Do you ever walk along listening to bird songs? Before recently, I always enjoyed the songs but hadn’t put a lot of thought into what birds were making the sounds. I started bike riding with my son (check out my list of best bike trails in Rhode Island) and started taking the time to notice the birds (a positive from the quarantine). I also put a few bird feeders around my yard.
There are multitudes of bird species in Rhode Island (over 127), both sea and land, common and uncommon. They are subtle and glorious in their songs and appearances.
We also have some great Audobhan Trails set aside just to be at one with the birds in nature.
Read on to learn about common birds of Rhode Island, which birds are found in Rhode Island, and where to go to find Rhode Island’s birds. Many of these birds can be found throughout the state, but I will let you know where I found them. I will update this post as I experience more birds in Rhode Island.
Places to Go Birding in Rhode Island
Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge, Warren
On his beautiful walk through the grasslands and marshes of this Audobhan reserve, you may see Eastern Bluebirds, American Woodcocks, Snowy or Great Egrets, Osprey, American Redstarts, Common Yellowthroats, Indigo Buntings, and Tree Swallows.
This North American raptor dives into the water to catch live fish. They are superbly adroit anglers and posses a unique reversed toe (which you can see in the picture above) to hold their prey. They can fly short distances quickly and often nest on manmade structures.
East Bay Bike Trail, East Providence, Bristol, Barrington
Male cardinals are easy to see because of their brilliant red color. The females are much duller, but still quite striking and unlike most North American birds sing as much as males.
These songbirds can learn 200 songs in their lives. They have white patches on the underside of their wings.
Great Blue Heron
Great blue herons are the largest of the herons. When their neck is extended, it looks like an S. They appear grey-blue and live near salt water.
Thousands of Canadian geese live in Rhode Island year-round. Canadian geese were introduced to Rhode Island by humans. Geese are hard-wired to return to their birthplace for breading. They eat by dabbling, like ducks, and can be found anywhere around water.
Central Pond and James V. Turner Reservoir, East Providence
This reservoir is in the Ten Mile River Nature Preserve. The bike path goes by it, or you can hike the James Turner Loop. You find many birds, including Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Ducks, Swans, Canadian Geese, Cormorants, Gulls, and Osprey.
At times, Catbirds sound like they are mewing. They copy other bird’s songs and can single melodies up to ten minutes long. Catbirds live in the brush. Because they are so dark, they can appear to be blackbirds in the shadows.
These swans are quiet for swans but not silent, as the name suggests. There is a whole swan colony on these ponds- maybe 100. Mute swans were introduced to the US from Eurosiberia. Did you know that baby swans are called cygnets? Swans not only look romantic, but they are also- they are monogamous and share child-rearing duties. Mute Swans are the second largest water foul.
Great Swamp, South Kingstown, Rhode Island
Again this area is accessible from a bike trail. While here, you can also see Egrets, beavers, North Water Snakes, and muskrats.
Although these birds look very different, they are male and female Red-Winged Blackbirds. They love the grasses in the swamp. The males are easy to see because of their striking colors and their habit of hanging out on top of grasses or bushes. The females stay closer to the ground where they make their nests.
Male Mallard Ducks are easy to identify with there brilliant green heads. The females are brown, but they share a blue “speculum” patch on their wings. They live in wetland habitats.
I saw this beauty along the bike trail just south of the Great Swamp. I feel fortunate to have seen him up on a branch because they usually hang out in the brush. Found in the eastern United States, this large sparrow has a sound like chewink. They are solitary birds.
The Blackstone River, Lincoln
There is a bike trail that travels alongside this River.
This year there are a lot of orioles out and about. These birds get their name from their bright orange and black coloring, which is shared by the crest of the Baltimore family of England.
Their call sounds like a whistle. You can lure the birds to your house with oranges and small amounts of grape jelly.
Swan Point Cemetery, Providence
Yes, it is a cemetery which can seem creepy to some people, but this 200-acre parcel on Swan Lake is a place of peace and beauty and full of birds.
Found in every state except Alaska, wild turkeys are one of only two domesticated birds native to the US. They may not like it, but did you know that turkey can swim?
Johnson’s Pond, Coventry
Eastern Downy Woodpecker
It is relatively hard to tell a downy woodpecker from a hairy woodpecker so I could be wrong in my identification here, but because of his short beak, I am going with a downy woodpecker. If anyone knows for sure and can confirm in the comments, I would appreciate it. These petite woodpeckers visit bird feeders, especially enjoying sunflower seed and suet. You can find them in the wild by listening to them rhythmically knock on trees. They prefer to live in forests.
The sounds of this small bird are high and frenetic, much like their constant motion, which they use to stir up a tasty meal of insects. They are the most northern gnatcatcher and don’t actually eat many gnats. Blue-Grey gnatcatchers make their nest on tree limbs from lichen and spider webs.
Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, Middletown
Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown
Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge, South Kingstown
This two-mile walk through swamps, thickly treed areas, and to an ocean lookout is full of many varieties of birds, including Yellow Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, Wood Thrushes, White-breasted Nuthatches, Willow Flycatchers, and Red-eyed Vireos.
Blue-winged Warblers flitter around from branch to branch and make a unique bee-buzz sound. They are only found on the East Coast of North America.
Song Sparrows have one of the prettiest trilling songs. They are found throughout the US, although can look pretty different depending on where they live.
Nuthatches get their names from jamming nuts and acorns into holes in trees and cracking them with their beak. They live in monogamous pairs and will join flocks of other birds, like Titmouse for safety. They live throughout the US.
Dead Tree Swamp, Smithfield
I am headed here soon. I will report back to you.
Birds That Frequent Bird Feeders in Rhode Island
Tufted titmouse lives in concavities made in trees by nature or woodpeckers. Their nests, where they store food year-round, are often lined with random animal hair they find. They love seeds, which they crack with their powerful beaks. Their calls sound like long tweets. Tufted titmouse are found throughout the eastern United States.
This little guy comes to my house to eat the Fruit and Nut mix I put in my bird feeder. The birds love this much so much that I have to refill it daily. I don’t have to worry about squirrels getting at my feeder, so I bought a pretty one for very cheap, and it works great for me.
Robins are the easiest birds to find because they are easily identifiable with their redbreast. They also eat out in the open, grazing on earthworms from the grass, so you don’t even have to look up for them. Robins are found throughout Canada, the US, Mexico, and even into South America.
They are a sign of spring but are around all year in trees eating fruits. They can become drunk off honeysuckle berries.
This little guy who looks like he is wearing a hat makes a trilling sound, which to me, sounds like a cricket. They love the sunflower seeds from my feeder.
These iridescent blackbirds congregate in flocks and usually nest in trees. They make a high-pitched cackle sound. Grackles are scavengers and eat crops, especially corn. They have a symbiotic relationship with ants in which ant poisons kill parasites living on the birds.
House finches are common at bird feeders. The males are red and brown/grey, but the females lack the red. This little guy and his woman live in the back of my office and feed off my bird feeder.
Common Seabirds in Rhode Island
More birds wearing hats! These seabirds are noisy and nest on open beaches.
Egrets wade in shallow water to hunt. They stop and wait patiently for food as this guy has in his beak. The males grow long feathery plumes on their back in the breeding season.
Much of the information I got from All About Birds. Visit it to hear all the bird sounds. I will keep updating this post as I find more Rhode Island birds. I often post new ones on my Instagram, so subscribe to it to see them.