I swore I’d never become a bird watcher, and I still have no desire to travel around tallying up how many yellow-throated whatcha-ma-callits I’ve encountered. But I am interested in identifying the birds that pass through our yard, especially since we have several feeders now. I’m really bad at remembering which birds are which, so that’s why I started this page, which then grew into cataloging all the other animals that we find in our yard.

The birds are grouped and sorted by their taxonomic family.

Accipitridae – Eagles & Hawks

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk


(Buteo lineatus)
We see these hawks occasionally.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

(Buteo jamaicensis) – I spotted this one circling with a group of turkey vultures. (spotted 7/23/2019)

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite


(Elanus leucurus) A rare visitor. (spotted 12/15/2007)

Ardeidae – Egrets & Herons

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret


(Ardea alba) – Great Egrets are seen often in the nearby fields, we rarely see them in our yard when they fly out of the creek or land in the trees on the bank.

Snowy Egret

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron courtesy of Audubon Society

(Ardea herodias) – I spotted one of these taking off from out of the creek bed. It’s a big bird. (spotted 7/7/2019)

Cardinalidae – Cardinals & Grosbeaks

Black-headed Gosbeak

Male Black-headed Gosbeak

Male Black-headed Gosbeak

Female Black-headed Gosbeak

Female Black-headed Gosbeak

(Pheucticus melanocephalus) – We see these during the summer as they migrate south for the winter.

Cathartidae – Condors &ampl Vultures

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

(Cathartes aura) – Our backyard used to have several old snags that the vultures loved to use as places to hangout. Those trees have all fallen down, one in particular was destroyed after the vultures exceeded its maximum seating occupancy.

Columbidae – Pigeons & Doves

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

(Zenaida macroura) – My least favorite bird that visits our yard, due to it’s incessant cooing.

Corvidae – Crows & Ravens

American Crow

American Crow courtesy of Wikipedia

American Crow courtesy of Wikipedia

(Corvus brachyrhynchos) – Very common.

Common Raven

Common Raven courtesy of Wikipedia

Common Raven courtesy of Wikipedia

(Corvus corax) – Very common.

Steller’s Jay

Steller's Jay

Steller’s Jay

(Cyanocitta stelleri) – Lori and I heard a racket out in the backyard and since it wasn’t a bird noise I’d heard here before I was worried that one of the cats had gotten ahold of a bird and I was hearing a plea for help. Going out to investigate, I found a group of Steller Jays up in the trees, a very safe distance from our cats. This was the first time we spotted jays in our yard, and within a few minutes they had taken their noisy conversation elsewhere. I grabbed the camera and lens that was handy and it wouldn’t have been my first choice. Hopefully they’ll return so I can get better pictures. (spotted 7/26/2019)

Fringillidae – Finches

House Finch

Purple finch female & male

House Finch – Female on left, male on right

(Haemorhous mexicanus) – We originally thought we were seeing Purple Finches at the feeder, but this photo shows them to be House Finches. The two similar birds can both be seen in our area, so we might have both in our backyard. We’ll have to pay more attention when we see them to be sure.

American Goldfinch

Female American Goldfinch courtesy of Wikipedia

Female American Goldfinch courtesy of Wikipedia

Male American Goldfinch courtesy of Wikipedia

Male American Goldfinch courtesy of Wikipedia

(Spinus tristis) – Of the two goldfinch species, this is the brighter yellow one.

Lesser Goldfinch

(Spinus psaltria) – Similar to above, but here’s a good resource on how to tell them apart.

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin courtesy of Wikipedia

Pine Siskin courtesy of Wikipedia

(Spinus pinus)

Hirundinidae – Swallows & Martins

American Cliff Swallow

American Cliff Swallow

American Cliff Swallow

Cliff Swallow courtesy of Wikipedia

Cliff Swallow courtesy of Wikipedia

(Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) – I’ve been trying to photograph the swallows around our house, but they are very quick, erratic, and don’t seem to land. Since they feed on bugs they have no interest in our bird feeder so identification is hard. Even getting them in the frame of the shot is hard. While this shot is pretty blurry, the coloration and lack of a forked tail provide the identification. (spotted 7/19/2019)

Bank Swallow

Bank Swalllow

Bank Swalllow

Bank Swallow courtesy of Wikipedia

Bank Swallow courtesy of Wikipedia

(Riparia riparia) – Photographed the at the same time as the Cliff Swallow above, this one appears to have the neck band indicative of the Bank Swallow. I could be wrong on either of these swallow identifications. Until I can manage to get clearer photos it’s only a guess. (spotted 7/19/2019)

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

(Hirundo rustica) – The barn swallow can be identified by it’s deeply forked tail.
Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Icteridae – Blackbirds

Brewer’s Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Male Brewer’s Blackbird

Female Brewer's Blackbird

Female Brewer’s Blackbird

(Euphagus cyanocephalus) – These birds were never taught to not talk when their mouths are full. This male was chattering with a mouthful of caterpillars that he probably wanted to feed his young but he didn’t want to give away his nest location in my rose arbor. He was later joined by his mate, who had also been busy hunting, and she joined him in voicing their displeasure of my presence in the garden. The males are black with yellow eyes, while the females are dark grey/brown and have black eyes.(spotted 7/1/2019)

Bullock’s Oriole

Female Bullock's Oriole

Female Bullock’s Oriole

(Icterus bullockii) – We mostly notice the males, but with their bright orange plumage, they are more noticeable. The photo of the female is the only time I recall seeing a female. Sorry about the quality, it was way up in the tree. (spotted 7/19/2019)

Odontophoridae – Quail

California Quail

California Quail courtesy of Wikipedia

California Quail courtesy of Wikipedia

(Callipepla californica) – We used to see these in our yard, but it’s been awhile since we’ve seen any here. I still see them around the area though.

Passerellidae – Sparrows

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

(Junco hyemalis) – A constant year-round visitor to the seed feeder.

House Sparrow

Male House Sparrow

Male House Sparrow

Male House Sparrow

Male House Sparrow

Male House Sparrow

Male House Sparrow

(Passer domesticus) – It turns out this bird has a very appropriate common name. Lori and I had been trying to identify the little bird who sleeps up in the corner of our front porch every night. He doesn’t have a nest there, he just tucks into the corner under the roof, making it hard to see what he actually looks like. Just as I was planning to set up my camera to remotely shoot him, I saw him in the rose arbor and manage to get some photos and we were able to finally identify him as a house sparrow. Since he’s also one of the few birds that I know is the same bird when we see him, I decided to name him Carlton, as he hangs out by our front door. (Rhoda TV show reference if you don’t get it.)

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Female House Sparrows

Female House Sparrows

Watching Carlton, I noticed one night there was another sparrow in the other corner of the porch. I thought maybe Carlton found himself a girlfriend. Then a couple of nights later they were both sitting on the same side together. I thought it was so cute I tried getting another photo setting my D600 to ISO 6400 so I could photograph them by the porch light. This photo came out much better than my first attempt, and after looking at the photo on my monitor I realized we have two females. We’re going to have to come up with a new name for Carlton.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

(Melospiza melodia) – These sparrows are the cleanup crew, they love to forage on the ground for seed, insects and spiders, so we have started seeing them at the base of the bird feeder eating the seeds all the rest of birds spill. Nice to know some of that seed is going to good use and not just turning into weeds I need to pull.

Pandionidae – Ospreys

Western Osprey

Osprey courtesy of Wikipedia

Osprey courtesy of Wikipedia

(Pandion haliaetus)
Not a common bird in our yard, but we did have one sighting back in 2007.

Paridae – Tits and Chickadees

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

(Poecile atricapillus) – Just slightly less popular than the Chestnut-backed Chickadee. They are at the feader year-round.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

(Poecile rufescens)
Probably the most common bird we see at the seed feeder. They are here year-round.

Parulidae – Warblers

Wilson’s Warbler

Male Wilson's Warbler

Male Wilson’s Warbler

(Cardellina pusilla) – I had been trying to get photos of the yellow birds frequenting the willow trees in the backyard the last month. I thought they were goldfinches but they wouldn’t come to the feeder like goldfinches do, instead they hid and hopped around the trees making it impossible to photograph them. I finally got this on clear shot of a male, and using Seek to confirm the identity, I was surprised to find out it was a Wilson’s Warbler. They are insectivores, so of course they’re not interested in our feeder. (spotted 8/21/2019)

Picidae – Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpecker

Male Downy Woodpecker

Male Downy Woodpecker

Female Down Woodpecker

Female Downy Woodpecker courtesy of Wikipedia

(Dryobates pubescens) – Lori first saw a male on one of our fence posts but it flew away before we got a good look at it. She noticed the red on the back of the head, which sounded like a woodpecker to me. But was it a Downy or Hairy? A couple of days later I spotted a female in the willows, and using binoculars I was able to identify it as a Downy. It’s going to be hard to get pictures of these birds. I most often hear them lately, but they’re way up in the trees hidden from view. (spotted 8/12/2019)

A week later I was in the backyard and heard the familiar knock of the woodpecker in a willow close to the house. After much searching I finally located him and was able to get a photo of one.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

(Colaptes auratus) – We used to see these far more often when the two large Black Cottonwood trees were around. Now they are a rare sighting. After a long absence, we saw a pair of them in July 2019. Hopefully they’re making a return, as their flash of orange when they fly is fun to watch. Hopefully I can get a better picture, a car drove by right after I snapped this first shot as I approached it, and it flew off. (spotted 7/5/2019)

Phasianidae – Pheasants, Partridges, Chickens & Turkeys

Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys

(Meleagris gallopavo) – We’ve had groups of these roam through the yard a couple of times. It’s always been hens, never a tom.

Trochilidae – Hummingbirds

Anna’s Hummingbird

Male Anna's Hummingbird

Male Anna’s Hummingbird courtesy of Wikipedia

Female Anna's Hummingbird

Female Anna’s Hummingbird

(Calypte anna) – These are very common in our yard, especially now that we have a feeder up and they are the only hummingbirds here year-round.

Allen’s Hummingbird

Male Allen's Hummingbird

Male Allen’s Hummingbird courtesy of Audubon Society

Female Allen's Hummingbird

Female Allen’s Hummingbird courtesy of Audubon Society

(Selasphorus sasin) – The Allen’s and Rufous are very similar, and both are migratory in our area.

Rufous Hummingbird

Male Rufous Hummingbird

Male Rufous Hummingbird courtesy of Wikipedia

Female Rufous Hummingbird

Female Rufous Hummingbird courtesy of Wikipedia

(Selasphorus rufus) – It’s always a pleasant surprise to see these when they migrate through. They’re pretty bossy though and will try to dominate the feeder. While the males are easy to identify due to their orange head, the females look similar to Allen’s.

Tyrannidae – Fly Catchers

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

(Sayornis nigricans) – Males and females look alike.

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher

(Empidonax difficilis) – Fortunately I had my camera ready the first time I spotted one of these and was able to grab a photo and identify it. I have since seen it once again in the backyard. (spotted 8/11/2019)

Turdidae – Thrushes

American Robin

(Turdus migratorius) – I do believe turdus is an appropriate name for the robin.