Most Common Birds of Minnesota

Minnesota is home to a diverse bird population, with over 340 species recorded in the state. Some of the most commonly seen birds include red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, house finches, rock pigeons, American goldfinches, and mallard ducks.

The most commonly seen birds in Minnesota, with pictures and key data. The information was collected from reliable sources only and verified by an Ornithologist.

Common Backyard birds in Minnesota

European Starlings

European Starlings

European Starlings, also known as common starlings, can be identified by their iridescent black feathers with speckles of green and purple. In Minnesota, they primarily eat insects, fruits, and grains. These birds range in size from 9 to 11 inches in length with a wingspan of 18 to 24 inches.

In Minnesota, European Starlings can be found in open grasslands, agricultural fields, suburban areas, and urban environments. They have a tendency to form large flocks and can often be seen perching on telephone wires or gathering at bird feeders.

In terms of behavior, European Starlings are known for their vocalizations and impressive aerial displays. They are also notorious for causing damage to agricultural crops and competing with native bird species for resources.

However, they are also known for their ability to quickly adapt to changing environments and can prove to be beneficial in controlling insect populations.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows can be identified by their brown and black streaked upperparts, white underparts with a striped chest, and white eyebrows. They mainly eat black oil sunflower seeds, insects, and berries.

These sparrows typically reach sizes of 4-5 inches in length with a wingspan of 7-8 inches. In Minnesota, Chipping Sparrows can commonly be found in open woodlands and suburban areas.

They often forage on the ground or in low shrubs, and can often be seen hopping or walking instead of flying. Chipping Sparrows are social birds, often found in small flocks during migration and winter.

During the breeding season, they establish territories and can become aggressive towards other birds. These sparrows also have a distinctive, cheerful song that they often sing from high perches.

Chipping Sparrow range map

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves are small to medium-sized birds, with slender bodies and long tails. They have a grayish-brown body, with black spots on their wings, and a distinctive black patch on their neck. Their diet consists primarily of seeds and grains, which they forage for on the ground.

In Minnesota, Mourning Doves can be found in a variety of habitats, including open fields and woodlands. They also often make their homes near human settlements, such as farms or suburban areas.

Mourning Doves have a distinct cooing call and are known for their graceful, swooping flight patterns. They typically mate for life, and nest on the ground or low in trees.

Mourning Doves are commonly hunted for sport, and their populations have declined in recent years due to habitat loss and deforestation. However, they are still a common sight across much of North America.

House Finch

House Finch

(Carpodacus mexicanus) can be identified by their brown backs, red or orange streaks on their heads and breast, and pointed bills. In Minnesota, they primarily eat seeds and grains, but also consume insects in the summer months. They are small birds, measuring around 5-6 inches in length.

In Minnesota, House Finches can be found in open woodlands and residential areas, often near bird feeders. They are social birds and typically live in small flocks. They have a melodious song and can often be heard singing during the spring breeding season.

During mating season, male House Finches will display for potential mates by fluffing up their feathers and singing. They nest in trees or on buildings, using twigs and grasses to construct a cup-shaped nest.

Both male and female House Finches take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the young hatchlings until they are ready to leave the nest.

House Finch range map

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Common Grackle, a black bird with iridescent purple and green feathers, can be found in Minnesota. They have a diet consisting mostly of insects, grains, and seeds.

On average, they reach around 11-12 inches in length and can be found in open areas such as fields or wetlands.

Grackles are known for their loud and aggressive behavior, often chasing other birds away from food sources. They also have a habit of stealing food from picnic areas and bird feeders.

In the winter, they can form large flocks with other grackles and blackbirds.

Common Grackle range map

American Robin

American Robin

(Turdus migratorius)

The American Robin is a common sight in Minnesota, with its distinct orange breast and black head. These birds mainly eat insects and fruit, although they will also scavenge for food on lawns or at bird feeders.

Adult robins can reach about 10 inches in length and have a wingspan of 16 inches.

In Minnesota, American Robins can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, parks, and residential areas.

During breeding season, male robins will often engage in territorial displays such as singing and swooping at intruders. They build cup-shaped nests using grasses, feathers, and mud, usually placing them in trees or on buildings. Both parents take part in incubating the eggs and feeding the hatchlings.

Outside of breeding season, American Robins form large flocks and can often be seen gathering on lawns to search for food. They are also known to bathe in water or puddles and frequently hop along the ground with a bobbing motion.

American Robin range map

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrows, found in Minnesota and across the United States, have distinct markings including a gray crown on their heads and white cheeks with black streaks. These small birds typically eat seeds and grains, but will also feed on insects and fruits. They are around 5 to 6 inches in size and can be found in open areas with human presence, such as parks, farms, and urban areas.

These social birds often gather in large flocks and can be aggressive toward other bird species. Their behavior includes chirping loudly and building nests made of twigs and grass in sheltered areas such as eaves or tree holes.

In addition to these identifying features, male House Sparrows also have brown breasts with black stripes while female House Sparrows have buff-colored breasts with lighter streaks. These common birds can easily adapt to human environments and are not currently endangered.

However, their populations have decreased in recent decades due to the loss of habitat and competition with other bird species. Despite this, they are still one of the most widespread bird species in the world.

House Sparrow range map

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch is a small, stocky bird with a white chest and dark blue-gray back. It has a black cap on its head and a long, pointed bill. Its diet consists mainly of insects and seeds, which it obtains by climbing up tree trunks and searching for food.

In Minnesota, White-breasted Nuthatches can be found in deciduous and mixed forests, particularly near oak or beech trees. They often form small flocks, and their behavior includes climbing up and down tree trunks while foraging and making a repeated “yank-yank” call.

They also have a habit of storing excess food in crevices or holes, to eat later during the winter months.

White-breasted Nuthatch range map

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker, a small black and white woodpecker, can be found in deciduous forests and urban areas throughout Minnesota. Its most distinguishing feature is its black and white striped head and short, stubby bill.

This bird primarily feeds on insects, but will also eat seeds and berries. On average, Downy Woodpeckers measure about 6-7 inches in length and have a wingspan of 9-10 inches.

In terms of behavior, Downy Woodpeckers are often seen clinging to tree trunks as they search for food, using their strong bills to peck at the bark. They also frequently visit bird feeders, especially during the winter months.

Male Downy Woodpeckers have a small red patch on the back of their head, while females do not. Both sexes can be heard making a sharp “pik” call, which is often used as a warning to other birds or during mating season.

Black-capped Chickadees

Black-capped Chickadee

Black capped Chickadee, a common and beloved bird in Minnesota, can easily be identified by their black caps and bibs, white cheeks, and gray bodies.

These small Minnesota birds primarily eat insects and seeds, but will also feed on suet or peanut butter at backyard bird feeders.

They typically grow to be 4-5 inches in length with a wingspan of 7-8 inches.

In Minnesota, you can find Black-capped Chickadees in deciduous and mixed forests as well as urban areas.

These social birds often travel in small flocks and are known for their loud, distinctive chick-a-dee call. They may also engage in fun behaviors such as hanging upside down to eat.

During the winter, Black-capped Chickadees have been known to participate in mixed species flocks with other small birds like nuthatches and woodpeckers.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

(Carduelis tristis) can be identified by its bright yellow body, black wings with white markings, and pointed bill. These small birds eat primarily seeds and insects. They measure around 4-5 inches in length and can commonly be found in open woodlands and fields.

American Goldfinches are often seen flocking together in large groups and are known for their cheerful songs. They also have the interesting behavior of “wanting,” where they will sit on top of an ants nest and allow the insects to crawl over their feathers, possibly to rid themselves of parasites.

In Minnesota, American Goldfinches can be observed during spring and summer months as well as during fall migration. They are year-round residents in southern parts of the state, but will migrate to warmer areas during the winter.

American Goldfinch range map

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows can be identified by their streaked brown feathers and distinct white eyebrow stripe. In Minnesota, their diet consists mostly of seeds and insects. They typically measure around 5-6 inches in length and can be found in a variety of habitats including fields, wetlands, forests, and suburban areas. These birds are known for their strong territorial behavior and loud songs.

They build cup-shaped nests and will aggressively defend their territory from intruders. During the winter months, Song Sparrows often form small flocks and can be seen foraging together on the ground.

Despite facing threats from habitat loss and pesticide use, Song Sparrows are a common and widespread species in North America.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

(Agelaius phoeniceus) can be identified by its black body with a red shoulder patch and yellow wing bar. In Minnesota, their diet consists mostly of insects and seeds, foraged from wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural fields. They typically range in size from 7-9 inches in length with a wingspan of 12-16 inches.

In Minnesota, Red-winged Blackbirds can be found in a variety of wetland and grassland habitats, including marshes, ponds, meadows, farmland, and cattail stands. They are often seen perching on cattails or tall grasses as they sing their loud and distinctive songs.

During breeding season, males will defend their territory by flying in a display and giving a loud, rattling call. They also often form large flocks with other blackbirds during winter months.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker is a black and white bird with a prominent red patch on the back of its head. It typically prefers mature coniferous or mixed forests for habitat, where it feeds on insects, nuts, and berries. This woodpecker ranges in size from approximately 7-9 inches in length.

In terms of behavior, Hairy Woodpeckers will often be seen vocalizing loudly and drumming on trees with their strong bills. They also typically nest in cavities excavated in dead or dying trees.

In Minnesota, Hairy Woodpeckers can be found year-round and are a fairly common sight in appropriate habitats. However, they do tend to move south during the winter months in search of more abundant food sources.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker can be identified by their prominent red patch on their belly and black and white stripes on their back. They have a diet consisting mainly of insects, nuts and fruits.

They typically grow to be around 9 inches in length and can be found in wooded areas such as forests or parks. Their behavior includes drumming on trees to mark territory, storing food in tree crevices for later, and nesting in cavities of dead trees.

In Minnesota, they can be found year-round and are a common sight in suburban neighborhoods with mature trees. They are known to be curious and bold, often coming close to humans to investigate bird feeders.

Red-bellied Woodpecker range map

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco birds can be identified by their gray bodies and white outer tail feathers. Their diet consists of seeds, insects, and fruit. They range in size from 5-6 inches in length. In Minnesota, these birds can be found in coniferous or mixed forest habitats.

They typically forage on the ground and form large flocks during the winter months. Their behavior includes darting flights and shuffling their feet to stir up food. They also have a distinct, musical song.

Blue Jays

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are easily identifiable by their bright blue feathers and crest on top of their head. They are also known for their loud, distinctive calls. These birds primarily eat nuts and seeds, but will also feed on insects, fruits, and scavenge scraps from backyard bird feeders.

In terms of size, they can range from 9-12 inches in length with a wingspan of 13-17 inches.

Blue Jays can be found in deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as residential areas. They are known for their intelligence and problem solving abilities, often using tools to obtain food. They also have complicated social behaviors and communicate with each other through various sounds and gestures.

In Minnesota, Blue Jays can be observed year-round and do not migrate. However, some may move south in the winter to areas with an abundant food supply.

American Crow

American Crow

(Corvus brachyrhynchos) can be identified by their glossy black feathers, as well as their distinctive cawing sound. In Minnesota, they primarily feed on insects, grains, fruit, and small animals. Adult American Crows can range from 17-21 inches in length and have a wingspan of around 34 inches.

They can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, and even urban areas. American Crows are highly intelligent birds and have been known to use tools, communicate with each other, and even solve complex problems.

These social birds often form large flocks and can sometimes be seen soaring through the sky in unison. However, they can also exhibit aggressive behavior towards other birds and animals.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat birds can be identified by their black mask and yellow throat. They are insectivores, eating mainly insects and sometimes seeds. They measure about 4-5 inches in size and can typically be found in wetlands or thick brush.

Their behavior includes constantly flicking their tails and creepily lurking through dense vegetation while they search for food. In Minnesota, they can be spotted during spring and summer months.

Another identifying characteristic of the Common Yellowthroat is its distinctive “witchity-witchity-witchity” call. This bird can also be found in other parts of North America, including parts of Canada and Mexico.

Common Yellowthroat range map

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinals, also known as “redbirds,” are easily identifiable by their vibrant red plumage and prominent crest. These birds primarily eat seeds, fruits, and insects.

On average, they measure around 9 inches in length and have a wingspan of 12 inches.

In Minnesota, Northern Cardinals can be found in wooded areas near streams or woodlands, as well as residential areas with bird feeders.

These birds are typically seen alone or in pairs, but may gather in small flocks during winter. Their behavior includes hopping along the ground to search for food and perching prominently on tree branches to sing their loud, clear whistles.

Males are known for their elaborate courtship displays, including fanning out their tails and singing to attract a mate. Northern Cardinals are year-round residents in Minnesota, but may migrate slightly south during harsh winters.

Barn Swallows

Barn Swallows

Barn Swallows are easily identifiable by their sleek, blue-black feathers and long, pointed wings. They have a distinctive forked tail and a red forehead.

In Minnesota, they primarily feed on flying insects, catching them in mid-air using their agile flight skills.

Barn Swallows are small birds, typically measuring between 7-8 inches in length with a wingspan of 13-15 inches.

They can be found near open fields and bodies of water, as well as around human structures like barns and bridges.

Barn Swallows build cup-shaped mud nests on surfaces such as walls or cliffs. They are highly social birds and often nest in large colonies. During the breeding season, they can be seen swooping gracefully through the skies in search of food and mates.

Outside of the breeding season, Barn Swallows may migrate to warmer climates or form large flocks with other swallow species. Overall, these birds are playful and acrobatic, making them a joy to watch in their natural habitat.

House Wren

House Wren

House Wrens in Minnesota have brown upperparts and a light gray or white underside with a dark brown bar on their tail. They have a small, pointed bill and can often be heard making loud, chattering noises.

Their diet consists primarily of insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They may also eat fruit or seeds occasionally.

These birds are small, typically only measuring around 4.5 to 5.5 inches in length.

In Minnesota, they can be found in a variety of habitats including forests, brushlands, urban areas, and even backyard gardens.

House Wrens are known for their high levels of energy and activity. They are often seen hopping around trees and shrubs, foraging for food. They may also construct multiple nests within their territory, but will typically only use one for breeding. These birds can become aggressive towards other bird species that may try to enter their nesting area.

House Wren range map

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird is a medium-sized bird with gray feathers on its body, black cap and tail, and rusty underparts. It can often be found near thick shrubbery and trees, where it forages for insects, fruits, and berries. This bird is known for its vocal abilities and mimicry of other birds’ songs. In Minnesota, Gray Catbirds can be seen during the spring and summer months.

They typically build their nests low to the ground, using grass and twigs for construction. As a member of the mimic thrush family, Gray Catbirds are also known for imitating sounds from their surroundings, such as car alarms and cat meows.

During breeding season, male Gray Catbirds defend their territory and attract mates with elaborate displays and songs. They are also known for their aggressive behavior towards intruding birds and potential predators, such as hawks and cats.

Despite this aggression, Gray Catbirds have been known to form long-term pair bonds with their mates and raise their young together in the same territory each year.

Raven – Corvus corax

Common Raven1

In Minnesota, the raven is a large black bird with a thick beak and fan-shaped tail. Their diet consists of insects, small animals, carrion, and sometimes even food waste from human activity. They can also be known to steal food from other animals or birds.

Ravens can reach up to 24 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 4 feet. They can be found in a variety of habitats including forests, mountains, and deserts.

In terms of behavior, ravens are highly intelligent birds known for their problem-solving abilities. They have been observed using tools and engaging in playful activities such as sliding down snow banks or playing with other animals.

Ravens also form strong bonds with their mates and can mate for life. They are also known for their loud, croaking calls that can be heard echoing through their habitats.

Common Raven range map

Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus

Pileated Woodpeckers

One of the largest woodpecker species in North America, the Pileated Woodpecker can be identified by its black plumage, red crest, and white wing stripes. These birds mainly feed on carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle larvae, often leaving unique rectangular holes in trees while foraging for food.

In Minnesota, Pileated Woodpeckers can be found in mature forests or wooded swamps. They primarily nest and roost in tree cavities, and are known for their loud call and drumming behavior on trees.

Pair bonding is strong in this species, with both the male and female participating in nest excavation and raising of young. Pileated Woodpeckers have a long lifespan in the wild, with some individuals living up to 20 years.

Due to deforestation and competition for nest sites with invasive species such as European Starlings, Pileated Woodpeckers are listed as a species of special concern in Minnesota. Conservation efforts include protecting mature forests and providing nesting boxes for these birds.

Pileated Woodpecker range map

Purple Finch – Haemorhous purpureus

Purple Finch

Purple Finch – can be identified by their reddish-purple coloring on their head, breast, and back. Their wings and tail are brown with white streaks. They have a large conical bill used for cracking seeds from thistle or sunflower heads.

In Minnesota, Purple Finches can be found in deciduous or mixed forests where they forage for seeds and insects. During the summer, they may also be found in residential areas with bird feeders.

They typically stay in small flocks during winter and breed season. They build their nests in coniferous or deciduous trees, lining them with hair and plant fibers.

Purple Finch range map

Pine Siskin – Spinus pinus

Pine Siskin

In Minnesota, the Pine Siskin can be identified by its small size (averaging 4.5 inches in length), brown and yellow streaked feathers, and pointed bill. The diet of this bird consists primarily of seeds from conifer trees and weeds, supplemented with insects during breeding season.

The Pine Siskin can be found in coniferous and mixed forest habitats, particularly near sources of water. These birds often form large foraging flocks and can be seen hanging upside down to feed on seeds from tree branches. They also have a tendency to hoard food, hiding seeds in bark crevices or other small spots for later consumption.

During breeding season, the male Pine Siskin will perform a flight display to attract a mate. This includes diving and fluttering with its wings outstretched, making high-pitched calls as it goes. Both parents work together to build a cup-shaped nest using twigs, moss, and grass, and will aggressively defend their territory from other birds.

Pine Siskin range map

Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus

Killdeer

Killdeer – are a medium-sized shorebird with distinctive black and white stripes on their wings, a rusty brown neck and breast, and a loud, whistling call. They can be found in open fields and grasslands, near rivers or lakes, or even on golf courses and parking lots. Their diet consists of insects, crustaceans, worms, and small vertebrates. They range in size from 9-12 inches and have a wingspan of 17-22 inches.

In terms of behavior, Killdeer are known for their broken wing act, feigning injury to lead potential predators away from their nests. They also nest on the ground, making a shallow scrape lined with pebbles or other small objects. Both sexes take part in incubating the eggs and caring for the young.

In Minnesota, Killdeer can be seen during their breeding season from April to August. They are also commonly seen during spring and fall migration, as they travel through the state on their way to wintering grounds in southern United States and Mexico.

Additionally, Killdeer are one of the most abundant and widespread shorebirds in North America, with a stable population. They are not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species.

Killdeer range map

Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus

Red-eyed Vireo

One way to identify a Red-eyed Vireo is by its gray upperparts and white underparts, as well as its namesake red eyes. This bird can often be found in deciduous or mixed woodlands during the breeding season in Minnesota.

In terms of diet, Red-eyed Vireos mainly eat insects and sometimes berries.

Red-eyed Vireos typically grow to be about 5 to 6 inches in length.

In terms of behavior, Red-eyed Vireos are known for their repetitive songs that can often be heard during the breeding season. They also exhibit aggressive behavior towards other birds in order to defend their territory.

Red-eyed Vireo range map

What’s the most common bird in Minnesota?

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the most common bird in Minnesota is the American Robin. This species can be found in a variety of habitats, including backyards, parks, and forests.

In addition to being abundant, American Robins are also easily recognizable with their reddish-orange breast and cheery song. Other commonly seen bird species in Minnesota include Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and European Starlings.

What songbirds are in Minnesota?

Some of the most common songbirds found in Minnesota include American robins, northern cardinals, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, and American goldfinches. Other species commonly seen in the state include Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, eastern bluebirds, brown-headed cowbirds, and Baltimore orioles.

Minnesota is also home to a variety of warbler species, including yellow warblers, common yellowthroats, and American redstarts. The state’s diverse habitat, ranging from boreal forests to prairies, provides a suitable environment for many songbird species.

In addition to these year-round residents, Minnesota also welcomes several migratory songbird species during the spring and fall, including vireos, warblers, thrushes, and sparrows.

What kind of sparrows live in Minnesota?

The most common sparrow found in Minnesota is the American Tree Sparrow, followed by the Song Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow.

Other species that can be found in Minnesota include the Fox Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Harris’s Sparrow. During migration season, other sparrows such as the Vesper, Savannah, and Chipping Sparrow may also be spotted.

Minnesota is also home to the rare Henslow’s Sparrow, a species that prefers grassland habitats. This sparrow can be difficult to spot due to its secretive nature and tendency to stay low in vegetation.

What birds are in Minnesota right now?

The answer to this question can vary depending on the season and migration patterns. However, some common birds that can be found in Minnesota year-round include the red-winged blackbird, northern cardinal, American robin, bald eagle, and mourning dove.

During spring and fall migration seasons, Minnesota may also see a variety of warblers, sparrows, waterfowl, and raptors passing through.

Winter Birds in Minnesota

During the winter months, some birds may migrate south while others stay in Minnesota to brave the cold.

Common winter bird species in Minnesota include the common raven, black-capped chickadee, dark-eyed junco, snowy owl, and northern shrike. Waterfowl such as tundra swans, trumpeter swans, and various duck species can also be seen, particularly in wetland areas.

Some bird species, such as the red-breasted nuthatch and pine siskin, may even move into the state from northern regions in search of food during harsh winters. Thus, observing bird activity during the winter can provide an opportunity to see a variety of species.