Understanding where birds live is key to finding and photographing them. Below are simple profiles of different habitat types and the bird species most often associated with them – please note that these habitat types are not singular and some environments encompass features of multiple habitats.
An undisturbed tract of land, with multilayered canopies of large trees, young/small trees, and dead trees (both standing and fallen). Mature forests are full of diverse vegetation and wildlife; their conservation is vital to the survival of many birds.
Types of Mature Forest:
- Deciduous Forest: Deciduous trees and shrubs lose their leaves seasonally, usually this means they drop their leaves sometime in the fall, are leafless through winter, then begin to grow back new leaves the following spring, so that they are at full bloom for summer. Deciduous plants go through this process to better survive winter conditions. While the lack of leaves makes deciduous trees and shrubs poor winter shelter options for birds, they do provide great benefit to birds once the leaves return. In fact, migratory birds often return to northern breeding grounds just as deciduous plants are beginning to bloom – this is no coincidence as birds often use these plants for breeding and nesting activities. Woody deciduous plants also play hosts to thousands of insects (the number one source of food for birds) and provide other food sources like berries, nuts, seeds, sap, and nectar.
- Evergreen Forest: Evergreen denotes a plant that retains its leaves throughout the year (thus “ever”) and whose leaves are always green (thus “green”). Evergreen plants can either be trees or shrubs and many are conifers (cone bearing seed plants). For these reasons, evergreen plants play a very important role in providing food and shelter for birds - food from the seeds and berries evergreens produce and shelter from the hardy needle branches, which offer protection for birds against the weather (especially in winter when deciduous trees lose their leaves) and predators (which makes evergreen plants a prime spot for nesting).
- Mixed Forest: A forest in which there is both deciduous and evergreen vegetation.
Birds Most Commonly Associated with Mature Forest Habitat
Black-Capped Chickadee Blue Jay Downy Woodpecker Kinglets Pileated Woodpecker Purple Finch Red-Bellied Woodpecker Rose-Breasted Grosbeak Red-Eyed Vireo Scarlet Tanager Tufted Titmouse Veery Warblers White-Breasted Nuthatch
An environment with scattered trees and relatively open canopy, also limited understory vegetation. Can be an open area surrounded by or within a forest.
Birds Most Commonly Associated with Open Woodland Habitat
American Goldfinch American Robin Baltimore Oriole Black-Capped Chickadee Blue Jay Cedar Waxwing Downy Woodpecker Eastern Bluebird Eastern Phoebe Gray Catbird House Finch Indigo Bunting Mourning Dove Northern Cardinal Northern Flicker Northern Mockingbird Purple Finch Red-Bellied Woodpecker Rose-Breasted Grosbeak Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Tufted Titmouse Warblers White-Breasted Nuthatch
An environment in which the vegetation is primarily limited to grassland (which is often mowed) and maybe a garden. A wooded backyard features scattered trees.