20 Backyard Winter Birds in West Virginia

Discover which avian inhabitants of West Virginia grace your backyard during the winter season. Witness the enchanting spectacle of these winged creatures gathering at your feeders amidst the frigid weather while you indulge in a steaming beverage from the comfort of your window.

Familiarize yourself with the diverse assortment of winter birds native to West Virginia and learn how to entice an even greater number of them to your yard, bringing you boundless winter joy.

The following are the most prevalent species of backyard birds you may encounter in West Virginia during the winter months. They rank high on state checklists submitted to eBird, appearing frequently in December and January. The percentage indicates their frequency of occurrence based on the checklists.

Top 20 Common Winter Birds in West Virginia Backyards:

1. American Crow (47.2%)
2. Northern Cardinal (46.6%)
3. Tufted Titmouse (39.4%)
4. Blue Jay (38.3%)
5. Downy Woodpecker (38.2%)
6. Song Sparrow (37%)
7. Carolina Wren (36.7%)
8. White-breasted Nuthatch (35.8%)
9. Dark-eyed Junco (31.7%)
10. Red-bellied Woodpecker (31.4%)
11. Carolina Chickadee (30.1%)
12. American Goldfinch (28.5%)
13. Mourning Dove (28.3%)
14. European Starling (27.5%)
15. White-throated Sparrow (25.4%)
16. House Finch (21%)
17. House Sparrow (20.8%)
18. Pileated Woodpecker (17.8%)
19. Northern Mockingbird (15.3%)
20. Eastern Bluebird (15%)

Woodpeckers tend to be more commonly observed during West Virginia winters compared to the summer months, particularly near suet feeders.

Some birds, such as the Eastern Towhee, Red-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Gray Catbird, Chipping Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing, Wood Thrush, Eastern Phoebe, and Scarlet Tanagers, migrate away from West Virginia during the autumn season.

On the other hand, certain avian residents of West Virginia remain throughout the winter after breeding further north, including the White-throated Sparrow.

To delve deeper into the world of these winter birds that frequent feeders and backyards in West Virginia, explore their photographs, identification information, and discover ways to attract more of them to your own backyard.

Top 20 Common Winter Birds in West Virginia Backyards:

1. American Crow

These large, ebony-feathered birds emit a husky, cawing sound. They inhabit various environments such as forests, treetops, fields, beaches, and urban areas. American Crows exhibit an omnivorous diet, consuming earthworms, insects, seeds, fruits, fish, young turtles, mussels, clams, and even eggs and nestlings of other bird species. In winter, they assemble in communal roosts, often comprising millions of crows.

To attract more American Crows to your backyard, consider scattering peanuts. However, be cautious, as they can become bothersome if enticed by garbage or pet food left unattended.

2. Northern Cardinal

The vibrant, red-plumed male Northern Cardinal, accompanied by its black-masked countenance, presents a striking sight, particularly against a wintry backdrop. The females also possess captivating features, exhibiting brown hues, prominent brown crests, and red accents, including their beaks.

During the breeding season, Northern Cardinals may engage in aggressive behavior,

challenging their own reflections. To accommodate their larger size and beak, opt for a spacious hopper feeder or a feeder equipped with adequate perching space, such as the robust Woodlink Absolute feeder, which cardinals favor. This feeder also boasts squirrel-proof properties, an added benefit.

To attract more Northern Cardinals to your backyard feeders, offer sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo. They happily indulge in large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, or food scattered on the ground.

3. Tufted Titmouse

With its gray plumage on the back and white underbelly, adorned by a charming gray crest and expressive, sizable eyes, the Tufted Titmouse often forms flocks alongside chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.

Assertive in nature, Tufted Titmice assert dominance over smaller birds. They inhabit woodlands, parks, and, delightfully, backyard feeders. Their diet primarily consists of insects, such as caterpillars, beetles, ants, wasps, spiders, and snails. They also savor seeds, nuts, berries, and diligently store shelled seeds.

Consider employing the durable and squirrel-proof Woodlink Hopper Feeder, which effectively shields the seed from rain, ensuring longevity. Additionally, Tufted Titmice prefer suet feeders equipped with tail props to balance their lengthy tails.

To entice Tufted Titmice to your backyard feeders, provide sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts in tube feeders or suet cages. You may also try installing a nest box to attract a breeding pair.

4. Blue Jay

Blue Jays, sporting a splendid azure crest, blue and black wings, and white undersides, grace the avian population with their distinct calls. These boisterous songbirds frequently migrate in large flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coastlines, exhibiting a fondness for forests, particularly areas abundant in oak trees.

Feasting on acorns when available, Blue Jays inhabit various environments, including forests and backyards. In addition to acorns, their diet comprises insects, nuts, seeds, grains, and they are known to pilfer eggs and nestlings from other birds.

Given their large size, Blue Jays prefer a quick in-and-out approach, swooping in to snatch a peanut or sunflower seed. Platform or tray feeders facilitate their efficient feeding. The versatile Woodlink Audubon Platform Feeder, which can be hung, pole-mounted, or placed on the ground, features a mesh screen for rain drainage, preventing feed from turning moldy.

To attract more Blue Jays to your backyard, offer peanuts, sunflower seeds, suet, and consider providing a birdbath for their enjoyment.

5. Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker, a petite bird often found mingling with chickadees and nuthatches, is a familiar visitor at backyard feeders. Displaying black and white plumage with a red patch on the back of their heads, they bear resemblance to the Hairy Woodpecker.

Frequenting woodlots, streamside areas, city parks, and backyards, Downy Woodpeckers predominantly consume insects, including beetle larvae, as well as berries, acorns, and grains. In West Virginia, they are more commonly sighted during winter than in the summertime.

Consider employing an upside-down suet feeder, which provides protection from rain and discourages bully birds. Bulk packs of suet cakes offer a cost-effective solution.

Additionally, Downy Woodpeckers exhibit a penchant for black oil sunflower seeds. Combining them with suet in a practical suet and hopper feeder combination allows for the simultaneous use of two


To attract more Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard, utilize suet feeders, offer black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.

6. Song Sparrow

Though not as striking as some of their avian counterparts, Song Sparrows captivate with their predominantly brown-streaked feathers and continuous singing, which serves to entice mates during the spring and summer seasons.

These sparrows typically perch on low shrubs in open, shrubby, and wet areas, showcasing their melodic repertoire. They are often observed at backyard feeders.

Smaller birds benefit from feeders equipped with cages, preventing larger “bully” birds like starlings, grackles, and blackbirds from monopolizing the food and scaring off smaller songbirds. The presence of tube feeders with cages, such as the Woodlink Caged feeder, proves essential in establishing an ideal feeder setup. This feeder is easy to clean and perfect for accommodating small birds.

To attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders, offer black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.

7. Carolina Wren

Carolina Wrens, bashful birds donning dark brown plumage on top and light brown undersides, feature a distinct white eyebrow stripe and an upright tail. Their vocalization is characterized by a lively “teakettle” song.

Thriving in wooded areas, dense vegetation, overgrown farmyards, and suburban spaces, Carolina Wrens occasionally visit backyard feeders. Their diet consists primarily of insects and spiders, including caterpillars, moths, crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles.

Although Carolina Wrens are not frequent visitors to backyard feeders, they may venture to suet feeders during winter. Consider adding a squirrel-proof feeder with a protective roof to prevent rain from spoiling the suet, serving as a valuable addition to your winter setup.

To attract more Carolina Wrens to your backyard feeders, provide suet feeders, hulled sunflower seeds, or peanut hearts in large tube feeders or on platform feeders. Creating brush piles may also encourage nesting.

8. White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatches, characterized by their energetic nature, boast gray-blue plumage on their backs and white faces and bellies, adorned by a black cap. Their lower bellies and under-tail feathers often exhibit a chestnut hue.

These active birds inhabit deciduous forests, woodland edges, parks, and yards abundant in trees, frequently gracing feeders. Their diet predominantly consists of insects such as beetles, larvae, caterpillars, ants, and spiders. They also consume seeds and nuts, including acorns, hawthorns, and sunflower seeds. Fascinatingly, they engage in the practice of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then skillfully extracting the seeds by hammering them with their beaks.

Nuthatches are particularly fond of black oil sunflower seeds. Utilize the user-friendly Droll Yankees feeder, designed for easy cleaning, which prevents food from turning moldy and potentially harming birds.

To attract more White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard, offer sunflower seeds and peanuts on tube feeders or suet feeders.

9. Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Juncos, sparrows exhibiting varying colorations depending on their location, boast slate-colored plumage in the east and black, white, and brown hues in the west.

While some Juncos remain resident throughout the year in the west and the Appalachian Mountains, those breeding in Canada and Alaska embark on a southward migration, spreading across much of the United States. They tend to frequent open and partially wooded areas, often

foraging on the ground, showcasing their prevalence across the continent.

To ensure the safety of small birds, it is advisable to position ground feeders away from shrubs where predators may lurk. Covered feeders serve this purpose effectively, while simpler platform feeders allow for rain drainage.

To attract more Dark-eyed Juncos to backyard feeders, offer a variety of seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts. Platform feeders or scattering food on the ground are optimal approaches.

10. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers, featuring a pale red belly that may prove elusive to spot, showcase a red cap and nape, accompanied by a black-and-white-striped back. Comparable in size to Hairy Woodpeckers, they measure approximately 9 inches in length.

With their resonant calls resonating through woods and forests, particularly those with decaying wood in the eastern states, Red-bellied Woodpeckers primarily subsist on insects and spiders. However, their diet also includes acorns, nuts, pine cones, seeds, and fruits.

Suet serves as a prime attraction for Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Upside-down suet feeders provide effective deterrence against squirrels and dominant birds. Consider utilizing bulk packs of suet cakes for an economical solution.

Combining black oil sunflower seeds with suet in a practical suet and hopper feeder combination serves as an effective means of attracting more Red-bellied Woodpeckers to your backyard. They may also be enticed by hummingbird feeders.

11. Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadees, small and lively birds, showcase a combination of gray, black, and white plumage. They are often found in woodlands, parks, and backyards. Their diet primarily consists of insects, seeds, berries, and they also show a preference for suet.

To attract Carolina Chickadees to your backyard, provide sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts in tube feeders or on platform feeders. Additionally, consider offering nest boxes to encourage breeding.

12. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinches, beloved for their bright yellow plumage, are a delightful sight in winter. They inhabit various habitats, including fields, meadows, and backyards. Their diet mainly comprises seeds, particularly those from composite plants like thistles and sunflowers.

To attract American Goldfinches, offer nyjer (thistle) seeds in specialized tube feeders designed for their small beaks. These feeders often have tiny holes suitable for the consumption of nyjer seeds.

13. Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves, known for their gentle cooing calls, are widespread and familiar birds. They can be found in various environments, including woodlands, fields, and suburban areas. Their diet primarily consists of seeds, especially those of grasses and weeds.

To attract Mourning Doves to your backyard, scatter a variety of seeds on the ground or offer them in platform feeders. They are particularly fond of millet.

14. European Starling

European Starlings, known for their striking iridescent plumage, are highly adaptable birds that thrive in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Their diet comprises insects, fruits, seeds, and nectar.

To deter European Starlings from dominating your feeders, consider utilizing feeders with smaller openings designed for smaller birds. Offering suet feeders with specific anti-starling features can also help attract a wider range of species.

15. White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrows, characterized by their crisp white throats and distinct patterns on their heads, often visit West Virginia during the winter after breeding further north. They can be found in various habitats, including woodlands, thickets, and suburban areas.

To attract White-throated Sparrows to your backyard, offer a mix of seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and millet on platform feeders or scattered on the ground.

16. House Finch

House Finches, small and vibrant birds with a mixture of red, brown, and gray plumage, are common visitors to feeders. They inhabit a wide range of habitats, including urban areas, farmlands, and deserts. Their diet primarily consists of seeds, fruits, and insects.

To attract House Finches, offer sunflower seeds, thistle seeds, and nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.

17. House Sparrow

House Sparrows, small and stout birds with brown and gray plumage, are highly adaptable and found in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Their diet comprises seeds, grains, fruits, and insects.

To attract House Sparrows to your backyard, provide a mix of seeds in platform feeders or scattered on the ground. They are also known to frequent bird tables.

18. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpeckers, the largest woodpeckers in North America, are known for their striking black plumage, red crests, and loud, distinctive calls. They primarily inhabit mature forests with ample dead wood. Their diet includes insects, fruits, nuts, and occasionally sap.

To attract Pileated Woodpeckers, consider providing suet feeders and large platform feeders with nuts or fruits. Additionally,

leaving dead trees or snags in your yard can provide foraging and nesting opportunities.

19. Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbirds, renowned for their exceptional vocal abilities, are grayish birds with white patches on their wings. They are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including urban areas, woodlands, and shrubby fields. Their diet comprises insects, fruits, berries, and seeds.

To attract Northern Mockingbirds, offer a mix of fruits, berries, and suet in platform feeders. Additionally, providing suitable perching spots and shrubs for nesting can enhance their presence in your yard.

20. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebirds, famous for their vibrant blue plumage, are cherished backyard visitors. They primarily inhabit open fields, meadows, and grasslands with scattered trees. Their diet consists of insects, berries, and fruits.

To attract Eastern Bluebirds, offer mealworms, suet, and a suitable nest box with the proper dimensions and entrance hole size. Providing a water source such as a birdbath is also beneficial.

These 20 species of winter backyard birds in West Virginia encompass a diverse array of colors, sizes, and behaviors. By understanding their preferences and offering appropriate feeders and food, you can create a welcoming environment that attracts and delights these avian guests throughout the winter season.

Top Bird Feeders for Attracting Winter Avian Visitors in West Virginia

Maximize the array of bird species by employing a diverse selection of bird feeders.

  • Different varieties of tube feeders enable the attraction of various bird species through the utilization of distinct seed types. For instance, black oil sunflower seeds entice Goldfinches, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Pine Siskins.
  • Ground feeders, or a tray positioned beneath a tube feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds, successfully draw Cardinals, Jays, Finches, and Sparrows.
  • Platform feeders furnished with Millet or Corn effectively allure small and medium-sized birds such as sparrows, Blackbirds, Towhees, Juncos, Doves, Grackles, and Starlings.
  • Peanut feeders prove irresistible to Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Jays, Juncos, Finches, and Sparrows.
  • In wintertime, Suet Feeders serve as an excellent choice for Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Kinglets, Wrens, and Chickadees.

Guidelines for Alluring Birds to Your West Virginia Yard

To enhance avian presence in your West Virginia yard, consider the following tips:

  • Introduce bird feeders designed for different bird types to maximize the variety of species visiting your yard.
  • Incorporate a water feature, such as a birdbath fountain or stream, ensuring the water remains clean and free from stagnation.
  • Cultivate native plants that offer sustenance and refuge, such as fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, and plants like blackberries, wild grasses, elderberries, serviceberries, oaks, beeches, cherries, sumacs, hemlocks, purple coneflowers, sunflowers, milkweed, cardinal flowers, trumpet honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, buttonbush, and dogwoods.
  • Allow your grass to grow longer to provide cover and produce seeds.
  • Maintain a brush pile to offer nourishment, protection, and nesting opportunities for birds.
  • Avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides, which can be toxic to birds and hinder their natural foraging for insects and seeds in your yard.
  • Install nest boxes to attract breeding birds, ensuring they are cleaned annually.

Tips for Identifying Winter Birds in West Virginia

Consider the following pointers to assist in identifying birds:

  • Size – Observing a bird’s size is the most straightforward identification factor. Reference guidebooks often provide measurements in inches or centimeters. It’s helpful to categorize birds as small, medium, or large for future reference. Small birds are roughly sparrow-sized, medium birds are pigeon-sized, and large birds are akin to geese in size.
  • Shape – Take note of the bird’s silhouette and either jot down or sketch the outline. Pay attention to tail length, bill shape, wing shape, and overall body form.
  • Color pattern – Observe the primary color of the head, back, belly, wings, and tail. Take note of any secondary colors or patterns, such as banding, spots, or highlights.
  • Behavior – Determine if the bird is grounded or perched high in trees. Note whether they are solitary or part of a flock. Can you identify their feeding habits?
  • Habitat – Assess if the bird is found in woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, or along shores and marshes.
    Utilize bird identification applications such as those developed by ebird or Audubon.

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