Last Updated: May 31, 2022
Many trails and wildlife management areas around Vermont are perfect for birdwatching.
You don't necessarily have to leave your home to observe your local birds. You're bound to see one of the 19 species we listed here in your backyard anyway!
We'll discuss the Vermont bird identification methods - appearance, typical habitats, how you can attract them to your home, and other facts to boot!
Well, what are you waiting for? Read on!
- The 19 Majestic Vermont Bird Species
- 1. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
- 2. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
- 3. Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
- 4. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
- 5. Chestnut-Sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)
- 6. Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
- 7. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)
- 8. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
- 9. Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)
- 10. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
- 11. Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)
- 12. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)
- 13. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
- 14. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
- 15. Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
- 16. Red-Eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)
- 17. Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
- 18. Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
- 19. White-Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
- Watch This!
- Frequently Asked Questions
The 19 Majestic Vermont Bird Species
1. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
You're probably already familiar with the American Crow - long legs, thick neck, and all-black feathers with a subtle iridescent purple. This bird is also quite large, about twice the size of a Blue Jay.
American Crows are familiar, year-round residents in most of the lower-48. The only exception is the southwestern desert. During summer, they can be found in southern Canada.
They are also adaptable to most habitats. They prefer semi-open woodlands, fields, groves, and shorelines in the wild. Meanwhile, can find them in noisy groups around gardens, farms, towns, and city parks in human settlements.
Apart from being adaptable, they are also opportunistic feeders. They will eat almost anything, from seeds, fruits, small animals and insects, and human food. You may even see them scavenging around garbage dumps.
You may also attract them to your backyard feeder, especially with peanuts. Be careful, though, as crows are aggressive and may bully other backyard birds.
Fun Fact: Crows are one of the most intelligent birds! They can use tools, remember faces, and even give gifts to people who feed them.
2. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
The American Robin is a large songbird with gray-brown upperparts and orange underparts. It also has white patches on the eyes, throat, lower belly, and beneath the tail.
American Robins are familiar and widely distributed in both North America. However, they only visit upper Canada during summer, while only visiting central Mexico during winter. They can be found in both wilderness and urban areas alike. However, they prefer open woodlands, farmlands, towns, gardens, and parks.
You can find them in Vermont all year, although they retreat to the woods during winter. They may only revisit human settlements during spring.
American Robins are omnivores. They mainly consume insects during summer but feed more on fruits during winter. These robins usually forage on the ground, where they're commonly seen running around grassy areas looking for earthworms. Unlike other common birds in Vermont, they don't eat seeds. You can only attract them by providing mealworms, fruit-bearing plants, or a birdbath.
Fun Fact: There's a color called "Robin egg blue," a shade of cyan based on the eggs laid by American Robins.
3. Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
The Black-Capped Chickadee is a stocky, small bird. You can best recognize it through its head, specifically with the black cap, black bib, and white cheeks. Its back is pale gray while the underparts are pale brown. It also has gray wings and tail feathers that have broad white edges.
Black-Capped Chickadees are familiar and year-round residents from the northern half of the USA to the southern half of Canada, up until central Alaska. They may be found in any habitat containing trees or woody shrubs, particularly in mixed and deciduous forests and open woodlands. They also frequent suburbs, especially during winter.
The Black-Capped Chickadee is another omnivorous species, primarily feeding on insects, berries, and seeds. They are popular backyard birds in Vermont, readily visiting bird feeders for suet, black oil sunflower seeds, and peanut butter. These nuthatches are also bold and curious, where they may feed off of your hand and use nest boxes that you provide.
Fun Fact: Black-Capped Chickadees are the most common backyard birds in the northern half of the USA.
4. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
The Blue Jay has a distinct appearance that anyone can recognize immediately! Starting at the head, it has a white face, a prominent blue crest, and a black lining around the face and neck. It also has blue upperparts and white underparts. Finally, its wings and tail feathers have a blue, white, and black bar pattern.
Blue Jays are familiar and permanent residents of the USA's eastern half and southeastern Canada. During winter, they expand their range in Canada. They are usually found in noisy groups around forest edges, favoring oak and beech trees. They also frequent wooded parks, towns, and suburbs.
Blue Jays are omnivores, although most of their diet is plant-based, including seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries. They eat even more of these during winter. You can attract them with sunflower seeds, peanuts, and mixed seeds. However, they tend to scare away other birds and take all the food for themselves.
There are even backyard feeders designed to keep away larger species like the Blue Jay!
Fun Fact: The black lines on the face and neck vary between Blue Jays, which may help them recognize each other.
5. Chestnut-Sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)
Starting from the head, the Chestnut-Sided Warbler has a white face and bright yellow cap. Its upperparts are varying streaks of bright yellow, black, and white, while its underparts are just white. Additionally, it has a chestnut-brown stripe on its sides, hence the name. This is more visible during flight. Males also have black stripes on the face, while females don't. Females are also duller overall.
This warbler species is migratory, as it tends to move around the eastern half of the USA, southeastern Canada, and east Mexico based on the season. In Vermont, they are present only during summer throughout the state. You can usually find them in young, second-growth woodlands, brushy thickets, and overgrown fields.
Over 90% of this warbler's diet comprises insects, including caterpillars, flies, grasshoppers, and other small insects. The rest of its diet is composed of berries. Because of this, it's rare to see one visit bird feeders. You can try your luck by planting some berry bushes.
Fun Fact: The Chestnut-Sided Warbler is the only North American warbler that has all-white underparts in all seasons.
6. Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
The Dark-Eyed Junco has many color variations based on geographic location. In the eastern USA, the "slate-colored" variety is present. Overall, this color variation is dark gray, except for the white lower underparts. However, females look more grayish-brown than dark gray.
Dark-Eyed Juncos are common birds but only found during summer in Canada and Alaska and only during winter in the central USA and northern Mexico. However, they are year-round residents in certain parts of North America, including Vermont. During the breeding season, they are found in the edges and clearings of mixed and coniferous woods. They only come to residential areas during winter, so they're also called "Snowbirds."
Dark-Eyed Juncos mostly eat seeds and insects, where they can be seen hopping on the ground while looking for food. They may visit your backyard but not eat from a feeder. Instead, they will eat the seeds that other backyard birds dropped.
Fun Fact: This junco is one of the most common birds in North America, with an estimated population of 630 million.
7. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)
The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest North American woodpecker species. It has a white back and underparts, while its face and nape have a black and white stripe pattern. Additionally, its black wings and tail have many white markings. Both genders share these patterns, except the male has a red spot on the crown while the female doesn't.
Downy Woodpeckers are very common throughout the USA and central Canada, all the way to central Alaska. However, they are absent in Mexico and the southwest desert. They are commonly around deciduous trees in forested areas, parks, and gardens. You'll usually find them nested inside tree trunks.
Downy Woodpeckers primarily consume insects, especially beetles and ants they excavate from trees. However, they occasionally feed on berries and seeds. They are most attracted to suet feeders, although they can also eat from seed and hummingbird feeders. They're more likely to visit your backyard during winter.
Fun Fact: The Downy Woodpecker has more shelter and food sources than other woodpeckers due to its small size.
8. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
The Eastern Bluebird lives up to the name, as its head and upperparts are bright blue. Its throat, chest, and sides are rust-colored, while its lower belly is white. Female bluebirds are duller than males, with the blue upperparts appearing grayish and the rust-colored underparts looking faded.
Eastern Bluebirds are only found in the eastern half of the USA and some parts of Canada and Mexico. In Vermont, they are permanent but uncommon residents. They are usually found in semi-open habitats, like farmlands, forest clearings, open woodlands, and parks. They can even be seen perched on utility wires.
Eastern Bluebirds mainly feed on insects and berries. However, they've been observed to eat larger items like snakes, lizards, and tree frogs. They aren't enticed by birdseed, although you can attract them by offering mealworms on a feeder.
Fun Fact: Eastern Bluebird populations have increased in the past decades because of manmade birdhouses.
9. Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)
From the name itself, the Gray Catbird is mostly gray overall, except for its black cap and tail feathers. Additionally, the back of its tail is rust-colored.
Gray Catbirds are migratory, hopping between Canada, Mexico, and the USA each season. They are only permanent residents in some southeastern states. Meanwhile, they can only be found throughout Vermont during summer.
They're usually found in low and dense vegetation on forest edges, marshes, fields, and suburban landscapes. They don't occur in forest interiors.
These birds usually eat berries and insects. The proportion of their diet varies depending on the season. Because of this diet, the best option to attract them is by providing fruit-bearing bushes. You can also offer some sliced, sweet fruits.
However, they've also been spotted eating some unusual items like doughnuts, corn flakes, and cheese.
Fun Fact: Gray Catbirds can recognize their own eggs, making them less prone to egg mimicry by brood parasites.
10. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Another bird you can recognize right off the bat is the Northern Cardinal! Male cardinals are pretty showy with their bright red head and body, dark red wings and tail, prominent crest, and black masks. On the other hand, females are brown overall but still keep the distinct features, such as the crest, black mask, and some red highlights.
Northern Cardinals are widespread and abundant throughout eastern and central North America. They can be found all year throughout Vermont. They're usually around forest edges, woodland clearings, streamside thickets, and dense vegetation in parks and backyards. You can easily find them during winter due to their flashy colors.
These cardinals eat seeds, berries, and insects, although their diet is primarily various vegetable matter. Northern Cardinals are famous for being one of the most common backyard birds. They will readily eat seeds and nuts in feeders, but they particularly favor black oil sunflower seeds.
Fun Fact: A male Northern Cardinal can be so defensive that it will spend hours fighting its reflection, thinking that it's an intruder.
11. Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)
Now, the Hairy Woodpecker looks nearly identical to the Downy Woodpecker. Both males and females share the same patterns, so it's difficult to tell them apart at first glance. One way to differentiate them is by size, as the Hairy is considerably larger than the Downy. You can also look at their outer tail feathers, as the Hairy's are pure white while the Downy's are spotted.
Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers also share the same range, but the latter isn't as common. Additionally, the Hairy extends further to certain parts of Mexico. They can be found in various habitats with large trees, including forests, woodlands, swamps, and river groves. This also applies to man-altered areas like parks, cemeteries, and suburbs.
Hairy woodpeckers primarily eat insects, especially ants, caterpillars, and beetles. However, they also eat seeds, nuts, berries, and tree sap. Though they aren't frequent backyard visitors, they can be attracted using a suet feeder.
Fun Fact: Hairy Woodpeckers produce the most eggs of all North American woodpeckers.
12. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)
The House Finch has a brown face with a brown-streaked back and wings. Meanwhile, its underparts are white with many brown stripes. Males have a red tint on the face, throat, chest, and rump, while the females do not. Males in Hawaii have a golden tint instead of red.
House Finches are abundant, year-round residents throughout most of the USA (including Vermont) and Mexico, and southern Canada. The House Finch was initially from the western USA and Mexico.
Instead of being found in the wild, they now live alongside humans. You can easily see them around cities, towns, suburbs, parks, farmlands, and other human settlements.
House Finches primarily consume vegetable matter, such as seeds, buds, and berries. On occasion, they may eat some small insects like aphids. Because of their association with humans, they are common backyard birds in Vermont. They usually eat from seed feeders (especially sunflower seeds) and drink from hummingbird feeders.
However, they usually show up in flocks and may quickly raid your feeders.
Fun Fact: The House Finch was introduced to New York and Oahu which led to its abundance in the eastern USA and Hawaii.
13. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
The House Sparrow is a stocky bird with brown upperparts with black streaks while its underparts are pale gray. Looking at its head, it has a distinct black mask and throat and a gray cap. The females share the same patterns in the upperparts, but are lighter in color overall. They also lack the different-colored cap and throat.
Like House Finches, House Sparrows are abundant and widespread throughout the USA, Mexico, and central Canada. Interestingly, they're never found in unaltered natural habitats - they're always around man-made structures in cities, suburbs, farmlands, and even isolated buildings.
House Sparrows mostly forage on the ground for seeds. They also eat some insects, especially during summer. In urban areas, they even scavenge food left by people. For example, they can be seen eating popcorn or bread from amusement parks.
With this, they will eat almost anything from your bird feeders. However, these sparrows are considered invasive. They threaten other birds in Vermont by competing for food and nesting areas.
Fun Fact: House Sparrows are popular in scientific studies because they're abundant, easy to raise, and human-friendly.
14. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
The Mourning Dove is a medium-sized bird that is grayish-brown overall. Its upperparts are dark brown, while its head and underparts are light brown. Additionally, there are black spots near the ends of its wings.
Mourning Doves are familiar, year-round residents in most USA (including Vermont) and Mexico. However, they are only present in southern Canada and some northern states during summer.
These doves can be seen almost everywhere, as they can do well even in manmade habitats. However, they will avoid deep and unbroken forests. You can usually see them foraging on the ground or perched on a telephone wire.
About 99% of a Mourning Dove's diet consists of various seeds. On rare occasions, they will eat snails or insects. They are common backyard birds in Vermont that can be easily attracted by loading various bird seeds to a platform feeder or scattering them on the ground.
Fun Fact: Despite being popular game birds, Mourning Doves are still one of the most abundant birds in the USA, with an estimated population of 350 million.
15. Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
As you may have guessed, the Red-Bellied Woodpecker has a red belly, but it's pretty pale and indistinct. It has a white face, rump, and underparts, while its wings and tail have a black and white bar pattern. The male woodpecker has a bright red crown and nape, while the female has a white crown and bright red nape.
Red-Bellied Woodpeckers are permanent residents of the eastern half of the USA, though they're pretty rare in Vermont. They're most common in deciduous forests near rivers and swamps. Still, they can also be found in mixed forests, open areas, farmlands, and shade trees in the suburbs.
These woodpeckers usually eat insects and plant material, though the ratio changes based on the season. However, they may also consume other meat items like frogs, bird eggs, and fish. If you live in a wooded area, then a Red-Bellied Woodpecker may visit your backyard feeders for seeds and nuts, especially during winter.
Fun Fact: Red-bellied Woodpeckers are attracted to resonating sounds. You may hear a male tapping loudly on gutters, cars, and other metallic structures to attract a female.
16. Red-Eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)
As the name suggests, the Red-Eyed Vireo has red eyes, although you need to get close to see them. Let's look at the body instead. Its cap has black and white stripes, while the upperparts are olive-brown with gray wings. Its throat and underparts are white, with a tint of olive on the lower belly.
Red-Eyed Vireos can be found in both North and South America. After spending winter in South America, they are one of the most common summer birds in the eastern USA and the southern half of Canada.
They usually inhabit deciduous and mixed woods, although they also visit suburbs, parks, and other residential areas with shade trees. Additionally, they stay around treetops, making them difficult to find because their olive color helps them blend in with the leaves.
During the summer, these vireos feed primarily on insects. However, they shift into eating various seeds during the winter.
They don't visit bird feeders, although you can attract them by planting native trees and insect-promoting vegetation.
Fun Fact: Red-Eyed Vireos are born with brown eyes. After their first winter, their iris turns into a shade of red that varies in each bird.
17. Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Despite its name, the wings of the Red-Winged Blackbird aren't red. Instead, there's a bright red and orange spot on its shoulders. This spot can be easily seen as it contrasts the black wings and body.
However, females look vastly different from males. Instead of being black, the female blackbird has a white and dark brown pattern throughout the body. It also has a dark red tint on the shoulders.
Red-Winged Blackbirds are among the most widespread birds in North America, being year-round residents in the lower 2/3 of the USA and most of Mexico. Meanwhile, they are only present in the northern states (including Vermont) and the lower 2/3 of Canada during summer.
They are usually found in wet areas, such as marshes and swamps. However, they are also present in farmlands, hayfields, and pastures.
These blackbirds eat seeds and insects, although around 3/4 of an adult's diet is composed of seeds, grass, weeds, and grains. If you live in the country, then you can attract Red-Winged Blackbirds with any seed or suet feeder.
Fun Fact: The Red-Winged Blackbird is a polygamous species, where the male can have up to 15 female mates!
18. Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
The Song Sparrow is a medium-sized songbird with a heavily streaked brown and gray face and upperparts. Meanwhile, its underparts are white with brown streaks on the breast and sides.
Song Sparrows are abundant throughout North America. However, they concentrate to the north during summer, while to the south during winter. They are found all year in Vermont, but populations may be higher in northern Vermont during summer.
They inhabit nearly any open area, both in the wild and in human settlements. However, they prefer areas abundant in shrubs, thickets, and undergrowth.
Song Sparrows usually forage on the ground, primarily feeding on insects and seeds. They may also eat small marine animals if they're near coasts or islands. As they are ground feeders, it's best to feed these sparrows nyjer or sunflower seeds in a platform feeder.
Fun Fact: The Song Sparrow lives up to its name, as it's one of the most persistent singers during spring and summer.
19. White-Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
The White-Breasted Nuthatch has a blue-gray back, paired with blue-gray wings and a tail that has broad black edges. Meanwhile, its face and underparts are white, with some brown patches under the tail. Both sexes look identical, except the male has a black crown while the female has a blue-gray crown.
White-Breasted Nuthatches are found year-round in most USA states (including Vermont), southern Canada, and central Mexico. They are widespread but only inhabit mature deciduous and mixed forests, favoring woodland edges along rivers and clearings. They may be found in suburbs and parks, so long as large trees are present.
White-Breasted Nuthatches eat insects and seeds. They eat more insects during summer but eat more seeds during winter. These nuthatches are also common backyard birds that love black oil sunflower seeds and mixtures of suet and peanut butter.
Fun Fact: Even though the White-Breasted Nuthatch is about the same size as a sparrow, it's the largest nuthatch in Northern America.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I attract birds in Vermont?
Here are the various ways you can attract the birds we listed above:
- Set up some bird feeders. Always remember that each bird species has its own preferences for the type of food and feeder.
- Add some native trees and fruit-bearing plants. These can provide both food and shelter for birds.
- Install a birdbath. A water source is an excellent way to attract any bird.
- Install a birdhouse. This is particularly helpful for birds with difficulty competing for nesting sites, like Eastern Bluebirds.
Why do some birds in Vermont only come out during winter?
Some of the birds in this list, like the Dark-Eyed Junco, only visit human settlements during winter despite being permanent Vermont residents.
Certain food items in the wild become scarce during winter, so they come to backyards for food. This is why bird feeders are crucial during this time because they provide energy and warmth for birds to survive the season.
Can I hand feed these birds?
Yes, but we recommend practicing caution. It's safe to hand feed small birds like chickadees, but other birds like crows can hurt you because of their larger and stronger bills. Generally, it's best to keep a distance from wild birds, or any wild animal for that matter.
As you can see, there are many birds of Vermont that you can see from the comfort of your own home. You may have difficulty distinguishing them at first. Still, so long as you familiarize yourself with each bird's colors, patterns, sizes, and behavior, you'll get it in no time. We recommend exploring the different birding hotspots in Vermont -- nature has other birds to offer beyond your backyard!
Well then, we hope this article helped with your birding adventures!