2021 (Mostly) Backyard Birding in Massachusetts

I don’t call myself a birder, as I really only started paying attention to birds in 2018 after we bought a window feeder. At the beginning of the pandemic, I started to photograph birds that visit our backyard, and I got hooked. I’m more of an aspiring bird nerd.

To date, I have seen and identified the following birds in Massachusetts. Most of these birds visited our backyard, but some I encountered during hikes.

Female Northern Flicker (Yellow Shafted)
  • American black ducks (during a trip to Cape Cod)
  • American goldfinches
  • American robins
  • Barn swallows (during a trip to the Berkshires)
  • Black-capped chickadees
  • Blue jays
  • Brown-headed cowbirds
  • Canada geese (in a pond in our town)
  • Carolina wrens
  • Chipping sparrows
  • Common grackles
  • Dark-eyed juncos
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Eastern phoebe (one during a hike)
  • European starlings
  • Franklin’s gull (one on a trip to Cape Cod, identified with the help of a birding Instagrammer)
  • Great blue heron (one during a hike in the Berkshires)
  • Gray catbirds
  • Herring gulls (Plymouth)
  • House finches
  • House sparrows
  • Indigo bunting (one during a hike)
  • Mallards (Cape Cod)
  • Mourning doves
  • Mute swans (Cape Cod)
  • Northern cardinals
Northern Cardinal
  • Northern flickers
  • Oven bird (one during a hike)
  • Pileated woodpecker (I saw one in our yard in 2020 but did not get a photo)
  • Red-bellied woodpeckers
  • Red-shouldered hawk (one that I was able to identify with the help from a birding Instagrammer)
  • Red-winged blackbirds (my mother’s backyard adjacent to wetlands)
  • Ring-billed gulls (Plymouth)
  • Rock pigeons
  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds
  • Song sparrows
  • Tufted titmouses
  • Turkeys
  • Veery (saw one a couple of blocks away from our house)
  • White breasted nuthatches
Tufted Titmouse

I believe that’s a comprehensive list of all the birds I’ve seen in Massachusetts. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I learned to distinguish the different kinds of sparrows this year–though I’m not always confident about the identification.

Song Sparrow Feeding a Brown-Headed Cowbird

One highlight of the year was seeing a song sparrow feed a much larger brown-headed cowbird. I was utterly confused at first, and then I recalled watching a video about cuckoo birds being brood parasite to reed warblers, and I decided to look up brown-headed cowbirds. Lo and behold, the brown-headed cowbird was, indeed, a brood parasite.

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