Loggerhead Shrike in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona

My Top 10 North American Birds

Especially neat birds I've photographed.

Like many others, I picked up birding in 2020 as a way to get outside during the Covid19 lockdowns. I have since had the opportunity to do a fair bit of travelling around North America with one trip covering the Western US and many smaller trips around Texas where I live.

I've gathered photos of the most interesting or striking birds I've managed to get decent photos of during my travels the last few years. Hopefully this will inspire you to keep an eye out for birds if you aren't already!

Green Jay in Southern Texas
Green Jay in southern Texas. | Image by

  1. Green Jay

Easily one of the most vibrant birds in North America, the relatively little-known Green Jay is an amazing bird. A mostly Central/South American bird, they just barely make it up into the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas. There, they are as common as Blue Jays elsewhere. As loud in volume as they are in color, Green Jays are also one of the few North American birds that are known to use tools to find insects.
Varied Thrush in Northern California
Varied Thrush are a west-coast specialty bird. | Image by

  1. Varied Thrush

Varied Thrushes are found on the West coast mostly in the Summer. I found this bird among massive redwoods in Jebediah Smith Redwoods National Park with 2 other birds nearby. When I found them, I had no idea they existed and combined with the fantasy like setting of the redwood forest they made for a very special lifer experience.
Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat with a snack. | Image by

  1. Common Yellowthroat

It is terribly unfortunate that many bird species are named 'common' anything. These might be better called Yellow Bandit-birds. A migratory bird, they can be found throughout most of North America. They behave much like Wrens - foraging through underbrush or thickets to find insects. I have one or two pass through the backyard every year and I'm always super excited to see them.
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl in the Texas Panhandle. | Image by

  1. Burrowing Owl

Primarily found in the Western US, with some in Florida, Burrowing Owls are fantastic birds. In the Texas Panhandle, where I found this one, they live with prairie dogs, whose homes they often inhabit. Unlike most owls, they're super active during the day and are really easy to take photos of as they live in open areas.
Great Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee in southern Texas. | Image by

  1. Great Kiskadee

Another South Texas bird, Great Kiskadees are very common within their range but, similar to Green Jays, exclusively live in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. They're loud, with a neat 'kis-ka-dee' call and lively personalities much like other flycatchers including Eastern Phoebes.
Green Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher in Texas. | Image by

  1. Green Kingfisher

There are only three types of Kingfisher in North America. The Green Kingfisher can be found in Texas and southern Arizona. Kingfishers are all really neat birds that dive with massive beaks to spear fish. I didn't get excellent photos of this one, but it was one of the first new birds I found on my way to my first visit to the Rio Grande Valley and I was super excited to have found one.
Harris's Hawk
Harris's Hawk. | Image by

  1. Harris's Hawk

Harris's Hawks are especially cool hawks as they hunt in groups like wolves. I found this one, an apparent juvenille, hanging out with two other hawks at Estero Llano Grande State Park in the Rio Grande Valley. Really incredible hawks.
Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing. | Image by

  1. Cedar Waxwing

If you have a fruiting tree or bush, keep an eye on it during early spring. In 2020, huge flocks of waxwings decimated the berries of trees in our yard in minutes flat and I was fortunate enough to be around when they did. Cool enough as individuals, the pure chaos of a flock of cedar waxwings mowing down berries is hilarious.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. | Image by

  1. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

This is the bird used on the cover of Wingspan, the bird board game. They are really exceptional birds with super long tails and neat peachy coloring. Another resident of the south-central US, they can be found around rivers and lakes and are especially common where the land opens to prairies.
Loggerhead Shrike
Cedar Waxwing. | Image by

  1. Loggerhead Shrike

Also known as the Butcherbird, these tiny birds are pretty metal. They hunt small insects, lizards, small mammals, and other birds and skewer their corpses on thorns around their home - using the thorns because they don't have the claws of larger raptors. I'm always super excited whenever I find one of these, and this particular one in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona posed quite nicely for several photos.