Pennsylvania Birds: Pictures And Bird Identification Tips

picture of a Ruffed Grouse, the state bird of Pennsylvania, and part of the Pennsylvania birds series

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
  • Dickcissel
  • Great Egret
  • King Rail
  • Least Bittern
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Piping Plover
  • Sedge Wren
  • Short-eared Owl
  • Upland Sandpiper
  • Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
  • Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
None of them is considered a common backyard bird.

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


picture of a Blue Jay, a very common feeder bird in the Eastern United States
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 picture at the top of the section shows the Blue Jay.

The remaining species are pictured in the following small gallery.

Pennsylvania Birds
picture of a male American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

picture of a Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee

picture of a Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Junco

picture of a Fox Sparrow
Fox Sparrow

picture of a House Sparrow
House Sparrow

picture of a
Song Sparrow

picture of a Collard Dove
Collard Dove

picture of a Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

picture of a Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

picture of a White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch

Common Backyard Birds
picture of a Red Crossbill
Red Crossbill

picture of a Blue Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak

picture of an Evening Grosbeak
Evening Grosbeak

picture of a Pine Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeak (rare)

picture of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

picture of a Wilson's Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler

picture of a Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

picture of a Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird

picture of a House Wren
House Wren

picture of an Eastern Towhee
Eastern Towhee

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.

Pennsylvania Ducks


picture of a male Common merganser duck, part of Pennsylvania birds
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
  • Bufflehead
  • Canvasback
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Mallard
  • Mergansers: Common and Hooded
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Redhead
  • Ring-necked
  • Rudy Duck
Bufflehead and Northern Shovelers are probably the least common of the bunch. Mergansers, American Black Ducks and Mallards are widespread and abundant.