Types of Birds To See In New York City

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Published: March 30, 2023
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New York City is one of the most popular cities in the world! People visit from all over the planet and check off all of the incredible sights to see! From heartwarming memorials, and the bright lights of Time Square to the free ride on the Staton Island Ferry, New York City has something for everyone. 

One of the best ways to spend an afternoon in the city is by visiting Central Park. Here, you’ll have endless opportunities to spot a variety of birds and other wild animals. Pack your binoculars and your favorite bird seed and let’s talk about the types of birds you’ll see in the big apple! 

Scarlet Tanager

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The scarlet tanager bird is one of the most beautiful types of birds to see in New York City.

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As they aren’t actually tanagers and were recently given the taxonomical designation of cardinals, scarlet tanagers are unusual birds with a misleading name. 

Despite the bird’s name, it is impossible not to be enchanted by its vivid scarlet-orange hue, which covers the majority of its body aside from its black wings. Scarlet tanagers may also come to dine on fruit and bugs in your backyard.

Eastern Bluebird

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Eastern Bluebird is New York’s official state bird since 1970.

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Another of New York City’s most well-known birds is the next item on the list. In actuality, New York State has designated the Eastern Bluebird as its official bird since 1970. 

The bird is distinguished by its distinctive blue plumage, which covers its head, back, and wings. Both men and females of the species have blue plumage, however, males tend to be more vivid. 

When not perched on telephone poles and wires, the bird may be easily distinguished from western bluebirds thanks to its bronze and white underparts. You can see them in open woodlands near the city.

Rock Pigeons

Rock pigeon sitting on a branch

Rock pigeons are a widespread type of bird to see in New York City.

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Some refer to them as “Rock Doves.” These birds are very widespread across the city and may be seen in almost any place. Since they are so widespread, many people attempt to get rid of them. 

The bird has a bluish-gray covering of feathers with distinctive iridescent plumage around the throat area, though its colors may vary based on its diet and the season. 

Large flocks of pigeons frequently congregate, especially in regions with open spaces where they hover and forage for seeds and food scraps. These are among the most prevalent bird species in New York City.

American Robin

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The American robins are one of the types of birds to see in New York City.

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American robins are extremely well-liked all around the country, and numerous states have designated them as their official state bird. 

The unusual thrush songbird can be seen all over the city, and if you have a bird feeder, it might even come close to your house. 

The bird is distinguished by its dark black back and wings, which contrast with its reddish-orange breasts and belly.

Downy Woodpecker

downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker is a common type of bird you will see in NYC.

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In general, the downy woodpecker is one of the most common backyard birds in New York City. It is also the species of woodpecker that you will encounter the most frequently. 

Even though they resemble hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers are the smallest of any woodpeckers in America, making it simple to tell them apart. 

The bird is covered in bright red feathers on the back of its neck and has black and white plumage throughout. They readily land on bird feeders and eat bugs, fruits, and seeds as food.

Blue Jay

Blue jay perched on branch with back to camera

Blue jay birds are beautiful birds to see in New York.

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The blue jay is a wonderful bird to observe, but some people might find it annoying because it’s so chatty and boisterous. The majority of the bird’s body is covered in dazzling sky-blue feathers, with its wings and tail sporting a distinctive cyan check pattern. 

A blue jay’s feathers are essentially white, therefore their color is a result of the feathers’ structure rather than pigments. Blue jay is one of the few intelligent birds that can crack open nuts. It also mimics raptor calls, like those of hawks, to frighten off rival birds.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker Perched on a Branch

Red-bellied woodpeckers are striking woodpeckers found in New York City.

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There are many different species of woodpeckers in New York City, but few are as striking as the red-bellied one! As its name suggests, this bird’s belly is colored red. 

The large red patch running over the male’s nape and head, together with the extensively checked black and white back, make it the simplest to spot. Red-bellied woodpeckers are typically found in woodlands close to populated areas, yet they may build their nests in artificial bird boxes.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird

This type of bird found in New York City is a beautiful sight and easily recognizable.

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One of the most recognizable species of birds that will frequent Central Park and the surrounding area is the red-winged blackbird. Due to its distinctive appearance, the bird is fairly simple to recognize. 

With the exception of a little patch of brilliant red and yellow at the tip of their shoulder part of the wings, males of this type have black plumage covering practically all of their bodies like a standard blackbird. 

Although they can be seen all over the state, they usually prefer to stay close to freshwater areas. You should only observe these birds from a distance because they are quite territorial.

American Goldfinch

American goldfinch perched with back towards camera

The American goldfinch is the most recognizable songbird in New York City and the nation.

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One of the most recognizable songbirds not only in New York City but throughout the nation is the American goldfinch. The remainder of these birds’ bodies is golden yellow, with black feathers on their heads and wings. 

Males and females both have these colors. Males tend to be more vivid, particularly in the summer, as they molt throughout the winter and switch to a drab brown or olive coat.

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

The common grackle forages on the ground, in shallow water, or shrubs and trees in New York City.

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Common grackles are slender birds with a turquoise-colored head and an exquisite purplish-blue feather coat that you can’t miss! In New York City, they are yet another common bird. 

The females of this species frequently sport comparable patterns, but their overall tones are more subdued. These birds are simple to recognize since they frequently congregate in sizable, noisy flocks. 

These birds have a voracious appetite and will happily eat almost anything they can find, including seeds, fruits, bugs, reptiles, and small birds.

Mourning Dove

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

Mourning doves are popular types of birds to see in New York City.

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In the Empire State, mourning doves may be seen all over the place, and their population is steadily growing. They resemble rock pigeons in shape, but these portly birds are smaller and have beige or brown plumage with black patches on their wings. 

Although they like to live in regions with lots of shrubs, you can draw them to your backyard by scattering seeds and millet there because they like to graze on the ground.

Great Horned Owl

great horned owl

The great horned owl is the most prevalent owl in the state of New York.

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The great horned owl is one of the most recognizable birds in New York City at night. In addition to being among the most prevalent owls in the state, the owl is also the one that has adapted the best to habitation, making it simple to locate one at night. 

Some people may refer to the bird as a “tiger owl” because of its long ear tufts, big eyes, and black, white, and orange alternate lines around its face. 

They are a common raptor in the city, preying primarily on mice, squirrels, and other small animals.

Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is yet another Central Park staple that is extremely widespread throughout the city and the state. The male of this amazingly colorful bird has fiery red feathers covering the majority of his body, such as the crest on his head. 

The bird has a big bill and a black eye mask. On the other side, the female is primarily light brown with orange-red feathering on her crest, tail, and wings.

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee waits for bird seed while perched nearby at the park

The black-capped chickadee is a prevalent bird that can be found in New York.

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In New York City, the black-capped chickadee is undoubtedly one of the most prevalent backyard birds. The diminutive bird has a somewhat large head for its size and a thick, short bill. 

As the name implies, the bird’s head and bib are covered in a black cap, whereas the rest of its body is grey or white. You can use anything, including seeds, fruits, or insects, to entice these tiny birds to your backyard or favorite park. The bird, however, will also eat dead animals.

Red-Tailed Hawk

red-tailed hawk

The red-tailed hawk is the biggest of all raptors in NYC.

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The red-tail hawk is the most well-known and maybe the biggest of all raptors in New York City. Due to their preference for relatively high altitudes, raptors like this one are frequently seen soaring over suburban areas. 

The red-tailed hawk, despite its name, comes in a variety of colors, notably brown, black, light gray, and white. This bird will, however, typically flaunt a crimson, fairly long tail. 

They consume a variety of creatures, such as small mammals like rodents and squirrels, as well as reptiles like frogs, lizards, and others.

Bottom Line

There are so many amazing birds to see in the beautiful city we know and love as the Big Apple! Whether you’re visiting or call this place your home, we hope this guide helped you in which flighty critters you can expect to see around! 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/TomasSereda


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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