20 Birds That Spend Their Winters in Massachusetts

Written by Kaylee Keech
Published: December 4, 2023
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According to Mass Audubon, there are over 300 species of birds that call Massachusetts home. Many of these species spend their winters in Massachusetts, but some are more common than others. 

Whether you live in Massachusetts or are only visiting for the winter, keep your eyes peeled for the birds you may see. Massachusetts’s most common wintertime birds are the common American robin, the bold northern cardinal, and the feisty Canada goose. 

1. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos

American Crow standing on a post.

American crows are highly intelligent birds.

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Known for their raucous calls and deep green-black feathers, American crows are one of the most common winter birds in Massachusetts. 

Most people dislike crows and don’t want them to come to their yard. But, if you’ll lure these beautiful big birds to your home, consider offering fruits, grains, or nuts. American crows are incredibly intelligent critters. They will hide their food and save it for when supplies are scarce. 

2. American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis

American Goldfinch Perched in the Tree Branches

American goldfinches are unique flyers who seem to bounce in the air.

©rck_953/Shutterstock.com

These beautiful birds have distinctive, bright yellow feathers during the warm months. Their colors fade over winter, becoming duller grays and browns.  

American goldfinches live in large flocks and are common around bird feeders. Consider providing thistle seed to these birds over winter. 

These birds almost seem to bounce when they’re flying. They flap their wings, tuck them tight against their body, and then flap them again.

3. American Robin (Turdus migratorius

American robin, Turdus migratorius, single bird on branch with berries, British Columbia, Canada, December 2022

American robins symbolize spring, but they live in Massachusetts year-round.

©Erni/Shutterstock.com

These common brown birds symbolize the coming spring in many cold states. Yet, hundreds of these birds overwinter in Massachusetts. Milder winters with abundant food attract far more robins than harsher winters. 

American robins are ground foragers. Consider scattering tiny pieces of apples, berries, or robins on the ground for them to eat. 

4. Black-Capped Chickadee (Parus atricapillus

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped chickadees get their names for their thick black heads.

©Paul Roedding/Shutterstock.com

These little birds don’t mind the cold and will flit around the trees singing, even in the coldest weather. Black-capped chickadees like to spend their time with other birds during winter. You’ll often see them with downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, and titmice. 

Another fun fact is that the black-capped chickadee is Massachusett’s state bird. 

5. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata

A Blue Jay in Flight

Their bright blue plumage makes blue jays one of the most distinctive birds in Massachusetts.

©Fiona M. Donnelly/Shutterstock.com

Easily one of the most distinctive birds, blue jays are even easier to spot against the backdrop of winter snow.

These bright blue birds love to sing and can produce various sounds. Blue jays are feisty and clever members of the crow family. They aren’t afraid to chase away birds larger than themselves. 

Consider providing blue jays with acorns over the winter — they are a favorite. 

6. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis

Canada Goose flapping wings

Flapping wings are sometimes a sign of aggression in Canadian geese.

©Erni/Shutterstock.com

Canada geese are known for their fiery personalities, especially if you get too close. These large, brown, gray, and blackbirds produce a distinctive “honking” vocalization. 

These large waterfowl rarely migrate if born and/or bred in Massachusetts. Still, they may move from their typical summer homes in search of water bodies that aren’t frozen. 

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) asks that you not feed geese or other waterfowl, even over winter. Feeding waterfowl can cause problems, especially if you provide the wrong foods, like bread, which can be deadly. 

7. Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus

Carolina wren perched on a fence with June bug in its mouth

These little brown birds look like they have eyebrows because of the white stripes above their eyes.

©William A. Morgan/Shutterstock.com

These little, fluffy, reddish-brown birds have distinctive white “eyebrows” and oddly angled tails. They are common in suburban neighborhoods year-round, singing their active tunes.

Carolina wrens are interesting birds because you may or may not see them. They are often bold little critters who sing loudly and protect their homes. Other times, they are shy and prefer to hide themselves. 

You aren’t likely to see Carolina wrens around your bird feeder. Still, you can scatter fruits and weed seeds for a better chance of seeing them.

8. Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Cedar waxwing bird

These birds have black masks across their eyes and yellow tail tips.

©Skyler Ewing/Shutterstock.com

A distinctive bird, cedar waxwings, have black masks running across their eyes. You’ll also notice red “fingertips” at the ends of their wings. They also have bright yellow bellies and tail tips.

You aren’t likely to see cedar waxwings at your bird feeder. Consider planting fruit or berry shrubs in your yard to entice them. Cedar waxwings love fruits and berries. A fully stocked shrub is easy pickings over winter. 

9. Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis

A dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed juncos are one of the most common winter birds in Massachusetts.

©Feng Yu/Shutterstock.com

Just as robins are a symbol of spring, dark-eyed juncos are a symbol of winter. Many of these “snowbirds” migrate to Massachusetts in the fall and stay until April. Some choose to remain in the state year-round. 

Dark-eyed juncos are seed-eating ground foragers. They gather in small groups to stay safe when eating. 

10. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis

Pair of Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) on a log with nesting material

Their blue wings and red breasts make eastern bluebirds highly distinctive.

©Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com

These bright blue birds with reddish-brown breasts are becoming more common in Massachusetts. They flock together during the winter months, gathering for migration. 

Eastern bluebirds are ground foragers. Consider scattering soft fruits around your yard to entice these visitors. 

11. European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris

Common starling (Sturnus vulgaris), also known as the European starling,

European starlings have deep black bodies with white speckling over winter.

©Karin Jaehne/Shutterstock.com

These large non-native birds are distinctive. They have deep black feathers dotted with white and iridescent blues and greens. The white speckles are common on their feathers over the winter months and help them blend in with the falling snow. As the weather warms, they lose much of that speckling in place of the green and blue. 

European starlings are loud birds that gather in large numbers. They live in Massachusetts year-round and pick at seeds and insects on the ground.

12. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus

Seagull chicks learn to mimic their parents, which enables them to communicate within their colonies.

An adult Herring Gull with three chicks.

©aseppa/ via Getty Images

In the early 1900s, herring gulls were only common during Massachusetts winters. They began breeding in the state in small numbers between 1912 and 1931. Today, breeding throughout the state is far more common. 

13. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) standing on the shore, male wild duck outside the water

Male mallard ducks have deep green heads.

©Luka Hercigonja/Shutterstock.com

These ducks are the most common duck species seen throughout Massachusetts year-round. They are prevalent sites in suburban and urban parks. 

If you own a swimming pool, you will likely become the temporary host of a mating pair of mallards. The falling snow, rain, and leaves create a personal, makeshift pond on pool covers. These little habitats are perfect for Mallards over winter. 

Like Canada geese, you should not feed Mallards or any other waterfowl. 

14. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura

A chubby mourning dove, Zenaida macroura, perches on an electricity wire in the backyard in the backyard.

Mourning doves get their name because of their soft, sad cooing.

©Jay Gao/Shutterstock.com

These elegant, fluffy brown-gray birds are mainstays of Massachusetts, even throughout the winter. Their soft, cooing voices are pleasant to listen to year-round. 

Mourning doves live in large flocks. They enjoy visiting agricultural fields and bird feeders over winter. They forage on the ground with their little bobbing heads for seeds. 

15. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis

Northern Cardinal Mates Perched

Male northern cardinals are bright red, while females are dull brown.

©Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock.com

These elegant, bright red birds are another famous symbol of winter. Northern Cardinals live in Massachusetts year-round. But, the males’ flashy red colors look especially elegant against winter’s white snow and dead foliage. 

Northern cardinals typically form mating pairs during the winter. They are common in suburban backyards and are fond of seeds, fruits, and insects.  

16. Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos

northern mockingbird

A northern mockingbird perched on an old fencepost.

©iStock.com/cmcneill17

These active, gray birds are common in neighborhoods where they find shelter in shrubbery. 

During the spring and summer, northern mockingbirds are loud singers who produce various vocalizations. 

They are more subdued during the winter, preferring to keep to themselves and stay quiet. They hide in thick shrubs that protect against the harsh weather and eat mostly fruits and berries. 

17. Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus

Red-bellied woodpecker enjoying a meal.

Red-bellied woodpeckers have long, sharp beaks for breaking through bark.

©Connie Moore/Shutterstock.com

There are seven species of woodpecker in Massachusetts. The red-bellied woodpecker is one of the most distinctive species because of its bright red head. 

Red-bellied woodpeckers spend lots of time on tree trunks, pecking the bark for their prey. Interestingly, their tongues wrap around their brains. Their tongues protect them from the quick and forceful drumming of their pecking. Two of their toes point upward and two point backward to make it easier to crawl up tree trunks. 

18. Tufted Titmouse (Parus bicolor

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmice have soft gray feathers, including a large tuft of feathers on the head.

©Brian A Wolf/Shutterstock.com

These birds have bold personalities. They enjoy spending time at bird feeders, where they bully smaller birds away from the food. 

Tufted titmice are seed foragers. They spend lots of their time with chickadees — their relatives. 

These large gray and white birds have loud and harsh vocalizations. They aren’t afraid to use their voices to defend their territories. 

19. White-Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Close-up of a White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatches get their names because of their skill with cracking open large seeds.

©J. A. Mikulich/Shutterstock.com

The most unique characteristic of the white-breasted nuthatch is that they crawl down tree trunks head first. They spend much of their time creeping over trunks, searching the crevices for food. 

White-breasted nuthatches get their names because of how they eat. They crack open large and tough seeds, similar to cracking over nuts. 

These birds sometimes visit bird feeders. Yet, they are much shyer than other species and are often challenging to spot. Because of their skittishness, they are likelier to snatch a single seed from the feeder and retreat to a “safer” spot to eat. 

20. White-Throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

A Little White-Throated Sparrow on a Fence

White-throated sparrows enjoy flocking with birds of other species.

©Fiona M. Donnelly/Shutterstock.com

These cute white-brown birds often live alone or in flocks of varying species. You’ll often find them living amongst dark-eyed juncos. 

White-throated sparrows often spend their spring and summers further up north. As it gets colder, they migrate south to Massachusetts. Still, many of these birds live in Massachusetts year-round. 

You may see these birds at feeders. Still, they’ll usually search for spilled seed on the ground below the feeders. White-throated sparrows are likelier to come to feeders surrounded by shrubs to hide in to feel safe.

Summary of 20 Birds that Spend Their Winters in Massachusetts 

BirdAverage Wingspan
American Crow33.5-39.4 inches
American Goldfinch 7.5-8.5 inches 
American Robin 4.7-5.4 inches 
Black-Capped Chickadee 0.80 inches 
Blue Jay 13.4-16.9 inches
Canada Goose 4.3-5.6 feet 
Carolina Wren 11.4 inches
Cedar Waxwing8.7-11.8 inches
Dark-Eyed Junco9.25 inches 
Eastern Bluebird9.8-12.6 inches
European Starling 15.75 inches 
Herring Gull 54-57.5 inches 
Mallard32.3-37.4 inches
Mourning Dove5.6-5.9 inches 
Northern Cardinal 12 inches 
Northern Mockingbird 12.2-13.8 inches
Red-Bellied Woodpecker15-18 inches
Tufted Titmouse9-11 inches 
White-Breasted Nuthatch 7.9-10.6 inches
White-Throated Sparrow 9 inches 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

I am a content writer who focuses on pets, wildlife, sustainability, and the environment. I specialize in blogs and love showing my readers how fascinating everything can be! I graduated from Millersville University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Concentration in Marine Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Science Writing. I volunteered at Raven Ridge Wildlife Center for five years, where I helped care for injured and orphaned Pennsylvania wildlife. I love all animals, wild and domestic. I've had all kinds of pets, including dogs, cats, birds, fish, a lizard, a snake, and a guinea pig. I may be curled up with a good book or my crochet when I'm not writing. I also enjoy exploring new places, especially by hiking or kayaking.

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