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The Birds of NJ: Here’s How to Figure Out What You’re Seeing In Your Backyard

Can you tell a woodpecker from a Waxwing? Here’s a quick guide to the birds you’re most likely to see -- and hear! -- in your New Jersey backyard


Ever glance outside at your birdfeeder and wonder what birds you’re feeding? Here are the most common birds found in the state of New Jersey.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

If you hear a loud repetitive knocking noise (aka a drumming), check the trees in your backyard and look for this bird’s distinctive red stripe. With its zebra back pattern the Red-bellied Woodpecker can be found all year round in residential forests. You can tell the male and female apart by the  longer red stripe on the male’s head. 


Tufted Titmouse

If you hear a bird with an echo-y voice like this, it is probably a Tufted Titmouse. These super cute birds love to show up on birdfeeders, so make sure to keep it well stocked and have your camera ready.


American Goldfinch

This is the NJ State bird, so don't be surprised if this bright yellow guest which sounds like this is a frequent visitor in your yard.. Their distinctive sunny color makes them  easy to spot, and if you want to attract them, sunflower seeds are the way to go.



You can tell the difference between the Chickadee and other small birds by looking for its distinctive black cap and bib, white cheeks and grey wings. They sound like this and are easy to attract, but they especially love suet, sunflower seeds and peanuts.


Northern Cardinal

Those brilliant red Cardinals you see? All males. Female Cardinals are a pale brown overall. Still, these beautiful birds which sound like this are definitely eye-catching, and will be more likely to hang out if you put out sunflower seeds. 


Downy Woodpecker

This other common-to-NJ variety of woodpecker lacks the distinctive red cap of the red-bellied variety, but they can still make some noise. And you'll see them quite often at your bird feeders, especially if you've got suet.  


Blue Jay

These birds are a little larger than some of the others you may see, and their bright blue color makes them stand out in a crowd. And if that still wasn't enough of a giveaway, you can definitely tell who they are by their extremely noisy call. Some favorite Blue Jay treats are peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet.



You've probably got a ton of these in your yard. Their orange breast makes them easy to spot, they sound like this and they'll stick around all year. 


Cedar Waxwing

These are so pretty, make sure to have your camera out to snap a quick picture of these brown, gray, and lemon-yellow birds (listen to them here). If you want them to pay you a visit, put out fruit! They love it. In the summer months you’re likely to spot them swimming over rivers in pursuit of flying insects.



If you are in a marshy, wetland area, you may spot the Egret. They are white and elegant, and hard to miss with their tall long, curved necks. You won't see them at your own birdfeeder, but they are great to keep an eye out for if you are headed towards the beach, or hiking by a pond.


Gray Catbird

The all gray Catbird has a call that you won’t ever forget, because it sounds a lot like a cat! You are most likely to see these if you've got a bunch of fruit trees in your back yard. If you don't, keep your eyes open when you head to pick-your-own places.

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