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40 Most Common Backyard Birds in Montana (Detailed)

Montana is a great place to be outdoors. There are many birds that can be found in Montana’s backyards. In this article, we will look at the 40 most common backyard birds in Montana with photos and detailed information about each bird, so you can identify them! 

American Robin

The American Robin is one of the best songbirds to see in Montana. The Robin can be seen all year round, but the best time to visit the state of Montana to see the American Robin is from late May to early June.

The peak time for seeing them is June and July. It is in this period of the year that they are at their most aggressive, so it is best to see them early morning.

  • Frequency: 39.39%
  • Color: Brown on the back with an orange breast
  • Habitat: Wooded areas, backyards, parks, fields
  • Range: USA, Canada, Mexico
  • Size: 12 – 16″ inches
  • Weight: 72 – 95 grams
  • Diet: Fruits, berries and insects (earthworms, beetles, caterpillars)
  • Family: Turdidae
  • Genus: Turdus

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Black-billed Magpie

The Black-billed Magpie is a beautiful bird that can be found in the southern part of the United States. One of the best places in Montana to find a Black-billed Magpie is on the forested ridges along the river front.

They are more abundant during the winter season, which occurs mostly between December and January. During the spring, however, there is less abundance.

  • Frequency: 37.20%
  • Color: Black & white with blue areas on the wing and tail.
  • Habitat: Roadsides, backyards, country, towns, parks and fields
  • Range: Western half of North America
  • Size: 18 -24″ inches
  • Weight: 165 – 215 grams
  • Diet:  Insects, carrion, nuts, seeds, berries, rodents and eggs
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Genus: Pica

Related Post: 8 Birds That Build Mud Nests

Black-capped Chickadee

One of the most common species, the Black-Capped Chickadee, is very easily found here. It is mostly found in the southern and northern regions. You will probably have the best luck searching for these birds during the summer months, especially from June to September.

There are several places you can find these birds in Montana. The main ones are the Great Falls, the Yellowstone, and the Continental Divide.

  • Frequency: 31.93%
  • Color: Black cap, white on face, white/reddish-brown flanks
  • Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests, backyards, parks
  • Range: USA and Canada
  • Size: 11.5 -16 cm
  • Weight: 8 – 15 grams
  • Diet:  Insects, seeds, berries
  • Family: Paridae
  • Genus: Poecile

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Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker
Image by radesigns from Pixabay

The Northern Flicker is a type of woodpecker found in North America. They are fairly common birds, and range from Canada to Mexico, except for the Rocky Mountains. Their habitat includes fields, forests and backyards with trees. The Northern Flicker eats insects such as ants or beetles that they find on the ground.

Northern Flickers usually migrate during October and November because they need to escape the cold winter months when food becomes scarce due to lack of insect activity or food sources. These birds can be seen in both urban and rural areas of Montana.

  • Frequency: 29.81%
  • Color: Light brown with black bars across back, chest, wings, belly
  • Habitat: Forests, woodlands, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range: North America, Central America, Cuba, Cayman Islands
  • Size: 10 – 14″ inches
  • Weight: 85 – 165 grams
  • Diet:  Insects (ants, beetles, invertebrates), fruits, seeds, berries
  • Family: Picadae
  • Genus: Colaptes

Related Post: How to Attract Northern Flickers to your Backyard

Common Starling 

Common Starling 
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The Common Starlings (European Starling) are a species of bird that live in the Americas, Europe and Asia. They range from southern Canada to Argentina in South America. The habitat for these birds includes temperate climates to tropical environments, as well as wetlands, forests and gardens.

These birds typically eat insects but also feed on small vertebrates such as frogs, snakes or rodents; fruit including berries and figs; seeds; plants such as ferns, grasses or mosses; invertebrates like earthworms. In terms of migration pattern, they tend to fly south for the winter, but some may stay all year round in warmer climates.

  • Frequency: 26.24%
  • Color:  Black with glossy iridescence plumage
  • Habitat: Forests, woodlands, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range: North America, Europe, Africa, India, Middle East, China
  • Size: 7 – 9″ inches
  • Weight: 60 – 100 grams
  • Diet:  Insects (ants, beetles, invertebrates), fruits, seeds, berries
  • Family: Picadae
  • Genus: Colaptes

Related Post: How to Attract European Starlings to your yard?

House Finch

House Finch
Image by Bryan Hanson from Pixabay

House Finch is a popular species in many parts of the state. It occurs in a wide variety of habitats including woodlands, rocky areas, deserts, grasslands, and even urban neighborhoods. The House Finch is commonly found in the interior of the state.

Many people enjoy the company of house finches in their backyard. If you are looking for a way to attract these birds, here are some tips: -Use sunflower seeds as bird feeders and in the ground -Provide lots of water (finches love fresh water). If they have access to water on a regular basis, then this species will make great residents in your backyards.

  • Frequency: 21.40%
  • Color:  Reddish face and upper breast,brown streaks on back, belly and tail.
  • Habitat: urban and suburban areas, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range: Canada, USA, Mexico
  • Size: 5 – 6″ inches
  • Weight: 16 – 27 grams
  • Diet:  Aphids, grains, seeds, berries, nettle, dandelion, sunflower
  • Family: Fringillidae
  • Genus: Haemorhous

Related Post: How to Attract House Finch to your Yard

House Sparrow

House Sparrow
Image by Rajesh Balouria from Pixabay

House sparrows are found in almost every city and town across the United States. They nest on rooftops, bushes, and other places that provide cover from predators. They are common all over the state and can be seen everywhere from backyards to public parks.

If you want to see house sparrows for yourself, check out these places below: – The Swan River National Wildlife Refuge – This park is located off of Highway 2 East, about 30 miles south of Kalispell. It’s home to an abundance of wildlife and offers hiking trails as well as campsites for visitors.

  • Frequency: 19.60%
  • Color:  Gray head marking, a reddish-brown back, and gray underparts
  • Habitat: Urban centres, suburban areas, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range: North America, Central America, South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand
  • Size: 5.5 – 7.1″ inches
  • Weight: 25 – 39 grams
  • Diet:  Insects, beetles, caterpillars, aphids,, grasshoppers, crustaceans, earthworms, vertebrates
  • Family: Passeridea
  • Genus: Passer

Related Post: How to Attract Sparrows to your Backyard

Eurasian-collared Dove

Eurasian-collared Dove
Image by Here and now, from Pixabay

The Eurasian Collared Dove is the most widely distributed bird on the planet. It is a member of the Columbidae family, which includes pigeons and doves. It lives throughout Europe and Asia, but can be found here in North America. They can also be found in all sorts of habitats but prefers areas with little vegetation or tall trees like deserts, open fields, parks and gardens.

Eurasian Collared Doves eat seeds, fruit and insects they find on the ground below them. In Montana, it is found at numerous sites, including a number of large bodies of water, along the western slopes of the Continental Divide, on the Great Plains, along the Rocky Mountains, and in the northern Rocky Mountains.

  • Frequency: 17.16%
  • Color: Pinkish-gray with ablack half-collar bar with white on its neck
  • Habitat: Urban centres, farms, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range: North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia
  • Size: 13″ inches
  • Weight: 150 grams
  • Diet:  Millet, milo, sunflower, wheat, corn and berries
  • Family: Columbidae
  • Genus: Streptopelia

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow
Image by u_z4q28nbq from Pixabay

Song Sparrows are a common bird in North America. They are migratory birds that migrate south for the winter and back north during the spring and summer. These sparrows live mainly in open fields, parks, pastures, prairies and scrublands.

They eat mostly insects such as beetles, ants and grasshoppers but also feed on seeds from plants such as dandelions, ragweed or thistles. The song sparrow is native to eastern Canada through Mexico, with some subspecies migrate south in the winter while others stay year-round.

  • Frequency: 16.34%
  • Color: Gray head, white cheek, a black bib, rufous neck
  • Habitat: Urban centres, farms, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range:  Europe, Mediterranean, Asia, Australasia, Africa, and the Americas
  • Size: 5.5 – 7.0″ inches
  • Weight: 25 – 40 grams
  • Diet:  Grains, seeds and insects
  • Family: Passeridea
  • Genus: Passer

Related Post: How to Attract Sparrows to your Backyard

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is a common bird in Montana. Their range is limited to the Rocky Mountains and parts of Wyoming and Idaho.

If you live in or around the Great Yellowstone area, you may want to consider looking for the Red-breasted Nuthatch. This bird often nests in tree hollows. Sometimes you will find them feeding on a fallen tree trunk. They will feed on both insects and small birds during the day and then fly into a tree at night.

  • Frequency: 16.24%
  • Color: Blue-gray on top with a cinnamon under, white face & throat, with a black stripe on the eye
  • Habitat: Coniferous forests, woodlands
  • Range:  North America, Asia
  • Size: 4.5″ inches
  • Weight: 10 grams
  • Diet:  Grains, seeds ,nuts, spiders and insects
  • Family: Sittidae
  • Genus: Sitta

Related Post: How to Attract Nuthatches to your Backyard

American Crow

American Crow
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

American Crows are the most widespread and abundant of all North American crows. They have a range that covers nearly the entire continent, from southern Canada to Central America. Their habitat includes suburban parks, rural farmland, deserts and rainforests. Their diet is omnivorous, but they prefer large insects such as grasshoppers, beetles and crickets; eggs; small mammals like mice or rabbits; carrion (dead animals); scraps in urban areas and some fruit.

This species migrates during the winter months, when it travels south to Mexico or Central America before returning north in spring. These birds can be found throughout the state as well, and you can often spot them on the ground, flying up into the trees, or sitting quietly.

  • Frequency: 16.02%
  • Color: Black
  • Habitat: Open country, farms, parks, woodlands, towns, cities
  • Range: Canada, USA, Mexico
  • Size: 16 – 21″ inches
  • Weight: 315 -620 grams
  • Diet: invertebrates, carrion, seeds, eggs fish, grains, mice, frogs, and other small animals. 
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Genus: Corvis

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Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlarks are small, medium-sized birds that live in open country and often feed on the ground. The Western Meadowlark is found across most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains. It breeds from Alaska to Labrador, south to Mexico and Arizona, as well as along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic coast down to Florida.

The habitat for this bird includes any open area with low vegetation, such as grasslands or agricultural fields. They are not a migratory species, but may move to warmer areas for food sources, breeding and wintering.

  • Frequency: 15.64%
  • Color: Mostly brown upper with black streaks and yellow underparts
  • Habitat: Pastures, prairies, grasslands, and fields, 
  • Range: Western and central North America
  • Size: 8.5″ inches
  • Weight: 90 – 115 grams
  • Diet:  Bugs, seeds, berries
  • Family: Icteridae
  • Genus: Sturnella

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove
Image by Karol Olson from Pixabay

Mourning doves are one of the most common birds in North America. They live across Canada and the United States, from as far north as Alaska to Mexico. Mourning doves live in a variety of habitats, including fields, forests, mountains and even beaches.

Mourning doves eat seeds and grains as well as insects like grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars. Their range is vast because they migrate south for winter and then back north when spring arrives 

  • Frequency: 15.39%
  • Color: Light gray-brown and lighter and pinkish below. The wings have black spots.
  • Habitat: Open habitats, urban areas, farms, prairie, grassland, wooded area
  • Range:  USA, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Greater Antilles
  • Size: 12″ inches
  • Weight: 112 – 170 grams
  • Diet:  Rapeseed, corn, millet, safflower, sunflower seeds, pokeberry, sesame, and wheat.
  • Family: Columbidae
  • Genus: Zenaida

Related Posts: 10 Facts about Mourning Doves

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow
Image by simardfrancois from Pixabay

Tree Swallows are one of the most common and recognizable swallows in North America. They have a range from central Alaska to Newfoundland, across southern Canada and the eastern United States. Tree Swallows can be found living near water or wetlands like ponds, lakes, rivers, marshes or creeks.

In addition to their habitat they also eat flies, dragonflies and beetles as well as some small fish that they catch while on migration south for winter. Swallows migrate up to 5500 miles each year for their breeding season during March through July when they spend time nesting in trees or cavities of buildings such as barns.

  • Frequency: 15.20%
  • Color: Bluish-green upper with black wings and tail, and white underbody
  • Habitat: Open wooded areas
  • Range:  USA, Canada, South America
  • Size: 4.5 – 5.5″ inches
  • Weight: 17 – 26 grams
  • Diet:   insects, molluscs, spiders, and fruit
  • Family: Hirundinidae
  • Genus: Tachycineta

Related Post: How to Attract Swallows to my Yard

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco
Image by Daniel Roberts from Pixabay

The Dark-Eyed Junco, a bird of the junco family, is one of North America’s most widespread and abundant songbirds. They are found in forests, orchards, fields and other habitats from southern Canada to northern Mexico. It has an extensive range in North America and breeds from Alaska to New England, and as far south as California, Arizona, Colorado and Texas. 

The juncos feed on insects that they find by pecking through snow cover for dead bugs. In winter, when food is scarce, they may fly into open country looking for seeds or berries before returning to their forest home.

  • Frequency: 15.01%
  • Color:  Gray head, neck, breast, gray/brown backs and wings, white underside
  • Habitat: Wooded areas, forest edges, roadsides, gardens, parks.
  • Range: USA and Canada
  • Size: 5.1 – 6.9″ inches
  • Weight: 18 – 30 grams
  • Diet:  Seeds, insects and arthropods
  • Family: Passeriformes
  • Genus: Junco

Related Post: Interesting Dark-eyed Junco Fun Facts

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin
Image by Bryan Hanson from Pixabay

The Pine Siskin is actually a North American bird, belonging to the Spinus family. It’s a very migratory bird, with an irregular winter range and no permanent residence in the United States.

Its migration takes it from the waters of the North Pacific to the Atlantic and South Atlantic. It has a large flight range in which it can fly thousand miles from where it is born. 

It prefers to feed on a variety of woody plants, including but not limited to ash, cedar, juniper, hemlock, oak, hickory, and white pine. It nests on the ground during the night and makes for a great winter migratory bird.

  • Frequency: 14.41%
  • Color: Brown upper and pale under, yellow or white patches on wings
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests and thickets, roadside, grasslands, backyards, meadows
  • Range:  USA, Canada
  • Size: 4.5 – 5.5″ inches
  • Weight: 12 -18 grams
  • Diet:  Grass, dandelions, chickweed, sunflowers and ragweed, thistle, red alder, birch, spruce seeds
  • Family: Spinus
  • Genus: S. pinus

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee
Image by mshorts from Pixabay

Mountain Chickadee is quite plentiful in the mountains of Montana and are a great choice for your wildlife watching activity. They are excellent climbers and enjoy hanging on trees, so if you are going on a bird watching trip near the woods then these birds will be the ones that get your attention.

If you are going to a national park or a wildlife refuge then the Montana population of Mountain Chickadee will be larger. In addition to their popularity in Montana, Mountain Chickadee has made their way into all parts of North America.

Their habitat is mostly wooded hillsides where they can hide in the brush droppings. They are very good swimmers and if you are looking for a great place to enjoy an afternoon picnic, you can find a lot of them along river banks and creeks.

  • Frequency: 13.27%
  • Color: Black cap, gray flank and back, lighter gray underparts
  • Habitat: Mountains, forests, juniper stands and rivers
  • Range:  Western USA and Canada
  • Size: 5 -6” inches
  • Weight: 11 grams
  • Diet:  Mostly insects, seeds, and berries.
  • Family: Paridae
  • Genus: Poecile

Related Post: How Do I Attract Chickadees To My Yard

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler
Image by simardfrancois from Pixabay

The Yellow Warblers are a rare and very small bird. The range of the Yellow Warbler is North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Their habitat is in many types of environments like rainforests, deserts or even tundra-like regions. They migrate between their winter homes to summer homes depending on the season. The diet of this bird consists mainly of insects that they hunt for themselves by hopping around the ground looking for food such as beetles or ants.

The wintering grounds for these species include coastal regions from South Carolina to Florida. The yellow warbler can be found throughout Montana and is a very beautiful bird. Many individuals who live in Montana have discovered this bird in their backyards.

  • Frequency: 13.10%
  • Color: Greenish-yellow upper and are a duller yellow underside
  • Habitat: marshes,swamps, streams, thickets, orchards, farmlands, forest edges, backyards
  • Range:  North America, Central America, South America
  • Size: 4.0 – 7.0″ inches
  • Weight: 7 – 25 grams
  • Diet: caterpillars,mayflies, moths, mosquitoes, beetles, damselflies, treehoppers, spiders, berries. 
  • Family: Parulidae
  • Genus: Setophaga

Related Post: How to Attract Yellow Warblers to your Backyard

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch
Image by Miles Moody from Pixabay

The American Goldfinches are a beautiful species of bird that live in North America. They can be found anywhere from Alaska to the Atlantic Ocean, with a range that spans across Canada and the United States. Their habitat ranges from grasslands to forests, and their diet consists mostly of seeds, grains, fruits and insects.

These birds also migrate each year between breeding grounds in Canada or the northern United States to wintering grounds in Mexico or Central America.

  • Frequency: 12.74%
  • Color: Face, neck and underside are yellow, black wings with white bars
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests and thickets, roadside, grasslands, backyards, meadows
  • Range:  Canada, USA and Mexico
  • Size: 4.3 – 5.5″ inches
  • Weight: 12 -18 grams
  • Diet:  Grass, dandelions, chickweed, sunflowers and ragweed, thistle, red alder, birch, spruce seeds
  • Family: Carduelinae
  • Genus: Spinus

Related Post: American Goldfinch Interesting Facts

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Image by edbo23 from Pixabay

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a migratory bird that lives in eastern North America. The range of the Yellow-rumped Warblers include Eastern United States, Southern Canada and Western United States. They live in deciduous forests with many dead trees because they are looking for nest sites or food sources.

The diet of the warblers includes small insects such as ants, spiders, caterpillars and beetles; fruits such as wild cherries, mulberries and sumac berries. These birds migrate to the United States during winter and return to their summer habitats in Canada, Mexico, Central America and South America.

  • Frequency: 12.39%
  • Color: Yellow patches on the crown,flanks, rump & blackish-blue streaks on the back, breast and wings
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests and thickets, roadside, grasslands, backyards
  • Range:  U.SA, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
  • Size: 4.7 – 5.9″ inches
  • Weight: 10 – 18 grams
  • Diet:  grasshoppers, gnats, aphids,caterpillars, wasps, beetles, spiders, berries, 
  • Family: Parulidae
  • Genus: Setophaga

Related Post: How to Attract Warblers to you Yard?

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

Downy Woodpeckers are a common bird in North America. They live all over the continent and range from Mexico to Canada. Their habitat includes both urban and rural areas, but they prefer mixed forests with plenty of dead trees for them to drill into.

They feed on insects, berries, nuts and seeds, which makes them omnivores as well as insectivores. In their search for food, Downy Woodpeckers also travel back and forth between continents during migration season, with birds heading south in winter time and returning north when it is warmer.

  • Frequency: 12.04%
  • Color: Mainly black  with a white throat, belly and back. Has white spots and the wings
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests and thickets, roadside, grasslands, backyards, parks
  • Range:  Canada, USA and Mexico
  • Size: 5.5 – 7.1″ inches
  • Weight: 20 – 33 grams
  • Diet:  Mostly insects and beetles and ants, also gall wasps, caterpillars
  • Family: Picadae
  • Genus: Dryobates

Related Posts: How to Attract Downy Woodpeckers: Expert Tips!

These backyard birds have a frequency of less than 10%.

  • Chipping Sparrow (Frequency 9.88%)
  • Brown-headed Cowbird (Frequency 9.80%)
  • House Wren (Frequency 8.58%)
  • Eastern Kingbird (Frequency 8.22%)
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Frequency 8.05%)
  • Western-wood Peewee (Frequency 7.26%)
  • American Kestrel (Frequency 7.24%)
  • Gray Catbird (Frequency 7.18%)
  • Vesper Sparrow (Frequency 7.10%)
  • Savannah Sparrow (Frequency 7.04%)
  • Mountain Bluebird Frequency 7.02%)
  • Hairy Woodpecker (Frequency 6.91%)
  • Common Grackle (Frequency 6.72%)
  • Evening Grosbeak (Frequency 6.14%)
  • Warbling Vireo (Frequency 6.02%)
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird (Frequency 5.91%)
  • Western Tanager (Frequency 5.87%)
  • Common Yellow-throat Frequency 5.58%)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common bird in Montana?

The American Robin is the most common bird in Montana with a 40% frequency of occurrence throughout the state. They are generally found in open fields where they eat insects like grasshoppers and crickets as well as seeds from plants such as dandelions and thistles.

What is the black and white bird in Montana?

Black-billed Magpie is a black and white bird found in Montana. They are members of the Corvidae family, which includes crows, ravens, jays, magpies and nutcrackers. They can be found throughout Montana, but is more commonly seen near agricultural areas. 

Are there sandhill cranes in Montana?

Yes, there are Sandhill Cranes in Montana. Sandhill cranes have migrated to the state of Montana and stay for most of the year. They live in places like Flathead Lake, the Missouri River Breaks, and Pryor Mountain.

Do ravens live in Montana?

The answer is a definite yes. Ravens are very common throughout the state of Montana, and some have even found their way to living near people. They are usually most commonly seen around water sources such as rivers or lakes, where they will scavenge for food that animals have left behind on the shoreline.

How many birds are in Montana?

Montana is home to 433 species of birds. This includes a large variety of common and rare bird species that make their homes in Montana’s diverse habitats. As one might expect, the state has some specific environments with different types of birds associated with them. 

Are There Catbirds in Montana?

Catbirds are birds that live in the eastern United States. They are not native to Montana, so they do not inhabit the state. There is a 7% frequency of occurrence for gray catbirds in Montana, which would make them fairly rare there.

Are there buzzards in Montana?

Buzzards are turkey vultures that can be found in Montana, but not all the time. The buzzard population is influenced by a number of factors, including food availability and climatic conditions such as rainfall or drought.