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Most Common Backyard Birds In Wisconsin (Explained)

Birdwatching In Wisconsin is the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors and see bird species that you normally wouldn’t see unless you lived in the area. A lot of people who live in Wisconsin have no idea that there are dozens of different types of birds that can be found in the state, but once you start looking you’ll discover that there are a lot of beautiful birds that you probably haven’t even heard of.

This is because it’s a part of the Midwest, so there are a lot of species that aren’t typically found anywhere else in the United States. Here are some of the most popular birds that you might want to spot while birdwatching in Wisconsin:

Most Common Backyard Birds In Wisconsin

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee
Image by edbo23 from Pixabay

The black-capped chickadee, is a small, nonmigrating, North American birds normally living in mixed and deciduous woods. A small population of these birds is found in ponds along the East Coast, especially near marshes. A few live in backyards, but they mostly spend their time on land.

They’re particularly vulnerable to climate change. Their numbers have been slowly dwindling in some areas over the past couple of decades. It’s a good idea to help protect these little birds by providing them with bird feeders and nesting boxes.​​​​​​​

  • Frequency: 49.96%
  • 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 length
  • Weight: 8 – 15 grams
  • Diet:  Insects, seeds, berries
  • Family: Paridae
  • Genus: Poecile

Related Post: How Do I Attract Chickadees To My Yard?

American Crow
Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

The American Crow is an uncommon large passivating passerine bird family of the Corvidae. It’s a very popular common bird found across much of North America from the states of Arkansas to Montana. The American Crow may be found nesting in backyards, gardens and even along the roads of cities.

The male will be found in the upper Midwest and upper Southwestern parts of North America through to the coldest southern areas of the south through the States of Arkansas and Oklahoma through to the extreme west coast of Texas and New Mexico. In the spring and summer it will again be seen in the upper parts of the northeastern states. This wild bird is very common in the backyards of Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan.

  • Frequency: 45.50%
  • 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

American Robin

American Robin
Photo by Skyler Ewing from Pexels

The American Robin is a common migrating songbird, of which it is one of the species with the most successful history in captivity. For many years the American Robin was largely confined to the southern states of North America but in the last decade the bird’s range has been expanded eastward and westward, making it an increasingly popular visitor to the backyard bird watching enthusiast. 

Because of their omnivorous diet, the male American robins feed on almost all kinds of insects, including flies, mosquitoes, dragonflies, caterpillars, worms, grubs, snails, beetles, and many types of berries, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, bilberries, hawthorn berries, and black cherry berries.

  • Frequency: 44.55%
  • Color: Mostly brown on the back with an orange colored 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

Related Post: Interesting American Robin Fun Facts

American Goldfinch

The American goldfinches are lovely little yellow and black avian species which have very distinctive wing patterns that set it apart from all other songbirds. These beautiful birds have always been a big favorite with bird watchers.

There are several things you should know about the American goldfinches, which live primarily in the United States and Central America. In the wild, these birds eat a variety of foods, including seeds, nuts, worms, small insects, and bird eggs.

  • Frequency: 42.04%
  • 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 length
  • 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

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

The Northern Cardinal is an important bird in the family called Cardinalidae, in the Genus Cardinalis, of which it is the most common member. It’s most commonly found in eastern Canada, through the lower part of the US to central Louisiana, south through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and south-west through the U.S. to south-west Alaska.

It’s small, about 9 inches long, with a thick bill and red and black upperparts. They nest in deciduous woods in parks, along roads, and in backyards, but a favorite spot is at a large crack in a bluff.

  • Frequency: 40.82%
  • Color: Mostly red with a black mask on the face, short pink bill
  • Habitat:  woodlands, gardens, parks, backyards, and wetlands
  • Range: USA, Canada, Mexico
  • Size: 8.2 – 9.3″ inches
  • Weight: 33 – 65 grams
  • Diet: Fruits, berries, and insects (grasshoppers, beetles, snails, cicadas)
  • Family: Cardinalidae
  • Genus: Cardinalis

Related Posts: 

Mourning Dove

The mourning Dove is a member of both the dove group Columbidae, and the clover flock. It’s one of North America’s most common birds, with over 25 million pairs observed throughout the whole country. The Mourning Dove is called by different names in different parts of North America, most commonly in the northeast and mid-west.

This bird is sometimes also referred to as the raindoodle, the American mourning dove or the turtle Dove, and more colloquially as simply the turtle bird. Watching Mourning Doves in Wisconsin is a very enchanting experience for most bird watchers. This is one of the most common species that are seen in open habitats, urban areas, farms, prairie, grassland, wooded area park. 

  • Frequency: 38.25%
  • 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 length
  • Weight: 112 – 170 grams
  • Diet:  Rapeseed, corn, millet, safflower, sunflower seeds, pokeberry, sesame, and wheat.
  • Family: Columbidae
  • Genus: Zenaida

Blue Jay

Blue Jay
Image by GeorgeB2 from Pixabay

The blue jay is uncommon passerine bird species in the insect family Corvidae, originally native to the eastern U.S. It now lives in all of the western and central U.S., except for the northern portions of Texas and Montana. It is a frequent visitor to bird feeders, particularly in spring and early summer. Occasional visitor activity can also occur in December through March in Minnesota and Missouri. Resident populations occur in most of the western and central U.S., except for the northern populations of Texas and Montana.

Unlike most passerines, the male blue jay prefers to nest near the water rather than in the trees. A good place to spot a blue jay bird nesting site is along a river bend, a beach, or even on the ground near a telephone line, telephone pole or nearby road. Sometimes the birds will also nest in tree branches near bird feeders or on power lines. When visiting bird feeders, the best time to spot these birds is in the morning, as they are feeding.

  • Frequency: 38.15%
  • Color: Blue crest on the head, wings, back, and tail, and has a white face and belly
  • Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests, mixed woodlands, backyards, parks
  • Range: Southern Canada,  Eastern and Central United States, Florida and Texas
  • Size: 8 – 12″ inches
  • Weight: 70 – 100 grams
  • Diet:  Nuts, seeds, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and beetles
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Genus: Cyanocitta

Related Posts: 

Red-winged Blackbird

Typically, the red-winged blackbird spends at least part of the year flying around in large flocks. However, this bird does have a mating season, which is usually in May or June, where one male and one female will nest in abandoned nests near cliffs or in wooded areas. nests can be located anywhere from logs and tree stumps to fields where food might be nearby. 

In the wintertime, these birds head for northern states where they are very abundant, especially around the Great Lakes region. They are a bit fickle about the weather, with some preferring a hot sunny climate while other species only go for colder climates.

  • Frequency: 34.89%
  • Color: All black with red patches on shoulder and a yellow wing bar
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests, conifers, roadside, rivers, backyards, parks
  • Range: North America, Central America
  • Size: 6.7 – 7.1″ inches length
  • Weight: 41.5 – 65 grams
  • Diet:  Seeds and insects (butterflies, dragonflies, moths, frogs, worms, spider, snails, carrion, flies.)
  • Family: Icteridae
  • Genus: Agelaius

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers is a specie of small-sized woodpecker, generally the smallest in North America’. This small bird lives primarily in large forested areas near busy roads and railways in the eastern USA. In winter, they winter on forest islands and in ponds and streams. During spring and summer they migrate south.

Despite its small size (narrow in comparison to other bird types), the Downy Woodpecker does have a strong flight capability.The Downy Woodpecker’s song is a high-pitched, screeching kind of chirping which occurs in the fall and in early spring.

  • Frequency: 34.69%
  • Color: Black with a white throat, belly, and back. White spots on wings
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests and thickets, roadside, grasslands, backyards, parks
  • Range:  Canada, USA, and Mexico
  • Size: 5.5 – 7.1″ inches in length
  • Weight: 20 – 33 grams
  • Diet:  Mostly insects and beetles and ants, also gall wasps, caterpillars
  • Family: Picadae
  • Genus: Dryobates

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay
  • Frequency: 32.97%
  • Color: Has a white face, flanks, and chest. It has a black cap on its head a bluish-gray upper and a brown belly
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests, conifers, roadside, rivers, backyards, parks
  • Range: Southern Canada, USA
  • Size: 5.9″ inches
  • Weight: 20 grams
  • Diet:  Acorn nuts, hickory nuts, ants, caterpillars, scale insects, pine weevils
  • Family: Sittidae
  • Genus: Sitta

Related Post: How to Attract Nuthatches to your Backyard

Song Sparrow

The song Sparrow is a medium-sized North American small songbird. The Song Sparrow is a common visitor to bird feeders and nesting boxes and is often discouraged by other larger birds from using these areas. In fact, some songbirds actually prefer to build their nests under tall buildings or trees rather than on a bird feeder.

However, this may not always be the case, as some bird watchers have recorded seeing multiple Song Sparrows at a single feeding site. Unlike other songbirds, song sparrows are not noisy when flying but rather choose their targets and sing at them until they have chosen their sites.  In urban areas, they are often found singing near lights or at ground level.

  • Frequency: 29.77%
  • Color: Gray head, white cheek, a black bib, rufous neck
  • Habitat: Urban centers, 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: Passeridae
  • Genus: Passer

Related Post: How to Attract Sparrows to your Backyard

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Image by Scottslm from Pixabay

The red-bellied woodpecker, also known as the Eastern Red-bellied Woodpecker, is a small to medium-sized woodpecker of the pecking family Picidae. It breeds primarily in the eastern United States and, as far east as Canada, south of Texas. Its short tail makes it swift and maneuverable in its forays into the garden.

They hunt for food in preying mounds of leaves and branches, then making their way to roosting trees or barrows made of sticks and twigs. They are highly specialized diggers. They search in roosts for termites, ants, and other termites, using the holes made by their wings to poke through and grab their meal.

  • Frequency: 26.59%
  • Color: Gray on body and face and underparts. Black and white pattern on wings, back, and tail.
  • Habitat: Forests, backyards
  • Range: Southern Canada,  Eastern United States, Florida 
  • Size: 9 – 10.6″ inches long
  • Weight: 56 -91 grams
  • Diet:  Insects, tree frogs, eggs of small birds, oozing sap, and small fish.
  • Family: Picidae
  • Genus: Melanerpes

House Sparrow

The house sparrow is a rather small bird, with a typical size of just 6 Inches, and a weight of just 24 grams. In winter the adults leave the nest to find food and will stay near the entrance to your garden until the spring migration. During this time, they will be looking for places to build their nests and, if you have provided safe and warm conditions, they will choose your backyard to lay their eggs.

These days you can attract House Sparrows to your garden by providing suitable shelter and food to the birds. They will build their nests in your garden if you put out bird feeders of various types and sizes.

  • Frequency: 23.98%
  • Color:  Gray head marking, a reddish-brown back, and gray underparts
  • Habitat: Urban centers, suburban areas, backyards, edges, yards, and parks
  • Range: North America, Central America, South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand
  • Size: 5.5 – 7.1″ inches in length
  • 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

European Starling

European Starling
Photo by John Yunker on Unsplash

The European starling is a small medium-sized passerine bird native to the eastern part of North America, mostly in forests and fields. It’s about 20 centimeters long, with a thick metallic sheen on the breast and grayish gray flanks that are topped by blue-black streaks.

In the United States, the Eurppean Starling is more likely to be seen in dense wooded areas along the eastern seaboard and in low-lying wetland areas of southern Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southern Pennsylvania. In the southern states, it is more common along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and in the central parts of Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. 

  • Frequency: 21.18%
  • 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 long
  • Weight: 60 – 100 grams
  • Diet:  Insects (ants, beetles, invertebrates), fruits, seeds, berries
  • Family: Sturnidae
  • Genus: Sturnus

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco
Image by RusticPix .com from Pixabay

The dark-eyed junco is an extremely variable species, with populations varying greatly even within the same species’ range. This highly arboreal bird is extremely common throughout much of North America and even into the sub-Arctic, as well as in central Mexico. You can expect to see a lot of birds at various times of the year, including some that are common as early as April through October, and others that may become more scarce as late as June.

As strange as it may seem, the dark-eyed juncos have one of the best birding communities in the Northern Hemisphere. They feed largely on willowy woods and are particularly fond of conifers and large leafed shrubs, although they also are frequent visitors to fields and roadsides.

  • Frequency: 21.18%
  • 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

House Finch

House Finch
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

The house finches is a beautiful bird within the finch family.  During the breeding season, these birds can be found in various locations, particularly in south and central Texas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

They tend to be sluggish and are seldom seen at night. During the day, they flit about in and out of trees and bushes. They enjoy trees with silvery leaves, as well as sunny areas. Hobbyists often find house finches in bird feeders and bird baths, and nesting boxes.​​​​​​​

  • Frequency: 21.14%
  • 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?

Common Grackle

Common Grackle
Image by GeorgiaLens from Pixabay

The common grackle (Gravelstone grackles, or Rock gulls) is a medium-sized asteroid found in great numbers throughout much of North America. First identified in 1758 by German naturalist and botanist Carl Linnaeus, the common grackle has been around ever since. Common grackles don’t flit about or chirp as much.

Instead, they sit low to the ground and often hang from twigs and other objects. This bird has a diverse range of food sources, including an array of insects, such as dragonflies and moths, as well as birds, songbirds, and even rodents.

  • Frequency: 20.25%
  • Color: Black overall with a blue,  and purple iridescence. Its body plumage is a shimmering copper color.
  • Habitat: Woodlands, marshes, meadows, parks, backyards, and fields
  • Range: East of the Canadian Rockies, Canada and the United States
  • Size: 11 – 13″ inches length
  • Weight: 75 – 143 grams
  • Diet: minnows, eggs, berries, seeds, grain, insects, frogs, mice
  • Family:  Icteridae
  • Genus:  Quiscalus

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker
Image by Jennifer Beebe from Pixabay

The hairy woodpecker, is a medium-sized small woodpecker which is usually found from a vast swathe of North America to Mexico and Central America. The hairy woodpecker has a very large and loud call that differs from other types of woodpeckers. It is a rather high pitch with an overall bright tone which is commonly mistaken for a transformer toy.

These calls are usually followed by a high-pitched squawking noise and a series of squawking and flapping of the wings. Most of the time, the bird will circle around a tree trunk making itself a familiar place in the surrounding tree trunks and trees until the squawking and flapping noises stop.

  • Frequency: 19.99%
  • Color:  Black and white checkered throughout, all white underside, has a mask
  • Habitat: Wooded areas, forest edges, roadsides, gardens, parks.
  • Range: USA and Canada
  • Size: 7.0 – 10″ inches in length
  • Weight: 40 – 95 grams
  • Diet: Berries, seeds, nuts beetles, ants, caterpillars, and others. 
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Genus: Tyrannus

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird
Image by Deb Nyman from Pixabay

The gray catbird, is quite a popular medium-sized North American and Central American Perching Bird. Gray Catbirds feed mostly on a variety of small insects that are floating in the middle of their huge thickets. These include ants, mites, spiders, cockroaches, centipedes, moths, beetles, and certain flies. Their population peaks at the end of summer, at which time they go into a state of rapid growth, resulting in the need for more habitat to be erected by their offspring.

This growth spurt of the adult birds often results in a number of spectacular bird flights over the United States and Central America. During this time, the birds compete with each other for the leftovers of the over-wintering vegetation and other insects that line the thickets, but if they aren’t able to get at the food supply, they will eventually starve.

  • Frequency: 16.21%
  • Color: Mainly Gray with black on tail and head, white accents on the body
  • Habitat: Woodlands, marshes, meadows
  • Range: East of the Canadian Rockies, Canada, USA,  Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
  • Size: 8 – 9.5″ inches
  • Weight: 23 – 57 grams
  • Diet: Fruits, berries, earthworms, beetles, bugs, ants caterpillars, grasshoppers, moths.
  • Family:  Mimidae
  • Genus:  Dumatella

Chipping Sparrow

The chipping sparrow is important species of New World bird, a member of the familial Passerellidae, which has a very diverse and long distribution. It’s common, quite domesticated, and widespread across most of its North American habitat. It’s a small, nimble, and independent passerine – often living in gardens and open areas.

They’re common in backyards, parks, and backwaters, being especially at I-70 through Wisconsin and Minnesota. The chipping sparrow usually breeds at a time of year when the ground is still covered with snow and the weather is cold, although it can breed as late as January or February in southern Canada and the northern United States. 

  • Frequency: 16.12%
  • Color: Rust-colored upperparts, gray head, and underparts with a reddish cap on the head
  • Habitat: Coniferous forests,  woodland, farmland, parks, and gardens
  • Range: Southern USA and Mexico
  • Size: 4.7 – 5.9″ inches
  • Weight: 11 – 16 grams
  • Diet:  Mostly seeds, spiders
  • Family: Passerellidae
  • Genus: Spizella 

Related Post: How to Attract Sparrows to your Backyard

These backyard birds all have a frequency of less than 15.25%  ​​​​​​​

  • Northern Flicker – 15.25% Frequency
  • House Wren 15.21%
  • Brown-headed Cowbird 15.09%
  • Tree Swallow 14.57%
  • Common Yellow-throat 13.42%
  • Barn Swallow 13.15%
  • Cedar Waxwing 12.76%
  • Killdeer 11.60%
  • Baltimore Oriole 11.51%
  • Eastern Phoebe 10.81% 
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler 10.79%
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch 10.78%
  • Red-eyed Vireo 10.53%
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak 10.50%
  • Eastern Bluebird 10.03%
  • White-throated Sparrow 10.02%
  • Yellow Warbler 9.41%
  • Rock Pigeon 9.37%
  • Indigo Bunting 8.43%
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee 8.30%
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird 8.13%
  • American Redstart 7.93%
  • American Tree Sparrow 6.98%
  • Tufted Titmouse 6.89%
  • Pileated Woodpecker 6.56%
  • Eastern Towhee 6.56%
  • Belted Kingfisher 6.56%
  • Eastern Kingbird 6.50%
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 6.49%
  • Great Crested Flycatcher 6.29%
  • Swamp Sparrow 6.26%
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5.74%
  • Pine Siskin 5.66%
  • Field Sparrow 5.59%
  • Chimney Swift 5.25%
  • Nashville Warbler 5.18%
  • Warbling Vireo 5.15%
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 5.13%
  • Brown Thrasher 5.03%