25 Beautiful Backyard Birds of British Columbia to watch

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Backyard Birds of British Columbia

British Columbia is a beautiful place with a diverse ecosystem, and it has a diverse array of wildlife. From the coast to the highlands, this province is home to an abundance of different species of birds, and they all have their own unique features that make them perfect for the climate in British Columbia.

The varied terrain and climate in British Columbia make it the perfect place for a wide variety of birds. The coastal rainforest is home to many different species, including the Bald Eagle, the Common Raven, and the Stellar’s Jay. The mountain forests are also home to various birds, including the Mountain Bluebird and the American Dipper. And finally, the grasslands of British Columbia are home to such birds as the Killdeer and the Western Meadowlark.

The birds in British Columbia are well suited to the climate, and they provide a vital link in the food chain and ecosystem. The Bald Eagle, for example, is the apex predator bird in BC that feeds on various animals, from salmon to small mammals and even deer. 

British Columbia is also home to many backyards and bird feeders, and a wide variety of birds visit these feeders.

We compiled a list of the 25 most common backyard birds of British Columbia that we found by surveying BC residents and utilizing data from ebird and other citizen science databases. By reading this article, we hope you will identify some new species and find out which ones live near you!

Birds Of British Columbia

According to the latest data from ebird, there are 515 documented species of Birds in British Columbia. This data comes from over 1.2 million checklists from almost 19,000 avid birdwatchers. Trying to identify and see all 515 may be quite an exciting challenge, so we have chosen to focus on the birds you are more likely to see in your home, backyard, or bird feeders.

Here are some things to know about Birds of British Columbia:

  • 515 documented species
  • The American Crow is the most common backyard bird in British Columbia
  • The Dark-eyed Junco is the most common feeder bird in British Columbia
  • The Anna’s Hummingbird is the smallest feeder bird in British Columbia
  • The Cooper’s Hawk is the largest backyard bird on this list
  • The Steller’s Jay is British Columbia’s state bird

What are the Most common backyard birds in British Columbia

  1. Dark-eyed Junco
  2. Pine Siskin
  3. Northern Flicker
  4. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  5. Black-capped Chickadee
  6. Song Sparrow
  7. House Finch
  8. Spotted Towhee
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. American Robin
  11. Anna’s Hummingbird
  12. Steller’s Jay
  13. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
  14. European Starling
  15. Varied Thrush
  16. Bushtit
  17. American Crow
  18. House Sparrow
  19. Hairy Woodpecker
  20. American Goldfinch
  21. Fox Sparrow
  22. White-crowned Sparrow
  23. Pileated Woodpecker
  24. Purple Finch
  25. Cooper’s Hawk

Top 5 Hotspots For Birdwatching In British Columbia

If you prefer to venture away from home to do birding, visit one of British Columbia’s best hotspots for birdwatching. These hotspots are determined by the number of species observed by fellow birdwatchers in British Columbia.

  1. Rocky Point Bird Observatory
  2. Iona Island
  3. Salmon Arm Bay
  4. Reifel Bird Sanctuary
  5. Castlegar (Selkirk College Trail & Zuckerberg Island)

Top 25 backyard birds of British Columbia

The list below is determined by the number of bird watchers in British Columbia who have seen a species visiting their feeder at least once, divided by the number of bird feeder sites in the state.

1.Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco is the most common feeder bird of British Columbia

The Dark-Eyed Junco is a medium-sized bird with a round head, short conical bill., and long tail. These Sparrows are found in the Northern Hemisphere from Alaska to Newfoundland. The Dar-eyed Junco is the most common feeder bird in British Columbia and can be seen all year round in the southern half of BC and in the northern half during the summer.

Males and Females are about 14-16cm (5.5-6.3 inches) long and weigh between 18-30g (0.6-1.1oz). The Dark-Eyed Junco varies in color depending on what region you are in but are mainly dark gray or brown with a light/pale pink bill and white outer tail feathers that are noticeable in flight.

The three most common sub-types and colors are:

  • Slate-colored Junco – Alaska, and East of the Rocky Mountains
  • Oregon Junco – Northern Rockies and Farther West
  • Gray-headed Junco – Southern Rockies

They live in coniferous forests, woodlands, scrubland, and tundra across the United States and Canada. You are more likely to find them in open areas like backyards, fields, and parks in winter.

They are ground foragers and eat insects, seeds, and berries. They eat mostly insects in the spring and summer and seeds and berries in the fall and winter.

They are also expected at backyard bird feeders in the winter, especially ones that offer sunflower seeds, millet, or cracked corn.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower seed
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet & Milo
  • Oats

2. Pine Siskin

The Pine Siskin is one of the most common Birds of British Columbia

The Pine Siskin is widespread throughout North America and some parts of Canada and Mexico. This common bird of British Columbia and can be seen all year round in the southern half of BC and in the northern half during the summer.

Both males and females are about 11-14cm (4.3-5.5 inches) long and weigh between 12-18g (0.4-0.6oz). Both males and females are brown, with dark streaking throughout their bodies. They are a small finch with a sharply pointed bill and a short notched tail.

They are slightly darker above and paler below with two whitish-yellow wing bars. A yellow wing stripe can be seen during flight but is more difficult to see when perched.

They prefer open coniferous forests where they can forage in trees, looking for seeds among needles of the branches. Pine siskins are social birds and often travel in a few hundred bird flocks. They are very active and can be seen hopping around on the ground or flying quickly from tree to tree.

Pine siskins eat seeds almost exclusively but will take insects or larvae when available if seeds are not readily accessible. They are also frequent visitors to backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, or nyjer seeds.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Tube Feeder
  • Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer

3. Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is a bird of British Columbia that can be seen all year round

The Northern Flicker is one of the most common woodpecker species in North America.  They can be seen in Northern British Columbia during the summer months, and in southern British Columbia all year round.

They are about 28-31cm (11-12.2 inches) long and weigh 110-160g (3.9-5.6oz). They are slim woodpeckers with rounded heads, long pointy tails, and a long, slightly downward curving bill

Northern Flickers are brownish-gray above and paler below. They have a crescent-looking black bar on their chest and black spots on their bellies.

Eastern males have black whiskers, a red nape, and bright yellow under their tails, while females lack the same black whiskers as males.

Western males have red whiskers and red under their tails, while females lack the same red whiskers as males.

Northern Flickers live in open areas such as fields, pastures, woods but can also be seen around towns and suburbs.

Northern Flickers are seen foraging for ants and other insects on the ground, but they also eat fruits, nuts, and seeds. They use their long curved bill to pry insects out of logs or trees.

They will often visit backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, suet, or peanut butter.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seed
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Peanuts and Peanut Hearts
  • Cracker Corn
  • Millet

4. Red-breasted Nuthatch

The Red-breasted nuthatch is one of the smallest birds of British Columbia

The red-breasted nuthatch is a small songbird found across most of North America and much of Canada. This bird of British Columbia can be seen throughout the province all year round.

Both males and females are about 11-12cm (4.3 inches) long and weigh between 8-13g (0.3-0.5oz). They have a long, pointy bill, short, broad wings, and very short tails.

Both sexes are blueish-gray above and reddish-cinnamon below. Their heads are striped with a black cap, white eyebrows, a black line through the eye, and finally, white cheeks. Very similar looking to the white-breasted nuthatch.

Red-breasted nuthatches can be found in coniferous forests such as spruce and fir, where they like to forage on the trunks and branches. They are very energetic and acrobatic birds and can often be seen hanging upside down while searching for food.

Their diet is primarily insects and spiders they glean from trees and bark in the summer and eat seeds in the winter.

They are also familiar visitors to backyard bird feeders where they eat seeds and suet.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Tube Feeders
  • Large and Small Hoppers
  • Suet Cage
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanuts and Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

5. Black-capped Chickadee

Birds of British Columbia: Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-Capped Chickadee is a widespread species of bird found throughout the Northern half of North America. These tiny birds can be seen throughout the province all year round.

They have a black cap and black throat with white cheeks, and mostly gray-olive feathers on their back with a white chest and belly.

Black-capped Chickadees are tiny in size – with males and females only about 12-15cm (4.7-5.9 inches) long and weighing between 9-14g (0.3-0.5oz). They have a large head and short neck, and long narrow tails with short thick dark bills.

They can survive the harshest winter weather by eating high-calorie foods, fluffing their feathers for insulation, and roosting in tree cavities at night, often in small groups.

The Black-Capped Chickadee is an energetic species that prefers deciduous woods often found in forests or residential areas and parks where plenty of large trees are used for roosting and nesting.

Their diet consists of insects, spiders, small fruits, and seeds, but they are also familiar visitors to backyard bird feeders where they will readily eat sunflower seeds or suet. They will often make multiple trips to feeders to store extra food in tree crevices throughout the day.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeders
  • Large & Small Hoppers
  • Suet Cage
  • Platform feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seed
  • Hulled Sunflower Seed
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Suet
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

6. Song Sparrow

The Song Sparrow is a widespread species of bird in British Columbia

The Song Sparrow is a medium-sized sparrow found throughout North America. These birds of British Columbia can be seen in the northern part of the province during the summer, and in the southern part all year round.

Males and Females are about 12-17cm (4.7-6.7 inches) long and weigh between 12-53g (0.4-1.9oz). They have relatively long, rounded tails and broad wings.

Song Sparrows are generally brown above with brown streaking on white below. They have a reddish-brown crown, a pale gray eyebrow, and a brown streak through the eye.

They live in most open areas such as forests edges, scrublands, wetlands, marshes, farmlands, and grasslands year-round in North America.

They mainly eat insects in the spring and summer and seeds and berries the rest of the year.

Song Sparrows are common backyard birds that visit bird feeders if the feeder offers cracked corn or millet and over some good cover. They prefer seeds scattered on the ground or a platform feeder.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Cracked Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet and Milo

7. House Finch

Birds of British Columbia: House Finch

The House Finch is a small bird found in most of North America, including parts of the United States and Southern Canada. These birds can be seen in the southwesternmost part of the province all year round.

House Finches are 12-15cm (5.1-5.5 inches) long and weigh between 16-27g (0.6-0.9oz).

They have short wings that allow for a quick flight, and their beaks are stubby and slightly curved on top with a long flat head. The males are known for their bright red heads and breast with brown wings, tails, and back.

Their preferred habitat is open, grassy areas with some trees – often near farmlands. They will also be found around towns and suburbs to find food quickly on the ground, such as birdseed spilled from backyard bird feeders (or even at pet food bowls left out for our furry friends).

They are ground forages whose preferred diet consists mainly of seeds, buds, and fruit. They are common at backyard bird feeders and will often feed in large numbers, especially when black oil sunflowers seeds are present in your feeders.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeder
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer

8. Spotted Towhee

The Spotted Towhee is a bird of British Columbia that is seen in the southern part of the province

The Spotted Towhee is a large-sized sparrow that lives in the western half of North America and Mexico. These beautiful birds of British Columbia are typically seen in the southwestern part of the province all year round and the southeastern part during the summer.

Males and females are about 17-21cm (6.7-8.3 inches) long and weigh around 33-49g (1.2-1.7oz). They are a chunky sparrow with a thick conical bill, and a long rounded tail tipped with white.

Male Spotted Towhees are black above and white below, with a black hood and throat with white spots on their wings. Their sides are a rusty-orange color, and they have ruby red eyes. Females are similar in color but are a slate gray color above.

They live primarily in open areas close to native habitats such as forest edges, thickets, underbrush, or ravines with brushy vegetation for shelter. They also live around agricultural land and residential areas with trees or hedgerows where they can find food sources like insects and spiders.

Spotted towhees eat mostly insects all year round. They prefer to forage on the ground through leaf litter and amongst the thicket or undergrowth of bushes and shrubs. They will supplement their diet with berries, nuts, and seeds when insects aren’t available.

Spotted towhees will often visit backyards with some low vegetation, brush piles, and bird feeders that offer mealworms, sunflower seeds (hulled or shelled), cracked corn, and suet nuggets.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seed
  • Millet
  • Milo
  • Cracked Corn
  • Mealworms

9. Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is one of the smallest woodpecker birds of British Columbia

The Downy Woodpecker is a small woodpecker found throughout North America. These beautiful woodpeckers can be seen throughout the province all year round.

They are smaller than most woodpeckers at about 14-17cm (5.5-6.7 inches) long and weigh between 21-28g (0.7-1oz).

Downy Woodpeckers have a black back and white stripe down the middle. They are white below, and their wings have a checkered black and white detailing them. The males have a red patch at the back of the head, and females have a black head. They have a petite-looking bill compared to their other woodpecker relatives.

Their beaks are short, solid, and pointed at the end, which they use to chisel wood for excavation or peck at the bark to find food underneath.

Their preferred habitat is wooded areas with plenty of trees near rivers, ponds, or wetlands – even urban areas with a mix of grasslands, shrubs, and woodlands.

They are acrobatic foragers whose main diet consists of insects it can glean and probe from trees. They will also eat seeds, berries, or fruit when needed and are more common at bird feeders than their larger relatives. They prefer suet feeders and enjoy black oil sunflower seeds, peanut butter, seeds, and millet.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

10. American Robin

The American Robin is one of the most widespread birds of British Columbia

The American Robin is a common species of bird found throughout North America. One of the most widespread birds of British Columbia can be seen in the south and along the west coast all year round. And in the rest of the province during the summer.

American Robins are 20-28cm (7.9-11 inches) long and weigh 77-85g (2.7-3oz).

American Robins have a distinctive orange chest with black spots; however, their back feathers are brownish gray. Their beaks are tiny but comprehensive at the base, giving them a very distinct appearance.

They are common in most environments across North America, especially in gardens, parks, and wooded areas around towns and suburbs.

The American Robin is known to poke around in leaf litter, looking for insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and earthworms to eat in the summer months. They prefer berries or fruit during the autumn and winter months.

They are also known for being very friendly birds found at most bird feeders and prefer feeders that offer live mealworms.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms

11. Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird is one of the smallest birds of British Columbia

Anna’s Hummingbird is a common species of bird found in the far western region of the United States and Canada. These tiny birds can be seen along the western coast of British Columbia during the winter months.

They are about 10cm (4 inches) long and weigh between 3-6g (0.1-0.2oz). They are stockier than most hummingbirds and have a short, straight bill and broad tail.

Anna’s hummingbirds are metallic green above and grayish-white and green below. Males have rose-red coloring around their heads and throat, while females have a white throat with green and red spots.

They can be found in woodlands near streams or rivers, coastal scrubs, city parks, and yards.

Anna’s Hummingbirds feed mainly on nectar from flowers but will also eat insects, such as spiders, when the opportunity presents itself.

Anna’s Hummingbirds are common in backyards with flower gardens or hummingbird feeders.

Feeder Type:

  • Nectar Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Sugar Water

12. Steller’s Jay

The Steller's Jay is the provincial bird of British Columbia

Steller’s Jay is a large songbird that lives in North America. They are most abundant in the western United States and Canada. The Steller’s Jay is the provincial bird of British Columbia and can be seen all year round.

Males and Females are about 30-34cm (11.8-13.4 inches) long and weigh between 100-140g (3.5-4.9oz). These Jays have large heads, rounded wings, and long tails. They also have a prominent crest on their heads and a strong, long, straight bill.

They have blue feathers on most of their bodies, black feathers on their head, and grayish shoulders. Some will have blue or white lines on their crown, depending on the region.

They prefer coniferous and mixed coniferous-deciduous forests commonly found on the west coast of North America, which includes suburban areas such as backyards, picnic areas, and campgrounds.

They are bold, intelligent, curious omnivores that forage on the ground or among tree branches for insects, baby birds, bird eggs, fruit, nuts, acorns, and seeds.

They are common at backyard bird feeders that offer sunflowers seeds, peanuts, peanut butter mixed with birdseed, or bread.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube Feeder
  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Cracked Corn
  • Peanuts and Peanut Hearts
  • Millet and Milo
  • Mealworms

13. Chestnut-backed Chickadee

The Chestnut-backed Chickadee is a bird of British Columbia that can be seen along the western coast all year round

The Chestnut-backed Chickadee is a tiny bird found in North America, but almost exclusively along the west coast of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. These bird of British Columbia can be seen along the western coast all year round.

Males and Females are about 10-12cm (3.9-4.7 inches) long and weigh between 7-12g (0.3-0.4oz). They are the smallest and shortest-tailed chickadee and have short rounded wings.

They have a black and white head with white cheeks and a brown-chestnut-colored back. Depending on the region, they can either have brown-chestnut (Northern California and up) or duller gray sides (Central and Southern California).

Chestnut-backed Chickadees live in coniferous forests, woodlands, scrubland, parks, and suburbs year-round on the Pacific coast. They eat primarily insects they can glean from foliage and often supplement their diet with seeds, fruit, and berries.

They are common backyard birds that will visit bird feeders, especially if the feeder offers sunflower seeds or suet during the winter months.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Tube Feeders
  • Large and Small Hoppers
  • Suet Cage
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Suet
  • Peanuts and Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

14. European Starling

Bird of British Columbia: European Starling

The European Starling, also known as the Common Starling or just simply Starling, is a loud, boisterous bird that can be found throughout most of North America, Europe, and parts of Asia to North Africa in wintertime. They can be seen throughout the province all year round.

European Starling is roughly the size of a Robin at about 20-23cm (7.9-9.1 inches) long and weighing around 60-96g (2.1-3.4oz). Their breeding plumage is a glossy purplish-green with yellow beaks, and winter plumage is brown with white spots and a black bill. They have short wings which allow for a quick flight and a short tail. They have a long, slender bill and legs that are pinkish.

European Starlings winter in large flocks – often roosting with other bird species such as Blackbirds or Fieldfares to keep warm at night.

Their preferred habitat is open, grassy areas with some trees, but they can also be found in towns, suburbs, or human settlements out in the countryside.

They are opportunistic feeders that mainly eat insects and feed on berries, seeds, and grains. They are known to visit bird feeders in backyards to eat almost any type of food available – including suet mixes or peanuts.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube feeder
  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Millet & Milo
  • Oats

15. Varied Thrush

The Varied Thrush is a common bird of British Columbia

The Varied Thrush is a large thrush that lives in western North America, in forests along the pacific coast. These birds of British Columbia can be seen along the west coast all year round, and in the rest of the province during the summer months.

Males and females are about 19-26cm (7.5-10.2 inches) long and weigh between 65-100g (2.3-3.5oz). They have a plump body with a large head, long legs, a short tail, and a straight bill.

Male Varied Thrushes are bluish-gray above and orange below. They have a black band across their chest and an orange eyebrow that goes down the back of the neck. They have an intricate orange and black pattern on their wings. Females have the same coloring but are grayish-brown above, and the orange colors are not as rich or intense.

They live primarily in moist coniferous forests on the pacific coast most of the year and suburban parks and gardens during winter months.

Varied thrushes eat insects and spiders primarily and consume fruit, berries, and seeds in winter. Fruits and berries make up the majority of their food and winter. They forage on the ground under leaves and dense vegetation by flicking and tossing debris around.

Varied thrushes can be found visiting backyards and feeders in winter that offer mealworms, sunflower seeds (hulled or shelled), fruits, and berries from platform or ground feeders.

Feeder Type:

  • Ground
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Mealworms
  • Fruits
  • Sunflowers Seeds
  • Suet

16. Bushtit

Birds of BC: Bushtit

The Bushtit is a tiny bird that lives in western areas in North America. Bushtits are only really seen in a small portion of southwest British Columbia all year round.

Males and females are about 7-8cm (2.8-3.1 inches) long and weigh around 4-6g (0.1-0.2oz). They are plump-looking birds with a long tail, large head, seemingly no neck, and a short, stout bill. Bushtits are dull gray above and slightly paler gray below.

They live in various habitats such as forests, woodlands, shrublands, woody areas near streams, and urban areas such as gardens and parks. You will usually always see flocks of bushtits moving together.

Bushtits eat primarily insects and spiders year-round. They glean insects from foliage and catch them mid-air as they fly off branches or pick them from leaves.

They can be found visiting bird feeders that offer mealworms, suet balls, sunflower hearts (hulled or shelled), and sometimes whole peanuts or peanut hearts.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Large and Small Tube Feeder
  • Suet Cage

Feeder Food:

  • Sunflower Seeds (Black Oil and Hulled)
  • Mealworms
  • Peanuts (Hearts and Whole)
  • Suet

17. American Crow

Birds of British Columbia: American Crow

The American Crow is a large bird found throughout most of North America, except in some areas in the southern United States. They are common throughout British Columbia.

American Crows are large at about 40-53cm (115.8-21 inches) long and weigh between 316-620g (11.2-22oz). They are black all over, including their legs, feet, bill, and eyes.

They have a very distinct, short tail with broad wings that allow for a quick flight. They are known to be brilliant birds – able to use tools to obtain the food they otherwise couldn’t reach.

Their preferred habitat is open areas such as pastures with some trees – either deciduous or coniferous to roost at night when they sleep. They will often be found in urban areas where food is plentiful – for example, at dumpsters behind supermarkets or garbage bins.

They are omnivores and very opportunistic and will eat small mammals, insects, and amphibians but may also be found eating fruits or grain in the wintertime when other food sources are scarce. We have even personally seen crows stealing chicks from other nests and flying away to eat them.

Not your typical visitor to backyard bird feeders but may hang around yards that offer a compost heap, easy access to garbage, or pet food lying around.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Millet & Milo
  • Oats

18. House Sparrow

House Sparrow is a common Bird of British Columbia

The House Sparrow is a common species of bird found throughout the world, and can be seen throughout British Columbia all year round.

Males and Females are about 15-17cm (5.9-6.7 inches) long and generally weigh between 27-30g (0.9-1.1oz). They have gray color on their head and chest, black spots on the feathers around their eyes, and brownish tails; however, they also have distinctive white spots on their wings.

House Sparrows are prevalent backyard visitors that can be identified by the distinctive appearance of two white spots on each side of the wing. They typically live in cities and towns with large populations, although they will visit backyards if suet feeders or birdseed is available.

House Sparrows eat mainly weed seeds, grain, and insects during breeding time. They typically prefer sunflower hearts and suet, although they also eat thistle seed, safflower seeds, and fruit when available.

Sparrows are highly social birds living in large flocks outside of breeding season that can sometimes become aggressive towards other birds.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube Feeder
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet 
  • Milo

19. Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is a common woodpecker bird of British columbia

The Hairy Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker found throughout North America and Southern Canada. These birds of British Columbia can be seen throughout the province all year round.

The hairy woodpecker has a long chisel-like bill and long stiff tail feathers. Males and Females are about 18-26cm (7.1-10.2 inches) long and weigh around 40-95g (1.4-3.4oz).

They have black-and-white feathers: black back checkered with a white, white stripe down the middle back, and white below. The male has a red patch on the back of its head, while the female does not. They get their name from the “hairy” quality of the white on their backs.

They live in various habitats, including woodlands, bottomland forests, wooded suburbs, and parks. They will actively probe and drill into wood to look for insects under the bark. They will also feed on fallen or rotting logs to chisel through dead wood to find insect larvae. They will also eat fruits and seeds when given a chance.

They are common at backyard bird feeders that offer suet, sunflower seeds, or peanut butter mixed with birdseed.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Peanuts and Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

20. American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a common feeder bird in British Columbia

The American Goldfinch is a common species of bird found throughout North America. They can be seen in southern British Columbia during the summer months.

They are small songbirds 11-13cm (4.3-5.1 inches) long and weigh between 11 – 20g (0.4-0.70 oz), with males being slightly larger than females. 

Breeding adult males have a bright yellow color on their heads and rump with a black cap and black-tipped wings, making them easy to identify from other birds. Winter adult males are tan above and pale gray below with a yellow face and throat. 

Breeding adult females are olive-brown above and yellow below, and winter adult females are generally gray overall.

Their preferred habitat is overgrown, weedy fields, pastures, and well planted suburban areas and backyards.

They mainly eat seeds from wild sunflowers, composite flowers or thistles, and very few insects. 

American Goldfinches are frequent visitors of backyard bird feeders – making them easy to spot around the yard. They prefer hulled sunflower and nyjer seeds.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube feeder
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer

21. Fox Sparrow

Birds of British Columbia

The Fox Sparrow is a large-sized sparrow that lives in various habitats in North America. They tend to stick to the west coast of British Columbia most of the year but venture into the rest of the province during the summer months.

Males and females are about 15-19cm (5.9-7.5 inches) long and weigh around 26-44g (0.9-1.6oz). They have a round body, medium-length tail, and thick bill.

Fox Sparrow’s plumage varies depending on the region, but they all have white underparts with heavily marked triangular spots that get bigger the closer to the breast. Their heads typically have a mix of gray and regional colors.

“Red” Fox Sparrows – Found in the East

“Slate-Colored” Fox Sparrow – Found in the Rockies and great basin

“Sooty” Fox Sparrow – Found in Pacific Northwest

They live in various habitats across North America but will typically be seen in the undergrowth of dense trees or shrubs in backyards during the winter months. They do not usually venture far from cover.

Fox Sparrows eat seeds primarily but eat insects in the summer months. They forage mainly on the ground by kicking or flicking leaf litter about to find their food.

Fox Sparrows can be found in backyards with dense undergrowth and will often visit bird feeders that offer a variety of seeds.

Feeder Type:

  • Ground
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Sunflower Seeds (Black Oil or Hulled)
  • Milo
  • Millet
  • Nyjer Seeds
  • Cracked Corn

22. White-crowned Sparrow

The White-crowned Sparrow is a medium-large-sized sparrow found throughout North America, and spend their summers and winters in British Columbia.

Males and Females are about 15-16cm (5.9-6.3 inches) long and weigh between 25-28g (0.9-1.0oz). They have relatively long tails and short pointed bills. Their bill can vary from pink to orange to yellow, depending on the subspecies and geographic location.

Their color is generally grayish-brown and has a distinctive bland and white striped crown.

They live in most open areas such as forest edges, scrublands, wetlands, marshes, farmlands, grasslands year-round in North America. They breed primarily in Canada during the summer and migrate south to the United States in winter.

White-crowned Sparrows eat mainly insects in the summer and seeds and berries the rest of the year.

They are common backyard birds that visit bird feeders if they offer cracked corn or millet. They prefer seeds scattered on the ground or a platform feeder.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Cracked Corn
  • Millet
  • Milo

23. Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is a large bird of British Columbia

The Pileated Woodpecker is a very large-sized woodpecker species native to North America. They live in the eastern region of the United States and throughout the southern half of Canada from Nova Scotia to Vancouver and down the Pacific Coast. They can be seen in the southern half of British Columbia all year round.

Males and females are about 40-49cm (15.8-19.3 inches) long and weigh around 250-350g (8.8-12.3oz). They have a long chisel-like bill, long neck, and a sweeping triangular red crest.

They have blackish plumage with white markings on their face and a large white area under their wings, which are only visible during flight or when they stretch their wings. Males have a red line on their cheeks.

Pileated Woodpeckers can be found in various wooded habitats such as coniferous and deciduous forests, woodlands, riparian corridors, parks, and suburban areas.

They create numerous large rectangular-shaped holes within their range, which is incredibly important to the area’s ecosystem. Many species of animals use their holes for shelter and security.

They feed primarily on insects such as carpenter ants and beetle larvae and consume fruits, nuts, and berries from trees. 

Pileated Woodpeckers typically visit backyard bird feeders that offer suet, sunflower hearts, and peanut kernels.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage

Feeder Food:

  • Suet
  • Mealworms
  • Peanuts
  • Black Oil Sunflower Seed
  • Hulled Sunflower Seed

24. Purple Finch

Birds of BC: Purple Finch

The Purple Finch is a small finch about the same size as a house finch but with a chunkier appearance. They are found mainly in the eastern half and on the west coast of the North American continent. They can be seen throughout British Columbia during the summer months.

Males and Females are about 12-16cm (4.7-6.3 inches) long and weigh between 18-32g (0.6-1.1oz). They have short notched tails and a robust conical bill, perfect for cracking seeds.

Contrary to the name, Purple Finches are not really purple. The males have a raspberry-colored head, breast, and rump, with their wings and back having a pinky tinge. The females have no red and a patterned head and are more brown and white above and streaked below.

They live in coniferous forests, woodlands, gardens, and parks. They primarily forage on the ground or in trees for seeds, buds, fruit, and some insects and spiders. They are also common at backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, thistle, or nyjer seed during the winter.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Tube Feeder
  • Large and Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer
  • Millet

25. Cooper’s Hawk

The Copper's Hawk is a bird of prey in British Columbia

The Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized hawk found throughout North America. These birds of prey in British Columbia can be seen in the south during the summer months.

Males are about 37-39cm (14.6-15.3 inches) long and weigh 220-410g (7.8-14.5oz). Females are about 42-45cm (16.5-17.7 inches) long and weigh 330-680g (11.6-24oz).

They have broad rounded wings, a long, rounded tail, and a large head. Adults are bluish-gray above, with rusty colored bars below and thick darker bands on their tails. Juveniles are brown above, with orange-colored highlights on the head and dark streaks below.

Cooper’s hawks are often found in riparian woodlands, suburbs, and parks where they can find plenty of prey.

The Cooper’s Hawk is a versatile predator that preys on small mammals such as squirrels and rats and small birds up to the size of a Blue Jay. They often hunt by perching on a branch and waiting for prey to pass by. When prey is spotted, they will swoop down, grasp it with their feet and kill using a sharp blow of the bill.

In suburban areas, they sometimes hunt birds at bird feeders or squirrels in backyards and small rodents such as mice and rats.

Feeder Type:

  • N/A

Feeder Food:

  • Unsuspecting Doves, Jays and Robin-sized birds

What Are The Most Common Backyard Birds all-year-round In British Columbia

  • Dark-eyed Junco (Southern BC)
  • Pine Siskin ( Southern BC)
  • Northern Flicker (Southern BC)
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Song Sparrow (Southern BC)
  • House Finch (Southwest BC)
  • Spotted Towhee (Southwest BC)
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • American Robin (Southern BC & West BC)
  • Steller’s Jay
  • Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Western Coast)
  • European Starling
  • Varied Thrush (West Coast)
  • Bushtit (Southwest BC)
  • American Crow
  • House Sparrow
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Fox Sparrow (West Coast)
  • Pileated Woodpecker (Southern BC)

What Are The Most Common Backyard Birds During Summer In British Columbia

Most of the birds we have listed above are year-round residents of specific areas of British Columbia. Still, because BC has such a diverse climate, some choose to spend their summer in a different region of British Columbia instead of flying out of the province.

Below is a list of the year-round birds who spend their summers in a different BC region:

  • Cooper’s Hawk (Southern BC)
  • Purple Finch
  • Northern Flicker (Northern BC)
  • Song Sparrow (Northern BC)
  • Spotted Towhee (Southeast BC)
  • Varied Thrush (All but West Coast)
  • American Goldfinch (Southern BC)
  • Fox Sparrow (All but West Coast)
  • White-crowned Sparrow

Birds To Spot Beyond The Backyard In British Columbia

When you decide to venture away from your home to do some birdwatching, these are some of the other birds to look out for:

  1. Violet-green Swallow
  2. Bald Eagle
  3. Black-bellied Plover
  4. Bohemian Waxwing
  5. Vaux’s Swift
  6. Barn Swallow
  7. Common Redpoll
  8. Snow Bunting
  9. Bank Swallow
  10. Red-winged Blackbird
  11. Rock Pigeon
  12. Killdeer
  13. Golden-crowned Sparrow
  14. Brewer’s Blackbird
  15. Evening Grosbeak
  16. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
  17. Band-tailed Pigeon
  18. Savannah Sparrow
  19. Swainson’s Thrush
  20. White-winged Crossbill
  21. Yellow-headed Blackbird
  22. Orange-crowned Warbler
  23. California Quail
  24. Black Swift
  25. Western Tanager
  26. Cedar Waxwing
  27. Red Crossbill
  28. Vesper Sparrow
  29. Eastern Kingbird
  30. Broad-winged Hawk

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What birds are common in British Columbia?

Some of the most common birds seen in British Columbia include the Dark-eyed Junco, Pine Siskin, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Common Redpoll, Snow Goose, Steller’s Jay and Varied Thrush.

What is the most common backyard bird seen in British Columbia?

The most common backyard bird seen in British Columbia is the Dark-eyed Junco.

What is the State Bird of British Columbia?

The British Columbia State bird is the Steller’s Jay.

How many species of birds have been seen in British Columbia?

To date, 515 species have been observed in British Columbia.

What birds stay in British Columbia for the winter?

Most birds in British Columbia are year-round residents, but some typically spend their winter in another area of British Columbia instead of flying out of the province. The Anna’s Hummingbird (West Coast), and White-crowned Sparrow (West Coast) are examples of birds who move to a different area of British Columbia for winter.

Keep and Eye out for the backyard birds of British Columbia

British Columbia is home to a diverse array of birds that are well suited for the climate. Whether they are in your backyard or some other part of BC, these feeder birds of British Columbia are sure to attract attention and provide plenty of joy and entertainment. 

If you have any questions about identifying more species or finding out which ones live near you, let us know! We would love to help identify new bird species for our readers.  

If all this talk has made you hungry for an adventure into the wilds of British Columbia, be sure to visit one of the top 5 hotspots for birdwatching while there! We would also love to hear from you about your favorite birdwatching spots or experiences in British Columbia.

Don’t forget to check out our other blog posts for more information about birds and nature.

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Author
I am an avid birdwatcher with a passion for learning all I can about these fantastic creatures. I love finding new species of birds in my backyard, neighborhood, or when I travel. I enjoy sharing everything I learn about how these creatures live their lives; feedback and experience is much appreciated!

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