Massachusetts is home to numerous types of wild birds. While some of these species spend the entire year in Massachusetts, others are migratory and only visit on a seasonal basis.
Birds of Massachusetts is a collection of species that have been documented in the United States of America’s state of Massachusetts and have been accepted by the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee (MARC). As of September 2020, the official list has 505 species. Six have been imported to North America, three have become extinct, and one has been extirpated. Seven additional species are included on a separate list of birds whose origins are unknown.
Massachusetts’ official bird is the Black-Capped Chickadee, which was designated as the state bird in 1941. The Black-Capped Chickadee, a cheery and friendly bird, is seen throughout Massachusetts’ four seasons.
More information about these birds can be found in the section below.
Massachusetts birds of prey
This section will discuss the birds of prey that can be found in Massachusetts, as well as the best times of year and sites to observe them.
Massachusetts is New England’s most populous state, and it boasts a sizable population of birds of prey to match.
With the Atlantic Ocean on its eastern shore and plenty of inland forests, swamps, and grasslands, it’s unsurprising that this state is home to a diverse array of hawks, owls, falcons, and eagles.
Eagles in Massachusetts
Bald eagles are among North America’s most beautiful and striking birds. Bald eagles are the state’s largest birds of prey, with wingspans up to seven feet wide.
As of 2018, Massachusetts had 76 territorial pairs of bald eagles. Bald eagles were categorized as endangered in Massachusetts prior to 2012. They are currently categorized as a state species of exceptional concern. In 2007, the bald eagle was removed off the Federal Endangered Species List.
Learn more about the state’s eagles.
Owls in Massachusetts
Owls are predatory birds that hunt and consume small mammals, snakes, frogs, and insects. Owls consume their prey whole, frequently after dissecting it and regurgitating the bones and fur. The Great Horned Owl is the state’s largest owl, while the Northern Saw-whet Owl is the state’s smallest.
While there are over 500 species of feathered companions in Massachusetts, 12 are owls, and while watching them will not endow you with their trademark wisdom and mystique, you will appreciate observing these magnificent birds in a variety of settings, from wood lots to swamps to open grassland.
Common backyard birds of Massachusetts
Massachusetts, with its north-eastern location close to the sea, is a perfect place for winter bird feeding. Birds sighted at bird feeders in suburban Boston gardens are representative of backyard birds found throughout New England’s states.
Birding is a favorite pastime among a large number of individuals in Massachusetts. If you are one of these fans, this section will offer you some useful information about the most frequent backyard birds in Massachusetts, complete with photographs and descriptions of each species.
Woodpeckers in Massachusetts
While birdwatching in the woods and woodland is the best way to see woodpeckers in Massachusetts, some species such as Red-bellied, Hairy, Downy, and Northern Flickers can be seen at home feeders.
Certain woodpeckers, such as the Red-headed Woodpecker and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, migrate from Massachusetts to the south for the winter.
With their powerful bills designed for chiseling away at wood, it’s unsurprising that woodpeckers prefer densely forested locations. Massachusetts is over 60% forested, making it the eighth-most forested state in the country. This also makes it an ideal habitat for a variety of woodpecker species.
Consider the beauty of this state’s woodpeckers.
Best Birdwatching Spots in Massachusetts
Though Massachusetts is a small state, it is home to an extraordinarily active birding community that stems from the legendary Ludlow Griscom, a pioneer in field ornithology.
One advantage of the availability of Massachusetts birders for visitors is the probability of bumping into a native at popular places. Numerous birding trips have been boosted by expert advice—and with over 500 species on the state list, you’ll want to maximize your time there.
Here are the top five locations for bird watching.
- Fort Hill, Cape Cod National Seashore
- Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
- Quabbin Reservoir
- Belle Isle Marsh Reservation
- Mount Auburn Cemetery
Other Massachusetts birds
It’s a lot of fun to put up bird feeders and watch what comes to visit, but it’s even more fun when you know who they are. Now you may learn about the different birds that visit feeders or hop across your lawn in Massachusetts.
If you have encountered a bird in Massachusetts that you cannot identify yourself, we’ll be happy to identify it for you. Simply take a picture of it and upload your picture, a quick description and the U.S. state where it was found here on our bird identification page.