You just can’t beat the sight of birds stopping by your bird feeder for a snack. Bird feeding is great for your mental health and makes you feel closer to nature.
But…some birds are more pleasant, or bigger assholes than others. Somebody needs to RANK AND JUDGE THEM. That’s where I come in.
I’m fond of parsing through sports power rankings lists during the baseball and football season. I felt inspired (and sarcastic) to rank the birds visiting my feeders.
Without further ado, here are the definitive bird feeder bird power rankings.
Oh, and I’m not listing every single feeder bird here. I’m sticking with the most common birds. Please don’t email me that I’m missing the Eurasian Dove, Evening Grosbeak, or whatever. I’m begging you.
Also, please know this article is satire and sarcastic. You’ve been warned.
21. House Sparrows
House Sparrows give me endless headaches, but I also don’t have the heart to do everything I can to deter them from my feeding station. All birds are good birds…but House Sparrows are pushing their luck.
These little fuckers swarm my feeders, toss bird seed all over the ground (they’re messy), and poop everywhere. Oh yeah, they’re also invasive and un-alive a lot of Bluebirds. They deserve last place on this list. Go away.
20. European Starling
Much of what I said about House Sparrows also applies to European Starlings. The only reason they’re higher is that they have unique colors that are neat to look at. They are also super smart language learners. House Sparrows can’t do that! Man, I hate them.
19. Song Sparrow
My wife calls Song Sparrows “Asshole Sparrows” because they’re constantly chasing away other smaller birds from my feeders. They’re looking for a fight! Who the hell hurt this bird?
Also, they’re pretty vanilla. Nothing is wrong with that. But, nobody outside of birders knows what a Song Sparrow is. For rudeness and blandness, I BANISH Song Sparrows to #19 on this list.
18. Common Grackle
You’re…okay, I guess. I don’t have much else to say here. You sure are a grack-a-lackin bird! Moving on…
17. Mourning Dove
This is the start of birds that I like on this list. I don’t know how to rank Mourning Doves higher than this, though. They’re big poofy birds that make me laugh, but they’re also mean to other birds at feeders.
Mourning Doves do get bonus points for literally becoming a nostalgia meme on Tik Tok…but that’s about it. Hurray for a relaxing bird call on a summer day.
16. Brown-Headed Cowbird
This is a controversial opinion in bird feeding circles (yes, they exist): I don’t think Brown Headed Cowbirds are that bad.
Yes, Brown Headed Cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds nests and that can sometimes result in other baby birds dying…but that’s nature. I’m not going to keep blabbing here. If you want more, you can read my opinion piece in defense of the Cowbird here.
I find that Cowbirds add a fun dynamic and personality to my feeders in the spring. Plus, they’re a native species UNLIKE HOUSE SPARROWS AND STARLINGS.
15. Dark Eyed Juncos
Okay, we’re getting into the really great birds now. The elite 15, if you will.
Dark Eyed Juncos are a fun fall and winter visitor in my neck of the woods. It’s nice to have a new bird in the cold months! It’s easy to gloss over these “snowbirds”, but they do make awesome laser sounds at each other. That’s fun.
14. House Finches
Some may think I have House Finches ranked a little high, but they’re often the first birds to visit a new bird feeder (including mine). So, they get brownie points.
I’ve grown fond of House Finches. They visit year-round at my feeding station and bring their fledglings in the summer. It feels like a family gathering without the awkward uncles. This is a true blue collar bird that consistently shows up.
13. Tufted Titmouse
Okay, I’m just outside these fuckers range, which is annoying. They can’t come up a little further north in Minnesota, huh?
So, I’m going on the assumption that these little birds are fun feeder visitors. People seem to rave about them…and they have sweet mohawks. Into the thirteenth spot you go until you can learn to fly further north.
12. Chipping Sparrow
The highest ranked sparrow in the power rankings. Congrats Chipping Sparrows!
I love Chipping Sparrows because they don’t give a shit if I’m around. They tend to be tame around people. I also like their brown caps on their head. It’s like they’re tiny Grandpas wearing old fashioned newspaper boy caps. “Hello chap! Don’t mind if I do drop by for some free bird seed. Good day!” (I’m losing my mind).
11. White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatches wouldn’t be nearly as memorable if they weren’t so acrobatic. Bring these birds to the circus! They hang on my feeders sideways and upside-down, which is fun and impressive.
They also make these funny “ehhhh” (scientifically accurate description) grunts. It sounds like they’re constantly annoyed and just want to eat and get the fuck out of there. I know that feeling well.
10. Red Bellied Woodpecker
You sure are a neat woodpecker! But you need a name change. You have a somewhat red belly that I can’t see. Look into that and you could break further into the top slots on this list!
Oh, I do like the color and wing pattern of the not Red-Headed Woodpecker. I love watching this bird drop by to eat suet and their trilling calls. They’re a neat visitor, but they don’t tend to stick around. Show some loyalty!
They’re bright yellow color in the spring and summer is one of my favorite sights, but what the hell is the deal with their drab brown-olive color in the winter? BE FUN ALL YEAR-ROUND GOLDFINCHES! I demand it.
Jokes aside, these birds are a joy, have fantastic cheery chirps, and also seem polite at my feeders. They don’t make much of a mess and don’t bully other birds. The Goldfinch could arguably go anywhere in someone’s top 10 list and I’d be cool with it. What a kind and considerate bird!
Hell yeah, Chickadees! I love these birds. One time when I was a toddler, I waddled across my parents deck to pet a Chickadee…and the little fucker let me do it. What the hell? These birds are tame and will even eat out of people’s hands. Somebody needs to talk some sense into them.
They’re also smart! Chickadees have great memory, which is why they’re able to cache dozens of seeds at a time in different locations. They also have the ability to swap old brain cells for new ones, making them of interest to scientists studying human diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease.
If you don’t love Chickadees, something is wrong with you and I don’t want to be your friend.
7. Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks
Man, it’s getting hard to rank the rest of these birds. They’re all so good. But, the show must go on. Rose Breasted Grosbeak are stunning spring and summer migrant visitors. I had my first one visit my feeders this summer and I had to take 15 shitty pictures of it on my phone. They’re that attention-grabbing. I mean, look at this shit:
6. Indigo Bunting
The Indigo Bunting just misses out on the top five of my list. What is there to say? This is another stunning migrant bird that brings bright blue to your feeders if you’re lucky. They’re tiny birds with a delightful song. I only wish the could stay all-year long. They also tend to be irregular feeder visitors. COME BACK!
5. Blue Jays
“GASP! Blue Jays in the top five?! But Dan! Haven’t you heard that Blue Jays are MEAN! And…and they also eat eggs of other birds! And….THEY’RE MEAN!”
This is so overblown. Blue Jays are larger and louder songbirds and can clear away birds from feeders occasionally. But, other birds like Red-Bellied Woodpeckers and Grackles actually bully Blue Jays at feeders in terms of hierarchy.
Blue Jays rarely eat eggs of other birds. A study referenced by Cornell Bird Lab on Blue Jay eating habits found that 1% of Jays had evidence of eggs in their stomachs. They usually eat what other songbirds eat, insects and seeds!
Blue Jays are actually dedicated parents and bring a lot of fun and unique personality to your yard. I love them. If you don’t…you’re wrong.
4. Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckers place this high due to their unquestioning loyalty. Once a Downy Woodpecker visits your feeder, chances are that they’ll keep coming back each day. It’s like they have a damn Outlook calendar schedule. There are dull days where no birds come to my feeders. But, when nobody’s got me, I know the Downy Woodpecker has got me.
These birds are the tiniest woodpecker and are a joy to watch. A reliable and fun visitor with a ton of personalty? Into the #4 slot you go.
Hummingbirds (I’m looping in any species here) are tiny fellas that delight millions of bird watchers across the Americas every year.
I’ve seen hundreds of these fuckers, and yet I still exclaim “Look! A hummingbird!” to my wife every time I see one. That’s a magic that never fades.
2. Baltimore Oriole
I’ll never forget the first time an Oriole visited my jelly feeder in the spring. It was actually a moment I’ll never forget. The bright orange of this bird never fails to grab my attention. Also…they eat grape jelly, which always struck me as entertaining. You load up on that sugar, Baltimore Oriole! You deserve it after migrating thousands of miles.
1. Northern Cardinal
Look, this is the easy and safe pick for #1…because it’s CORRECT!
The Northern Cardinal is a stunning bird. It’s the main reason I got into bird feeding in the first place. Many people consider their sight to be a good omen of a passed relative checking in. I’m not a religious person, but somehow Cardinals convinced me spirits are real. It’s the state bird of seven states (more than any other bird), they usually mate for life, and they have COOL MOHAWKS.
I can’t think of a better bird for the top spot in the rankings. Another accolade for the glorious Cardinal.