Bird feeders can draw all sorts of birds to your yard. Every species has their unique markings, but some stand out for their amazing beauty. Every backyard bird watcher is delighted to see beautiful birds at their feeders and some are lucky enough to snap a photo of their feathered friends. Can you guess the identities of our Top 15 Photogenic Feeder Birds of North America? Click on each image to learn more about every bird (and their nickname) on our list!
6 MORE BIRD BEAUTIES
Not every photogenic North American bird is a feeder bird, and we couldn't ignore these six non-feeder birds. If you're looking to snap some great bird pictures away from your back yard, try seeking out these beauties. Of course, some people actually can count these six species as "backyard birds," especially if they live near the ocean, lake or other body of water! Click each image to learn a little more about these bonus entries to our list of photogenic birds.
BIRDS A to Z
AMERICAN GOLDFINCH ("THE VEGETARIAN")
Scientific name: Spinus tristis
Range: Most of the continental U.S. and Southern Canada, in fields and backyards.
Description and diet: When a male American Goldfinch flies by, you definitely notice him thanks to his canary-yellow feathers. Unlike most birds, American Goldfinches are strict vegetarians and only eat insects by accident. Bring them to your feeders by offering thistle or sunflower seeds as well as feeders designed explicitly for them.
Range: From Maine to western Greenland, Iceland and Great Britain to Norway along shorelines and in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Description and diet: Atlantic Puffins use their bright-colored bills to capture fish while diving into ocean waters. Using their grooved tongues, a puffin can hold on to several fish while hunting for even more - as a result, you can often see puffins with their beaks full of fish. Puffins live up to 30 years in the wild and use their kidneys and other specialized glands to remove excess sea salt that they've swallowed. Horned and Tufted puffins, both of whom are related to the Atlantic, can be found along North America's Pacific Coast.
Range: Formerly in South Florida, but now mostly in the Bahamas, Mexico and Cuba in coastal lakes and saline lagoons.
Description and diet: Essentially eradicated from their U.S. range, you can still see American Flamingos in Florida. Despite their diminished population in the U.S., their world population isn't endangered. The long-legged birds strain water through their bill, which allows them to harvest tiny animals and plant matter, including mollusks and algae. Although these pink beauties appear large, a typical American Flamingo only weighs between 6 and 8 lbs!
Range: Most of the U.S. and Canada, near lakes, rivers, reservoirs and coasts.
Description and diet: Bald Eagles are excellent fishers - eagerly hooking fish lingering near the surface of a lake or stream. What's less well known is that Bald Eagles also eat small mammals, reptiles, crabs and even other birds! Since recovering from a steep decline in the 20th Century, Bald Eagles are now present in nearly every state. Many parks and environmental agencies host Eagle Cams, where you can watch a pair incubate its egg and raise the hatchling!
Range: North of Oklahoma up to Alaska, in forests, thickets and parks.
Description and diet: Black-capped Chickadees are very cute and extremely courageous. They eat a little bit of everything - from seeds to suet to spiders and berries. Many people consider them very curious and quite bold, and are often willing to eat from your hand. They're most known for their "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" song.
Range: Near and in the Rocky Mountains through the summer, in mixed woodlands and near desert streams.
Description and diet: Bring these cinnamon-colored birds to your home with sunflowers. Another menu item for these grosbeaks are Monarch Butterflies, which they often hunt while wintering in Mexico. It's easy to mistake the Black-headed Grosbeak for a Baltimore Oriole. While their color is similar, Black-headed Grosbeaks have a much heavier bill compared to an oriole.
Range: Nearly the entire eastern U.S. from central Texas to the East Coast, in woodlands and backyard brush piles.
Description and diet: While primarily insect eaters, the reddish-brown Carolina Wren comes to feeders for protein rich snacks including sunflower seeds. These birds will pair-bond for life, and usually travel around their territory in these pairs. Carolina Wrens love to nest in abandoned buildings, unused nest boxes, tin cans and mailboxes. They'll even nest in the pockets of a jacket left outside - talk about picture-worthy!
Range: Nearly all of North America in grassy clearings in parks and yards.
Description and diet: These little red and brown-headed sparrows enjoy the mixed seed in your bird feeders. They're so numerous and common in the U.S. that they're perfect for a photo essay and their varied markings make them worth your attention. The nests of Chipping Sparrows are often so sparse that you can see light through them.
Range: From Texas to the East Coast in open country such as pastures, yards and golf courses.
Description and diet: Bring Eastern Bluebirds to your yard with a peanut or suet feeder and a few accompanying bluebird nesting boxes. These bright blue and orange birds have a peculiar nesting arrangement. The male picks the location, fills the nest area with building supplies and shows off with mating displays to attract his mate. After all that, the male leaves all construction and incubation to the female.
Range: Southern parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and coastal California in open woodland near streams and in urban and suburban areas.
Description and diet: Hosting even more vibrant plumage than the more well-known Baltimore Oriole, the Hooded Oriole dines on bugs, jelly and nectar. When building a nest, the female hooded oriole actually "sews" the nest to palm leaves by purposefully pushing fibers through the plant.
Range: Eastern and Western U.S., but not in a wide band through the plains states. See them in parks, yards, farms, forest edges and urban centers.
Description and diet: Originally these red-breasted birds lived on the West Coast, but they were transferred to the East Coast as part of the pet trade and dubbed "Hollywood Finches." Now they are common feeder birds on both coasts and eat seeds, flower buds and nectar. How common are they? Scientists say there's more than 1.4 billion in North America, so you're sure to find some nearby!
Range: Much of the northern hemisphere except arctic regions and parts of Australia and New Zealand in almost any wetland habitat
Description and diet: Mallards, which are often fearless enough to be hand-fed, are best known for the male's gorgeously iridescent green head. These ducks are mostly seed eaters, but humans have unfortunately conditioned them to enjoy bread and other varieties of "people food." Male Mallards don't quack! Only the females can make that quintessential duck sound.
Range: Eastern U.S. along with Texas and parts of Arizona and New Mexico in dense shrubs near back yards and woodlots.
Description and diet: Easily one of North America's most recognizable birds, the male Northern Cardinal's vibrant red plumage makes it easy to see in a snowy landscape. Among songbirds, the female Northern Cardinal is one of the few that sings, and she often does it while incubating eggs. These birds are often fiercely territorial and will even attack their own reflections during breeding season.
Range: Nearly the entirety of North America except desert regions in open habitats including yards and parks.
Description and diet: Although the flicker is technically a woodpecker, it prefers to spend its time hunting insects on the ground, including bugs living in cow patties. When it eats from feeders, it loves sunflower seeds, suet and thistle. In at least one instance, these large birds have been reported hunting juvenile bats! With their beautiful spots and red cheek markings, these birds are always camera ready.
Range: Most of Texas and around the Gulf Coast, mostly in areas of dense brush.
Description and diet: It's hard to believe that such a colorful bird visits the U.S., but bird feeders in the southeastern U.S. often see this crayon-box bird. Though they eat insects during mating season, they feast on seeds the rest of the year. Their rainbow-like plumage makes the Painted Bunting a primary target for poaching and they're considered near threatened by conservationists.
Range: Nearly the entire eastern U.S. from central Texas to the East Coast, in oldstand forests and backyard feeders.
Description and diet: Entice these insect-eating woodpeckers to your feeders with protein-rich treats and suet. In an effort to attract a mate, it's not uncommon for males to rap on metal objects rather than wood. You can find several YouTube videos of the Red-bellies knocking on metal poles and aluminum roofs. Their striking colors and the way they announce their presence make them very photogenic!
Range: The Great Plains regions of the U.S. and Canada to the northern Pacific and Atlantic coasts in fields and brushy areas.
Description and diet: The males of this chicken-like bird species are known for their beautiful speckled plumage, green heads and red eye patches. They eat just like chickens too - devouring insects, seeds, corn and other crops. Nesting females incubate their eggs in a shallow depression on the ground. Shortly after hatching, pheasant chicks can feed themselves. Since these pheasants often prowl grasslands for food, they're usually easy to spot and photograph.
Range: Central America north through the eastern half of the U.S., in open woodlands, meadows and backyards
Description and diet: Sporting a red bib and a green vest certainly gets you noticed, doesn't it? Mostly seen in the Eastern U.S., the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only hummingbird that breeds in the Eastern U.S. Backyard observers love to watch their amazing helicopter-like flying as they chow down on bugs and sip from nectar feeders.
Range: From the Rocky Mountains and west, in open areas, yards and parks.
Description and diet: In the right light, these hummingbirds are said to glow like hot coals. That fiery nature is evident in how territorial they can be - a Rufous Hummingbird will often bully any visiting hummingbird that tries to take a taste from any feeder within their territory. Some Rufous's will travel almost 4,000 miles in one direction as they migrate.
Range: Northern parts of North America, Europe and Asia in fields and other open grasslands.
Description and diet: The Snowy Owl earns its name thanks to its abundance of white feathers, and male Snowys are often completely white. Unlike most owls, the Snowy Owl is a daytime hunter that preys on mice and other small mammals. In Europe a single Snowy Owl is said to eat up to 1,600 lemmings a year. Thanks to its striking beauty, size, wide range and daylight activity cycle, the Snowy Owl is easily the most photographed owl in the world!
Range: Western U.S. in oak woodlands, pastures, orchards and back yards.
Description and diet: Relatives of the Blue Jay, these vibrantly blue birds are known for their assertive and inquisitive behavior. What makes them so photogenic? They don't mind close-ups and they're often willing to be hand fed from humans. Try offering Scrub-Jays a peanut and snapping a picture!
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