Birds of Rhode Island and Where to See Them

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.

Osprey

raptors in Rhode Island
An osprey with a fish in its claw on the Kickemuit River

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

Northern Cardinal

red birds in Rhode Island

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.

Northern Mockingbird

Where to see birds in Rhode Island

These songbirds can learn 200 songs in their lives. They have white patches on the underside of their wings.

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.

Grey Catbird

birds common to Rhode Isl;and

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.

Mute Swan

swans in East Providence

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.

Red-Winged Blackbirds

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.

Female Red-winged Blackbird in the Great Swamp

Mallard Ducks

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.

Eastern Towhee

birds in Rhode Island

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.

Baltimore Oriole

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.

An oriole nest at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence

Wild Turkey

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

woodpecker in Rhode Island
male 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.

Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher found in the woods of Coventry

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

This peninsula on the Newport-Middletown line lies between the Sachuest Bay and the Sakonnet River. You can also see deer and New England Cottontails here.

Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown

This spot is listed on my best walks to take in Rhode Island.

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 Warbler

Where to find birds in Rhode Island

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 Sparrow

Birding in Rhode Island

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.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Rhode Island birds

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.

Common Birds in Rhode Island

Many birds in Rhode Island are relatively ubiquitous.

Canada Geese

Common birds in RI

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.

Tufted Titmouse

common birds 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.

American Robin

easy birds to find in Rhode Island

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.

Chipping Sparrow

RI Common birds

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.

Grackle

Rhode Island blackbirds

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 Finch

finches in Rhode Island

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

Common Tern

Common Sea Birds in Rhode Island

More birds wearing hats! These seabirds are noisy and nest on open beaches.

Great Egret

common rhode Island sea birds

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.

Find out what birds are making all the noise in Rhode Island and the best birding spots in Rhode Island, USA. #NewEngland #birding #birdsofNewEngland

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11 thoughts on “Birds of Rhode Island and Where to See Them”

  1. that’s a very comprehensive list! Birdwatching requires patience and a good camera so well done on your effort! I have a soft spot for the Eastern Towhee and the Blue Grey Gnatcatcher, for their colours…

    Reply
  2. For someone who has just started to notice birds, you have managed to snare some amazing shots! Well done!! I think the Red Cardinal is my favourite.

    Reply
  3. These are some incredible photos, birds are so hard to photograph! I love the diversity of the birds here and wouldn’t have imagined an area like NE to have as many. For me I just love the cardinal with it’s bright colours but I also have to mention the orioles too alongside the cardinals as a baseball fan!!

    Reply
  4. You have such patience to be able to find these beautiful birds and capture their photos! I love looking at all of their colors – you’ve highlighted them well. It is a great snapshot of the local wildlife!

    Reply

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