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Two Tree Swallows on Nest Box
Tree Swallows

Birds in Massachusetts

Massachusetts hosts more than 300 different species of birds each year. From the rarely encountered Northern Goshawk to the charmingly common Black-capped Chickadee, the birds of the Commonwealth come in all shapes and sizes. 

Familiarize yourself with some of the most common birds you may encounter so that you're ready to tackle whatever flies your way. Check out our frequently asked questions page to get answers on common phenomena and interactions. Then, download Mass Audubon's official Bird Checklist to keep track of your sightings and find a bird walk near you. 

Common Bird Species in Massachusetts

Medway, MA © Kathy Porter

American Goldfinches

The American Goldfinch’s distinctive sunshine-yellow plumage fades in winter to a palette of gray, brown, and buff.

An American Kestrel sits on a branch.
American Kestrel © Brian Rusnica

American Kestrels

Learn all about American Kestrels, North America’s smallest falcons.

An American Robin sits on a branch at Drumlin Farm.

American Robins

Seen regularly in city parks, suburban lawns, and forest clearings, the American robin may be the most familiar bird in North America.

An American Tree Sparrow is perched above the snow.

American Tree Sparrows

These fairly large sparrows breed in the high tundra, but during winter they flock to Massachusetts weedy fields and backyard feeders.

American Woodcock in the woods
American Woodcock © Francis Morello

American Woodcocks

Also known as Timberdoodles, American Woodcocks can be found in the spring as they come to breed in New England. 

Two bald eagles perch in a tree. A waning moon is in the blue sky behind them.

© Jared McPheters

Bald Eagles

Sometimes referred to as the "American Eagle," the Bald Eagle occurs only in North America and is found near coasts, large rivers, and lakes.

A Baltimore Oriole perches on a tree branch on a sunny day.

Baltimore & Orchard Orioles

Orioles are colorful, vocal members of the blackbird family. In Massachusetts they are represented by two species—the Baltimore Oriole and the Orchard Oriole.

Red-tailed Hawk on Branch
Red-tailed Hawk © Bryan Batley

Birds of Prey

Birds of prey, also known as raptors, are a group of carnivorous birds, which means they feed primarily on meat.

A Black-capped Chickadee perches on a bare branch.
Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadees

The Massachusetts state bird, chickadees can be found in all corners of the Commonwealth wherever there are at least a few trees.

A Blue Jay sits on a post and cocks its head in the rain.

Ashburnham, MA © Amy DeMar-DuBois

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are clever and highly vocal birds that love to forage through open forests and tree-lined suburban streets.

A Brown-headed Cowbird perches on a tree branch.

Brown-headed Cowbirds

Cowbirds are members of the blackbird family. This species is a nest parasite—females lay their eggs in the nests of other species.

A Canada Goose glides through the water.

Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary, Pittsfield, MA © Richard Davis

Canada Geese

The Canada Goose is the only species of goose that breeds in Massachusetts.

A Carolina Wren sits on a branch in a leafy tree.

North Reading, MA © Joshua Goddard

Carolina Wrens

Although once limited to the southeastern US, Carolina Wrens have spread north all the way to New England.

A Cedar Waxwing balances on a branch. The red-orange "waxwing" tips of its secondary feathers, as well as the bright yellow tip of its tail, are visible.

© Davey Walters

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings have remarkably smooth and silky-looking brown plumage.

chimney swift flying through the air
Chimney Swift @ Shawn Taylor/Flickr (atlnature.com)

Chimney Swifts

The chimney swift eats, drinks, collects nesting material, and possibly even copulates in flight.

A Chipping Sparrow sits on an evergreen branch at Drumlin Farm.
Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows

A small sparrow, Chipping Sparrows make themselves heard in spring and summer with a ringing song that belies their size.

A Common Grackle perches amid pink blossoms in spring.

Revere, MA © Phyllis Tarascio

Common Grackles

Grackle feathers shine with iridescence and their piercing voices creak and whine across suburban Massachusetts.

A Fish Crow caws atop a tree branch.
Fish Crow


Crows have long suffered under the reputation of being "bad," yet these vocal black birds are among the most intelligent.

A Dark-eyed Junco sits on a branch.

Dark-eyed Juncos

Often linked to winter, juncos can be found in the Commonwealth year-round, and often breed in our conifer forests.

An Eastern Bluebird sits atop a fence post.
Eastern Bluebird @ James Doty

Eastern Bluebirds

Bringers of happiness in all seasons, eastern bluebirds are small members of the thrush family that inhabit fields and clearings throughout Massachusetts.

An Eastern Phoebe calls out from a bare branch.

Waseeka Wildlife Sanctuary, Hopkinton, MA © Robert Liscombe

Eastern Phoebes

Eastern phoebes are active foragers that often choose to nest on or near human buildings.

© A. Grigorenko

European Starlings

As the name suggests, European Starlings are introduced birds from across the sea.

A Great Blue Heron stands amid lily pads in a river.

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield, MA © Kenneth Hilts

Great Blue Herons

Once a rare sight in the northeast US, Great Blue Herons have staged a staggering comeback.

four Great Black-backed Gulls on a rock
Great Black-backed Gulls © Craig Gibson


Despite its common usage, the term “seagull” is a misnomer. There is no gull species known as a seagull. 

A group of male and female mallards group together in the shallows.

Woburn, MA © Laura Sisitzky


There are 16 duck species that breed in Massachusetts. The mallard is the most commonly seen or encountered.

A Mourning Dove huddles on a branch amid snowfall.

© Karen Lund

Mourning Doves

Named for the mournful sound of their owl-like cooing, mourning doves are plump-bodied brown birds with small heads and long tails.

A bright red Northern Cardinal perches on a wire fence in winter. Another Cardinal perches in the trees behind it.

Northern Cardinals

Northern cardinals bring splashes of vivid color to the grays and browns of a winter garden.

A Northern Mockingbird perches on a budding tree. It holds an insect in its beak.

Beverly, MA © Anne Colangeli

Northern Mockingbirds

These accomplished mimics are year-round residents of Massachusetts.

An Osprey swoops through a misty field.

Concord, MA © Kai Dan


Also known as fish hawks, Ospreys are raptors that survive on a diet of 99% fish.

Barred Owl in a Tree
Barred Owl


Although owls are among the best-known birds in folklore and literature, they remain something of a mystery to most people.

pigeon standing on rocks
Rock Pigeon


Common Pigeons have been domesticated for thousands of years, and have served as message carriers, research subjects, and more.

Red-winged blackbird on reed
Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds

The most common and widespread members of the blackbird family in Massachusetts are the Red-winged Blackbirds.

Bedford, MA © Janice Weichman

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Massachusetts' smallest breeding bird is also one of our most beautiful. 

A Tufted Titmouse perches on a bare branch.

Tufted Titmice

Tufted Titmice are bold as brass, harassing intruders in their territory with their harsh scold calls.

Two Turkey Vultures sit atop the marsh overlook at Barnstable Great Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary.
Barnstable Great Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Barnstable, MA © Lisa Irwin

Turkey Vultures

Although soaring Turkey Vultures are now a regular sight in Massachusetts, they were rare until recent decades.

A White-breasted Nuthatch climbs down a tree trunk head-first.

© Erica Granor

White-breasted Nuthatches

Many Massachusetts birds cling and crawl on the trunks of trees, but only the curious little nuthatches descend trees head-first.

A White-throated Sparrow stands in the grass.

White-throated Sparrows

Every spring, the northern woods are filled with the songs of White-throated Sparrows. 

Wild Turkey in the grass.

Wild Turkeys

Once all but extinct from Massachusetts, this iconic bird can be found just about anywhere—woods, suburbs, even cities.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker standing on a branch, look over its shoulder.
Red-bellied Woodpecker, © Cheryl Rose


Six woodpeckers are commonly found in Massachusetts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ever wonder what to do if you find a baby bird? Or why no birds are showing up at your feeder? How about why you shouldn't feed ducks?

Get Answers

Protecting Birds

We study birdlife so that we can protect them throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. 

Learn More 


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