13 Birds That Spend Their Winters in Pennsylvania

Male and Female Evening Grosbeak
© Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

Written by Deniz Martinez

Published: November 20, 2023

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While Pennsylvania has many year-round resident birds, others only make their home in the state for part of the year. Some birds just spend their summer breeding season in Pennsylvania, then in autumn migrate back down south for the winter. However, for other birds that breed further north in New England and Canada, Pennsylvania is their southern winter home!

For some of these species, migration into Pennsylvania is a reliable annual event. However, others are irruptive migrators whose seasonal movements vary based on food availability. For those species, irruptions into Pennsylvania vary from year to year in both range and abundance. Here are 13 birds that usually call Pennsylvania home only during the winter months, and where and when you can expect to see them.

1. American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)

The American tree sparrow measures 6 in (15 cm) in length.

©Jukka Jantunen/Shutterstock.com

The American tree sparrow overwinters across the state. It is a regular visitor to feeders.

2. Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

The common goldeneye measures 18 – 20 in (45 – 51 cm) in length.

©iStock.com/Jeff Kingma

The common goldeneye overwinters in ice-free water bodies across the state.

3. Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)

Common Redpole

The common redpoll measures 5 in (13 cm) in length.

©FotoRequest/Shutterstock.com

The common redpoll is an irruptive migrator that in some years can be found across the state during the winter. It will visit feeders.

4. Double-Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

The double-crested cormorant measures 31 – 35 in (79 – 89 cm) in length with up to a 4.3 ft (1.3 m) wingspan.

©iStock.com/BrianLasenby

The double-crested cormorant can be seen across the state during autumn migration but only overwinters in the southeastern corner of the state in the Delaware River area.

5. Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

Male and Female Evening Grosbeak in Winter, Portrait

The evening grosbeak measures 8 in (20 cm) in length.

©FotoRequest/Shutterstock.com

The evening grosbeak is an irruptive migrator that in some years can be found across the state during the winter. It will visit feeders.

6. Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)

Fox sparrow

The fox sparrow measures 7 in (18 cm) in length.

©Mircea Costina/Shutterstock.com

The fox sparrow can be seen across the state during autumn migration but only overwinters in the southern half of the state. It will visit ground feeders.

7. Gadwall (Mareca strepera)

Pair of Gadwall Ducks Swimming

The gadwall measures 19 in (43 cm) in length.

©Hayley Crews/Shutterstock.com

The gadwall can be seen across the state during autumn migration but only overwinters in shallow wetlands in the northern edge and southeastern corner of the state.

8. Green-Winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)

green winged teal

The green-winged teal measures 14 – 15 in (36 – 38 cm) in length.

©J Edwards Photography/Shutterstock.com

The green-winged teal can be seen across the state during autumn migration, but only overwinters in shallow wetlands in the southeastern region and the northwestern corner of the state.

9. Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)

side view of a male Northern Shoveler duck

The northern shoveler measures 19 – 21 in (48 – 53 cm) in length.

©Eric Santin/iStock via Getty Images

The northern shoveler can be seen across the state during autumn migration but only overwinters in wetlands, ponds, and lakes in the southeastern corner of the state.

10. Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)

Pine siskin perched at the end of a pine branch against a blurred background

The pine siskin measures 5 in (13 cm) in length.

©Menno Schaefer/Shutterstock.com

The pine siskin is an irruptive migrator that can be seen across the northern half of the state in some years, and statewide during heavy invasion years. It will visit thistle feeders.

11. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula)

ruby-crowned kinglet perched on pine branch

The Ruby-Crowned Kinglet averages 4 in (10 cm) in length.

©iStock.com/mirceax

The ruby-crowned kinglet can be seen across the state during autumn migration but only overwinters in the state’s southeastern region.

12. Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)

A flock of tundra swans on a body of water

The tundra swan measures 50 – 54 in (127 – 137 cm) in length with up to a 5.5 ft (1.7 m) wingspan.

©hay_mn97/Shutterstock.com

The tundra swan can be seen across the state during autumn migration but only overwinters in the southeastern corner of the state in the Delaware River area.

13. White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

White-crowned sparrow

The white-crowned sparrow measures 6.5 – 7.5 in (16.5 – 19 cm) in length.

©Rbrown10/Shutterstock.com

The white-crowned sparrow can be seen across the state during autumn migration but only overwinters in the southern third of the state. It will visit ground feeders.

Summary of 13 Birds That Spend Their Winters in Pennsylvania

SpeciesAnnual or Irruptive MigratorWhere Found in Winter
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)annualstatewide
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)annualstatewide
Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)irruptivestatewide
Double-Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)annualSE corner of state (Delaware River area)
Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)irruptivestatewide
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)annualS half of state
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)annualN edge and SE corner of state
Green-Winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)annualSE region and NW corner of state
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)annualSE corner of state
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)irruptivestatewide (more common in N half of state)
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula)annualSE region
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)annualSE corner of state (Delaware River area)
White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)annualS third of state
SOURCES: Birds of Pennsylvania, Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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About the Author

Deniz Martinez is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on biogeography, ornithology, and mammalogy. Deniz has been researching, teaching, and writing about animals for over 10 years and holds both an MS degree from American Public University earned in 2016 and an MA degree from Lindenwood University earned in 2022. A resident of Pennsylvania, Deniz also runs Art History Animalia, a website and associated social media dedicated to investigating intersections of natural history with art & visual culture history via exploring animal iconography.

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