Wisconsin is home to a diverse array of bird species, including several common backyard favorites. Some of the most commonly seen birds in Wisconsin include American robins, mourning doves, cardinals, blue jays, and red-winged blackbirds.
To help you out, we’ve provided key data and pictures of Wisconsin’s most frequently seen birds. We only gathered this information from credible sources, and then had an Ornithologist check it for us.
Common Backyard Birds in Wisconsin
Black-capped Chickadee is commonly found in deciduous and mixed forests throughout Wisconsin. This small bird, measuring only 4-5 inches in length, can be identified by its black cap and bib, white cheeks, and gray back.
In the winter, Black-capped Chickadees primarily eat seeds and insects. In the summer months, they switch to a diet of insects and berries.
These Chickadees form lifelong pair bonds and often live in the same area year-round. They are known for their boldness, readily approaching humans for food. Black-capped Chickadees also have a distinct vocalization consisting of the familiar “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call.
(Corvus brachyrhynchos) can be identified by its shiny black feathers, thick bill, and distinct cawing call. Its diet consists of a variety of small animals, insects, seeds, fruits, and garbage. The average size of an American Crow ranges from 17-21 inches in length with a wingspan of 33-40 inches.
These birds can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, farmland, and urban areas. American Crows are highly intelligent and social birds that often live in large groups called “murders.”
They have been known to use tools and even mimic the calls of other animals. In Wisconsin, American Crows can be spotted year-round and are commonly seen gathering in large numbers during the winter months.
American Robin, a common backyard bird in Wisconsin, can be identified by its gray upper body and orange-red breast. Its diet consists of worms, insects, fruit, and berries. Adult robins typically measure around 10 inches in length and have a wingspan of about 16 inches. These birds can be found in open areas such as parks and yards, as well as forests and woodlands.
In the spring, American Robins are known for their characteristic song and territorial behavior. They build cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs, and typically lay 3 to 5 blue-green eggs per clutch.
American Goldfinch, also known as “wild canary,” is a small, brightly colored bird with a yellow body and black wings. They primarily eat seeds and insects, foraging on thistle and sunflower seeds in the summer and swapping to mostly weed seeds in the winter.
In Wisconsin, American Goldfinches can be found in open fields, meadows, and forest edges. They often travel in large flocks and can be heard chirping their high-pitched “perchickory” call. During breeding season, male goldfinches will perform acrobatic flight displays to attract a mate.
Northern Cardinal, also known as the redbird, can be easily identified by its bright red feathers and distinctive black facial mask. They primarily eat seeds and fruits, but will also feed on insects and occasionally snails. Northern Cardinals are medium-sized birds, measuring around 21 cm in length with a wingspan of 25-31 cm.
In Wisconsin, they can be found in wooded areas, thick shrubs, and suburban gardens. They are known for their vocalizations and territorial behavior, often seen defending their territory by chasing away smaller birds. Additionally, they mate for life and engage in interesting courtship rituals such as gift-giving and singing duets.
Mourning Dove is a common bird found in Wisconsin, with its small size (approximately 10 inches long), gray-brown coloration, and distinct mournful call.
Its diet consists mainly of seeds and grains, which it obtains by foraging on the ground. Mourning Doves can be found in a variety of habitats, including open fields, woodlands, and suburban areas.
In terms of behavior, they form monogamous pairs during the breeding season and build flimsy stick nests in trees or on structures. They are also known for their fast flight, reaching speeds up to 55 miles per hour.
Blue Jay is a common songbird in Wisconsin with distinctive blue feathers and a crest on top of their head. Their diet consists mainly of nuts and insects, but they are also known to eat other birds’ eggs and young. Blue Jays can range in size from 9-12 inches in length with a wingspan of 12-17 inches.
They can be found in various habitats, including woodlands, suburbs, and parks. Blue Jays are known for their noisy calls and aggressive behavior towards other birds. They also have the ability to mimic the sounds of hawks in order to scare off other birds and protect their territory.
(Agelaius phoeniceus) can be identified by their black body with a splash of red and yellow on their wings. These birds mainly eat insects, seeds, and grains. They typically measure around 9 inches in length and can be found in marshlands and grassy fields.
Red-winged Blackbirds are very territorial and will aggressively defend their territory, sometimes even attacking larger birds. They are also known for their loud and distinct calls. This species can be commonly found in Wisconsin during the breeding season.
Downy Woodpecker is a small black and white bird with a spotted white back, black cap, and a short bill. They can be found in deciduous and mixed forests, where they eat primarily insects but also eat seeds and berries.
They are known for their characteristic drumming on tree trunks using their bill. In Wisconsin, they can often be seen flicking their tails and hanging upside down on tree branches while foraging for food. Downy Woodpeckers typically measure 6-7 inches in length.
In the winter, they may form small flocks with other woodpecker species, but during breeding season they are more solitary and territorial. They are also known to nest in pre-existing cavities in trees, sometimes even using nest boxes provided by humans.
White-breasted Nuthatch is a small bird, about 4-5 inches in length with a white breast, gray back, black cap, and white cheeks. Their diet consists mainly of insects and seeds. They can commonly be found in deciduous or mixed forests, often seen climbing up tree trunks searching for food.
They have a habit of storing excess food in tree crevices for later consumption, known as “hoarding.” In the winter, they can often be seen in backyard bird feeders. Their call is a repeated “yank yank” sound.
In Wisconsin, White-breasted Nuthatches can be found year-round, but their numbers may increase in the winter as they form flocks with other small birds. They are also known to nest in cavities or old woodpecker holes in trees.
Song Sparrows can be identified by their streaked brown plumage, white eye ring, and distinct black-brown streaks on their breast. They mainly eat seeds and insects, but will also consume fruit and berries. These sparrows typically range from 5-6 inches in size.
In Wisconsin, Song Sparrows can be found in open fields, brushy areas, and wetlands. They often form small flocks and can be seen hopping around on the ground in search of food. During breeding season, males will perform aerial displays and sing to attract a mate. Overall, Song Sparrows are fairly common and can adapt well to various habitats.
Red-bellied Woodpecker can be easily identified by its red head and back, black wings with white spots, and white undersides. Its diet consists mainly of insects, nuts, and fruits. The average size of a Red-bellied Woodpecker ranges from 9 to 10 inches in length.
These birds can typically be found in wooded areas such as forests and parks. As for behavior, Red-bellied Woodpeckers are known to use their strong beaks to create holes in trees and search for food.
They also have a unique habit of storing excess food by sticking it into tree bark or fence posts. In Wisconsin, they can be commonly seen during the spring and summer months.
s, also known as English Sparrows, can be identified by their small round bodies, dark brown and black streaked feathers, and the white or tan patch on their cheeks.
In Wisconsin, they can often be found near human settlements and agricultural areas where they feed on seeds, grains, and insects. They range in size from 6-7 inches in length and have a wingspan of 9-10 inches. Their habitat includes urban environments, farmland, and open woodland areas.
In terms of behavior, House Sparrows are highly social birds and often form large flocks. They build their nests in cavities or sheltered areas such as eaves and ledges of buildings or thick shrubs.
Male House Sparrows can become aggressive during the breeding season, defending their territory and vying for mates. They typically breed multiple times throughout the year in Wisconsin.
European Starling, also known as the Common Starling, can be identified by its glossy black feathers with speckles of iridescent purple and green. In Wisconsin, they mainly feed on insects and fruits. On average, they measure about 8 inches in length and have a wingspan of 15 inches.
In Wisconsin, European Starlings can be found in open fields and wooded areas near sources of food. They are also known to inhabit urban areas, such as parks and city streets.
European Starlings are social birds and can often be seen in large flocks. They are also known for their complex vocal abilities and mimicry of other bird species’ songs. During the breeding season, male European Starlings perform elaborate aerial displays to attract a mate.
Dark-eyed Junco is a small songbird with a slate-gray back, white belly, and pink bill. They can often be found foraging on the ground in large flocks during the winter months. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and insects.
In Wisconsin, Dark-eyed Juncos can be found in coniferous or mixed forests, particularly near the edges or clearings.
During the breeding season, these birds form monogamous pairs and build cup-shaped nests on the ground or in low shrubs. They are known for their aggressive defense of their territory and will chase away other birds that approach too closely.
Dark-eyed Juncos also has a distinctive song, described as a rapid “tseet tseet tseet” trill.
(Haemorhous mexicanus) can be identified by their red heads and breasts (males), brown streaked bodies, and pointed bills. They are seed eaters, often found at feeders or on the ground foraging.
These finches range from 4.5 to 5.75 inches in size and can be found in a variety of habitats including open woodlands, agricultural areas, and urban settings. Their behavior includes singing, nesting in tree cavities or human-made nest boxes, and flocking with other finch species.
In Wisconsin, they can be spotted year-round but are most common during the breeding season from April to September. During the winter, they may form large flocks with other finch species.
Common Grackle, also known as the Great-tailed Grackle, can be identified by their iridescent black feathers and long tail feathers. These birds are omnivores, feeding on insects, grains, seeds, fruits, and small invertebrates.
They have an average length of 11-14 inches and can be found in open areas such as fields and parks. Grackles are known for their loud and raucous calls and aggressive behavior towards other birds when defending food or nesting territory.
They often travel in large flocks and can be seen performing acrobatic aerial displays during mating season. In Wisconsin, the Common Grackle can be spotted year-round, with a peak population in the spring and summer months.
Hairy Woodpecker is a medium-sized bird with black and white plumage and a prominent red patch on the back of its head. Its diet consists mainly of insects, tree sap, and nuts.
In Wisconsin, they can typically be found in deciduous or mixed forests. They use their long bills to extract insects from tree bark and also create cavities for nesting. Hairy Woodpeckers are known for their acrobatic behavior, often clinging upside-down to tree trunks while searching for food.
They also use their strong bills to hammer on trees and other objects, creating a distinctive sound that can be heard in their natural habitats.
House Wrens are small, brown birds with white throat and long tail that is usually held upright. Their diet consists primarily of insects, although they may also eat berries and other small fruits.
In Wisconsin, these birds can be found in a variety of habitats including forests, parks, farmland, and suburban areas with dense vegetation. They typically build their nests in tree cavities or birdhouses.
During the breeding season, male House Wrens may be seen singing and displaying territorial behavior. They are also known for their habit of collecting and placing sticks and other items in potential nesting sites. This behavior, known as “dummy nesting,” can sometimes lead to conflicts with other birds such as Eastern Bluebirds.
Gray Catbird, a member of the mimic thrush family, can be easily identified by its dark gray plumage and black cap. In Wisconsin, it can often be found feasting on insects, berries, and fruit in shrubby areas or thickets near wetlands.
The average size of a Gray Catbird ranges from 9-11 inches in length with a wingspan of 13-15 inches. In addition to its preferred wetland habitats, it can also be spotted in residential areas or parks.
The Gray Catbird is known for its clever mimicking abilities and is often heard imitating the sounds of other birds, frogs, and even mechanical noises. However, its own call is a distinctive “meow” sound, giving it its name.
Red-eyed Vireo is a small bird, measuring approximately 4.25 to 5.5 inches in length with a wingspan of 7.5 to 9.75 inches. It has olive-green upperparts and white underparts, with a grey head and red eyes (hence its name). Its diet primarily consists of insects and berries.
In Wisconsin, the Red-eyed Vireo can be found in deciduous forest habitats, particularly near streams and wetlands. It is a solitary bird, although it may form small flocks during migration. Its song is a repetitive series of whistles, often described as “quick three beers.”
During breeding season, the male Red-eyed Vireo establishes and defends its territory, building a cup-shaped nest in the foliage of a tree or shrub. The female will lay 3 to 4 eggs, which both parents take turns incubating for approximately two weeks before they hatch. Both parents also care for the hatched chicks until they are ready to leave the nest after another two weeks.
Chipping Sparrows are small, brown birds with streaky backs and light-colored breasts. They have a white eyebrow stripe and a dark spot in the middle of their chest.
Their diet consists mainly of seeds and insects, which they forage for on the ground or in low shrubs.
Chipping Sparrows can typically be found in open woodlands, parks, or suburban areas.
During the breeding season, they construct cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs and often have several broods per year. Outside of the breeding season, they may form small flocks with other sparrow species. These birds are known for their loud, high-pitched trilling song.
In Wisconsin, Chipping Sparrows can be found year-round and are common summer residents in the northern parts of the state. They may migrate to southern states for the winter.
(Hirundo rustica) is a small bird with pointed wings and a forked tail. Its upperparts are steel blue, and its forehead, throat, and underparts are cinnamon-orange. In flight, it has a distinctive long, deeply forked tail.
In Wisconsin, Barn Swallows primarily eat insects caught in flight, but will also consume berries and seeds. They are typically around 5 to 6 inches in length with a wingspan of 11 to 13 inches.
Barn Swallows can be found near open habitats, including farmland, meadows, marshes, and coasts. They build cup-shaped nests made of mud on structures such as buildings, bridges, and cliffs.
During the breeding season, Barn Swallows are known for their acrobatic flight patterns and aerial feeding behavior. They may also perform “feather shaking” to cool off during hot weather. Outside of the breeding season, they may form large flocks with other swallow species.
In Wisconsin, the Barn Swallow is a year-round resident, but some northern populations may migrate south for the winter. They are commonly seen swooping over fields and bodies of water in search of food.
Indigo Bunting is a small songbird with bright blue plumage and black wings. They can be found in open woodlands, fields, and yards throughout Wisconsin during the breeding season. Their diet mainly consists of insects and seeds.
In terms of behavior, indigo buntings are known for their energetic singing and display flights during mating season. They also typically form monogamous pairs and nests are built low to the ground in dense vegetation.
(Bombycilla cedrorum) can be identified by their brown body with a black mask, yellow tail and wingtips, and red wax droplets on their wings. They primarily eat berries, but also consume insects and sugary fruits. These birds have an average length of 6-7 inches and can be found in open woodlands and suburban areas.
Cedar Waxwings are social birds and can often be seen in small flocks, but during the breeding season they form pairs. They build their nests high in trees, using twigs and grasses to construct a cup shape. Both the male and female participate in incubating the eggs and caring for the young.
birds are known for their beautiful, high-pitched song and acrobatic flight patterns. In Wisconsin, Cedar Waxwings can be seen year-round, but are most common during the spring and summer months.
Brown-headed Cowbird is a small blackbird with a chocolate-brown head and thick, slightly curved bill. They are common in open habitats such as grasslands, agricultural fields, and suburban parks and yards.
Their diet primarily consists of insects and seeds, foraging on the ground or among low vegetation. They often follow grazing animals such as cattle to catch insects stirred up by their movements.
Brown-headed Cowbirds are known for their practice of “brood parasitism,” where they lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species and leave the parenting duties to the unsuspecting foster parents. This behavior has caused declines in populations of some native songbird species.
In Wisconsin, Brown-headed Cowbirds can be found year-round. They form large flocks in the winter, often mixed with other blackbird species. During the breeding season, they are more solitary or found in small groups. Males perform aerial displays during courtship, diving and soaring while making buzzing noises with their wings.
Eastern Wood-Pewee’s have a grayish-olive upper body and pale underparts with white wingbars. They primarily eat insects, caught either in the air or from foliage. They are smaller birds, measuring about 5-6 inches in length. In Wisconsin, they can be found in deciduous or mixed woodlands near water sources such as rivers or wetlands.
They often perch on exposed branches and fly out to catch insects before returning to the same perch. During breeding season, they may be seen performing a fluttering display flight as part of their mating behavior. Outside of breeding season, they can sometimes be spotted foraging with mixed-species flocks.
Overall, Eastern Wood-Pewees are typically solitary birds, but can sometimes be found in pairs or small family groups during the breeding season. They construct cup-shaped nests made of plant material and insects on tree branches, and will fiercely defend their territory from intruders.
The population of Eastern Wood-Pewees has declined in recent years due to habitat loss and degradation. However, they are still common throughout much of their range and are not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species. Conservation efforts to protect and preserve woodlands will benefit this and many other bird species.
Baltimore Orioles birds can be identified by their bright orange and black plumage. They primarily eat insects and fruits. These birds are typically about 7-9 inches in size and can be found in wooded areas, particularly near oak trees.
In terms of behavior, Baltimore Orioles build hanging nests and are known for their beautiful singing abilities. In Wisconsin, they can be spotted during the spring and summer months.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a songbird with black and white striped head, a pink breast, and white-edged wings. They primarily eat insects and black oil sunflower seeds. They can range in size from 6 to 7 inches in length.
In Wisconsin, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks can be found in deciduous forests during the breeding season and open woodlands during the winter. They are known for their melodious songs and tendency to perch at the top of trees. These birds also have a habit of hoarding food, storing it in tree crevices or on the ground for later consumption.
Overall, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are common and widespread throughout Wisconsin and North America.
Northern Flicker, also known as the Yellowhammer, is a large woodpecker found in Wisconsin. Its distinguishing features include a black and white barred back, brown spotted chest, and a red patch on the back of its head.
In terms of diet, Northern Flickers primarily eat insects such as ants and beetles, but they also consume fruits and nuts.
On average, they measure around 11 to 12 inches in length with a wingspan of 16 to 21 inches.
Northern Flickers can be found in open woodland areas, forest edges, and urban parks and yards.
In terms of behavior, Northern Flickers often forage on the ground for their food and have a distinctive wick-a wick-a call. They also engage in a courtship behavior known as “nest drumming,” where they rapidly peck on a tree or other object to attract a mate.
What are common birds in Wisconsin?
Some of the most commonly seen birds in Wisconsin include American robins, northern cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, blue jays, goldfinches, and mourning doves. Other common species include various types of sparrows, woodpeckers, chickadees, and crows. Wisconsin is also home to bald eagles, Canada geese, and a variety of waterfowl.
Bird watching is a popular activity in the state, with hotspots including Horicon Marsh, Dodge County Wildlife Area, and Crex Meadows Wildlife Area. Wisconsin also hosts several annual birding events, such as the Milwaukee Spring Bird Festival and the Madison Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count.
In addition to these common species, Wisconsin is also home to rare or endangered birds such as the whooping crane and piping plover. Habitat conservation efforts are crucial for protecting these and other bird species in the state.
How do I identify a bird in my backyard?
First, observe the bird’s physical characteristics such as size, color, pattern, shape of its beak, and any distinguishing marks.
Then, consider its behavior and habitat – is it perching in a tree or flying low over a lawn? Does it eat seeds or catch insects on the fly?
Next, consult field guides or online resources to compare your observations with pictures and descriptions of common backyard bird species.
You can also join a local birdwatching group or visit a nearby nature center for assistance in identification. With patience and practice, you will become an expert at identifying the birds in your own backyard.
How many bird species are in Wisconsin?
According to the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, there are over 400 confirmed bird species in Wisconsin. This number is constantly changing as new species are discovered or documented, and some species may only be present during certain seasons.
Some of the most notable bird species in Wisconsin include bald eagles, sandhill cranes, common loons, red-headed woodpeckers, and northern cardinals.
Are starlings in Wisconsin?
Yes, starlings can be found in Wisconsin. They are common throughout the state and can often be seen in urban areas and open fields. However, their populations have been declining in recent years due to habitat loss and competition with other birds. Conservation efforts are being made to protect these important members of the ecosystem.
What is the rarest duck in Wisconsin?
The answer may surprise you: it is the Harlequin duck. This sea-duck, also known as the “lord and lady,” is a truly unique species with distinct colors and markings.
While they can sometimes be found along Lake Michigan or on larger rivers like the Wisconsin, they are most commonly seen along rocky coastlines in the northern Great Lakes.
Unfortunately, their population has been declining due to loss of suitable habitat, and they are now listed as a species of concern in Wisconsin.
Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect this rare and beautiful duck.
What birds are in Wisconsin in winter?
One common winter bird in Wisconsin is the red-tailed hawk. Other birds that can commonly be found in Wisconsin during the winter are northern cardinals, dark-eyed juncos, American goldfinches, and snowy owls. It is also possible to spot a variety of waterfowl such as mallards, Canada geese, and tundra swans on the frozen lakes and rivers.
Winter is also a good time to look for rare visitors such as snowy owls, northern shrikes, and Bohemian waxwings. Keep an eye out for flocks of cedar waxwings or evening grosbeaks at backyard bird feeders. With some luck, one may even spot rare irruptive species such as red-breasted nuthatches or pine siskins.