One of the most common birds found in Iowa is the American Robin. These birds can be seen foraging on lawns, singing their familiar songs from treetops, and building nests in backyards
Another common bird in Iowa is the Red-winged Blackbird, which can often be seen gathering in large flocks near wetlands and marshes
The Northern Cardinal is also a common sight in Iowa, with its striking red plumage and melodious songs
Other common birds found in Iowa include the Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, House Finch, and Downy Woodpeckers.
To help you quickly identify the most popular birds in Iowa, we’ve compiled a list with accompanying photos and critical facts. We only trusted articles from dependable sources. We checked everything with an Ornithologist to ensure it was correct.
Common Backyard Birds in Iowa
Brown-headed Cowbird, a member of the blackbird family, can be identified by its chocolate-brown head and glossy black body. These birds are primarily insectivores, but they also eat black oil sunflower seeds and berries. They measure about 7 to 9 inches in length and have a wingspan of 13 to 16 inches.
In Iowa, Brown-headed Cowbirds can be found in open grasslands, agricultural fields, and areas with scattered trees. They often form large flocks and can be seen perching on fence posts or power lines.
One notable behavior of Brown-headed Cowbirds is their habit of laying their eggs in the nests of other bird species. The host birds will then unknowingly raise the cowbird chicks, often at the expense of their own offspring. This behavior has sadly contributed to the decline of many songbird populations. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and support these vulnerable species.
(Agelaius phoeniceus) can be identified by their black bodies with bright red and yellow wing patches. They mainly feed on insects, seeds, and grains. These birds measure around 9-11 inches in length and have a wingspan of 13-17 inches.
They can typically be found in wetlands, marshes, fields, and meadows. Red-winged Blackbirds are known for their aggressive behavior and will defend their territory from other backyard birds. They are also social creatures, often seen in large flocks outside of breeding season.
In Iowa, the red-winged blackbird is a common breeding bird and can be observed throughout the state during the spring and summer months. They can also be spotted during migration and in the winter, although they may gather in different habitats such as agricultural fields or backyard birdfeeders.
Northern Cardinals, also known as redbirds, can be identified by their bright red plumage and crest on top of their head. In Iowa, they primarily eat seeds and fruits found in shrubs and trees. On average, they measure approximately 8-9 inches in length and have a wingspan of 10-12 inches.
Cardinals can be found in wooded and shrubby areas, as well as residential areas with bird feeders. They are known for their singing ability and will often sing throughout the day. In terms of behavior, Northern Cardinals are monogamous and will mate for life.
They build cup-shaped nests in trees or bushes to lay their eggs. Both parents help in incubating the eggs and caring for the young.
In winter, these birds will often form small flocks and forage for food together. However, they can also be territorial and aggressive towards other bird species when it comes to feeding areas.
Downy Woodpecker can be identified by its black and white striped back, white belly, and black spot on the back of its head. This species primarily feeds on insects, but may also eat nuts and fruits. They measure about 6-7 inches in length and can be found in wooded areas, parks, and backyard bird feeders.
Their behavior includes drumming on trees and flying short distances with quick wing beats. In Iowa, the Downy Woodpecker can be seen year-round and is a common backyard visitor.
Dark-eyed Junco is a small songbird with a rounded head, short neck, and sturdy body. It has gray upperparts with white underparts and dark eyes. Its diet consists mainly of seeds and insects.
In Iowa, the Dark-eyed Junco can be found in coniferous or mixed woodlands, often near streams or at the edge of open fields. Its behavior includes foraging on the ground and making short, jerky flights to catch insects.
During the breeding season, it builds a cup-shaped nest on the ground or in low shrubs. The male may perform a display flight with song and swooping movements to attract a mate. This species often forms large flocks during the winter.
House Sparrows, also known as English Sparrows, can be identified by their brown and gray plumage and distinctive black bib. They are omnivorous, feeding on seeds, insects, and even small fruits. They range in size from 5 to 6 inches in length with a wingspan of 7 to 8 inches.
In Iowa, House Sparrows can be found in urban and agricultural areas, often near human development. They form large flocks and are known for their aggressive behavior towards other bird species.
It is important to note that House Sparrows are not native to North America and were brought over from Europe in the mid-1800s. Their competitive nature has led to declines in populations of native bird species. Conservation efforts have been implemented to protect and support native birds.
Common Yellowthroat warblers can be identified by their yellow breast and black mask on their face. They primarily eat insects, but will also consume berries and seeds. These birds typically measure about 4-5 inches in length.
In Iowa, they can be found in wetlands and marshes with thick vegetation. Common Yellowthroat warblers are known for their skulking behavior, remaining hidden in dense brush while they forage for food. They also have a distinctive song, described as a “witchity-witchity-witchity” sound.
Barn Swallows, the most common swallow found in Iowa, have distinctive blue backs, rust-colored throats and foreheads, white underbellies, and long forked tails. They primarily feed on insects caught in mid-air, but will also eat berries and seeds. These birds typically reach lengths of 5 to 6 inches and have a wingspan of 11 to 13 inches.
Barn Swallows can be found near open fields and bodies of water, where insect prey is abundant. They build cup-shaped mud nests on vertical surfaces such as cliffs, buildings, bridges, and barn walls. These social birds often nest in large colonies and will aggressively defend their territory against intruders.
During breeding season, Barn Swallows perform dramatic aerial displays to attract mates. They are also known for their long migratory journeys, traveling as far as South America during the winter months.
Bird watching can be a fun and educational activity for all ages. By observing and identifying different bird species in your area, you can gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the natural world around us.
Song Sparrows can be identified by their streaked brown and gray plumage, white belly, and dark brown spot in the middle of their breasts. They primarily eat seeds and insects. In Iowa, they range in size from 5 to 6 inches in length. Song Sparrows inhabit a variety of habitats including grasslands, shrublands, wetlands, and suburban areas.
These birds are known for their beautiful songs and territorial behavior, often defending their nesting areas aggressively. They build cup-shaped nests on the ground or low in vegetation and will reuse them multiple times throughout the breeding season. Song Sparrows typically have 2 to 3 broods per year, with each brood consisting of 3 to 5 eggs.
In the winter, Song Sparrows can often be found in flocks with other sparrow species. They also have a tendency to wander, with some individuals migrating as far south as Mexico for the winter months.
Gray Catbird, native to Iowa, can be identified by its gray body, black cap, and long tail. Its diet consists of insects, fruits, and berries. The average size is 9-11 inches in length. In Iowa, this bird can typically be found in thick shrubs or trees near water sources.
Behaviorally, the Gray Catbird is known for mimicking the sounds of other birds and animals. It is also known for its loud cat-like calls, giving it its name.
Overall, the Gray Catbird is a common sight in Iowa and can easily be identified by its distinct appearance and calls.
(Turdus migratorius) is a common bird found in Iowa. It has a distinct red-orange breast, gray upperparts, and white underparts. Its diet consists of insects, fruits, and berries. The average size ranges from 9 to 11 inches in length with a wingspan of 13 to 17 inches.
American Robins can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, and even urban areas. Their behavior includes ground foraging, building cup-shaped nests for breeding, and flocking during migration.
(Passerina cyanea) can be identified by their blue plumage and black wings. They have a diet primarily consisting of seeds and insects. These birds measure around four to five inches in length and can typically be found in open woodlands, fields, and thickets during the breeding season.
Their behavior includes singing from high perches and performing aerial displays during mating season. In Iowa, the Indigo Bunting can be commonly seen during the spring and summer months.
Black-capped Chickadees are small birds, measuring approximately 4-5 inches in length and weighing around 0.4 ounces. They have a black cap and bib, white cheeks, and gray backs and wings. These chickadees can typically be found in deciduous or mixed forests, but they are also common backyard visitors.
Their diet consists mostly of insects and seeds, which they forage for among trees and shrubs. These birds are highly social and often form large flocks during the winter months. They are also known for their readiness to use bird feeder, boldly approaching them even in the presence of larger birds.
In addition to their acrobatic feeding behavior, Black-capped Chickadees are also known for their vocal abilities. Their signature “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call is used to communicate with other chickadees, but they have a wide variety of other songs and calls as well.
House Wrens, found in Iowa, has brown and white speckled plumage and a short, thin bill. Their diet consists mainly of insects and spiders. These birds are small, typically measuring about 5 inches in length.
They can be found in wooded areas and gardens with dense vegetation.
In terms of behavior, House Wrens are known for their territorial nature and will often build multiple nests in one territory.
They have a loud, high-pitched song and are known for playing with or moving objects around their nest area. Additionally, they have been observed placing sticks and other materials into holes or cavities before building their nests.
Red-bellied Woodpecker can be identified by its red belly, black and white striped back, white cheeks, and a prominent red cap on the male.
This species mainly feeds on insects and their larvae, nuts, and fruits.
They range in size from about 8 to 9 inches in length.
In Iowa, they can typically be found in deciduous forests or wooded suburban areas.
These woodpeckers are known for their drumming behavior, often done to attract a mate or establish territory. They also excavate nests in dead trees or utility poles.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers can sometimes be seen hanging upside down while foraging for food. They are also known to store excess food in crevices or tree bark for later consumption.
Chipping Sparrows, found in Iowa, have a brown stripe on their crown and a white eye ring. They primarily eat seeds and insects. These sparrows are small birds, measuring about 5 inches in length. They can often be found in open woodlands or fields.
Chipping Sparrows typically forage on the ground and can often be seen flying from perch to perch. They often form large flocks during migration and winter months. These sparrows are known for their frequent, high-pitched chip call. In the breeding season, males attract mates by performing flight displays, singing, and displaying feathers on their head and throat.
Chipping Sparrows typically build cup nests in trees or shrubs. Both male and female participate in incubating the eggs and caring for the young.
Blue Jays are easily recognizable by their bright blue feathers, striking black crest, and loud calls. In Iowa, they are commonly found in wooded areas and suburban neighborhoods.
They have a diverse diet including nuts, seeds, insects, and even small animals such as frogs or baby birds. Blue jays typically measure about 9-12 inches in length and have a wingspan of 13-17 inches.
In terms of behavior, Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities. They have been observed using tools to obtain food and also engage in complex social interactions within their groups.
Blue Jays are also known for their territorial nature, aggressively defending their territory and nesting areas from intruders.
Mourning Doves can be identified by their gray bodies with a black-marked tail and white wing tips. Their diet consists mainly of seeds, but they also eat insects and fruits. On average, Mourning Doves are about 12 inches in size.
They can typically be found in open fields or near human habitation such as farms or suburban areas. These birds have a tendency to flock and can often be seen perched on power lines or telephone wires.
Their behavior includes cooing vocalizations and mourning dove pairs have been known to perform a “mating dance” where they bow and pass grass and twigs back and forth. In Iowa, Mourning Doves can be seen year-round but their numbers peak in the spring and fall during migration.
(Carduelis tristis) can be identified by their bright yellow feather coloring, black cap on the top of their head, and pointed bill. In Iowa, these birds can be found in open woodlands and fields where they feed on seeds from thistle and dandelions. They are small in size, measuring about 4.5 inches in length.
In the summer months, American Goldfinches can often be seen in flocks, actively foraging and chirping to communicate with each other. During breeding season, they create nests out of plant material and lay 3-5 eggs at a time. They are known for their playful mating rituals and acrobatic flying abilities.
Scarlet Tanager – Piranga olivacea
The Scarlet Tanager is a medium-sized songbird with a bright red body and black wings and tail. It can be found in deciduous forest areas, where it feeds on insects, fruits, and berries.
During the breeding season, male Scarlet Tanagers can often be seen perching high in trees and singing their distinctive, whistled songs. They establish and defend breeding territories, and form monogamous pairs for the season.
In Iowa, Scarlet Tanagers are common summer residents, but may migrate to southern regions during winter months. The average length of this bird is about 7 inches, with a wingspan of 10-12 inches.
Eastern Kingbird – Tyrannus
The Eastern Kingbird is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 9 inches in length with a wingspan of 13.5 inches. Its plumage is mostly gray on top and white underneath, with a black crown and tail. It has a pointed bill and long wings.
In its summer habitat in Iowa, the Eastern Kingbird can often be found near open fields and wetlands, perching on fence posts or trees. It primarily feeds on insects, but will also eat berries and small fruits.
In terms of behavior, the Eastern Kingbird is known for its aggressive defending of its territory against other birds, including hawks and crows. It will also perform aerial acrobatics during mating displays. Additionally, it has been known to use bait-stealing techniques in order to catch prey.
The Eastern Kingbird breeds in North America, including Iowa, and spends its winters in Central and South America. It is a fairly common sight throughout its range.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Coccyzus americanus
The yellow-billed cuckoo is a medium-sized bird, with a length ranging from 12 to 14 inches. It has a grey body, blackish tail and wings, and a distinct yellow bill. This bird can often be found in woodland areas with dense vegetation, such as deciduous or riparian forests.
As its name suggests, the yellow-billed cuckoo is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of other bird species. Its diet consists mainly of caterpillars and other insects, which it hunts by perching and waiting for prey, or by flying out to catch them mid-air.
During the breeding season, the yellow-billed cuckoo can often be heard making its distinctive call – a repetitive “cuck-ka-ka-ka-ka” sound. It also has a display behavior known as wing-flicking, where it rapidly flicks its wings up and down in succession.
In Iowa, the yellow-billed cuckoo can be found during the spring and summer months. It is currently listed as a species of special concern in the state due to declining population numbers. Conservation efforts to protect suitable habitat and control insecticide use are crucial for the continued survival of this bird.
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
In Iowa, the American Crow can be identified by its all black plumage, as well as its distinctive cawing call. They have a varied diet consisting of insects, fruits, nuts, and small animals.
Adult American Crows typically measure around 17 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 32 inches. They can be found in a variety of open habitats, including fields and suburban areas.
American Crows are highly social birds and can often be seen in large flocks. They have also been known to engage in clever problem solving behaviors, such as using tools to obtain food.
Cedar waxwing – Bombycilla cedrorum
The cedar waxwing is a medium-sized bird, measuring about six inches in length. They have a sleek, glossy brown body with a yellow belly and a distinctive black mask around their eyes. Their wings have bright yellow tips and they have a small crest on their head.
Cedar waxwings primarily feed on fruit, but they also eat insects, flower blossoms, and tree buds.
In Iowa, cedar waxwings can typically be found in wooded areas, particularly near fruit-bearing trees like cedar or cherry. They often form large flocks and are known for their acrobatic flight patterns.
During breeding season, pairs of cedar waxwings build cup-shaped nests in tree branches and lay up to four eggs at a time. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the young. These birds are also known for their habit of sharing food with other members of their flock by passing small fruits from beak to beak.
House Finch – Haemorhous mexicanus
The house finch can be identified by its red head and breast, brown back, and white belly. They have a short, pointed bill and round body shape.
In Iowa, the house finch primarily eats seeds, grains, and small insects.
The average size of a house finch is 5 to 6 inches in length and weighs about 0.5 ounces.
The house finch can be found in open woodlands, residential areas, and farmland. They build their nests in trees, shrubs, or on building ledges.
House finches are social birds that often flock with others of their kind. They sing a cheerful warbling song and can often be seen perched on wires or backyard feeders. They also have a tendency to visit bird baths for bathing.
Brown creeper – Certhia americana
In Iowa, the brown creeper can be identified by its slender body shape, brown and white striped feathers, and long curved bill. It feeds on insects and spiders gleaned from tree bark using its bill. The average size of a brown creeper is 4-5 inches in length with a wingspan of 7-8 inches.
Brown creepers mostly inhabit deciduous and mixed woodlands, often seen climbing up tree trunks in a spiral motion. They also tend to be solitary birds except during breeding season. Their nest is usually found on the trunk or branch of a tree, made out of bits of bark and plant material lined with feathers.
During the winter, brown creepers may also join mixed flocks with other small insect-eating birds such as nuthatches and chickadees. They are often quiet and inconspicuous, but their high-pitched trilling call can sometimes be heard in the upper canopy of trees.
European Starling – Sturnus vulgaris
The European Starling is a small to medium sized bird, measuring about 8-9 inches in length with glossy black feathers and speckles of white. They have long pointed bills and yellow eyes.
In Iowa, the European Starling can be found in open areas such as fields and grasslands, as well as urban settings like parks and suburban neighborhoods.
Their diet consists mainly of insects, fruits, and seeds. They will also consume waste food from human activity.
In terms of behavior, European Starlings are very social birds, often seen in large flocks. They are known for their vocal abilities and can mimic the calls of other bird species. They also have a habit of nesting in large groups, creating bulky and messy nests made of sticks and mud.
White-breasted Nuthatch can be identified by its white breast, grey back and black crown. It has a long, pointed bill that it uses to hunt for insects in tree bark. This bird is commonly found in deciduous forests and residential areas with mature trees.
In terms of size, White-breasted Nuthatches are about 4-5 inches in length with a wingspan of 7-8 inches. Their diet consists mainly of insects and seeds, which they often store for later.
In terms of behavior, these birds are typically seen climbing up and down tree trunks in search of food. They often forage in small groups and have a distinctive call that sounds like a quick “yank yank.”
White-breasted Nuthatches can also be seen hanging upside down from tree branches and are known for their acrobatic abilities. They have been observed using tools, such as small sticks, to help extract insects from crevices in tree bark.
What are the most common birds in Iowa?
According to a recent survey by the Iowa Ornithologists’ Union, the most commonly seen bird in Iowa is the red-winged blackbird. Other common birds include the American robin, northern cardinal, and mourning dove. Additionally, Iowa is home to many different species of waterfowl such as Canada geese and mallards.
As a Midwestern state, Iowa also serves as a stopping point for many migratory birds during spring and fall. Some of these commonly seen migrants include the American goldfinch, barn swallow, and various species of sparrows.
What birds are native to Iowa?
Some common native bird species in Iowa include American robins, northern cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, blue jays, mourning doves, and American goldfinches. Other native bird species found in Iowa include sandhill cranes, eastern meadowlarks, killdeer, barn swallows, and rock pigeons.
Iowa also has several species of waterfowl, such as wood ducks, mallards, Canada geese, and ring-necked ducks. There are also many different types of sparrows, including song sparrows, house sparrows, chipping sparrows, and white-throated sparrows.
What is the rarest bird in Iowa?
The ivory-billed woodpecker, once thought to be extinct, has been spotted in the swamps and bottomland forests of Iowa. Other rare birds in Iowa include the whooping crane, the piping plover, and the red-headed woodpecker. These birds are protected by conservation efforts and their populations are monitored closely.
What red birds are in Iowa?
Some possible red birds that can be found in Iowa include the Northern cardinal, American goldfinch, and the common grackle. Other red bird species that may occasionally be seen in Iowa are the summer tanager, scarlet tanager, and rose-breasted grosbeak.