Most Common Birds of Missouri

Missouri is a state located in the Midwestern United States and is home to a diverse population of birds. Some of the most common bird species seen in Missouri include American Robins, Blue Jays, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Cardinals.

Common birds in Missouri, complete with photos and key information. Data was collected from only reliable sources and verified by an Ornithologist.

Most Common Backyard Birds in Missouri

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird is a small thrush, measuring approximately 6-7 inches in length. Its upperparts are deep blue and its underparts are light blue or dull white. It has a reddish-brown chest and a dark brown or blackish head.

In terms of diet, Eastern Bluebirds primarily eat insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. They also consume berries and fruits.

In Missouri, Eastern Bluebirds can be found in open woodlands, pastures, and suburban areas with scattered trees. They often build their nests in tree cavities or nest boxes provided by humans.

In terms of behavior, Eastern Bluebirds are often seen perching on fence posts or low branches and swooping down to catch insects. During the breeding season, they may become territorial and chase away other birds from their nesting area.

They also form monogamous pairs and work together to build their nests and raise their young.

Eastern Bluebird range map

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco, also known as “snowbirds,” can be identified by their gray bodies and white outer tail feathers. They typically eat black oil sunflower seeds, insects, and berries. These birds are small in size, measuring about 6 inches long.

They can often be found in forests or gardens near the ground. Juncos are social birds and prefer to feed in flocks. They also have a distinctive song that includes trills and twitters.

In Missouri, the Dark-eyed Junco can be seen during the winter months in wooded areas or backyard bird feeders. These resilient birds are able to withstand harsh winter conditions and can often be spotted hopping on the ground in search of food. When mating season approaches, the males can be seen performing a “broken wing display” to attract a mate.

This behavior involves feigning injury in order to distract predators and showcase their fitness as potential partners.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

(Molothrus after)

The Brown-headed Cowbird can easily be identified by its brown head and black body. These birds are known to be brood parasites, meaning they lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species and leave the responsibility of raising their young to them.

In terms of diet, the Brown-headed Cowbird mainly consumes insects and seeds.

On average, these birds measure about 7.5 inches in length and have a wingspan of 13 inches.

In Missouri, the Brown-headed Cowbird can be found in open grasslands and agricultural fields.

In terms of behavior, these birds are known to form large flocks and can often be seen following grazing animals, such as cattle, for feeding opportunities. They are also known to aggressively chase away other bird species from their chosen nesting sites.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

(Agelaius phoeniceus) can be identified by its black body and distinctive red shoulder patches. In Missouri, these birds can often be found near wetland areas where they feed on insects, seeds, and grains. They are medium-sized birds, measuring about 9 inches in length.

When it comes to behavior, male red-winged blackbirds are known for their territorial displays and loud vocalizations. They can be seen perching prominently on cattails or fence posts, flaring their red shoulder patches to warn off intruders.

During the breeding season, they construct cup-shaped nests in vegetation near water and will fiercely defend their territory.

Barn Swallows

Barn Swallows

Barn Swallows are small birds with long, pointed wings and a characteristic fork-shaped tail. Their plumage is glossy dark blue on their backs and heads, with rust-colored undersides and chests.

In Missouri, Barn Swallows can often be found near open fields or bodies of water. They feed on flying insects that they catch in mid-air.

Barn Swallows typically build their cup-shaped nests on man-made structures such as barns and bridges. They are social birds, often found in large groups and mating for life. During their spectacular aerial displays, they fly and swoop in unison.

These highly adaptable birds can be found throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. However, their population has been declining in recent years due to loss of suitable nesting sites and environmental pollution.

The average length of a Barn Swallow is 5-6 inches with a wingspan of 12-13 inches. They weigh only about 0.7 ounces.

American Robin

american robin

(Turdus migratorius) are easily recognizable by their bright orange-red breast and dark head. They can be found throughout Missouri, where they primarily eat insects, fruits, and berries.

These birds typically measure around 9-11 inches in length with a wingspan of 12-15 inches. Their preferred habitat includes open woodlands and suburban areas. In the winter, flocks of American Robins can often be seen foraging on lawns for food.

They are known to be territorial and will defend their nesting areas against intruders. During mating season, they can also be observed performing courtship displays such as singing, wing-flicking, and giving gifts to potential mates.

American Robin range map

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

The Common Grackle, also known as the Eurasian Blackbird, is a medium-sized black bird with iridescent purple and green feathers on its back and a long tail. Its diet consists mainly of insects, fruits, grains, and seeds.

In Missouri, they can be found in open fields, parks, farmlands, and near bodies of water.

Common Grackles are known for their noisy and aggressive behavior, often chasing away smaller birds from food sources. They also have the unique ability to untwist twist-ties and open plastic packaging in search of food.

During the breeding season, male Common Grackles perform aerial displays and sing loud, raspy songs to attract a mate. They also build large and complex nests made of twigs and grasses high up in trees or on buildings.

Common Grackle range map

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch, also known as wild canaries, are small birds with bright yellow feathers and black wings. They have a short, pointed bill and a characteristic tail that is held upright while in flight.

Their diet consists mainly of seeds and insects found in grasslands and open woodlands.

They typically measure around 4-5 inches in length and have a wingspan of 7-9 inches.

In Missouri, American Goldfinches can be found in meadows, pastures, and urban parks during the summer months. During winter, they often gather in flocks to feed on seeds from backyard feeders.

These social birds are known for their high-pitched twittering calls and their acrobatic flight patterns. They also partake in a unique courtship behavior called “flower carrying,” where males will pick and present flowers to females during mating season.

American Goldfinch range map

American Crow

American Crow

(Corvus brachyrhynchos) can be identified by their sleek black feathers, black eyes, and distinct cawing call. In Missouri, they are commonly found in open fields and forests, feeding on grains, insects, small animals, and garbage.

Adult crows can measure 17-21 inches in length with a wingspan of 34-40 inches. They are highly intelligent birds, known for their problem-solving abilities and ability to use tools. Crows often live in large groups called “murders,” and have complex social structures within their communities.

These social behaviors include cooperative breeding and hunting, sharing food, and even holding funeral-like gatherings for deceased members of their group. However, they can also be territorial and may aggressively defend their nests from potential threats.

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves are a common sight in Missouri, with their small size and distinctive mournful call. Their plumage is primarily gray and brown, with black spots on their wings and a distinctive black crescent marking on their neck. They primarily feed on seeds and grains, using their long beak to pick them up from the ground.

Mourning Doves can range in size from 10 to 12 inches in length, with a wingspan of approximately 16 inches. They can usually be found in open woodlands, fields, and even backyard bird feeders.

In terms of behavior, they are typically seen alone or in pairs, and have a tendency to bob their heads while walking. They also build flimsy nests made of twigs and grass, typically found in trees or on building ledges.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting is a small bird, measuring about five inches in length and weighing less than an ounce. They have bright blue plumage on their backs and wings, with black heads and chests.

In Missouri, Indigo Buntings can be found in open woodland areas and fields during the breeding season. During winter months, they migrate to southern regions.

Their diet consists mainly of insects and seeds.

In terms of behavior, Indigo Buntings can often be seen perching on tall plants and singing their distinctive songs. They are also known to form flocks with other small birds during migration and winter months.

Blue Jays

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are easily identified by their bright blue feathers and crest on top of their head. They are also known for their loud, harsh calls. In Missouri, they primarily feed on nuts and seeds, but will also eat insects, fruits, and even small vertebrates.

Blue Jays typically measure around 10 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 13 inches. They can be found in various habitats, including forests, suburban areas, and parks.

In terms of behavior, Blue Jays are known for their clever tactics to obtain food. They have been observed using tools, storing excess food for later, and even pretending to be injured to distract potential prey.

They are also very social birds and often gather in large groups or flocks. Blue Jays are also known for their aggressive defense of their territory, particularly during the breeding season.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song sparrows, found in Missouri, have a streaky brown body with a grayish-brown crown and a distinct dark spot in the middle of their chest. They primarily eat seeds and insects.

These sparrows typically range from 4.7 to 5.5 inches in size and can be found in various habitats such as grasslands, shrublands, and urban areas.

Song sparrows are known for their melodious singing abilities, often singing several different songs in a row. They are also territorial and will fiercely defend their territory from intruding birds.

Additionally, they build cup-shaped nests made of grasses, weeds, and other plant material, usually placed low to the ground in shrubs or grass. Overall, the Song Sparrow is a common and widespread bird in North America.

House Finch

House Finch

The male House Finch can be identified by its red head and breast, while the female is a dull brown color with streaks on her chest. These birds mainly eat grains, seeds, and insects.

They typically measure between five to six inches in length and have a wingspan of eight to nine inches.

In Missouri, these birds can be found in open woodlands, farmlands, and suburban areas with plenty of trees or shrubs for shelter. They are social birds and are often seen in flocks or pairs.

During mating season, males will perform elaborate songs and displays to attract a mate. Nest building is also a team effort between the male and females.

House Finch range map

Northern Cardinals

northern cardinal

Northern Cardinals, known for their bright red plumage, can be found throughout Missouri. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and insects. On average, they measure around 9 inches in length and have a wingspan of 12-15 inches. They can typically be found in wooded areas near bushes or trees.

In terms of behavior, Northern Cardinals are often seen alone or in pairs. They are known for their loud, repetitive songs and can be territorial during the breeding season.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows can be identified by their brown streaked upperparts, white underparts, black streaks on the breast and crown, and a distinct white eyebrow. They primarily eat seeds and insects.

These sparrows are small birds, measuring about 5 inches in length.

In Missouri, they can be found in open woodlands, brushy fields, and suburban areas.

During the breeding season, they establish territories and can become aggressive towards other birds. They build cup-shaped nests in shrubs or trees to lay their eggs.

Outside of the breeding season, these sparrows often form small flocks with other bird species. They are also known for their short, repetitive chipping call.

Chipping Sparrow range map

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch is a small songbird with a black cap and white face and underside. They are often seen clambering upside down on tree trunks searching for insects to eat. These birds can also be found in wooded areas, parks, and backyard bird feeders. In the winter, they may form flocks with chickadees and titmice.

Along with their insect diet, they also eat seeds and nuts, using their sharp bill to crack open shells. White-breasted Nuthatches can be found year-round in Missouri. They are known for their ability to store food for later consumption by hiding it in tree crevices or under bark.

Other identifying characteristics of the White-breasted Nuthatch include a bluish-gray back and wings, and a long slender bill. They measure about 4 to 5 inches in length with a wingspan of 7 to 8 inches.

During the breeding season, these birds can be heard giving their high pitched “yank yank” call or a slower “whinny.” They are also known for their aerial acrobatics, often seen flying with jerky movements before dropping to a tree trunk or branch to search for food.

White-breasted Nuthatches form monogamous pairs and build cup-shaped nests made of twigs, grass, hair, and other materials, usually high up in a tree or on a cliff ledge. The female lays 4 to 8 eggs and both parents help with incubation and feeding the young.

White-breasted Nuthatch range map

Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse

Tufted Titmouse is a small bird with gray upperparts and pale underparts, a crest on top of its head, and a black forehead. Its diet consists primarily of insects and seeds.

In Missouri, Tufted Titmice can be found in deciduous forests or woodlands. They are often seen foraging in groups among tree branches or at bird feeders. These birds are also known for their vocalizations, including a recognizable “peter-peter-peter” call.

The average size of a Tufted Titmouse is 5-6 inches in length with a wingspan of 8-9 inches.

This species typically nests in cavities of trees, sometimes taking over old woodpecker holes. They may also use nest boxes provided by humans.

In the winter, Tufted Titmice will often join mixed-species flocks with chickadees and nuthatches. They are known for their boldness at bird feeders, as well as their curiosity and intelligence.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker birds can be identified by their brown barred backs and black bibs. They also have a distinctive red patch on the back of their necks. Their diet primarily consists of insects, fruits, and nuts.

They range in size from 11-14 inches in length and have a wingspan of 18-21 inches. In Missouri, these birds can be found in open woodlands and suburban areas. Their behavior includes both ground-dwelling and tree-perching, as well as nest hole excavation.

They also have a distinctive call that sounds like “wicka wicka.” In the spring, males may perform a display flight where they dive toward the ground and then quickly fly back up into the air.

Northern Flicker range map

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wrens, found in Missouri, have brown upperparts with white and black streaks and a bright rusty-orange breast. They have a long curved bill and their tails are constantly jerking up and down.

These birds mainly eat insects, but will also feast on fruits and berries. They forage on the ground or in low shrubs.

Carolina Wrens are small songbirds, measuring about 5 inches in length.

In Missouri, Carolina Wrens can be found in forest edges, gardens, and urban parks. They build cup-shaped nests in tree cavities or man-made nest boxes.

These birds are very vocal and territorial, often chasing away larger birds from their territory. They are also known for their unique habit of carrying nesting material in their bills upside down.

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrows, common in Missouri, can be identified by their brown streaked bodies and black bibs. They primarily eat seeds and grains, supplemented with insects during the breeding season.

These birds measure about six inches in length and can be found in a range of habitats including urban areas, farmland, and grasslands.

House Sparrows are social birds that often gather in flocks and can be aggressive toward other birds. They build cup-shaped nests made from grass, twigs, and other materials, typically found in eaves or crevices of buildings.

House Sparrow range map

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrows, found in Missouri, can be identified by their white throat and yellow markings on their head. They mainly eat seeds and insects. These sparrows are small, measuring about 5 to 6 inches in length. They can usually be found in thick shrubs or low trees in open woodlands.

These birds are often seen foraging on the ground and have a habit of bobbing their tails up and down. They also have a distinctive song, described as an “oh-sweet-Canada Canada Canada” tune.

White-throated Sparrow range map

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpeckers can be identified by their black and white striped back, small size (6-7 inches), and red patch on the back of their head. This bird primarily feeds on insects, seeds, and berries.

In Missouri, Downy Woodpeckers can typically be found in forests or wooded areas.

They are known for their unique behavior of hammering on trees to find food or make nesting holes. They also have the ability to hover in mid-air while foraging for food.

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling, also known as the Common Starling, is a small and slender bird with black feathers and speckles of white or green. They can often be found foraging in open fields or on the ground for insects and fruits.

In Missouri, European Starlings can be found inhabiting both urban and rural areas, typically nesting in tree cavities or man-made structures such as buildings or birdhouses.

When mating, these birds form large flocks and put on impressive aerial displays with synchronized flying and vocalizations. They are also known for their ability to imitate the sounds of other animals and even machinery. However, they can also be aggressive towards native bird species and compete for nesting sites.

European Starlings were introduced to North America in the late 1800s and have since spread across the continent, becoming one of the most abundant bird species in the country.

Despite their success, they are considered to be invasive pests by some due to their negative impact on native wildlife and agriculture. Control measures, such as nest removal and population management, are often implemented to mitigate their effects.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco birds can be identified by their gray body, white belly, and distinctive black hood on their heads.

In Missouri, they are commonly found in coniferous forests and mountainous areas.

Their diet consists mainly of seeds and insects.

These birds have an average length of six inches and weigh around one ounce.

In the winter, Dark-eyed Juncos form large flocks and can often be seen scavenging for food on the ground.

During mating season, males perform flight displays to attract a mate. They build cup-shaped nests on the ground, made of grass and twigs, and typically lay four to five eggs per clutch.

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadees

Black-capped Chickadee is a small bird with gray upperparts, black head and bib, and white cheeks. Its diet consists mainly of insects and seeds. In Missouri, it can be found in deciduous or mixed woodlands, especially near edges or openings.

It is known for its ability to hang upside down while feeding and its vocalizations include the familiar “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call. This bird is also known for its behavior of caching food for later consumption and the ability to remember where it has stored these food items.

Additionally, in winter it may join mixed flocks with other small birds such as titmice and nuthatches. This bird is a year-round resident in Missouri and does not migrate.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker is a medium sized bird with a red head and belly, black wings and back, white bars on its wings, and a white neck patch. Its diet consists of insects, nuts, and fruit found in trees.

In Missouri, this woodpecker can be found in deciduous forests or urban areas with mature trees. It often climbs up tree trunks in search of food and nests in cavities drilled into dead or living trees.

During breeding season, Red-bellied Woodpeckers are known to drum loudly on trees to attract a mate and establish territory. They often forage for food with other woodpeckers and are also known to store excess food in tree crevices for later consumption.

Red-bellied Woodpecker range map