Have you spotted a gray bird flying around your garden or feasting from your feeders recently, but aren’t sure what it is? Well, you’ve definitely come to the right place!
Here, you’ll find a list of 21 gray birds you can find all over North America.
We’ll explore their identifying features, natural habitat, and give you some tips on how to keep them coming back to your garden time and again.
Short on time and need a quick-reference list? Here are the top 10 gray birds you can find in North America:
- Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
- Eastern Kingbird
- Northern Mockingbird
- Northern Parula
- Say’s Phoebe
- Gray Catbird
- Loggerhead Shrike
- Eurasian Collared Dove
- Carolina Chickadee
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these beautiful gray birds in more detail!
Starting our list with one of the smallest birds you’ll find in North America, the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher measures just 4.5-inches in length and has an average wingspan of 6-inches.
It can be identified by its slate gray upperparts, lighter gray underparts, and black tail.
Males also sport a black “V” marking on their forehead during the summer.
The best place to spot a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher is in deciduous forests, and they can be spotted in Southern and Eastern States during the spring and summer.
Come fall, they head further South to Mexico and Central America, although some remain in Florida all year round.
As you may have guessed from its name, the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher’s diet consists exclusively of insects and spiders.
This can make them a little harder to attract to your garden than some other birds, but it’s not impossible.
Planting native, insect-attracting plants and bushes will increase your chances of enticing it in.
The Eastern Kingbird can be identified by its dark gray upperparts, bright white underparts, and white tip on the tail.
Members of the Flycatcher family, they are a medium-sized bird that measures around 8-inches in length and have an average wingspan of 14-inches.
They also hide one of their identifying features – a crown of orange-red feathers that they reveal and display as a way of displaying aggression or defending their territory.
Summer visitors to North America, the Eastern Kingbird can be found in almost every State during the breeding season.
Wherever they choose to nest, their preferred habitat is always the same; forest edges and fields near a source of water.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for members of the Flycatcher family, the Eastern Kingbird is exclusively insectivorous.
So, if you would like to try and attract this bird to your backyard, be sure to choose native, insect-attracting plants for your garden.
Famed for their ability to imitate the songs of up to 200 other birds across its lifetime, the Northern Mockingbird can be found in North America all year round.
It is particularly abundant in Eastern and Southern States, especially during fall and winter as other birds from Northern States migrate further South to warmer temperatures.
Despite their wide range, it’s quite uncommon for the Northern Mockingbird to visit backyard feeders.
This is mostly because they are ground-feeding birds and find it difficult to feed from hanging feeders.
They will forage on lawns, however, and they’ll also feed from fruiting trees and bushes such as blackberries and hawthorns.
Another tiny bird, the Northern Parula measures around 4.5-inches in length and has an average wingspan of 6.5-inches.
What it lacks in size it more than makes up for in color though, and along with its blue-gray upperparts, wings, and head it sports a bright yellow breast and throat.
It also has white underparts, black and white wing markings, and white eye markings.
The best place to spot this colorful little bird is in deciduous forests, where they nest high up in the trees.
They also weave nests from moss and lichen that hang from tree branches during the breeding season, so be sure to keep an eye out for these as they are a good marker of where the Northern Parula is!
The Northern Parula isn’t a very common backyard visitor as it rarely strays from its deciduous forest habitat.
It also only visits North America for the breeding season before heading to the Caribbean and Central America for the winter months.
Found throughout most Western United States all year round, the Bushtit is a round, plump-looking bird that measures just 3-inches long!
It also sports light gray feathers all over its body along with a black cap and face.
Their tiny size can make the Bushtit a difficult bird to spot, but you can increase your chances of a sighting by heading to their preferred woodland habitat.
Here, they create nests out of soft plant material woven together with spider webs that hang from the underside of a branch.
Their nests are quite large in comparison to the Bushtit itself as well, measuring around a foot in length.
The Bushtit isn’t shy when it comes to visiting bird feeders and can be drawn into your backyard with an offering of mealworms, sunflower seeds, and suet.
They are much more common in backyards during the winter months, as during the summer months they are almost exclusively insectivorous.
The Say’s Phoebe has quite a wide range, spending the breeding season in Northwest Canada, Alaska, and other Northern States before heading to the Southern States for the winter months.
They can be identified by their light gray upperparts and head, slightly lighter gray breast, and pale orange underparts. They also measure around 6.5-inches in length.
Desert areas such as canyons and badlands are the Say’s Phoebe’s preferred habitat.
As members of the Flycatcher family, they are exclusively insectivorous and feed on flies, crickets, bees, beetles, and any other flying insect they can snatch out of the air in mid-flight with expert skill.
Like most Flycatchers, it can be hard to attract the Say’s Phoebe to your backyard feeders. Planting insect-attracting bushes and trees will increase your chances for enticing it in though, as will installing nesting boxes.
Just make sure you place them at least 2 meters from the ground and in a North-facing position.
The rather comically named Gray Catbird can be identified by the dark gray feathers that cover the entirety of its body along with its jet black cap.
It also has a rust-red patch under the tail, measures around 9-inches long, and has an average wingspan of 10-inches.
You might be wondering how the Gray Catbird got its name. Well, unlike most birds, it doesn’t have a melodic song but instead makes a cat-like “meow” sound when singing.
This song can last for up to 10 minutes at a time, giving the impression that a cat is somewhere nearby!
The Gray Catbird has quite a varied habitat and can be found in hedgerows, forest edges, parks, and gardens.
Those that reside in Eastern United States remain resident all year, while others from across North America migrate to the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast for the winter months.
You can attract the Gray Catbird to your garden by placing dried fruit on a platform feeder, or by planting fruiting bushes and trees including winterberry and dogwood.
Resident to the lower 48 States all year round, the Loggerhead Shrike can be identified by its light gray under parts, slightly darker gray upperparts, and black eye mask.
It also sports black markings on both wings, measures around 9-inches in length, and has an average wingspan of 11.5-inches.
The best place to spot a Loggerhead Shrike is in open habitats such as fields and forest edges.
The main reason for this is because, unlike most of the other birds on our list, the Loggerhead Shrike is technically a bird of prey.
Their food consists of insects, small mammals, lizards, and even smaller songbirds!
This can mean that they are a nuisance at bird feeders as they may prey on smaller birds visiting your backyard. If this is an issue that you’ve been experiencing, simply remove your bird feeder for a couple of weeks.
The Loggerhead Shrike will soon look elsewhere for its prey and it won’t take long for your usual feather friends to return to their feeding station.
Eurasian Collared Dove
One of the most common gray birds found throughout North America, the Eurasian Collared Dove can be identified by its light gray feathers that cover all of its body.
It also has white patches on the tail and, of course, its namesake black collar that runs horizontally around the neck.
In terms of size, the Eurasian Collared Dove measures around 11-inches long and has an average wingspan of 13.5-inches.
Interestingly, the Eurasian Collared Dove isn’t a native bird to North America and was only introduced to the continent in the 1980s.
It is incredibly resilient, however, and its numbers have multiplied massively since its initial introduction.
The Eurasian Collared Dove is also one of easiest birds to attract to your backyard. They have a really varied diet and will feed on grain, seed, insects, and berries.
They have a particular penchant for sunflower seeds, so make sure to fill your feeders with these if you’d like to entice this beautiful bird into your garden.
Another common backyard visitor, the Carolina Chickadee can be identified by its light gray back and cheeks, along with its white underparts and black wings.
It also has a black head, black throat, measures around 4.5-inches and has an average wingspan of 6.5-inches.
Like most Chickadees, the Carolina Chickadee has a varied habitat and can be found in mixed woodlands, deciduous forests, parks, and gardens.
They are most commonly found in Southeastern and Eastern States where they remain all year round, and their numbers increase in these areas during the winter as other birds migrate to warmer temperatures.
Their diet is almost as varied as their habitat, and it’s really easy to attract the Carolina Chickadee to your backyard bird feeders.
Nyjer seeds tend to be a particular favorite, but they will also happily feed on peanuts, sunflower seeds, suet, and mealworms.
The Warbling Vireo is one of the rarer gray birds on our list and, while it can be found across most of North America, its habitat of dense woodland makes it quite difficult to spot.
It also nests and roosts high up in the tree canopy, making it even harder to catch a glimpse of.
If you do think you’ve spotted the elusive Warbling Vireo, its main identifying feature is its pale yellow underparts and breast.
It also has light gray upperparts, a light gray head, measures around 5-inches in length, and has an average wingspan of 8.5-inches.
As it is such an elusive bird, it’s quite uncommon to spot a Warbling Vireo in your backyard.
It very rarely ventures outside of its habitat as well, but you may spot one during the winter as they start to migrate to Mexico.
You’ll have an even better chance of spotting this rare bird if you have a large garden with lots of tall trees for them to shelter in mid-journey.
Black and White Warbler
Almost Sparrow-like in appearance, the Black and White Warbler can be identified by its light gray breast and underparts.
It also has dark gray, almost brown, upperparts that are streaked with light gray as well as matching light gray stripes on the head. Males are darker than females and also sport a black eye patch.
Both sexes are the same size, measuring around 5-inches long with an average wingspan of 8.5-inches.
The Black and White Warbler is most commonly spotted in the Southwestern United States, where they head for the breeding season.
Come fall, they migrate further South to Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean although some remain in Florida all year round.
Exclusively insectivorous, the Black and White Warbler can be difficult to attract to your backyard with bird seed, nuts, or suet.
You can, however, increase your chances of enticing the Black and White Warbler into your garden by planting insect-attracting shrubs.
Members of the Sparrow family, the Dark-Eyed Junco can be identified by its dark gray upperparts, light gray underparts and breast, and light pink beak.
They are a relatively small songbird as well, measuring around 5.5-inches in length with an average wingspan of 8-inches.
The Dark-Eyed Junco is a resident of North America and can be found in Western and Northeastern States all year round.
They are particularly abundant in the Appalachian Mountains, however, come winter they will head further South and can be found in almost every Southern State.
The best way to attract the Dark-Eyed Junco into your backyard is with an offering of peanuts, cracked corn, or Nyjer seeds.
They are also particularly fond of sunflower seeds, however, unlike many of the birds on this list the Dark-Eyed Junco cannot feed from hanging bird feeders.
So, be sure to use a platform feeder or scatter your seed across the ground instead.
Given its name, you may be surprised to find the Black Phoebe on our list of gray birds. However, while it may seem to have black feathers from a distance, they are actually very dark gray.
These dark gray feathers run across its back, wings, head, tail and breast, while the underside is a lighter gray color.
You’ll only find the Black Phoebe in the Southern and Southwestern United States, as well as Central America and Mexico.
They are resident here all year round, although those that live in the North of this region will migrate further South during the winter.
Their preferred habitat is mixed woodland near a source of water, such as a river, pond, or lake.
Here they search for insects to feed on and, as members of the Flycatcher family, insects make up the majority of the Black Phoebe’s diet.
This does, however, mean that attracting the Black Phoebe to your backyard is quite difficult.
Unlike its Collared cousin, the White-Winged Dove is a fairly uncommon sight across North America.
This is mostly due to the fact that it has a very limited range, and can only be found along the Mexican border.
It remains here all year round, however, some may migrate further South into Mexico and Central America during the winter.
The White-Winged Dove can be identified by its namesake white wing stripe that runs along the edge of the wing.
It also has light gray underparts, dark gray upperparts, and a curved, black beak.
Their preferred habitat also makes them quite hard to find, as they roost and nest in desert areas with plenty of dense and thorny vegetation for protection.
Here, they forage on the ground for seed and grain to feed on.
It is hard to attract the White-Winged Dove to your garden feeders, but certainly not impossible.
A scattering of milo or sunflower seeds on a platform feeder may entice them in, and you can also increase your chances of attracting them by planting thorny, berry-producing bushes.
One of the most striking birds on our list, the Tufted Titmouse can be identified by its light gray head crest, matching gray head, back and wings.
It also has a white breast, face, and underparts that contrast beautifully with its gray markings along with two rust-orange patches under each wing.
In terms of size, the Tufted Titmouse measures around 6-inches in length and has an average wingspan of 8.5-inches.
The best place to spot a Tufted Titmouse is in woodlands areas or parks with plenty of trees to shelter in.
They can also be attracted to bird feeders with an offering of seeds, berries, and nuts although they are almost exclusively insectivorous throughout the spring and summer.
One thing to keep in mind when trying to attract the Tufted Titmouse to your garden, however, is that they are incredibly territorial.
They have been known to bully other smaller birds out of the way, especially at feeding stations.
Also known as the “Coal Tit”, the Black-Capped Chickadee is a tiny bird that measures just 4.5-inches in length and has an average wingspan of 7-inches.
The Black-Capped Chickadee is most easily identified by its namesake black cap, as well as its white cheeks, pale pink underparts, and dark gray wings edged with white.
It also has a dark green-gray neck.
Quite a common backyard visitor, the Black-Capped Chickadee can be found in Northern, Northwestern, and Midwest State all year round. In each of these areas, it roosts and nests in woodlands, forests, and parks with plenty of trees for cover.
Throughout the summer, the Black-Capped Chickadee feeds almost exclusively on insects but, come fall, seeds and berries make it onto the menu!
It’s pretty easy to attract the Black-Capped Chickadee into your garden. Feeders filled with a high-quality seed mix, suet, or peanuts are almost guaranteed to attract this beautiful little bird into your garden.
Another member of the Flycatcher family, the Willow Flycatcher measures around 6.5-inches in length and has an average wingspan of 8.5-inches.
They can be identified by their olive green back and cap, light gray underparts and cheeks, white throat, and dark brown wings that are edged with white.
Migratory birds, the Willow Flycatcher spends the breeding season in the mountainous West.
Once fall rolls around, they take to the skies in their hundreds as they head South to Central American and Mexico for the winter.
The fall migration is also the best time of the year to spot the Willow Flycatcher as they’ll often stop by in backyards to rest and refuel.
If you would like to help the Willow Flycatcher on its migratory journey, the best thing to do is plant native, insect-attracting shrubs into your garden.
This won’t only offer them a place to shelter overnight, but will also give them somewhere to feed from.
Like all members of the Flycatcher family, the Willow Flycatcher is exclusively insectivorous and will not feed from bird feeders.
Eastern Wood Pewee
As with the Gray Catbird, the Eastern Wood Pewee is named after its call which sounds phonetically like a high-pitched “pee-wee”.
This unique song is potentially the best way to identify the Eastern Wood Pewee, but that can also be identified by their light gray underparts, and dark wings marked with white.
Another migratory bird, the Eastern Wood Pewee’s native home is South America.
It arrives in North America much later than most other migratory birds though, arriving at the beginning of summer and staying until fall.
Exclusively insectivorous, it’s quite hard to attract the Eastern Wood Pewee into your backyard and they certainly won’t visit bird feeders.
Lots of native, insect-attracting plants will help increase your chances of enticing this bird into your garden but, due to their short stop over, it’s again quite difficult to attract them.
Arguably the most identifiable birds on our list, the Rock Pigeon is commonly seen in cities all across North America.
It can also be found in rural areas, woodlands, parks, forests, and backyards.
In fact, it has one of the widest ranges and varied habitats in all of North America, being found in almost every State and across Canada.
The Rock Pigeon can be identified by its gray underparts, black and white wings, purple breast and throat, green neck, and dark gray head.
It also has a bright orange eye, measures around 13-inches in length, and has an average wingspan of 23-inches.
You won’t have to put any effort at all into encouraging the Rock Pigeon into your backyard, and it will eat almost anything it can find by foraging on the ground.
The last entry on our list of gray birds is the White-Breasted Nuthatch. This tiny bird measures just 5-inches long and has an average wingspan of 8.5-inches.
It can be identified by its dark gray upperparts, black cap, lighter gray face, and namesake white breast. It also has a rust-orange color on the rump.
The White-Breasted Nuthatch has a varied habitat of woodland edges, forests, parks, and backyards.
Each of these habitats provides lots of insects for them to feed on and, come fall, they are also rich with nuts and seeds to get them through the winter.
They have a unique habit of cramming whole nuts into tree crevices as well, storing them for later!
It’s not too difficult to attract the White-Breasted Nuthatch into your garden, and an offering of nuts and seeds placed on a platform feeder should be enough to entice them in.
There you have it – 21 gray birds you can find all over North America. Many of these are quite easy to attract to your own backyard with the right kind of food.
So, if you’re looking to tick as many off your bird watching list as possible, be sure to follow the advice outlined above!