Surrounded by the Appalachian Highlands, Eastern New England Uplands, and the White Mountain region, New Hampshire has an ideal environment that birds find inviting. From resident to seasonal birds, you can see all sorts of flying creatures in the state.
Whether it is in the vast forest or a private backyard, you can spot many feathered friends in New Hampshire.
Curious about New Hampshire birds? Read on as I walk you through some of the most common species, including their physical characteristics and behaviors.
- The Most Common Birds Of New Hampshire
- 1. Purple Finch
- 2. American Robin
- 3. Blue Jay
- 4. Downy Woodpecker
- 5. Hairy Woodpecker
- 6. American Goldfinch
- 7. Tufted Titmouse
- 8. Mourning Dove
- 9. Red-Eyed Vireo
- 10. House Finch
- 11. Black-Capped Chickadee
- 12. Eastern Bluebird
- 13. Chipping Sparrow
- 14. House Sparrow
- 15. Scarlet Tanager
- 16. White-Throated Sparrow
- 17. Northern Cardinal
- 18. American Crow
- 19. Song Sparrow
- 20. European Starling
- Watch This!
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Most Common Birds Of New Hampshire
For any beginner, identifying birds in NH is challenging. More than 300 species are regular in the state throughout the year, so you might be confused. Here is a quick rundown of some of the birds you will find in New Hampshire.
1. Purple Finch
In 1957, the purple finch has been designated as the official New Hampshire state bird.
Despite the name, a purple finch is not truly purple. Instead, it is more of a raspberry-red or old rose.
With an average size of 4.7 to 6.3 inches and a wingspan of 8.7 to 10.2 inches, these birds are small. Because of their size, identifying them from afar can be challenging.
During the warmer months, it is common to see purple finches in coniferous woods. Meanwhile, as it gets cold, you will find them in parks and private residences.
If you want to attract a purple finch in your backyard, provide them with food. Black oil sunflower seeds will surely lure them. They will also eat insects and berries.
2. American Robin
Come spring, the American robin is one of the first birds that you will hear. Males use their voices not just for attracting a mate but also for defending their territory.
Throughout North America, it is known for being an early bird. You will often find it on the lawn tugging earthworms.
Easily identify an American robin by looking at its long tail, long legs, and round body. As for the color, it is gray on the top with warm-orange underparts. The head is blackish.
Their diet is flexible depending on the season. In the spring, they like to feed on earthworms and insects. In the winter, they prefer berries and fruits.
Aside from private gardens, you will also often find American robins in golf courses, pastures, fields, and wooded forests.
3. Blue Jay
The blue jay is a natural forest dweller but highly adaptable, so you can find it in many places in New Hampshire.
Recognizing a blue jay is easy. It is one of the most colorful and loudest New Hampshire birds.
The easiest way to identify a blue jay is to look at its top, which is bright blue. Meanwhile, the belly, throat, and chest can range from white to gray.
It is most common to see blue jays in deciduous forests. However, you do not need to go far since you can also find them in residential areas.
If you want to lure a blue jay into your backyard, you will need a hopper feeder or tray feeder. Fill it with suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts.
4. Downy Woodpecker
One of the most popular backyard birds of New Hampshire, a downy woodpecker has black and white plumage.
The color of its body is like a hairy woodpecker. To differentiate the two, look at the bill. A downy woodpecker has an extremely short bill, which is shorter than its head.
In flight, identifying these birds may be difficult. It has broad and rounded wings and black and white patterns. The white underparts will be highly visible.
Its diet is mostly insects. The downy woodpecker would eat gall wasps, caterpillars, ants, and beetles. Seeds and berries are also favorites, especially in bird feeders.
5. Hairy Woodpecker
The look of this bird is often compared to soldiers. It has a straight back while resting on trees and an erect head with clean stripes.
It is easy to confuse a hairy woodpecker with a downy woodpecker. A major difference between the two is the size of the bill, which is longer in a hairy woodpecker.
In early winter, male and female hairy woodpeckers are often in separate territories. As mid-winter approaches, they begin mating. During courtship, you will hear birds drumming in duets.
In New Hampshire, you will find hairy woodpeckers in mature forests, urban parks, cemeteries, orchards, and private backyards.
6. American Goldfinch
While they are small, American goldfinches are colorful, which helps for easy NH birds identification.
During the summer months, males have a vivid yellow body with a black cap and wings. On the other hand, females have a duller shade of yellow and have no black cap.
Meanwhile, both males and females turn duller come winter. Their bodies are olive or pale brown.
The diet of an American goldfinch is vegetarian, so you won’t see it feasting on insects. Instead, it will eat seeds, including those from sunflower, thistle, and aster.
Their diet also makes them breed later compared to other species. They will wait until most plants are already producing seeds, which can be any time from late June to July.
7. Tufted Titmouse
Noisy and active, the tufted titmouse is easy to recognize with its big black eyes, which stand out next to its round and small bill.
The tufted titmouse has an overall gray plumage. Its belly and breast are pearl gray or whitish. Meanwhile, the flanks are orange or rust.
Most of their nesting sites are found in tree holes and nest boxes. They do not excavate nest cavities. Instead, their nesting sites are the cavities that woodpeckers leave behind.
During fall and winter, these birds will hoard food. They will store the seeds that they will be getting from feeders at a maximum distance of up to 130 feet. Each bird will take only one seed every trip and it will get rid of the shell before hiding it.
8. Mourning Dove
The mourning dove is the most familiar dove you will find in New Hampshire.
Male and female mourning doves have predominantly gray and brown bodies. They have slender tails and small heads. Their wings, meanwhile, have beautifully defined black spots.
It is also worth noting that the mourning dove is the most abundant game bird in the country. There are more than 350 million of these birds around the country. Meanwhile, the annual hunt count is at least 20 million.
You will find mourning doves in diverse habitats, including suburban parks, lightly wooded forests, and agricultural fields. They can also be seen hanging in telephone wires or foraging on the ground.
9. Red-Eyed Vireo
During the non-breeding season, these species are most common in South America. As they start breeding, they migrate, and one of the places where you can see them is in New Hampshire.
As the name implies, one of its most notable characteristics is its red eyes. Although, such is only apparent in adults. Younger birds will have brown eyes.
Its face has a bold pattern. You will find a white eyebrow and gray crown, which creates a contrast to its olive back. This bird has no wing bar.
They hunt for food in deciduous canopies. It is hard to find them as they are frequently hiding under the leaves.
While they are difficult to spot because of their size and color, use your ears. Especially in the summer, their incessant singing makes it easy to identify their location.
10. House Finch
It is almost impossible to list New Hampshire birds without talking about a house finch.
On average, it has a length of six inches and a wingspan of ten inches. From afar, they look like purple finches.
When identifying these birds, the first thing you need to look at is their bill. It should be gray-brown and conical with a slightly bulbous curve.
You will find house finches in man-made habitats, which include buildings and lawns. Meanwhile, their natural habitats include desert grassland, chaparral, oak savannah, and coniferous forests.
Most of their diet includes plant materials. They like feasting on seeds, fruits, and buds. These birds love cherries, blackberries, figs, strawberries, pears, and plums. In backyard feeders, they will eat black sunflower seeds.
11. Black-Capped Chickadee
Cute – this is one word that can describe the black-capped chickadee.
It is one of the smallest birds you will find in New Hampshire, which is four to five inches long with wings spanning six to seven inches.
A bird with a large round head and a small body, the black-capped chickadee is known for being curious. It will investigate almost anything in its surroundings, which is also what makes it easy for it to spot in birdfeeders.
Attracting these birds in your backyard is easy. From hanging to tray feeders, they will go to almost anything with food, including peanuts and sunflower seeds.
These birds are natural hoarders. They are known for their habit of retrieving food and hiding it for later consumption. They are intelligent enough to remember where they hid their food.
12. Eastern Bluebird
Are you looking for picturesque birds of New Hampshire? You will love the Eastern bluebird.
At first look, it is easy to fall in love with this feathered creature. It has a straight and short black bill, as well as short legs, long wings, and a round belly.
What makes it really stand out is its color. Males have royal blue upper, bright orange breast and throat, and white belly. On the other hand, the color of females is paler.
During courtship, males will sing in front of females. They will also flutter their wings in a bid to impress a mate.
The diet of eastern bluebirds relies heavily on insects, including crickets, beetles, and grasshoppers. They will also eat small lizards, frogs, snails, and earthworms.
13. Chipping Sparrow
Compared to most sparrows, the chipping sparrow is smaller. It has a long tail, a slender body, and a medium-sized bill.
The appearance of chipping sparrow varies by season. During summer, it is crisp and clean. The underparts are frost, the face is pale, and there is a black line through its eye.
Meanwhile, during the winter months, a chipping sparrow is buff-brown with streaked underparts. The cap turns to subdued brown from a bright rusty crown.
It is common to see these birds on the ground, especially when they are looking for food. They will also take cover in shrubs. Meanwhile, when they are hanging on small trees, you will hear them singing.
14. House Sparrow
While you will find several songbirds in The Granite State, one of the most widespread is the house sparrow. It associates with humans, which makes it common even in private residences.
One of the most notable behaviors of a house sparrow is taking a dust bath. It throws soil over its body, covering it with dust. With this, they can make a small depression on the surface, which some homeowners might not like.
The diet of a house sparrow is mostly seeds and grains. It can also feed on discarded food. In a backyard feeder, it likes eating millet and sunflower seeds.
Spotting a house sparrow is easy since you can find them outside houses. As social species, they gather in flocks, so you can easily identify their presence.
15. Scarlet Tanager
The bold appearance of the scarlet tanager makes it almost impossible to miss. It is a medium-sized songbird with a stocky body and a bright color.
Even from afar, it is unmistakable. During spring and summer, adult males will have a brilliant red body that stands out amidst their black tails and wings. On the other hand, females are olive-yellow while the tails and wings are a darker shade of olive.
Habitat fragmentation is an issue amongst these birds. If you want to spot them in the wild, look for undisturbed forest tracts.
You will see them foraging in tall trees, including oaks. It will hover around the leaves to catch an insect as food. It can also fly mid-air when it sees prey.
16. White-Throated Sparrow
The name alone should already give you an idea of the physical characteristics of this small bird. Aside from the bright white throat, you can identify the bird with its black and white striped head with a yellow color between the eyes. The body is gray below and brown above.
It spends most of its time on the ground looking for something to eat. It scratches through leaves searching for food. They often do so in flocks. They can also be seen low in the bushes as they look for buds.
If you want to see a white-throated sparrow, you should go to the forest edges. You will also find them next to ponds. In the winter, they go to parks, suburbs, and overgrown fields.
17. Northern Cardinal
One of the most common birds that you will see in a field guide, the Northern cardinal has a striking appearance that makes it picturesque.
The first thing that you will notice in this bird is its large red bill. To add, it has a long tail, which makes it easy to distinguish even if it is small.
During spring, it is not uncommon to see Northern cardinals attacking themselves when they see their reflection, such as in a mirror or any shiny surface. They might think that they are seeing an intruder ready to take over their territory.
As a part of being defensive, the males will sing loudly when they feel the need to defend their nests.
18. American Crow
With its large body, long legs, thick neck, and heavy bill, the American crow is one of the most recognizable birds in North America.
An American crow is all-black, including its bill and legs.
With its social attitude, you can see these birds appearing in flocks. They are inquisitive, so they lurk around and visit different places. Plus, they are known for being aggressive. Unsurprisingly, they can chase even larger species, such as owls and hawks.
It is easy to see an American crow in New Hampshire. No need to go to the forest for an up-close encounter. Instead, you will find them even in athletic fields, parking lots, city garbage dumps, and home gardens.
Being omnivorous, American crows can feed on almost anything. Typically, its diet consists of insects, earthworms, spiders, snails, eggs, garbage, shellfish, fruits, berries, and grains.
19. Song Sparrow
Being melodious birds, it is easy to know when song sparrows are around the area. Keep an open ear and you will hear them singing. It has a nasal and hollow chimp, which turns into a high-pitched song when it is excited or anxious.
When they are feeding, they forage on the ground most of the time. It scratches the soil until it finds anything that it can eat. They can also forage in shallow waters, as well as trees and shrubs.
During courtship, it is common for males to chase females. It will flutter as it flies, outstretch its neck, and hold its head high.
The most widespread amongst sparrows, you will find them in diverse habitats including open areas. They often live in fields, forest edges, and marshes. They are also frequent visitors to bird feeders, so you will see these birds even in residential areas.
20. European Starling
Wrapping up our list of the most common birds in New Hampshire is a European starling. If you are an avid Shakespeare fan, then you most probably know this bird.
The European starling is a stocky blackbird with a pointed bill, triangular wings, and a short tail.
It changes its appearance in the winter. The bird will have bold white spots covering most of its body as it turns cold.
Attracting a European starling to a bird feeder is almost effortless. They will eat insects, including grasshoppers and caterpillars. Seeds, fruits, berries, and earthworms also constitute to majority of their diet.
However, take note that European starlings can be aggressive. They are fun to watch in a small group. As the flock goes bigger, they can chase other birds and ruin your feeder.
As they gather in a big group, their vocalizations are almost impossible to miss. They make squeaky sounds and can also mimic the songs of other birds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the yellow birds in New Hampshire?
If you have seen yellow birds you will see in New Hampshire, chances are, they are American finch. The latter is known for its beautiful and bright yellow plumage, which is easy to spot even when it is flying.
What kinds of sparrows live in New Hampshire?
Some of the most common types of sparrows that you will find in New Hampshire are song, chipping, house, and white-throated sparrows. They are amongst the most widespread species not only in New Hampshire but in the country and around the world as well.
Where can I find birds in New Hampshire?
While you can attract common NH birds in private properties through backyard feeders, the best way to see them in their full glory is in their natural habitats. Some of the best places for birdwatching in New Hampshire are Odiorne Point State Park, White Mountain National Forest, Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Hampton Beach State Park, Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge, and Mount Washington.
New Hampshire bird identification can be confusing. You will find hundreds of species of flying creatures in the Granite State, making it difficult to determine which is which. From the size to the color, habitat to behavior, I hope that the things mentioned above will make it easier for you to name a bird that you will spot in New Hampshire.
Are there other birds of NH that you would like to add to this list? Feel free to leave a comment below.