What Is the Most Common Bird in Massachusetts?


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Bird watching is a pastime enjoyed by all and does not require much in the way of supplies – you can simply look out the window and observe birds in your backyard.

Do ever wonder exactly which species you are most likely to encounter?

In Massachusetts, the most commonly sighted bird is the black-capped chickadee, a small fluffy bird with a white and gray body and blackhead.

Whether summer or winter, this little bird can be found all over the state from the Housatonic River to Cape Cod, and Andover to New Bedford.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a wide variety of birds that Massachusetts has to offer from its most common to its rarest, the largest bird in residence, birds found in your backyard to birds found on the water, springtime and wintertime birds, and much more.

What Is the State Bird of Massachusetts?

The state of Massachusetts actually has two state birds – the black capped chickadee and the turkey.

The black capped chickadee is the most commonly found bird in the state and was designated the official state bird in 1941.

The turkey, famously eaten at the first Thanksgiving held in Plymouth, Massachusetts, was designated the state game bird in 1991.

What Birds Are in Massachusetts in Winter?

While a lot of birds fly south for the winter, choosing to spend those cold snowy months in more tropical climes, there are a few that decide to stay up north when it gets cold and hunker down through the snowy season.

Massachusetts bird in winter
Black-capped Chickadee

In Massachusetts, there are a few small bird species that you may be able to spot among the icy branches of leafless trees.

The most common overwintering birds include the:

  • black capped chickadee
  • Northern cardinal
  • tufted titmouse
  • dark eyed junco
  • and white breasted nuthatch

Is It Okay to Feed Birds in Massachusetts?

It is naturally appealing to put a bird feeder out in your backyard filled with seeds to see all the different colorful avian friends you can attract.

There are no rules against feeding birds, however, it’s good to keep an eye on the news because sometimes you may be advised against putting out the birdseed.

For example, this past July, the Audubon Society urged Massachusetts residents to take down their bird feeders as an unknown avian disease swept through the state killing many of its winged critters.

While the cause remains unknown, the Audubon Society cleared people to rehang their feeders in late August.

What Is the Rarest Bird in Massachusetts?

Rarest Bird in Massachusetts
Franklin’s Gull

While seagulls are extremely common along the lengthy coastline of Massachusetts, the rarest bird the state has to offer may be mixed in on the beaches and marshes along with some of its more common counterparts.

The California gull and the Franklin’s gull are the rarest birds to be spotted in Massachusetts, but may be spotted among the other gull species present such as the great black backed, laughing, herring, and ring billed gulls.

What Kind of Sparrows Live in Massachusetts?

American tree sparrows are known to overwinter in Massachusetts and can be commonly seen at bird feeders while there’s snow on the ground.

While not common in the wintertime, chipping sparrows can be found during the warmer months.

In the more urban areas and parks, house sparrows tend to be among the city birds you’ll find dwelling in Massachusetts.

Perhaps one of the most common spring and summer sparrows are the song sparrow which are known for their pleasing tunes.

You Never Know: You are most likely to see these in the warmer months, however, they do overwinter, so it is not out of the question to find them at your feeder in the snowy months too.

What Are the Top Ten Most Common Backyard Birds Found in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts offers a wide variety of habitats for birds and your very backyard is a great place to live for dozens of different species.

Backyard Birds Found in Massachusetts
American Robin

The top ten most common birds you are likely to encounter on your own property include:

  1. Black capped chickadee
  2. American robin
  3. Blue jay
  4. Northern cardinal
  5. Song sparrow
  6. American crow
  7. Mourning dove
  8. American goldfinch
  9. Tufted titmouse
  10. Downy woodpecker

How Many Bird Species Are There in Massachusetts?

According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s state ornithologist, there are 448 species of birds found in residence in the state.

In order to be considered an avian resident of Massachusetts there has to be sufficient evidence of a specimen either collected, photographed, or sighted.

For the latter two pieces of evidence, the identification must be agreed upon by three qualified observers.

So, there are strict guidelines to state how to identify birds in residence.

What Is the Largest Bird Found in Massachusetts?

The largest bird found in the state of Massachusetts is without a doubt the bald eagle which boasts a wingspan of up to seven feet.

Largest Bird Found in Massachusetts
The Bald Eagle

These birds of prey are protected so it’s rare to get near their nests.

However, they can be spotted most often in the winter when the trees are bare, but may also be occasionally seen in the summer as well.

What Is the Most Common Hawk Found in Massachusetts?

The red tailed hawk is the most common hawk spotted in Massachusetts and can be found at any time of year.

The most common places to spot a red tailed hawk is when they are circling for prey over open fields or perched on telephone poles along the roadways.

They are most active around dusk when their prey begins to come out their shelters so keep your eyes peeled for these birds of prey when the sun goes down.

What Is the Most Common Water Bird Found in Massachusetts?

If you frequent one of Massachusetts’ many rivers, lakes, or even the coastline, the most common water bird you will find there is the mallard duck.

Nice Tip: Males and females both have very distinctive looks with males sporting a bright green head, brown bodies and a white tail, and females a mottled brown color.

What Birds Are Most Commonly Sighted in the Spring in Massachusetts?

While winter offers pretty picturesque bird sighting against a backdrop of snow, spring is a wonderful time to bird watch in Massachusetts.

Spring in Massachusetts birds
Blue Jays

Among the most commonly sighted birds to grace the warmer spring months are the following:

  • Red winged blackbirds
  • Northern mockingbirds
  • Great blue herons
  • Eastern phoebes
  • Downy woodpeckers
  • Chipping sparrows
  • Carolina wrens
  • Blue jays
  • Baltimore orioles
  • American goldfinches
  • Brown headed cowbirds
  • Black capped chickadees
  • American robins
  • Eastern bluebirds
  • Common grackles
  • Cedar waxwings
  • Mourning doves
  • Northern cardinals
  • European starlings
  • White breasted nuthatches

Final Thoughts

There are a multitude of bird species to be found flying around and nesting in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

You’ll find the common state bird the black capped chickadee almost anywhere while the rare California gull may make an appearance while you sunbathe at the seashore.

Bright colorful cardinals, blue jays, goldfinches, and much more will frequent your backyard’s bird feeder and can be found year round from sunny spring to snowy winter.

Whether you are an amateur bird watcher or a vetted ornithologist, Massachusetts offers bountiful opportunities to allow you to spot the almost 500 species which call this Northeastern state home.

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