A Guide to Common Backyard Birds in Minnesota

In “A Guide to Common Backyard Birds in Minnesota,” readers will find a wealth of information about the birds that frequent the state’s backyard landscapes. This informative article is unlike others of its kind, as it compiles data from the trusted citizen science program eBird, ensuring its accuracy and reliability. Not only does it feature vivid pictures of each bird species, but it also includes valuable tips on attracting these feathered friends to one’s own backyard. What’s the most common bird in Minnesota, you ask? It’s the cheerful Black-capped Chickadee! But that’s not all – this guide goes beyond just identifying birds by season and region, it also provides insight into bird watching in Minnesota and offers additional pages on feeding winter birds and bird identification. Get ready to embark on an avian adventure right in your own backyard!

Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-capped Chickadee is the most common bird species in Minnesota. With its distinctive black cap and bib, white cheeks, and gray back and wings, this small bird is easily recognizable. The chickadee’s friendly and curious personality, along with its characteristic “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call, make it a favorite among bird watchers.

This species can be found in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, and suburban areas. Black-capped Chickadees are known for their acrobatic movements, as they cling to tree branches and feed on insects, seeds, berries, and suet. They are also cavity nesters, often using old woodpecker holes or natural tree cavities for breeding.

To attract Black-capped Chickadees to your backyard, provide them with a variety of food sources, such as sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet. They are frequent visitors to bird feeders, especially during the winter months when food sources are scarce. Offering nesting boxes or adding shrubs and trees for cover can also create an inviting environment for these charming birds.

Blue Jay

The Blue Jay is a striking bird that is known for its vibrant blue plumage and distinctive crested head. With its noisy and bold personality, the Blue Jay is hard to miss. This species can be found in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, and suburban areas, throughout Minnesota.

Blue Jays are opportunistic feeders and have a varied diet that includes nuts, seeds, insects, and even small vertebrates. They are known to cache food for later consumption, making them important contributors to seed dispersal in their environment. Their loud, raucous calls are often heard in the early morning, as they assert their territorial presence.

To attract Blue Jays to your backyard, provide them with a mix of sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet. They are also attracted to water sources, so having a birdbath or a shallow dish of water available can be enticing. Blue Jays are known to be bold and curious, so offering food and water in open areas will increase your chances of attracting them.

A Guide to Common Backyard Birds in Minnesota

American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a small, colorful bird that is often referred to as the “wild canary.” This species can be found throughout Minnesota, particularly in open fields, meadows, and residential areas. During the breeding season, male American Goldfinches display a bright yellow plumage, while females have a more muted yellow coloration.

American Goldfinches are primarily seed eaters, and their diet consists of seeds from various plants, including thistles, sunflowers, and dandelions. They are also frequently seen feeding on nyjer or thistle seed from specialized feeders. These birds are known for their distinctive flight pattern, characterized by a series of rising and falling arcs.

To attract American Goldfinches to your backyard, provide them with a constant supply of nyjer or thistle seed. Investing in a nyjer feeder is a great way to entice these beautiful birds. They are also attracted to native plants like coneflowers and sunflowers, which provide them with additional food sources and nesting materials.

Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is a beloved bird species that is known for its brilliant red plumage and distinctive crest. While the male sports a vibrant red, the female has a more subtle combination of red and gray feathers. Cardinals can be found throughout Minnesota, from woodlands to urban areas, and are a common sight at backyard feeders.

Cardinals have a diverse diet that includes seeds, fruits, insects, and even snails. They are known to forage on the ground as well as in shrubs and trees. In addition to their striking appearance, Cardinals are also known for their beautiful, melodious songs, which can be heard throughout the year.

To attract Cardinals to your backyard, offer them a variety of food options, including sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and cracked corn. They are ground feeders, so providing a tray or platform feeder close to the ground can be beneficial. Cardinals are also attracted to dense shrubs and trees, which they use for cover and nesting.

A Guide to Common Backyard Birds in Minnesota

House Sparrow

The House Sparrow is a small, introduced species that has adapted well to urban areas, including those in Minnesota. This bird has a grayish-brown plumage, with males displaying a black bib on their chest and a gray crown. House Sparrows are social birds and are often seen in large flocks, especially around food sources.

House Sparrows have a diverse diet that includes seeds, grains, fruits, and insects. They are opportunistic feeders and are known to scavenge for food in various locations, including garbage bins. House Sparrows prefer to nest in cavities, such as tree hollows, and man-made structures like nest boxes and buildings.

To attract House Sparrows to your backyard, offer them a mix of seeds, including millet, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds. Providing a tray or platform feeder can accommodate their feeding preferences. House Sparrows are also attracted to nesting sites, so offering nest boxes can encourage these birds to make your backyard their home.

White-breasted Nuthatch

The White-breasted Nuthatch is a small bird with a unique appearance and behavior. It has a compact body, a long, straight bill, and a white breast and belly. The upperparts are predominantly bluish-gray, with black markings on the head and a distinctive black stripe that runs across the eye. The nuthatch is a common resident in Minnesota and can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands and suburban areas.

The White-breasted Nuthatch is known for its ability to move headfirst down tree trunks and branches, as well as its distinct “yank-yank” calls. It mainly feeds on insects, seeds, and nuts, often wedging larger food items into bark crevices to aid in pecking them open. These birds also cache food for the winter, storing it in tree bark or crevices.

To attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard, provide them with a mix of suet, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. They are frequent visitors to suet feeders, with their sharp bills allowing them to extract the high-energy food easily. Offering a variety of perching options, such as trees and bird feeders, will also entice these agile birds to visit.

A Guide to Common Backyard Birds in Minnesota

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker species in North America, and is commonly found in Minnesota. It has a distinctive black and white plumage, with a small crest on the back of its head. While males have a small red patch on the back of their heads, females lack this feature. Downy Woodpeckers are often spotted on tree trunks and branches, tapping on wood in search of insects.

Downy Woodpeckers primarily feed on insects, especially wood-boring beetles and their larvae. They have an impressive ability to grip onto the side of trees, using their sharp bills to extract their prey. These woodpeckers are also known to visit backyard feeders for suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts.

To attract Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard, provide them with a suet feeder or a feeder filled with peanuts. They are also attracted to dead trees or branches, which they use for foraging and nesting. Offering a mix of tree species, including those with loose bark, can create a suitable habitat for these delightful birds.

American Robin

The American Robin is a familiar bird species that is known for its orange-red breast and melodic song. They can be found throughout Minnesota, from urban areas to open fields and woodlands. American Robins are larger than many backyard birds, with a plump body and a dark gray back.

American Robins have a varied diet that includes earthworms, insects, fruits, and berries. They are frequently seen foraging on the ground, where they use their sharp eyesight to locate prey. These birds also play an important role as seed dispersers, as they consume various fruits and excrete the seeds elsewhere.

To attract American Robins to your backyard, provide them with a lawn or open area where they can forage for insects and worms. American Robins are also attracted to berry-producing shrubs and trees, such as holly, serviceberry, and sumac. Offering a birdbath or shallow dish of water can also be enticing to these birds, especially during the hot summer months.

A Guide to Common Backyard Birds in Minnesota

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a small, iridescent bird that is a delight to observe. It is the only hummingbird species commonly found in Minnesota, and is known for its ability to hover in mid-air and feed on nectar. Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a vibrant red throat patch, while females have a more muted coloration.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds primarily feed on flower nectar, but they also consume insects and tree sap for additional nutrients. They have a rapid wingbeat, which allows them to hover in front of flowers while extracting nectar with their long beaks and tongues. These birds are also known for their distinctive chirping calls.

To attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to your backyard, provide them with a hummingbird feeder filled with a nectar solution. This solution can be made by mixing one part white granulated sugar with four parts water, without the use of any dyes or additives. Planting native flowers, such as bee balm, cardinal flower, and trumpet vine, will also provide them with additional nectar sources.

Bird Identification

Identifying birds can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. By learning about their distinct features, behaviors, and habitats, you can confidently identify the birds you encounter. This article provides information on the most common backyard birds in Minnesota, compiled from data from the citizen science program eBird, making it a reliable resource for bird identification.

When observing birds, pay attention to their size, shape, plumage colors and patterns, beak shape, and distinctive markings. Each bird species has unique characteristics that can help in their identification. Using field guides, birding apps, or online resources can be valuable tools in furthering your bird identification skills.

Bird watching is a popular activity in Minnesota, with numerous opportunities to observe a diverse array of species. Different seasons and regions offer unique birding experiences, and it is helpful to be aware of the common birds that can be found during specific times of the year. Other pages on birds in Minnesota provide additional information on feeding winter birds and attracting specific species to your backyard.

By understanding the characteristics and behaviors of common backyard birds, you can enhance your bird watching experiences and develop a deeper appreciation for the avian species that call Minnesota home. So grab your binoculars, head outside, and embark on a journey of bird identification and enjoyment. Happy birding!

A Guide to Common Backyard Birds in Minnesota

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