A Guide to the Birds of California | Nature Blog Network (2024)

Table of Contents
Black Phoebe Scientific Name: Sayornis nigricans Size: Approximately 6 inches Diet: Insects Habitat: Black Phoebes are commonly found near bodies of water, such as streams, ponds, and creeks, as they rely on these water sources to find their primary food source, insects. Attracting Black Phoebes: To attract Black Phoebes to your yard, you can create a bird-friendly environment by providing them with nesting sites such as birdhouses or ledges. Additionally, having a source of running water, such as a small fountain or birdbath, can be particularly enticing to these insect-hunting birds. Anna’s Hummingbird Scientific Name: Calypte anna Size: Approximately 4 inches Diet: Nectar, insects, and tree sap Habitat: Anna’s Hummingbirds can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, gardens, and suburban areas. They are especially attracted to flowering plants and shrubs that provide a reliable source of nectar. Attracting Anna’s Hummingbirds: To attract Anna’s Hummingbirds to your backyard, planting a variety of nectar-rich flowers such as salvia, lantana, and bee balm can be highly effective. Providing a hummingbird feeder filled with a solution of four parts water to one part white granulated sugar can also be a great way to draw these vibrant little birds to your yard. Northern Mockingbird Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottos Size: Approximately 10 inches Diet: Insects, berries, fruits, and seeds Habitat: Northern Mockingbirds thrive in a wide range of habitats, from urban areas to woodlands, and are known for their adaptability. They often build their nests in dense shrubs and trees, where they can find shelter and protection. Attracting Northern Mockingbirds: Providing a diverse range of berries, fruits, and nuts can attract Northern Mockingbirds to your backyard. Some suitable options include elderberry, blackberry, mulberry, and holly. Including thick shrubs or trees in your landscaping can also create the ideal nesting environment for these charismatic birds. California Scrub-Jay Scientific Name: Aphelocoma californica Size: Approximately 11 inches Diet: Insects, nuts, acorns, seeds, and fruits Habitat: California Scrub-Jays are commonly found in oak woodlands, chaparral, and suburban areas. They are proficient foragers and can often be seen foraging on the ground or in trees, searching for food. Attracting California Scrub-Jays: One way to attract California Scrub-Jays to your yard is by providing a variety of food sources, such as bird feeders stocked with sunflower seeds, peanuts, or suet. They are also known to cache food, so offering nuts and acorns can be particularly appealing to these intelligent birds. White-crowned Sparrow Scientific Name: Zonotrichia leucophrys Size: Approximately 7 inches Diet: Seeds, insects, and berries Habitat: White-crowned Sparrows can be found in a wide range of habitats, from open grasslands to shrublands. They are often found hopping and scratching on the ground in search of seeds and insects. Attracting White-crowned Sparrows: Planting a variety of seed-producing plants, such as sunflowers, coneflowers, and millet, can attract White-crowned Sparrows to your yard. Additionally, providing a water source such as a shallow birdbath can also be enticing to these delightful little birds. Red-Winged Blackbird Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus Size: Approximately 9 inches Diet: Insects, seeds, and grains Habitat: Red-Winged Blackbirds are commonly found near marshes, wetlands, and open fields. They are known for their distinctive red shoulder patches and melodic songs. Attracting Red-Winged Blackbirds: To attract Red-Winged Blackbirds to your yard, consider planting native wetland or marsh-loving plants such as cattails or bulrush. Providing a bird feeder filled with a mix of seeds and grains can also be a great way to entice these striking blackbirds. American Robin Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius Size: Approximately 10 inches Diet: Insects, worms, fruits, and berries Habitat: American Robins can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, grasslands, and suburban areas. They are known for their distinct orange bellies and cheerful songs. Attracting American Robins: Planting trees and shrubs that produce berries, such as hawthorn, dogwood, or juniper, can attract American Robins to your yard. Offering a water source, such as a shallow birdbath, is also important for these birds, as they rely on water for bathing and drinking. Mourning Dove Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura Size: Approximately 9 inches Diet: Seeds and grains Habitat: Mourning Doves are commonly found in open areas such as grasslands, deserts, and parks. They often gather in large flocks and can be seen perched on telephone wires or foraging on the ground. Attracting Mourning Doves: Providing a variety of seeds such as millet, cracked corn, and safflower can attract Mourning Doves to your yard. They prefer feeding on the ground, so placing these seeds on a platform feeder or directly on the ground can be helpful. Offering a clean drinking water source is also important for these doves. European Starling Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris Size: Approximately 8 inches Diet: Insects, fruits, and seeds Habitat: European Starlings are highly adaptable and can be found in a wide range of habitats, from urban areas to farmlands. They are known for their synchronized flocking behavior and their ability to mimic other bird calls. Attracting European Starlings: Offering a bird feeder filled with a variety of seeds and suet can attract European Starlings to your yard. Providing nesting sites, such as birdhouses with a 1.5-inch entrance hole, can also be appealing to these social birds. Bushtit Scientific Name: Psaltriparus minimus Size: Approximately 4 inches Diet: Insects and spiders Habitat: Bushtit* can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, gardens, and shrubby areas. They are small, acrobatic birds often found in flocks and frequently seen hanging upside-down while foraging. Attracting Bushtit*: Offering a source of insects and spiders, such as leaving insects in your garden or allowing spider webs to form, can attract Bushtit* to your yard. Providing dense shrubs or trees for these birds to forage and nest in can also be enticing to them. Local Birding Organizations in California Audubon Society of California California Native Plant Society California Ornithological Society California Bird Records Committee

California is a haven for bird enthusiasts, with its diverse landscape and abundance of avian species. From the majestic Anna’s Hummingbirds to the lively California Scrub-Jays, this guide takes readers on a journey through the 27 most common backyard birds in the state. Packed with informative details, each bird is introduced with its scientific name, size, diet, and preferred habitat. Not only does the article provide valuable insights on these feathered friends, but it also offers tips on how to attract them to your own backyard. Additionally, birdwatching hotspots and local birding organizations are highlighted, making this a comprehensive guide for anyone eager to explore the avian wonders of California.

California is home to a diverse array of bird species, with at least 676 species of birds having been sighted in the state. In this article, we will focus on 27 common backyard birds that can be found throughout California. These birds bring life, color, and delightful songs to our gardens, making birdwatching a popular pastime for many Californians. Whether you’re an avid bird enthusiast or simply want to learn more about the fascinating avian visitors in your area, this guide will provide you with valuable information on the birds that may be found right in your own backyard.

Black Phoebe

Scientific Name: Sayornis nigricans

Size: Approximately 6 inches

Diet: Insects

Habitat: Black Phoebes are commonly found near bodies of water, such as streams, ponds, and creeks, as they rely on these water sources to find their primary food source, insects.

Attracting Black Phoebes: To attract Black Phoebes to your yard, you can create a bird-friendly environment by providing them with nesting sites such as birdhouses or ledges. Additionally, having a source of running water, such as a small fountain or birdbath, can be particularly enticing to these insect-hunting birds.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Scientific Name: Calypte anna

Size: Approximately 4 inches

Diet: Nectar, insects, and tree sap

Habitat: Anna’s Hummingbirds can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, gardens, and suburban areas. They are especially attracted to flowering plants and shrubs that provide a reliable source of nectar.

Attracting Anna’s Hummingbirds: To attract Anna’s Hummingbirds to your backyard, planting a variety of nectar-rich flowers such as salvia, lantana, and bee balm can be highly effective. Providing a hummingbird feeder filled with a solution of four parts water to one part white granulated sugar can also be a great way to draw these vibrant little birds to your yard.

Northern Mockingbird

Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottos

Size: Approximately 10 inches

Diet: Insects, berries, fruits, and seeds

Habitat: Northern Mockingbirds thrive in a wide range of habitats, from urban areas to woodlands, and are known for their adaptability. They often build their nests in dense shrubs and trees, where they can find shelter and protection.

Attracting Northern Mockingbirds: Providing a diverse range of berries, fruits, and nuts can attract Northern Mockingbirds to your backyard. Some suitable options include elderberry, blackberry, mulberry, and holly. Including thick shrubs or trees in your landscaping can also create the ideal nesting environment for these charismatic birds.

California Scrub-Jay

Scientific Name: Aphelocoma californica

Size: Approximately 11 inches

Diet: Insects, nuts, acorns, seeds, and fruits

Habitat: California Scrub-Jays are commonly found in oak woodlands, chaparral, and suburban areas. They are proficient foragers and can often be seen foraging on the ground or in trees, searching for food.

Attracting California Scrub-Jays: One way to attract California Scrub-Jays to your yard is by providing a variety of food sources, such as bird feeders stocked with sunflower seeds, peanuts, or suet. They are also known to cache food, so offering nuts and acorns can be particularly appealing to these intelligent birds.

White-crowned Sparrow

Scientific Name: Zonotrichia leucophrys

Size: Approximately 7 inches

Diet: Seeds, insects, and berries

Habitat: White-crowned Sparrows can be found in a wide range of habitats, from open grasslands to shrublands. They are often found hopping and scratching on the ground in search of seeds and insects.

Attracting White-crowned Sparrows: Planting a variety of seed-producing plants, such as sunflowers, coneflowers, and millet, can attract White-crowned Sparrows to your yard. Additionally, providing a water source such as a shallow birdbath can also be enticing to these delightful little birds.

Red-Winged Blackbird

Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus

Size: Approximately 9 inches

Diet: Insects, seeds, and grains

Habitat: Red-Winged Blackbirds are commonly found near marshes, wetlands, and open fields. They are known for their distinctive red shoulder patches and melodic songs.

Attracting Red-Winged Blackbirds: To attract Red-Winged Blackbirds to your yard, consider planting native wetland or marsh-loving plants such as cattails or bulrush. Providing a bird feeder filled with a mix of seeds and grains can also be a great way to entice these striking blackbirds.

American Robin

Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius

Size: Approximately 10 inches

Diet: Insects, worms, fruits, and berries

Habitat: American Robins can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, grasslands, and suburban areas. They are known for their distinct orange bellies and cheerful songs.

Attracting American Robins: Planting trees and shrubs that produce berries, such as hawthorn, dogwood, or juniper, can attract American Robins to your yard. Offering a water source, such as a shallow birdbath, is also important for these birds, as they rely on water for bathing and drinking.

Mourning Dove

Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura

Size: Approximately 9 inches

Diet: Seeds and grains

Habitat: Mourning Doves are commonly found in open areas such as grasslands, deserts, and parks. They often gather in large flocks and can be seen perched on telephone wires or foraging on the ground.

Attracting Mourning Doves: Providing a variety of seeds such as millet, cracked corn, and safflower can attract Mourning Doves to your yard. They prefer feeding on the ground, so placing these seeds on a platform feeder or directly on the ground can be helpful. Offering a clean drinking water source is also important for these doves.

European Starling

Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris

Size: Approximately 8 inches

Diet: Insects, fruits, and seeds

Habitat: European Starlings are highly adaptable and can be found in a wide range of habitats, from urban areas to farmlands. They are known for their synchronized flocking behavior and their ability to mimic other bird calls.

Attracting European Starlings: Offering a bird feeder filled with a variety of seeds and suet can attract European Starlings to your yard. Providing nesting sites, such as birdhouses with a 1.5-inch entrance hole, can also be appealing to these social birds.

Bushtit

Scientific Name: Psaltriparus minimus

Size: Approximately 4 inches

Diet: Insects and spiders

Habitat: Bushtit* can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, gardens, and shrubby areas. They are small, acrobatic birds often found in flocks and frequently seen hanging upside-down while foraging.

Attracting Bushtit*: Offering a source of insects and spiders, such as leaving insects in your garden or allowing spider webs to form, can attract Bushtit* to your yard. Providing dense shrubs or trees for these birds to forage and nest in can also be enticing to them.

Local Birding Organizations in California

California is a birding paradise, and there are numerous organizations dedicated to the preservation and study of birds in the state. Here are a few local birding organizations that can provide valuable resources and opportunities for birdwatchers:

Audubon Society of California

The Audubon Society of California is a nonprofit organization that aims to conserve and restore natural ecosystems in California and promote the enjoyment of birds and nature. They offer educational programs, organize birding field trips, and engage in conservation efforts throughout the state.

California Native Plant Society

The California Native Plant Society focuses on conserving and restoring native plants and habitats in California. While not exclusively focused on birds, their work is beneficial to avian species as many birds rely on native plants for food and shelter. They offer resources on native plant identification, gardening, and conservation practices.

California Ornithological Society

The California Ornithological Society is dedicated to the study and conservation of birds in California. They promote research, organize bird counts, and publish a scientific journal focused on ornithology. They also host annual meetings and conferences for bird enthusiasts and provide opportunities for citizen science involvement.

California Bird Records Committee

The California Bird Records Committee is responsible for maintaining records of rare bird sightings in California. They review and evaluate sighting reports to determine the status and distribution of rare bird species in the state. Their work is essential for monitoring and conserving California’s avian biodiversity.

In conclusion, California is blessed with a rich variety of bird species that can be observed right in our own backyards. Understanding the different birds that frequent our gardens and knowing how to attract them can provide hours of enjoyment and foster a deeper appreciation for the natural world around us. By creating bird-friendly environments, offering suitable food sources, and taking advantage of local birding organizations, we can actively contribute to the conservation of California’s avian diversity while delighting in the beauty and wonder of these feathered creatures. So grab your binoculars, tune your ears to the melodic songs, and embark on a birdwatching adventure in your own backyard!

A Guide to the Birds of California | Nature Blog Network (2024)
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