Pennsylvania birds often get formally presented by raw numbers. Of the close to four hundred and fifty species that have been documented in the state going all the way back to colonial days, close to three hundred are considered regulars, or species on can expect to see on a day to day or year to year basis.
Pennsylvania birds also mean far more than raw numbers. School children across the state learn that the name Pennsylvania translates into Penn’s woods. Given the fact that Pennsylvania still retains some healthy forested areas Pennsylvania birds often means forest birds.
Experts have documented about one hundred species that show by their actions that Penn’s Woods remain a great place to live or visit. Some of them are the neotropical migrants. Warblers such as Setophaga pensylvanica, the Chestnut-sided Warbler, breed in the hardwood forests along the state’s north boundary.
Of all the forest birds, the Ruffed Grouse takes the place of honor. It’s the official state bird. The picture shows this game bird and its mottled gray, brown and black plumage.
They are forest ground dwellers with nests by or near trees and the underlying brush. Visitors and hikers can often find them as forest edges because the open areas allow them to scout for predators.
Pennsylvania is also one of a handful of states that documents its endangered and threaten birds on a state wide level in addition to a Federal level.
- American Bittern
- Black-crowned Night-Heron
- Black Tern
- Blackpoll Warbler
- Common Tern
- Great Egret
- King Rail
- Least Bittern
- Loggerhead Shrike
- Piping Plover
- Sedge Wren
- Short-eared Owl
- Upland Sandpiper
- Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
- Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Currently sixteen species make the Pennsylvania endangered birds list. Ten of them are water birds. The Blackpoll Warbler is a migratory forest bird.
Going for a hike to a local state park or forest is a great way to catch up on their status.
Top Ten Feeder Birds
Pennsylvania birds also means feeder birds. The birds most common in the backyards of residential areas from the twin urban areas of Pittsburgh to the west and Philadelphia to the east and all else between are fairly similar.
According to a recent Audubon Backyard Bird Count here are the birds that Pennsylvania residents wake up to on a regular basis.
- Northern Cardinal
- Mourning Dove
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Downy Woodpecker
- American Goldfinch
- Blue Jay
- Black-capped Chickadee
- House Finch
- Tufted Titmouse
- White-breasted Nuthatch
The remaining species are pictured in the following small gallery.
Pine Grosbeak (rare)
The Pennsylvania bird list includes about two dozen sparrow species, including the Towhee and Junco. They are always common backyard feeder birds.
Additionally, during migration members of the Cardinal family such as the Blue Grosbeak and Red-breasted Grosbeak can be attracted to the feeders.
The same can be said for the migratory members of the Finch family. Most people might be unaware that the Evening Grosbeak and Pine Grosbeak have the same names as the Grosbeaks in the Cardinal family. However, they, along with the red Crossbill, belong to the Finch family.
Woodpeckers represent another group of common back yard feeder birds. Please press the woodpeckers button for a more detailed look at Pennsylvania woodpeckers.
It’s also important to remind all the backyard bird feeder enthusiasts to remember to keep the feeder clean. Experts often suggest soaking it in a bleached water mixture about two times per year. Think four tablespoons of bleach for every quart of water. That way the feeder does not become a mold magnet and create bacteria that can harm a bird’s health.
The traditional saying that birds fly north for the summer and south for the winter also holds for many of Pennsylvania’s water birds, including ducks.
Because of their migratory habits, close to two dozen North American duck species can be found in Pennsylvania at least during one of the season, breeding, migration or winter.
In fact close to a dozen duck species consider Pennsylvania sufficiently south for making the ponds and lakes their winter home. Some species are less common than others. Most winter birders easily find the top ten winter ducks:
- American Black Ducks
- Common Goldeneye
- Mergansers: Common and Hooded
- Northern Shoveler
- Rudy Duck