Miami is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. With its warm climate, diverse array of habitats, and abundant plant and animal life, the city is home to a rich variety of bird species. Many of these birds can be found in residential areas, making it easy for anyone to enjoy their beauty and the sounds of nature right in their own backyard.
In this blog post, we will introduce you to common backyard birds in Miami that you can easily attract to your outdoor space. From the striking Northern Cardinal to the playful Spot-breasted Oriole, these birds will add color, song, and joy to your daily life.
So grab your binoculars and come explore the avian wonders of Miami’s backyards.
1. Northern Cardinal
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
Length: 21-23 centimeters (8-9 inches)
Body mass: 33-65 grams
Wingspan: 25-31 centimeters (9-12 inches)
Lifespan: 3-8 years
Also referred to as Redbird, the Northern Cardinals are a North American cardinal species with a widespread distribution throughout the continent.
You can find their abundant population in Canada, Mexico, and most of the eastern U.S., from Maine all the way to Texas. Throughout Miami, these birds are common year-round residents frequently spotted on backyard feeders.
The adult Northern Cardinals are sexually dimorphic, with only the males sporting the vibrant crimson plumage that they’re famous for. They’re covered almost entirely in crimson, except for a black eye mask that extends to their chin.
The females of this species have fawn-colored plumage with a fading crimson tinge on their chest and a white lower belly and rump. The crest also has a crimson tip. Both sexes have dark eyes and crimson bills.
Attracting Northern Cardinals to your backyard:
The bulbous-billed Cardinals are known to enjoy feeding on large seeds, such as the seeds of black oil sunflower, white milo, and safflower. Berries, cracked corn, and crushed peanuts are also alluring treats for them.
Their usual feeding time is early morning or late in the evening, so ensure that your feeders are filled around that time.
2. Eurasian Collared-Dove
Scientific name: Streptopelia decaocto
Length: 32 centimeters (13 inches)
Body mass: 125-140 grams
Wingspan: 47-55 centimeters (19-22 inches)
Lifespan: 3-10 years
Endemic to Europe and Asia, the Eurasian Collared-doves are a collared-dove species that now inhabit North America and the Caribbean as an introduced species.
This invasive species was first seen in Florida in the 1980s and have thus adapted to the urban settlements of the state and established a steady population there. In Miami, they’re the most widespread dove species.
Closely related to the European Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur), these doves are of nearly the same size but possess a much plainer plumage. They’re colored pinkish-grey overall, with the undersides paler in comparison to the upper body. On their hind neck, you’ll spot a semi-circular black mark bordered with white.
Their red irises are surrounded by pale eye rings. The adult sexes lack dimorphism and are indistinguishable from each other.
Attracting Eurasian Collared-Doves to your backyard:
Because the Eurasian Collared-doves are larger in size than your regular backyard birdies, the first thing they’d need is a feeder with a large, steady platform where they can perch while feeding.
Thankfully, they’re not as picky about food and are fond of almost all grains and seeds, with wheat, cracked corn, millet, seeds of milo, and sunflower being some of their favorites.
3. Blue Jay
Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
Length: 22-30 centimeters (9-12 inches)
Body mass: 70-100 grams
Wingspan: 34-43 centimeters (13-17 inches)
Lifespan: 7 years
Popularly regarded as one of the most striking members of the corvid family, the Blue Jays are a jay species endemic to eastern North America. Found in most of the central and eastern U.S., these corvids have four subspecies, out of which the Florida Blue Jay (C. c. semplei) is a resident of southern Florida.
Blue Jays have bright blue and white plumage, with blue covering their upper parts and white present on the undersides. Their face is pale blue with darker markings around the eyes and throat.
Their mantle is cerulean blue, with a brighter shade on their wings and tail. Both their secondary feathers and tail are strongly barred with black, while the undertail is white. Like other corvids, this species displays no dimorphism in plumage, with both sexes appearing identical.
Attracting Blue Jays to your backyard:
Much like the doves, Blue Jays are large passerine birds that have trouble feeding from tube or platform-less feeders. So, the first trick for attracting them is to go with a feeder that has a sizeable perching platform and doesn’t move too much.
Peanuts are one of Blue Jays’ favorites, be it shelled or whole. Fill your feeder with it, and wait for the jays to arrive, because they surely will! Other foods you can offer them include corn and sunflower seeds (both black oil and striped ones).
4. Northern Mockingbird
Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
Length: 20-28 centimeters (8-11 inches)
Body mass: 40-58 grams
Wingspan: 31-38 centimeters (12-15 inches)
Lifespan: 8 years
The Northern Mockingbirds are a North American mimid species with relatively long legs and tail. Although they’re a resident species throughout their range, their northernmost population travels southwards during winter. These mockingbirds have three subspecies, out of which the nominate ones are found in Miami all year round.
Both sexes of Northern Mockingbirds appear identical and have an overall grey plumage. Their underparts are pale grey, whereas the head and upper body are darker in shade. Their wings and tail have black edges; the irises are yellow, while the bills are greyish.
Attracting Northern Mockingbirds to your backyard:
Mockingbirds are one of those birds that enjoy picking their own food more than having it served to them.
So, a sure shot way of attracting them to your yard is to plant their favorites. Here are some suggestions that is tried and tested: Mulberry, American Holly, Elderberry, Juniper, Pokeweed, and Wild Grapes.
But if that seems like more work than you can put in, suet and fruit feeders can draw them into your yard as well. Keep in mind that oranges are one of their favorites.
5. Northern Parula
Scientific name: Setophaga americana
Length: 10-12 centimeters (4.3-4.9 inches)
Body mass: 5-11 grams
Wingspan: 16-18 centimeters (6-7 inches)
Lifespan: 4 years
The Northern Parulas are a migratory warbler species that breeds in the eastern regions of North America and travel south of their range during winters. While they’re year-round residents in northern Florida, the northern population of this species has been spotted in southern Florida during winters.
Northern Parulas have a blue-grey head and upper parts, with a bright yellow chin patch and chest that grows paler towards the belly and rump. Their wings and tail are dark with white wing bars. The upper mandible of their bill is greyish, while the lower mandible is yellow.
The breeding males develop white eyebrow patches above and below their eyes, rufous chest bands, and a bluish wash over their head, which is how they’re distinguished from the females. However, outside of the breeding months, both sexes appear identical.
Attracting Northern Parulas to your backyard:
Although warblers like Northern Parulas are dwellers of dense forests and don’t usually visit backyards, at the time of migration, they might make exceptions.
This is your best opportunity to attract them into yours; all you need to do is fill your feeders with insects, because they make up most of their diet. If there are bug-attractive plants or trees in your yard, that will work to your advantage as well.
Water is another important element in attracting the Parulas. So, if you have a birdbath ready in your yard, it’ll increase their chances of visiting manifold.
6. White-crowned Pigeon
Scientific name: Patagioenas leucocephala
Length: 29-35 centimeters (11-14 inches)
Body mass: 140-301 grams
Wingspan: 48-59 centimeters (19-23 inches)
Lifespan: 14 years
The White-crowned Pigeons are a primarily frugivore pigeon species native to the Caribbean. Within the United States, you can find these birds nowhere except for Miami and the Florida Keys. In these areas, the pigeons are a common resident, often seen perched on wires and roaming in the suburbs of South Miami.
White-crowned Pigeons resemble Rock Pigeons (Columba livia) in size, but have significantly darker plumage and a longer, square-tipped tail. True to their name, a white patch is located on their forehead, while the rest of their body is covered in dark slate-grey plumage.
Their bills are pale grey with a red base, while the irises are yellow. The adult sexes of this species appear almost identical but can be told apart by their crown patch, which is much paler in the females.
Attracting White-crowned Pigeons to your backyard:
As long as you have a stable platform feeder in your yard, attracting White-crowned Pigeons is fairly easy. They aren’t selective and would eat almost any seed or grain you choose to fill up the feeder with. Just make sure you refill your feeder routinely, as these birds eat around the same time every day.
7. Bronzed Cowbird
Scientific name: Molothrus aeneus
Length: 18-20 centimeters (7.3-7.9 inches)
Body mass: 56-68 grams
Wingspan: 35.5 centimeters (14 inches)
Lifespan: 3-5 years
Once referred to as the Red-eyed Cowbird, the Bronzed Cowbirds are an American species belonging to the New World Blackbird family.
These cowbirds are found in open habitats of North and Central America and often forage in pastures alongside cattle animals. Within the United States, they breed in Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, and California, with their population spotted in southern regions of Florida in recent years. In Miami, you can find them in the urban habitats between West Palm Beach and Key Largo.
The adult Bronzed Cowbirds display sexual dimorphism in their plumage, with the males being larger, heavier, and possessing an iridescent black plumage with a bronze sheen on it. Their bills are black as well, and the eyes are red during breeding months and brown otherwise.
On the other hand, the female Bronzed Cowbirds have dull black plumage with brown underbelly and brown eyes all-year round.
Attracting Bronze Cowbirds to your backyard:
As a birder, you must already know that attracting cowbirds to your yard isn’t the problem; keeping them away is. These pesky birds are noisy flock feeders and seldom leave room for other smaller songbirds to feed.
Yet, if you like having them around, a sizeable platform feeder filled with millet, cracked corn, or sunflower seeds will do the trick.
8. Prairie Warbler
Scientific name: Setophaga discolor
Length: 11-13 centimeters (4-5 inches)
Body mass: 7 grams
Wingspan: 18 centimeters (7 inches)
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Belonging to the New World Warbler family, the Prairie Warblers are small songbirds that are endemic to the southeastern regions of the United States. You’ll find their most abundant population on the coasts of southern Florida within the country, where they’re a resident species.
Prairie Warblers have olive-green head and upper parts, with rusty streaks on their wings and tail. There are several black lines running around their eyes, while the undersides are bright yellow. Both sexes of this species have the same plumage, only that of the females’ is duller.
Attracting Prairie Warblers to your backyard:
Much like other warblers, the Prairie Warblers are secretive birds that don’t usually visit backyards.
Instead of setting up a feeder for them, you can plant trees or plants that attract bugs and insects. This is because the insectivorous diet of warblers is more likely to attract them to the plants of your yard than to your feeder.
However, if the option of plants isn’t available to you, try adding peanut butter, mealworm, or suet to your feeder. If anything can attract the warblers to your feeder, it’s likely one of these.
9. Red-bellied Woodpecker
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
Length: 22-26 centimeters (9-10.5 inches)
Body mass: 56-91 grams
Wingspan: 38-46 centimeters (15-18 inches)
Lifespan: 12 years
Endemic to the eastern regions of the U.S. where they breed, the Red-bellied Woodpeckers are a North American woodpecker species that have been named after a pale reddish blush on their lower belly. Their habitat range extends south to Florida and Canada.
Within South Florida, they’re the most commonly-spotted woodpeckers, roaming around the suburbs of Miami and frequently visiting the backyard feeders.
The plumage of Red-bellied Woodpeckers is primarily grey, including their bills, legs, and feet. Their wings and tail are strongly barred with white and black. Although both sexes of this species possess the same plumage, they can be differentiated by their face.
The males possess a red crown starting from their bills, extending all the way to the back of their head. On the other hand, their female counterparts have a grey forehead with a smaller red patch on the back of their head.
Attracting Red-bellied Woodpeckers to your backyard:
When it comes to attracting any woodpecker to your yard, suet is your best bet. The Red-bellied Woodpeckers are no exception to this rule; they’re classic suet lovers.
While installing your suet feeder, keep in mind that the closer you place it to a tree, the more comfortable the woodpeckers will feel in feeding on it. In fact, you can even forego the hassle of a feeder and simply smear the suet on tree bark and let the woodpeckers feast on it.
Besides suet, the woodpeckers are also attracted to peanuts, peanut butter, and sunflower seeds.
10. Spot-breasted Oriole
Scientific name: Icterus pectoralis
Length: 21-24 centimeters (8-9 inches)
Body mass: 45-50 grams
Wingspan: 32-37 centimeters (12-14 inches)
Lifespan: 12 years
The Spot-breasted Orioles are members of the icterid family that find home in the dry and lowlands forests of Central and South America. They’re permanent residents of Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.
While these icterids don’t naturally occur in the United States, their population has been introduced on the east (Atlantic) coast of Miami beach in the Miami-Dade County.
In appearance, the Spot-breasted Orioles closely resemble the Orange Orioles (Icterus Auratus) in having the same, bright orange plumage with a black face mask, wings, and tail. Only their face mask extends lower as a throat patch, with several black spots surrounding it.
While the plumage of the adult sexes is almost indistinguishable, the males are generally heavier than the females.
Attracting Spot-breasted Orioles to your backyard:
Like many oriole species, the Spot-breasted Orioles are drawn to all things sweet. Filling your feeder with grape jelly, orange halves, or nectar is a great way of attracting them.
If you have berry-producing trees or nectar-rich flowering plants in your yard, it’s an added bonus for the orioles.
11. Common Myna
Scientific name: Acridotheres tristis
Length: 23 centimeters (9.1 inches)
Body mass: 109-138 grams
Wingspan: 45 centimeters (18 inches)
Lifespan: 12-25 years
Simply referred to as Mynah in many regions, the Common Mynas are a starling species originating from Asia that is now found in almost every part of the world as an invasive species.
In North America, they have an abundant population in Canada; within the U.S., you’ll only find them in South Florida, where they’re common residents from Miami and the Key West.
The appearance of Common Mynas is quite striking, making them easily recognizable even from a distance. They have a black head, with yellow patches behind their eyes and yellow bills.
The rest of their body is mainly brown, save for a white rump and white patches on their primary feathers. These mynas are often spotted in pairs, with no visible difference between the adult sexes.
Attracting Common Mynas to your backyard:
Being an opportunistic feeder, the Common Mynas will eat anything they can find on your feeder, be it fruits, insects, seeds, grains, or suet. So, if you live in an area where these pesky starlings are found, you’d need to put in no special effort to attract them to your yard.
12. Gray Catbird
Scientific name: Dumetella carolinesis
Length: 35-50 grams
Body mass: 20-24 centimeters (8-9 inches)
Lifespan: 17.5 years
Also referred to as Slate-colored Mockingbird, the Gray Catbirds are a mimid species found in North and Central America. More closely related to the thrashers than the mockingbirds, these mimids breed in the temperate regions of North America and migrate to southeastern parts of the U.S. during winters.
In Miami, these catbirds have been winter visitors for years. However, recently, people have reported spotting their nests in the counties of Palm Beach and Miami-Dade during summer as well. Who knows, perhaps they’ll be counted as a resident species of Miami in the coming years?
As you can gather from their name, the Gray Catbirds are predominantly colored in lead grey, with darker touches on their head, wings, and tail. Lacking dimorphism, both sexes of the adults harbor the same plumage and are practically indistinguishable.
Attracting Gray Catbirds to your backyard:
Although Gray Catbirds actively seek bugs and insects to munch on most of the time, especially during summer, they’re also drawn to sweet treats like the orioles.
So, if you’re filling your feeder with grape jelly or other fresh fruits, you can expect them to show up as well. They find the dogwood or winterberry plants in your yard equally attractive.
13. Orange-winged Parrot
Scientific name: Amazona amazonica
Length: 33 centimeters (13 inches)
Body mass: 340 grams
Wingspan: 43-46 centimeters (17-18 inches)
Lifespan: 50-80 years
Endemic to tropical South America, where they’re locally called Loro Guaro, the Orange-winged Parrots are an Amazon parrot species that are highly popular in the avian pet trade industry.
As their binominal name indicates, these parrots are found in the amazon rainforests from Colombia all the way to central Brazil. While they’re not a resident species in the United States, their feral population is found inhabiting Florida.
In Miami, these birds are the most commonly-spotted member of the parrot family, with their population steadily increasing in the last few years.
In appearance, the Orange-winged Parrots bear a close resemblance to the Turquoise-fronted Amazons (Amazona aestiva). Although their overall plumage is green, a splash of orange on the front edge of their wings lends them their name.
There are yellow patches on their crown and cheek. Both sexes of the adults sport the same plumage, displaying minimal dimorphism.
Attracting Orange-winged Parrots to your backyard:
The diet of the Orange-winged Parrots, much like most parrots, primarily consists of fruits and grains. They’re usually drawn to all tropical fruits, such as bananas, melons, or papayas. So, if you have a fruit feeder that you fill regularly, you can hope for these parrots to pay a visit.
They’re also known to feed on seed cakes and mixed bird seeds as long as the feeder has a tray or platform large enough to host them.
14. Gray Kingbird
Scientific name: Tyrannus dominicensis
Length: 23 centimeters (9.1 inches)
Body mass: 37-52 grams
Lifespan: 6 years
The Gray Kingbirds are an American tyrant flycatcher species that is known by several other names, such as: White-breasted Kingbird, Petchary, Pitirre, and Pestigre.
These birds heavily populate the tall trees of Central and South America but have a very limited range in North America. Within the United States, you’ll only find the kingbirds in Florida, wherein they commonly appear in the suburbs of Miami in summer and spring.
True to their name, Gray Kingbirds have primarily grey plumage, with only their undersides being white. Their wings and tail are edged with brown, with long and thick, black bills.
They also have a fainting black mask spreading around their eyes. Both sexes of this species appear identical in size and plumage, displaying monomorphism.
Attracting Gray Kingbirds to your backyard:
Gray Kingbirds are not your regular seed-eating backyard birds. With insects and berries dominating the diet of these flycatchers, you have more chances of attracting them if you have trees in your yard.
Trees attract bugs, which are their favorite meal. The presence of fruit or berry-bearing trees in your yard will give you an edge.
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