Winter Birds In West Virginia - Complete Guide 2024

Hammad Tariq

· 16 min read
Winter Birds In West Virginia

West Virginia offers a diverse array of bird species during the winter months, making it a haven for birdwatchers. From the majestic Bald Eagle to the vibrant Northern Cardinal, the state boasts a rich avian population that adapts to the colder temperatures. Other common winter birds include Dark-eyed Juncos, American Goldfinches, and White-throated Sparrows, among others.

These resilient birds can be spotted in various habitats, including woodlands, fields, and backyard feeders. Birdwatching enthusiasts can enjoy observing their unique behaviours and vibrant plumage against the winter landscape, adding a touch of beauty and wonder to the chilly season in West Virginia.

18 West Virginia Winter Birds:

American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch, scientifically known as Spinus tristis, is a small songbird native to North America. It is characterised by its bright yellow plumage, contrasting with black wings and tail feathers.

During breeding season, males boast vibrant yellow colours, while females exhibit a duller olive-yellow hue. Goldfinches primarily feed on seeds from various plants, including thistles and sunflowers, but also consume insects during the breeding season to provide protein for their young. These birds are known for their cheerful songs and acrobatic flight patterns.

Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal, scientifically named Cardinalis cardinalis, is a prominent songbird native to North America. It is recognized for its striking appearance, with males displaying bright red plumage, a distinctive crest on the head, and a black mask around the eyes.

Females have a more subdued coloration, with olive-brown feathers accented by touches of red. Both genders share a melodious song that varies in pitch and rhythm.

Cardinals are omnivorous birds, feeding on seeds, fruits, insects, and even small reptiles. They are often found in woodlands, shrubby areas, and suburban gardens across their range, where they nest in dense vegetation.

Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco, scientifically known as Junco hyemalis, is a small, migratory bird found across North America. It belongs to the sparrow family and is renowned for its distinctive coloration and behaviour. Dark-eyed Juncos have a greyish-brown body with a pink bill and white outer tail feathers that flash prominently in flight.

Their name comes from their dark eyes, which contrast sharply against their pale-coloured plumage. These birds typically forage on the ground for seeds, insects, and plant matter, often forming large flocks during the winter months. They breed in coniferous forests and mountainous regions during the summer and migrate to lower elevations or southern regions for the winter.

Tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse is a small songbird native to North America, commonly found in deciduous forests and wooded areas. Scientifically known as Baeolophus bicolor, it is recognized for its distinctive tufted crest on the head and grey plumage with hints of peachy-orange on the flanks. These birds are agile and acrobatic, often seen hopping from branch to branch in search of insects, seeds, and berries.

Tufted Titmice are frequent visitors to bird feeders, where they readily consume sunflower seeds and suet. They are also known for their melodious whistling songs, consisting of clear, repetitive notes.

Carolina Chickadee

The Carolina Chickadee, known scientifically as Poecile carolinensis, is a small passerine bird native to North America. With its distinctive black cap and bib contrasting against its white cheeks and greyish-brown back, it's easily identifiable. Found in forests, woodlands, and suburban areas throughout the southeastern United States, these birds are known for their energetic and inquisitive nature.

They are frequent visitors to bird feeders, particularly enjoying sunflower seeds and suet. Their vocalisations include a familiar "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" call, which varies in intensity depending on the level of threat in their surroundings. Carolina Chickadees form monogamous pairs during the breeding season and excavate nest holes in trees or use nest boxes.

White-breasted Nuthatch

The White-breasted Nuthatch, scientifically known as Sitta carolinensis, is a small songbird found across North America. It is easily recognizable by its striking black cap, white face, and blue-grey upperparts. With a distinct habit of creeping down tree trunks headfirst, these agile birds forage for insects and seeds in a variety of wooded habitats, including forests, woodlots, and suburban areas.

Their diet consists mainly of insects, seeds, nuts, and berries, which they gather and store in crevices of tree bark. White-breasted Nuthatches are known for their unique vocalisations, including a nasal "yank yank" call and a rapid series of "chur" notes.

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker, scientifically known as Picoides pubescens, is one of the most common and widespread woodpecker species in North America. Despite its small size, it exhibits classic woodpecker characteristics, such as a chisel-like bill and drumming behaviour. With its black and white plumage pattern and small stature, the Downy Woodpecker resembles its larger cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker, but can be distinguished by its shorter bill and overall smaller size.

These adaptable birds inhabit various forested habitats, including woodlands, parks, and suburban areas, where they forage for insects and larvae by drumming on tree trunks and branches. They also consume seeds and berries and may visit backyard feeders offering suet or sunflower seeds.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The Red-bellied Woodpecker, scientifically known as Melanerpes carolinus, is a striking bird species native to North America. Despite its name, its red belly is often difficult to see, and it's better known for the red patch on the back of its head.

This medium-sized woodpecker sports a black and white striped back, a white rump, and barred flanks. Its distinctive call and drumming sounds are common in wooded areas across its range, including forests, woodlands, parks, and suburban neighbourhoods.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers primarily feed on insects, seeds, nuts, and fruits, using their strong bills to excavate cavities in trees to find food and build nests. They're often attracted to backyard bird feeders offering suet, sunflower seeds, or peanuts.

Carolina Wren

The Carolina Wren, scientifically known as Thryothorus ludovicianus, is a small but vocal bird native to the eastern United States. Recognizable by its reddish-brown upperparts, buff-coloured underparts, and distinctive white eyebrow stripe, it often frequents shrubby areas, forests, and urban gardens.

Known for its rich and melodious song, the Carolina Wren is a year-round resident in its range, often heard singing loudly from dawn to dusk. Despite its small size, it possesses a strong and varied diet, feeding on insects, spiders, seeds, and berries.

Carolina Wrens are cavity nesters, utilising a variety of natural and man-made structures for nesting, including birdhouses, tree hollows, and even abandoned plant pots.

Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird, scientifically termed Sialia sialis, is a charming and colourful songbird found in open woodlands, orchards, and suburban areas across eastern North America. Characterised by its vibrant blue plumage, rusty throat, and white underparts, it is easily identifiable even from a distance. These small birds are known for their melodious songs and frequent perching on branches, fences, or birdhouses, where they hunt for insects and berries.

Eastern Bluebirds are cavity nesters, often utilising abandoned woodpecker holes or specially designed nest boxes. They form monogamous pairs during the breeding season and may raise multiple broods per year.

Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove, known scientifically as Zenaida macroura, is a common and widespread bird found throughout North America. Recognizable by its soft grey-brown plumage, slender body, and long, tapered tail, it is a familiar sight in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike.

Mourning Doves are often seen perched on telephone wires, fence posts, or feeding on the ground in open areas. Their mournful cooing calls are a characteristic sound of summer mornings and evenings.

These birds primarily feed on seeds and grains but may also consume small insects. They build flimsy nests of twigs and grasses in trees or shrubs, where they lay eggs and raise their young.

Eastern Towhee

The Eastern Towhee, scientifically known as Pipilo erythrophthalmus, is a striking bird found in eastern North America. Recognizable by its black upperparts, rufous sides, and white belly, it has bright red eyes and is often heard before it is seen. The male's call sounds like "drink your tea," while the female's call is a series of sharp "chewinks."

Eastern Towhees forage on the ground, scratching through leaf litter in search of insects, seeds, and berries. They are common in dense thickets, brushy areas, and woodland edges where they can find ample cover.

During the breeding season, males perform elaborate scratching displays to attract females. They build cup-shaped nests on the ground or low in shrubs, where they lay eggs and raise their young.

Song Sparrow

The Song Sparrow, scientifically known as Melospiza melodia, is a familiar and melodious bird found throughout North America. Recognizable by its streaked brown plumage, a central dark spot on its breast, and a long tail, the Song Sparrow is known for its beautiful and varied song.

It is often found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, marshes, grasslands, and urban areas, where it forages for seeds, insects, and berries. Song Sparrows are known for their complex songs, which vary regionally and can include trills, whistles, and buzzes.

Males often sing from exposed perches to establish territories and attract mates during the breeding season. They build cup-shaped nests in dense vegetation, where they lay eggs and raise their young. Song Sparrows are a common sight and sound in gardens, parks, and natural areas, adding to the rich tapestry of avian life.

House Finch

The House Finch, scientifically termed Haemorhous mexicanus, is a small passerine bird native to western North America. It's distinguished by its streaked brown plumage, thick conical bill, and notable red-orange coloration on the forehead, throat, and breast of males, while females exhibit more subdued colours.

House Finches are adaptable and commonly found in urban and suburban areas, where they inhabit parks, gardens, and residential neighbourhoods. They primarily feed on seeds, grains, and berries but may also consume small insects.

Blue Jay

The Blue Jay, scientifically known as Cyanocitta cristata, is a striking bird found primarily in North America. Recognizable by its vibrant blue plumage, white face, and black crest atop its head, the Blue Jay is a common sight in forests, parks, and suburban areas.

Its distinctive call, a loud and harsh "jay-jay" sound, often announces its presence. Blue Jays are omnivorous and feed on a varied diet, including nuts, seeds, insects, and occasionally small vertebrates and eggs. They're known for their intelligence and are adept at mimicking other bird calls.

Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird, scientifically known as Mimus polyglottos, is a versatile songbird native to North America. Recognizable by its greyish-brown plumage, long tail, and white patches on its wings, the Northern Mockingbird is renowned for its exceptional vocal abilities.

It has a varied repertoire of songs and can mimic the sounds of other birds, animals, and even mechanical noises. Found in urban, suburban, and rural habitats, the Northern Mockingbird is adaptable and thrives in diverse environments. It primarily feeds on insects, berries, fruits, and seeds.

During breeding season, male Northern Mockingbirds sing elaborate songs to attract mates and establish territory. These birds are also fiercely territorial and will defend their nesting sites against intruders. Despite their small size, Northern Mockingbirds are bold and assertive, making them a fascinating species to observe in the wild.

White-throated Sparrow

The White-throated Sparrow, scientifically termed Zonotrichia albicollis, is a small passerine bird found across much of North America. Characterised by its distinctive black-and-white striped head pattern and a bright white throat, this sparrow species is easily recognizable.

White-throated Sparrows inhabit various habitats, including forests, woodlands, shrubby areas, and backyard gardens. They forage on the ground for seeds, insects, and berries, often scratching through leaf litter in search of food. During the breeding season, males sing melodious songs to attract mates and establish territories.

American Robin

The American Robin, scientifically known as Turdus migratorius, is a familiar and widely recognized bird species across North America. With its striking orange breast, greyish-brown back, and distinctive song, the American Robin is often associated with the arrival of spring.

These birds are versatile and adaptable, inhabiting a variety of environments, including forests, woodlands, parks, and suburban areas. They are omnivorous, feeding on a diverse diet that includes insects, earthworms, fruits, and berries.

American Robins are known for their habit of hopping on lawns and fields, searching for food. They are also adept at catching insects in mid-air and are frequently spotted foraging on the ground after rainfall, when earthworms emerge.


In summary, the American Robin is a familiar and adaptable bird species found throughout North America. With its distinctive orange breast and greyish-brown back, it's often associated with the arrival of spring. These birds are omnivorous, feeding on insects, earthworms, fruits, and berries. They inhabit various environments, including forests, parks, and suburban areas, and are known for their hopping behaviour while foraging.

During the breeding season, they build cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs to raise their young. Their melodic songs are a common sound in spring and summer, contributing to the outdoor ambiance. Overall, the American Robin's versatility, adaptability, and cheerful presence make it a beloved and iconic bird species across the continent.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the rarest bird in West Virginia?

The rarest bird in West Virginia is the Cerulean Warbler. This small songbird is designated as a species of conservation concern due to habitat loss and is rarely sighted in the state.

What kind of birds live in West Virginia?

West Virginia is home to a diverse range of bird species, including the American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, and Eastern Bluebird. These birds, along with many others, inhabit various habitats across the state.

What birds don't migrate in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, some birds don't migrate and can be found year-round. Examples include the Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, and Downy Woodpecker, which remain in the state throughout the seasons.

About Hammad Tariq

Hammad Tariq, the passionate founder and author of HappiestBeaks, is a dedicated bird enthusiast, caretaker, and lover. With a deep-seated affection for avian companions, he channels his expertise into crafting insightful and informative blogs on bird care and behavior.