The state of Rhode Island is home to a variety of wild birds. We’ll take a look at some of the most common and well-known Rhode Island birds, particularly those that may be seen near you, in this article. Some of these species are migratory and spend the summer in Rhode Island, while others are permanent residents. So, let’s learn a little about each species with the help of 23 backyard birds in Rhode Island.
I’ll then demonstrate you how to entice them to your yard, give you a crash course in the 10 distinct types of bird feeders available for that purpose, and even provide you with a few recommendations on birdwatching destinations and clubs in Rhode Island.
How many different species of wild birds are in Rhode Island?
It’s impossible to say how many bird species exist in North America, or even in the state of Rhode Island, because there are so many. Nonetheless, the official state list (as of July 2019) lists 431 species, according to Wikipedia.
According to one source, North America contains 2,059 species; according to another, it only contains 914. So I’m not sure how accurate these numbers are, but they at least give us a rough idea of the number of species.
We’re just going to look at a few of our favorite Rhode Island backyard species for the purposes of this article.
23 BACKYARD BIRDS IN RHODE ISLAND
We’ll take a look at 23 species of Rhode Island birds, some of which are permanent residents and others that aren’t. These are some of the more notable and recognizable Rhode Island backyard birds, many of which you can see at your bird feeders, but they are not all of the species in the state or even close to it. Let’s get going!
1. NORTHERN CARDINAL
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
Length: 8.3-9.1 in
Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in
Among the most well-known and ubiquitous backyard birds in North America are southern cardinals. Females have duller colors and are more pale brown with some reddish coloring, while males have bright red feathers and a black mask. The characteristic hairstyle of both sexes, as well as their crimson orange beaks, make them easy to identify.
In Rhode Island, year-round, southern cardinals may be found.
Most seed feeders will be visited by the Cardinals, who will offer them a combination of black sunflower seeds and mixed seed blends.
2. TUFTED TITMOUSE
Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor
Length: 5.5-6.3 in
Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-10.2 in
In feeders and in backyards within their range, these small birds are very common. They have a little crest (mohawk) like cardinals, which helps you identify them from other birds. Titmice have a black patch above their beaks and are silver-gray on top and lighter on the bottom.
Throughout Rhode Island, the tufted titmouse may be found year-round.
Most seed feeders will be visited by titmice, who will offer them a mix of seed and black sunflower seeds.
3. BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE
Scientific name: Poecile atricapillus
Length: 4.7-5.9 in
Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz
Wingspan: 6.3-8.3 in
Because of their black hat and black bib, chickadees are tiny little birds with rounded bodies that are very easy to identify. Their underbodies are fluffy and light, with solid white cheeks and blackish gray wings and backs.
These are very frequent at bird feeders, where they dash back and forth to cover the seed and return it again. Chickadees are notorious for their boldness even for their size, and they’re one of the first birds I see visiting a new feeder in my yard.
Throughout Rhode Island, black-capped chickadees may be found all year.
Most seed feeders will be visited by chickadees, who will provide black sunflower seeds and mixed seed blends.
4. BLUE JAY
Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
Length: 9.8-11.8 in
Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz
Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in
In North America and the United States, another well-known bird species is the American robin. Blue Jays are the name of a bird. They have a white chest and belly with a huge blue crest on top of their heads, which is adorned with mostly blue feathers. Black stripes run down their wings and tail. Their necks are ringed by a black necklace-like collar. They frequently are among the first to notify all the birds in the area of a predator such as a hawk, and they emit several loud, metallic sounding calls.
Another year-round resident of Rhode Island is the Blue Jays.
Platform feeders, peanut feeders, and large perch feeders are all favorites of the Blue Jays. Black sunflower seeds, mixed seeds, and peanuts should be offered to them.
5. SONG SPARROW
Scientific name: Melospiza melodia
Length: 4.7-6.7 in
Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in
On the back and wings, these sparrows are mostly brown, with a white breast that is streaked with thick brown streaks and occasionally ending in a central brown spot. The plumage of song Sparrows varies somewhat across North America, and they are extremely frequent throughout much of the country. To attract females and defend his territory, the male of the species uses his song.
All year, Rhode Island is home to Song Sparrows.
Bird feeders are visited by Song Sparrows on occasion, and they munch on mixed seeds and sunflower seeds.
6. AMERICAN ROBIN
Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
Length: 7.9-11.0 in
Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
Robins are widespread in backyards and spend the most of their time hopping around after worms and other invertebrates. They do not usually eat seeds, despite visiting bird feeders on occasion. They’re easy to identify because of their vivid red, spherical bellies and yellow beaks. During the winter, they retreat to the woods in many areas and don’t return until spring. This creates the perception that they are leaving the state, but in reality, they stay through the winter in most instances.
All year, robins remain in Rhode Island.
Attract American Robins to your yard with meal worms, native fruit-bearing plants, or a bird bath since they don’t often visit bird feeders.
7. MOURNING DOVE
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
Length: 9.1-13.4 in
Weight: 3.0-6.0 oz
Wingspan: 17.7 in
Mourning doves are a little bit bigger than robins, and they’re frequent in backyards, sitting perched on telephone lines or in groups in trees. Their soft cooing is a frequent backyard noise. They’re frequently seen wandering around on the ground, rather than on my tray feeder. The majority of mourning doves have gray plumage with black specks on the top and a pale peachy hue below.
Throughout the whole state of Rhode Island, mourning doves can be found all year.
Seed feeders are visited by doves, but they prefer to search the ground for dropped seeds. Sprinkle some seeds on the ground or try a ground feeder with a varied seed blend.
8. EUROPEAN STARLING
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
Length: 7.9-9.1 in
Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
In the 1890s, 100 starlings were released in New York, and they have since established themselves around the country. They interrupt feeders, plundering the nests of other birds and murdering their children. They will even pass by feeders preventing other birds from obtaining any food. They have yellow beaks and feet and are mostly dark with white specks on their backs and wings. In the right light, starlings may also be a purple and green iridescent color that is rather beautiful.
Unfortunately, this invasive species may be found year-round in every state except Rhode Island.
The majority of foods are eaten by European Starlings. We recommend that you do not try to attract them, as they are an invasive species that will emerge anyway.
9. AMERICAN GOLDFINCH
Scientific name: Spinus tristis
Length: 4.3-5.1 in
Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in
In the spring and summer, seeing goldfinches at feeders is one of my favorite activities, especially when they have their bright yellow feathers. Males have a black cap on top of their heads during this time and are mostly yellow, or “gold,” with black-tipped wings. Their bright yellow turns to a dull brownish or olive color during the winter, when they molt. The black on their wings and finch-like beaks are always visible, no matter when of year it is.
Throughout Rhode Island, goldfinches may be seen all year.
Sunflower chips are another option for goldfinches, however a thistle feeder provides the greatest opportunity to attract them.
10. DARK-EYED JUNCO
Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
Length: 5.5-6.3 in
Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in
Eastern US Juncos The head, chest, back, wings, and tail are all dark gray. The slate-colored variety is what it’s called. They have a white belly that extends all the way down the tail. Females may contrast with males by appearing buffy brown instead of gray. The pale pink beak and roundish body shape of junco are two things to look for when identifying them. These can generally be observed hopping around on the ground in wooded and forested areas.
During the winter, dark-eyed Juncos can be found all over Rhode Island, and in the west, some may make a permanent home.
Juncos will go to feeders on occasion, but instead of eating seed that other birds have dropped, they prefer to eat it from the ground under your feeders. Mixed seeds are a big hit with them.
11. GRAY CATBIRD
Scientific name: Dumetella carolinensis
Length: 8.3-9.4 in
Weight: 0.8-2.0 oz
Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in
Robins with black headgear and a long tail, catbirds are robin-sized birds with dark slate gray coloration all over. They have a rusty red patch that is usually unseen just beneath their tails. Native fruit-bearing trees and bushes will attract catbirds, who love to eat fruit. Their cries sound like those of a meowing cat, which is why they are known as catbirds.
Summer is when grey catbirds are most common, but they can be found all year on Rhode Island.
If you provide some fruits, berries, or other sweet items, you may be able to attract catbirds, but they prefer to forage for food on the ground or in bushes.
12. HOUSE FINCH
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
Length: 5.1-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in
Another frequent backyard bird in Rhode Island is the House Finch. Although they are invasive to the east, they are not as despised as other invaders such as house sparrows or European starlings. They may appear in vast flocks and mob your feeders if you attract them, which is rather simple to do. Females have no red coloring, while males are mostly streaked brown in color with some red on the head and chest. Unfortunately, they are susceptible to a contagious eye condition, so keep an eye on your feeders for signs of illness.
Throughout Rhode Island, house finches remain throughout the year.
House Finches, like other finches, eat thistle seeds on occasion. They’re more likely to be seen in seed feeders than Goldfinches, so provide some black sunflower seeds.
13. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD
Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Length: 6.7-9.1 in
Weight: 1.1-2.7 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in
Male red-winged blackbirds are among the most common birds in North America, with their crimson and yellow “shoulders” standing out against their black bodies. The females, on the other hand, are mostly brown with faint streaks and look rather different. Males will have up to 15 different females that they are mating with, making them a polygynous species. Sadly, these birds sometimes turn up in flocks at feeders and devour seed quickly.
All year long, you may see red-winged blackbirds throughout Rhode Island.
Most types of feeders attract red-winged blackbirds, who will eat both seed and suet.
14. DOWNY WOODPECKER
Scientific name: Picoides pubescens
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
Backyard birds such as the downy are very frequent visitors of bird feeders. They are one of the first species I see at a new bird feeder, and they are the tiniest woodpeckers in North America. Their totally white bellies, black wings with white dots, black and white striped heads, and crimson patch on the back of their skulls (males have no red) distinguish them instantly. Downy’s are clearly smaller than Hairy Woodpeckers, despite their appearance.
Downy woodpeckers are found all year throughout Rhode Island.
Downy Woodpeckers are common with most types of bird feeders. There are several options, including mixed seed, black sunflower seed, and suet.
15. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
Length: 9.4 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in
In the eastern United States, these medium-sized woodpeckers may be found at birdfeeders and gardens. The bright red stripe down the back of their heads is what you’ll initially notice, despite the fact that they’re labeled as “red-bellied.” They have a simple white break with a pinkish red patch lower down in their belly region that is generally not visible. With the white and black patterning on their wings, they’re practically impossible to mistake.
In Rhode Island, red-bellied woodpeckers may be found throughout the year.
While they will occasionally consume at seed feeders, particularly when peanuts are supplied, attract Red-bellied Woodpeckers with a suet feeder.
16. COMMON GRACKLE
Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Length: 11.0-13.4 in
Weight: 2.6-5.0 oz
Wingspan: 14.2-18.1 in
Grackles are also quite attractive in the right light, with their iridescent feathers, despite being classified as a bully bird like the starling. They are normally black in color, although varying hues of blue, green, brown, and purple may be seen under bright sunlight. Grackles may roost with other blackbirds and form enormous flocks of millions of birds, which they do on occasion. Their solid coloring, long slender body, and yellow ringed eye make them easy to spot.
All year round, Grackles can be found across Rhode Island.
Grackles are considered pests because they forage and eat practically anything.
17. WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH
Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
Length: 5.1-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 in
The name “white-breasted nuthatch” comes from the fact that they stuff nuts and seeds beneath tree bark, then use their pointed beaks to crack open the seed. In addition, these birds are better than most other sorts of birds at climbing vertically on trees. White-breasted nuthatches have a wide white stripe over their heads, with white on either side and below their breasts. Gray and black are the most common colors on their wings.
White-breasted Nuthatches are a common backyard bird that can be found throughout the year in Rhode Island.
Most seed feeders are visited by nuthatches, who give them a combination of black sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet. They often go for a seed and flee, either eating it or caching it in a nearby tree.
18. HOUSE SPARROW
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Length: 5.9-6.7 in
Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in
Houses sparrows are the only other kind of wild bird in the United States, and they are often seen as pests. In addition to legal starlings, you can humanely kill. They, like starlings, were brought to New York in the 1800s and have since grown like wildfire across the United States. On their wings and buffy chest, they are mostly brown in color with occasional black and brown streaking. Other birds, particularly around nests, are attacked viciously.
Rhode Island is home to house sparrows.
House Sparrows, like European Starlings, are invasive and endanger native species. Almost anything will fill their stomachs.
19. WHITE-THROATED SPARROW
Scientific name: Zonotrichia albicollis
Length: 6.3-7.1 in
Weight: 0.8-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-9.1 in
White-throated sparrows are primarily winter birds in most of the nation, yet they may be seen all year in Massachusetts. Their bold facial pattern of black and white stripe with yellow spots between the eyes, in addition to their white throat patch, makes them easier to identify among sparrows. Females prefer to nest in hidden spots in thick brush and vegetation, where they may be found on or slightly above the ground.
In Rhode Island, white-throated sparrows are only commonly seen during the winter.
Feeders attract white-throated sparrows, who like to collect fallen seed below feeders. Sunflower, millet, and mixed seed blends are available.
20. CAROLINA WREN
Scientific name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
Length: 4.7-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-0.8 oz
Wingspan: 11.4 in
The upperparts of these little birds are reddish-brown, while the underparts are lighter orangish. It’s helpful to know that they have a long, somewhat curved beak and a bold white “eyebrow.” They prefer to sneak in the bushes and are difficult to detect, however their loud “teakettle-teakettle” call is unmistakable.
All year, Rhode Island is home to the Carolina wren.
In our yard, we saw a Carolina Wren visiting a suet feeder, as shown in the photograph above. These birds are rather common in backyards.
21. NORTHERN FLICKER
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
In the backyards of the United States, these medium to big sized woodpeckers are fairly common, however they are not especially frequent at feeders. They’re also one of the most vibrant species in North America, in my judgment. Flickers prefer to hunt for insects on the ground rather than in trees, and unlike other woodpeckers, they love doing it. The black spots on their bellies, solid black bib, red patch on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings will help you identify them. A black mustache appears on males. You get the bright yellow feathers on the underside of their wings and tail in Rhode Island, and they’re known as the “yellow-shafted” variety.
Throughout the year, you may find Northern Flickers across Rhode Island.
A suet feeder is visited by Northern Flickers on occasion, but they generally find their own food. If you have a bird bath available, they will stop by for a visit.
22. NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD
Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
Length: 8.3-10.2 in
Weight: 1.6-2.0 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-13.8 in
The ability to imitate the songs of other bird species gives mockingbirds their name. A male mockingbird might learn up to 200 songs throughout its lifetime, according to estimates. These medium-sized backyard birds have fairly long tail feathers, which distinguish them from other species. These may frequently be found living in tall vegetation, and they’ve been known to be aggressive with invading birds.
The state of Rhode Island is home to Northern Mockingbirds all year long.
Backyard Northern Mockingbirds are common, but they don’t feed at bird feeders. Using fruit bearing bushes or a bird bath, entice them to your yard with some of the other suggestions below.
23. YELLOW WARBLER
Scientific name: Setophaga petechia
Length: 4.7-5.1 in
Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
Wingspan: 6.3-7.9 in
The yellow warbler is a brightyellow bird that has a full yellow body. Their back can be darker, olive yellow, while their chest and head are brighter. On their chest, males have a reddish-brown streaking. Thickets and small trees near wetlands or streams are their preferred habitat.
During the spring and summer, Yellow Warblers may be found across Rhode Island.
Since they aren’t insect eaters, yellow warblers wouldn’t go near a bird feeder. Planting tiny trees that caterpillars can feed on may help you attract them.
HOW TO ATTRACT BIRDS TO YOUR YARD
Want to attract a few of these birds to your yard? Take a look at the five basic suggestions, starting with the most basic.
1. PUT OUT BIRD FEEDERS
A bird feeder or two is the best and simplest strategy to entice birds to your yard. A simple tube feeder, hopper feeder, platform feeder, or window feeder are good starters. There are various options for each listed below.
2. ADD A WATER SOURCE
You can use a terra cotta flower pot saucer, like this one, instead of a pedestal birdbath. Birds need water not just to bathe in, but also to drink, and adding a water feature to your yard will only increase your likelihood of attracting birds. Also, since moving water attracts the birds to visit the water, consider adding a solar fountain.
3. OFFER BIRDHOUSES
If put in the proper location and at the proper time of year, several species of birds will readily take up residence in birdhouses. Among the most popular birds sought after for birdhouses are Eastern Bluebirds. On the same day I put up this birdhouse, a mating pair of bluebirds was inspecting it in my yard.
4. PROVIDE SHELTER
When the birds sense danger, make sure that your yard has trees, bushes, and shrubs for them to dart back and forth between. Predators are the primary defense they have. Try to add some landscaping elements that will enable birds to view your yard as safe if your yard is in a new development with no mature trees.
5. ADD NATIVE PLANTS
Having native plants that produce nuts, berries, and seeds will only help your efforts to attract more birds for many birds that eat them. Moreover, since most songbirds feed insects to their hatchlings, native plants support caterpillars and other insects that feed many birds and support nesting birds. Out-compete the native plants that support a healthy ecosystem, avoid invasive and non-native plants.
10 DIFFERENT TYPES OF BIRD FEEDERS
In this article, we’ll go over ten of the most popular bird feeders in yards.
- Hopper feeders are known as hopper feeders because they contain a hopper in the middle, which holds the bird seed. On the sides, there are perches for birds to rest on and eat off of. To keep the seed dry, many hopper feeders are shaped like a house and have a cover. This type of feeder can be used with black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed. This is a squirrel-proof hopper feeder that I really like.
- Platform feeders are open on top and may be hung, hook, or pole-mounted. They are also known as tray feeders. They’re simple to set up and offer a wide range of food for most kinds of birds. Every animal in your yard that can reach them will consume from them, despite the fact that they are totally open. For this kind of feeder, use black sunflower seeds or a combination of birdseed. At the moment, I’m using this backyard platform feeder.
- Tube feeders are simple tube-shaped plastic bird feeders that are used to feed birds. They may hold a few seed cups or 5 pounds or more, and they come in a variety of sizes. These are fantastic because they preserve your seed while also allowing you to refill it when necessary. Tube feeders are used by a variety of birds. Tube feeders can be used to feed black sunflower seeds and mixed seeds. This squirrel-proof tube feeder is made by Squirrel Buster, and it’s one of the best on the market.
- Suet feeders are used to feed one kind of bird meal, suet cakes. They’re a very basic idea, generally consisting of just a metal wire cage with a tail-prop for bigger birds. Suet feeders are commonly visited by woodpeckers during the winter, when birds are searching for high-fat foods. To attract bigger woodpeckers, such as the Pileated and Northern Flicker, I suggest getting a suet feeder with a long tail prop.
- Window feeders are tiny bird feeders that use suction cups to attach to a glass window. They’re open on top and you simply pour seed into the tray region to replenish them, similar to tray feeders. Several different species of birds like these feeders, and they are simple to get started with. They are also perfect for anyone who doesn’t have a huge yard. This kind of feeder may be used with black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed. This is, without a doubt, the most popular bird feeder on Amazon, and maybe the entire internet.
- Thistle feeders, often known as Nyjer feeders, are specialized bird feeders designed especially for thistle seed. Birds in the finch family, which includes the American Goldfinch and House Finch, are the most common types of birds that thistle feeders attract. The thistle feeders are usually shaped like a tube and have tiny holes along the tube’s walls for the birds to pick out the thistle. Droll Yankees has a great thistle feeder.
- Tray feeders that sit on the ground level are known as ground feeders. Birds like Mourning Doves, Juncos, and squirrels, as well as raccoons and other ground creatures will be drawn to them. For this kind of feeder, use black sunflower seeds or a combination of birdseed. This recycled plastic ground feeder is a product you might like.
- Another kind of specialty feeder for one species of bird, orioles, is the oriole feeder. Little plastic or glass dishes made for holding jelly, which orioles adore, are commonly used as feeders for the feeder itself. Another food that orioles enjoy is orange halves, which you can put onto the feeder. Here’s a feeder for orange halves that has four jelly trays.
- Hummingbird feeders are specifically designed to extract sugar water from nectar, also known as hummingbird feeders. I often see Downy Woodpeckers at mine, even though they are meant for hummingbirds, and they also adore that delicious sap. Hummingbird nectar may be produced without cooking the water by reading this article. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on a hummingbird feeder since they’re so simple and cost-effective.
- Peanut feeders are tube-shaped devices made of metal wire mesh material and are similar to thistle feeders. To enable for both whole unshelled or shelled peanuts to pass through the openings in the wire mesh, they are spaced much farther apart. These feeders should be filled with peanuts and attract birds like Blue Jays. This one from Squirrel Buster is the best way to keep squirrels out of your peanut feeder. The following simple one will suffice.
BIRD WATCHING IN RHODE ISLAND
If you want to extend your birding beyond your own yard, Rhode Island has several possibilities. If you want to get more involved, the Rhode Island Audubon Society hosts meetups, workshops, field excursions, and birding trips.
RHODE ISLAND BIRDING LOCATIONS
- Norman Bird Sanctuary
- Colt State Park
- Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge
- Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge
- Block Island