Balcony birdwatching is a rewarding hobby, and it gives you an excuse to stare out the window at your balcony garden. Wild birds will eventually become so used to you that they will learn your habits and wait for you to fill up the birdfeeder. Some may be brave enough to feed or hang out on the balcony while you’re working in on your garden's container plants. Five common avian visitors to balcony gardens are goldfinches, sparrows, housefinches, northern cardinals and hummingbirds.
1. Goldfinches. The American goldfinch may be one of the first wild birds you see in your balcony garden. These birds are common and easy to attract, and the males display a beautiful clear and bright yellow color (they are also called the wild canary). Male American goldfinches also have a black cap and black wings with a horizontal white stripe. Although they are a breathtaking yellow in the summer, they turn a dull yellow-brown during the winter months (due to a full molt). Females are a dull yellow-brown all year and have black wings but no black on the head. Both males and females are white on the rump. The lesser goldfinch is a closely related finch, and it can be distinguished by its darker color. This finch is yellow underneath with white patches on the tail and wings. Like the American goldfinch, the lesser goldfinch has a black cap, but it is olive-brown on the back (the darkness on the back differs geographically), rather than bright yellow. Females are a gray-brown color and can be somewhat yellow underneath. They also have a horizontal white stripe on the wings but no black cap. Read more>>
2. Sparrows. The sparrow will grace your balcony garden with pleasing short chirps and attractive behaviors. It is a social wild bird often found in large groups together in trees. It will most likely be one of the first wild birds you spot in your balcony garden, as long as you put birdseed out on a flat surface (such as your balcony ledge). They will eat almost any type of birdseed, and they are comfortable feeding with other wild bird species. They are cute little birds that you will enjoy watching. Read more>>
3. Housefinches. Housefinches are wild birds that can be found throughout the United States and Mexico, and they will regularly visit birdfeeders in balcony gardens. The females are gray-brown and striped, and while the males also have gray-brown stripes on their backs, wings and undersides, their heads, throats and lower backs can range from a light orange-yellow to a deep red color. The males’ red color intensifies with a good, varied diet (the color comes from berries and fruits eaten during molting season). The housefinch’s diet consists mainly of seeds, but they will also eat insects and fruit. Their chirps and tweets are pleasing to the ear, and it is especially entertaining to watch male housefinches sing, dance and display for females during springtime courtship. Read more>>
4. Northern cardinals. There are many types of cardinals that can be found all over the United States, but the most recognizable of them all is the northern cardinal (aka common cardinal), which can be found from the Midwest to the East Coast of the United States. The northern cardinal has a crest and a crest on the face. The mask is black in males and gray in females. Males are also a more vivid red, while females are brown with red highlights around the body, including the crest, feathers and tail. Read more>>
5. Hummingbirds. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common hummingbird in eastern North America. It is the only North American hummingbird that nests east of the Mississippi. This 3.5-inch wild bird weighs an eighth of an ounce; its heart beats 250 times per minute, and it can beat its wings about 50 times per second. Male ruby-throated hummingbirds have a shiny green back and ruby red throat (that may look black in certain lighting). The female birds are larger, have green backs with a white breast and throat. Females also have rounded tails with white tips, while the males have a forked tail with no white. Read more>>