With nearly 10,000 bird species in the world, it can be hard to narrow down the most popular birds. In 2010, however, the top 10 bird species proved to be some of the most familiar backyard birds and most common birds in the world, species that birders and non-birders alike can be familiar with and enjoy in their backyards, neighborhoods and favorite birding hotspots.
If these 10 birds aren't tops on your list, be sure to check out the complete list of bird profiles available, or email me with your suggestions for new bird profiles to be covered. Perhaps your favorite species will make the top 10 list in 2011!
One of the most familiar dabbling ducks in the world, the mallard is brilliantly colored and easily adapts to living in different environments, including in close contact with humans. Mallards are also one of the most popular ducks for hunting.
A familiar backyard predator, the sharp-shinned hawk is an agile accipiter of North America. Preying frequently on small birds, this hawk is a regular patron of bird feeders where it hunts unwary sparrows, finches and other prey.
The smallest woodpecker in North America, the downy woodpecker is also a popular visitor to backyards. Suet, peanut butter, fruits and sunflower seed will attract this black-and-white woodpecker, and it will regularly nest in bird houses.
4. Canada Goose
Often considered a nuisance bird because of its large size and flocking behavior, the Canada goose has multiple subspecies that differ greatly in size. In many areas, Canada geese are considered invasive or hazardous and may be culled to reduce their populations.
The largest North American woodpecker and one of the largest in the world, the pileated woodpecker is a striking bird with its bold crest and dominating behavior. Despite its size, however, it is still regularly found in backyards where suet is offered.
6. Rock Pigeon
The infamous rock pigeon is one of the most common birds in the world, and feral pigeons can be found in most major cities. Wild rock pigeons can still be found in Europe and Asia, though interbreeding with feral birds is threatening this species' genetic future.
7. Snowy Owl
A white ghost of boreal forests, the snowy owl is found in northern areas throughout the world. Made famous through Hedwig of Harry Potter fame, this owl species is instantly recognizable by many birders and non-birders.
There's nothing to mock about the northern mockingbird, which is well known for its ability to mimic an astonishing range of sounds, including mechanical tones, cell phone rings and a wide assortment of other bird species.
Native only to Europe and Asia, the house sparrow has been introduced around the world so successfully that it is considered invasive in many areas. It can be an aggressive bird, and flocks of house sparrows have voracious appetites for seeds and grain.
One of the most beautiful songbirds, the male northern cardinal is striking with its brilliant red plumage and jaunty crest. The female is equally attractive with more subtle tan plumage and red highlights, and both birds brighten winter landscapes in their North American range.