtship ritual is a dramatic display of 130-foot dives and a whooshing burst of sound produced by their tails.
27. Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)
- Length: 3.5 in (9 cm)
- Weight: 0.1 oz (2 – 4 g)
- Wingspan: 4.3 in (11 cm)
You’re most likely to catch a glimpse of Allen’s Hummingbird from February to July although some are in California all year.
They are found within coastal forests and scrublands between California and Oregon. Most Allen’s Hummingbirds will winter in Mexico or southern California.
Male Allen’s Hummingbirds feature glimmering reddish-orange throats and fiery orange bellies. Their backs are a copper-green color.
The females are mostly pale green with the occasional iridescent orange feather on the throat. They are almost identical to the Rufous Hummingbird.
The Allen’s Hummingbird has an elaborate courtship ritual. The males will flash their shining throats to a female, flying in an exaggerated J-shaped. Once they select a mate, the pair will build a nest near a shady stream and produce up to five broods a year.
28. California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)
- Length: 11.0 – 11.8 in (27.9 – 30.0 cm)
- Weight: 2.5 – 3.5 oz (71 – 99 g)
- Wingspan: 15.3 in (38.9 cm)
These year-round residents of California flock toward dry shrublands, parks, foothill neighborhoods, and oak woodlands. They do not migrate. They are noted as smart, vocal birds with an assertive temperament.
You can easily identify the California Scrub-Jay by the brilliant blue plumage running along its back and chest.
They look a bit like a Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay with brighter colors. The females share the same color pattern, but just a bit smaller.
California Scrub-Jays have an appetite for a wide variety of foods. They often stash food in the ground to eat later. It’s not uncommon to see them burying acorns and other foods. They also eat insects, fruits, seeds, small animals, and bird eggs.
Some bird lovers find these blue birds to be a nuisance at their bird feeders. They can be quite territorial and scare off other birds. To combat this, some choose to put mesh over their bird feeders to keep out the scrub-jays.
29. Brown-Headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
- Length: 7.5 in (19 cm)
- Weight: 1.5 oz (43 g)
- Wingspan: 12 – 15 in (30 – 38 cm)
The Brown-Headed Cowbird is a mischievous year-round California resident. They are infamous for their unusual reproduction habits. Rather than building their own nest and raising their young, the cowbird will place their eggs inside an established nest.
The hatchling will become a “brood parasite”. It will often grow to be larger and more ravenous than its nestmates. The clueless adoptive mother will raise the cowbird sometimes causing her actual chicks to go hungry.
Aside from their strange method of child-rearing, they aren’t very visually striking. They feature a mostly black body and a brown head.
Sometimes, the light will catch on the black feathers and they will appear blue. The females are completely brown with streaks on its belly.
30. House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
- Length: 4.3 – 5.1 in (11 – 13 cm)
- Weight: 0.38 oz (11 g)
- Wingspan: 6 in (15 cm)
You’ll often see the House Wren zipping around your backyard in hot pursuit of insects. While they don’t tend to visit bird feeders, they are easy birds to spot. They’re a year-round resident in southern California and visit northern California in the winter.
These small, brown birds aren’t especially remarkable. One of the most distinctive features is the creamy white stripping along their wings. The House Wren is also known for its beautiful call.
The House Wren is known to be highly competitive. When they have their sights set on a nesting site, they will harass other birds and even drag their eggs out of the nest to claim the spot.
This activity leads to nest failure in tree swallows, bluebirds, warblers, and chickadees.
31. Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
- Length: 5.7 – 6.7 in (14 – 17 cm)
- Weight: 0.74 – 0.99 oz (21 – 28 g)
- Wingspan: 10 – 12 in (25 – 30 cm)
The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest and most commonly seen woodpecker in California. It tends to gather in mixed-species flocks in mature forests. This helps them to spend less time looking out for predators while looking for food.
This bird has a white belly and black back streaked with white. Male Downy Woodpeckers have a distinct red spot on the back of their heads. This tiny woodpecker is not much larger than a chickadee.
You can easily attract a Downy Woodpecker to your backyard. They love to snack on sunflowers, suet, peanuts, and even sugar water from a hummingbird feeder.
In the wild, this woodpecker will often dig for insects in the stems of weeds. Goldenrod galls are a common plant they feast from.
32. Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)
- Length: 7.1 – 10.2 in (18 – 25.9 cm)
- Weight: 1.4 – 3.4 oz (40 – 96 g)
- Wingspan: 13.0 – 16.1 in (33.0 – 40.9 cm)
You can spot this mid-sized woodpecker anywhere trees are abundant in the Golden State. They live in mature forests, orchards, neighborhoods, and urban parks.
Hairy Woodpeckers often share the same habitat as the Downy Woodpecker.
This bird gets its name from the thread-like white feather that runs along its back. They bear a striking resemblance to the Downy Woodpecker.
They both feature white and black backs with white bellies and red spots on their head. You can tell them apart by size and beak size. The Hairy Woodpecker has a more protruding bill and a larger build.
Hairy Woodpeckers tend to feed at the base of trees and fallen logs. They’re also not above scavenging on the ground for food. They mostly eat wood-boring insects, wasps, bees, caterpillars, and spiders. They also eat fruits and seeds from time to time, too.
33. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
- Length: 16 – 19 in (41 – 48 cm)
- Weight: 8.8 – 14 oz (249 – 397 g)
- Wingspan: 30 in (76 cm)
This large woodpecker is mostly black with white stripes on the face and neck. They also have a distinct red triangle crest on the top of their heads.
Male Pileated Woodpeckers have red stripes on their cheeks. You will often spot these striking birds in large, mature forests throughout California.
Pileated Woodpeckers tend to nest in large trees. They use their sharp beaks to bore a hole into the side of trees. The cavity is typically 3 – 6 inches (7.6 – 15 cm) across and 8 – 16 inches (20 – 41 cm) deep.
They rarely use the same hollow twice so they serve as crucial shelters for animals such as swifts, owls, and bats.
One of the Pileated Woodpecker’s favorite foods is the carpenter ant. They also feast on other insects that live in rotting wood such as termites, wood-boring beetles, and spruce budworms. They eat fruits and nuts to supplement their diet as well.
34. Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)
- Length: 4.7 – 5.5 in (12 – 14 cm)
- Weight: 0.4 – 0.5 oz (11 – 14 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5 – 9.1 in (19 – 23 cm)
The Yellow-Rumped Warbler is a common winter visitor in California. You’ll often spot them in treetops or weedy fields during the winter.
During the breeding season, they live in coniferous or mixed forests. Their nests usually sit on the outer branches of trees.
Male Yellow-Rumped Warblers are gray with yellow stripping on the face, sides, and tail. Their wings are white.
In the winter, they grow to be pale brown. The bright yellow returns in the spring for the breeding season. Females tend to be brown with small flashes of yellow on their sides or head.
They mostly eat insects during the summer months. While migrating and in the winter, this warbler will feast on fruits such as bayberry and wax myrtle.
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35. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
- Length: 15.8 – 20.9 in (40.1 – 53.1 cm)
- Weight: 11.2 – 21.9 oz (318 – 621 g)
- Wingspan: 33.5 – 39.4 in (85.1 – 100 cm)
The American Crow is a common resident across the country. They live in California year-round in all areas except the high mountains and desert.
They are most likely found in spacious, wide-open areas with trees. Crows tend to flock in massive flocks in communal roosts during the evenings.
These striking all-black birds find a lot of their food on the ground. They feed on a wide variety of foods.
Like many birds, they are partial to insects, seeds, and fruit. But they can also eat fish, mussels, clams, young turtles, eggs, and nestlings. One of their favorite foods is peanuts.
36. Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
- Length: 11 – 13 in (28 – 33 cm)
- Weight: 8.4 – 13 oz (8.4 – 13 oz)
- Wingspan: 20 – 26 in (51 – 66 cm)
Rock Pigeons are year-round residents of California as well as most of the continental United States. These plump birds are actually an introduced species originally from somewhere between western Europe to central Asia.
There’s evidence that they were domesticated in Egypt over 5000 years ago so it’s not clear where they actually originate from.
In the wild, they tend to nest on cliffs and in caves. But the pigeons of the United State are well-adjusted to urban living.
There is a lot of color variation from pigeon to pigeon. You will probably see the classic iridescent blue-gray variety in and around urban areas. But they can also be rusty brown, all-white, and an array of colors in between.
Rock Pigeons often congregate in large flocks in and around cities and farmlands. They feast on just about anything if they’re hungry enough. But their ideal diet includes grains, fruits, seeds, earthworms, snails, and other small insects.
37. Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)
- Length: 6.6 – 7.6 in (17 – 19 cm)
- Weight: 1 – 1.5 oz (28 – 43 g)
- Wingspan: 12 in (30 cm)
The Bullock’s Oriole is one of the most common orioles you’ll see in California. They often frequent open woodlands and parks with plenty of spaced-out trees. They especially love areas with streams and cottonwood trees.
Female Bullock’s orioles have a mostly grayish body with a yellowish tail, chest, and head.
The males are bright orange with a black throat and back as well as a black line running across their eyes. Both are slim with a slightly long tail.
These beautiful little songbirds find a majority of their food in trees and shrubs. They feed on insects such as caterpillars as well as nectar and fruit. If you want to attract them to your yard, consider leaving out nectars, jellies, or even orange halves.