A bird's intrinsic beauty and the many ways they contribute to our understanding of the world will never cease to amaze you. There is an endless fascination with a bird's natural world, regardless if they live on farms, in the wilderness, or cities.
With Oklahoma's diversified geography and ecology, the state is a well-known birdwatching territory in North America.
Equipping yourself with more knowledge about these birds of Oklahoma prepares you for a rewarding encounter with these creatures. You can identify these birds confidently when they visit your backyards or during a birding escapade.
- Well-Known Backyard Birds Of Oklahoma
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- Frequently Asked Questions
Well-Known Backyard Birds Of Oklahoma
Oklahoma is an excellent bird watching spot with nearly 500 avian species in varying colors, shapes, and sizes. Birders get to see Oklahoma birds in migration, passing through while on their way to the central flyway of North America.
The state welcomes hobbyists with the presence of a bald eagle along the lakes in winter or a barn swallow building its mud nest. Although barn swallows are more frequent in the south, they have started becoming a familiar sight in Oklahoma.
Despite not being among the common backyard birds in Oklahoma, lucky birders sometimes glimpse a painted bunting in its bright yellow, blue, and green plumes. The swift movements of most birds find them harder to recognize, especially for new birders.
You might also see other avian species in Oklahoma, like the barn swallow, painted bunting, red bellied woodpecker, and northern mockingbird. All of which have a presence that will captivate you and make birdwatching even more fun.
Hence, we provide you with relevant information that would make Oklahoma birds identification a breeze. Check out our list of the prevalent backyard birds of Oklahoma:
1. Mourning Dove
The word "dove" typically refers to the small birds in the family of pigeons. The mourning dove is a widespread North American species familiar to many birdwatchers due to its grayish-tan plumes and brown wings adorned with black spots.
This feathered friend is among the common backyard birds in Oklahoma that's easily recognizable with its plump body, small beak, and short pink legs.
However, the long, tapered tail of a mourning dove is what sets it apart from the other dove species in North America. While mourning doves sport a brownish-gray overall, their bottom parts have a pale peach shade.
Such birds also have black-spotted wings and outer tail feathers in white shade with black borders. On the contrary, the females have a pale brown plumage with lesser gray shade on their heads and less-iridescent necks.
These doves are almost everywhere except in the deep woods, although they're more frequent in woodland edges, open fields, and wherever scattered trees are abundant. It won't be surprising to find such a bird perching on a tree in your backyard.
While roaming throughout the state, you have a greater likelihood of spotting mourning doves bobbing their heads while exploiting ground bird feeders. Well-known for being an exclusive seed-eater, black oil sunflower seeds are the most preferred diet of a mourning dove.
Further, these birds have a reputation for making flimsy, see-through nests using twigs, grass, and weeds. Like the house finch, purple finch, and pine siskin, a mourning dove likes having its nest out in the open.
2. American Robin
The American robin is a handsome-looking North American thrush sporting a red breast and a brown-colored back; such a bird sings earlier and into the night. The bird is well-known for its unique egg in an attractive pale blue shade.
You are likely to encounter an American robin in cities or rural areas, where most neighborhoods provide habitats for its kind, including jays and mourning doves. A well-mowed lawn with dense evergreens and fruit-bearing plants attracts such a robin to any backyard.
Unlike the other common birds of Oklahoma, American robins rarely visit bird feeders. Nevertheless, you might see this thrush in huge flocks, fluttering and raiding fruits from trees and shrubberies.
Birdhub Talk: There exists a commonality between the American Robin and one of the birds mentioned in this post. Could you guess what it is? Read our article here -- What Birds Lay Blue Eggs: 5 Species That Bring Out The Blues
3. Blue Jay
Blue jays are one of the backyard birds in the state that are easily recognizable. These birds are about the size of American robins, and they are unmistakable even as they do solo foraging or in noisy pairs.
The flashy appearance of a blue jay will alert you of its presence; it has deep blue and grayish overall, a prominent crest, and a black bill.
Additionally, many individuals mistake an Eastern bluebird for a blue jay, except that the latter has longer tails, and bluebirds also lack the crest. You will have no trouble locating these blue jays in any forests, from oak forests to pine and hickory forests, even gardens with a bird bath.
Interestingly, blue jays are exceptional mimickers of raptor sounds to effortlessly clear out a backyard bird feeder. When not preoccupied with exploiting black oil sunflower seeds, suet, and nuts, you will likely encounter a blue jay feeding mostly insects.
4. House Finch
The house finch has a discrete but extensive population, breeding throughout the west and east of Oklahoma. Despite being a native bird of the western part of the United States, the currently well-established house finch displaces the purple finches in the eastern regions.
When confused in identifying similar-looking finches, remember that the bold-streaked flanks of the males set them apart from the pale brown hues of purple finches.
Moreover, a house finch has a slender body than stocky, large-headed purple finches. House finches are generally small birds with bright red plumes, large bills, long, flat heads, and short wings, making their tails appear longer.
Comparatively, the tails of such finches have a shallow notch, contrary to the other birds of their kind. It is typical for the males to have varying looks depending on their diet, while females have pale gray plumages with heavily-streaked underparts.
Like chickadees, house finches are Oklahoma backyard birds that also love eating sunflower seeds. Such finches often join mixed flocks with the pine siskins and goldfinches; they prefer inhabiting rural areas and wide-open grasslands, often foraging fruits and tree buds.
You might notice a house finch enjoying plants or eating fruits in orchards. But black oil sunflower seeds in tube feeders are its favorite meal in a bird feeding station.
5. Downy Woodpecker
The downy woodpecker is among the common birds in Oklahoma, a year-round resident throughout the state. This woodpecker, about the size of a sparrow and sporting black wings, is the most familiar bird of its kind in the Melanerpes genus.
Adorning backyards and parks across North America is typical for the small-sized downy; it's one of the smallest woodpeckers worldwide.
Although downy woodpeckers frequent open deciduous woodlands, especially those with broadleaf trees, they are also comfortable thriving in suburbs and gardens. You can expect to hear downy woodpeckers make that rattling sound in a descending tone while foraging.
Aside from its size, you get to identify the downy woodpecker with its black and white feathers, short black bill, and barred tail feathers. The red nape patch varies in adult males, as much as the white on their wings is dependent on geographical variations.
Furthermore, these birds are reputable for being natural biological controllers of forest insect pests, such as the oak borer beetles. Likewise, a downy woodpecker enjoys visiting a backyard for hummingbird feeders, black sunflower seeds, and suet.
6. House Sparrow
If you wonder which among the backyard birds of Oklahoma occupies cavities that woodpeckers leave behind, that's the house sparrows. One common identifier of this sparrow from the Passeridae family is its dark brown head, gray belly, and black patch from the throat to its bib.
Despite the confusion of many, this particular sparrow is unrelated to the song sparrow. The latter is a variable species living up to its name with nonstop songs you can hear all year.
Females lack that black patch, which is how you can tell them apart from the males; both sexes have stubby bills, a pale-looking one for females.
However, a male house sparrow looks different in winter, shifting from the dark gray crown to a fainter one, and even the bib appears paler. The upperparts are likewise duller looking, and black beaks transform into a yellowish-brown.
A house sparrow is also well-known for creating an untidy birds nest from hairs and feathers and placing them in buildings. Such a bird species can be prevalent in many different habitats, except mountain peaks, arid deserts, and dense forests.
These creatures benefit so much from cultivation and urbanization, better than the other birds in regions within their range.
In addition, house sparrows eat seeds, herbs, wildflowers, and cereal crops, sometimes visiting backyard bird feeders. These birds forage the ground, occasionally pluck seeds, or join large flocks to exploit ripening cornfields; hence, farmers consider them pests.
7. Northern Cardinal
Northern cardinals are similar-sized to red-winged blackbirds and unmistakable in their radiant red plumage, their most distinguishing feature. Interestingly, such birds have a beautiful song to match their vibrant colors, with males and females singing in duet.
Cardinals have a wide variety of songs in high, clear, and slurred whistles; males and females sing as if responding to each other's call.
Cardinals sing all year to keep other birds away from their territories, contrary to other backyard birds protecting their nest only during the breeding season.
Besides, such "call and response" singing of northern cardinals helps them reinforce pair bonds; the female sometimes sings from its nest.
These birds forage seeds to sustain themselves. Cardinals don't expand their range to colder regions as the deep snow in winter makes it difficult for a northern cardinal to obtain food for sustenance. Therefore, putting up bird feeders is most helpful during the cold months.
You have better chances of observing these eye-catching species in your backyard by luring them with safflower and sunflower seeds in a tray underneath tube feeders. It prefers foraging the ground, trees, and shrubberies; cardinals inhabit woodland margins, gardens, and thickets.
8. Red Winged Blackbird
Try looking out for the grassy areas around the state if you wish to see a red winged blackbird, as such areas are its preferred habitat. Such a bird takes pride in its unique physique that allows it to dive gracefully and effortlessly sweep through the open skies.
A red winged blackbird has a natural tendency for having multiple mates for every breeding season.
When you're trying to identify birds, you may compare both sexes, like in the case of this blackbird. Males have striking black overalls with yellow and orange-red patches on their shoulders. In contrast, females sport chestnut plumages with bold streaks and longer bills.
While you might notice these blackbirds eating sunflower seeds from a large tube feeder, they primarily eat insects when nesting. Additionally, you will see many blackbirds going to where large flocks are in winter. Otherwise, these creatures are likely in marshes and wetlands.
9. Eastern Bluebird
Eastern bluebirds are colorful creatures that love nesting in tree cavities. However, considering such a specific preference, these birds' populations significantly decline as their habitats yield to deforestation.
The handsome species is a small-sized thrush, sporting dark blue upperparts with a bright red throat, almost warm or rusty-looking red.
Although the blue shade can vary depending on the lighting conditions, bluebird males appear to have drab grayish-brown feathers from a distance. Comparatively, the grayish females have blue wings and tails contrasting their orange-brown breasts.
Once exclusively inhabiting fire-maintained savannahs, the radiant-looking bird now colonizes open habitats and nest cavities in pastures and orchards. Otherwise, these bluebirds dwell in forest openings, spacious yards, parks, and open spaces facing the field.
However, the starlings' behavior of robbing nest holes takes a toll on the eastern bluebirds. It's typical to see this vividly-colored bird scanning the ground for food, displaying a strong preference for winter berries and flying insects when breeding.
10. Eurasian Collared Dove
The Eurasian collared dove is a non-native North Ameican species with a range expanding from northern Carolina to western California and southern British Columbia.
Such is a well-adapted dove in rural and suburban habitats, one which you can quickly identify with its plump body, small head, and long tail.
Aside from the said features, Eurasian collared doves have black collars on their napes, contrasting their gray brown upperparts. Chunkier-looking than the mourning dove, the Eurasian collared dove has a squared-off tail contrary to the mourning dove's long, tapered tail.
When landing from a flight, you can expect such a dove to let out a distinctive loud sound like "kook-koooo-kook" or "whaaa."
Furthermore, the bird is very tolerant of human presence; it loves ground foraging for seeds yet sometimes visits bird feeders on elevated grounds. Aside from its love for black oil sunflower seeds, such a dove also eats plants, berries, and some invertebrates.
11. Carolina Wren
Should you ever wonder about that bird that makes a familiar sound that seems like a loud, ringing call, it likely comes from a Carolina wren. Such whistled notes are similar to that of a titmouse or a cardinal.
Most observers will describe this wren as vocally boisterous, as it produces a sound similar to a teakettle. Nevertheless, males exploit their musical repertoire as they cycle through various phrases in their songs.
Carolina wrens are darkish-brown birds with cocked tails, long, curved bills, and white stripes on their eyebrows.
The bird's buffy underparts turn paler in summer and are about the same size as the Bewick's wren. Check these wrens' underparts as the latter is grayish-white underneath; it would help you tell them apart in regions where their ranges overlap.
You will often encounter a Carolina wren in flowers and shrubs, as it finds low plants in small spaces ideal for foraging. Such a wren's song comes with reverberation and relative intensities in high frequencies.
Lastly, Carolina wrens frequent urban areas and forest edges, ground foraging insects, but its preference shifts to suet or peanut butter in bird feeders in winter.
12. European Starling
The aggressive European starling is a reputable opportunist for exploiting food resources from other birds. European starlings can be resident birds or partial migrants. But regardless of its status, a starling molts between late May and September.
During the molting process, the brown edges or whitish tips in a starling's feathers in winter transform to reveal the iridescent plumage of its breeding kind.
Besides the plumage color, a starling features a chunky body, about the same size as the blackbird. Its pointed wings are short, sometimes appearing black from a distance.
In the summertime, starlings display glossy purplish-green plumes and pale yellow beaks. On the contrary, these birds' white spots highlight their brown overall in the colder months.
Such starlings utilize nest holes, whether they are natural or artificial cavities. Many people find the bird displeasing, mainly when the starling competes and wins over the native birds for nesting sites. Even the sizable northern flicker is no match against the starling.
Moreover, starlings roost noisily in huge flocks or pairs, eat anything edible, and prefer to reside where humans are nearby. Its exceptional versatility is why you sometimes see a starling look for food in open tundra and oceans.
The stunning beauty of a starling's aerial maneuvers while gathering in vast flocks on winter evenings is undeniably striking despite its despicable behavior. Flocking gives this bird better chances to detect and elude potential predators.
13. American Crow
In addition to their cunning ways, crows do well in profiting from many opportunities. American crows are sizable, glossy-black birds with broad wings and squared tails. Even this bird's bill, legs, and feet are all black.
Pretty impressive that such a bird comes with about two dozen different calls, a distinct musical repertoire for varying signals for courting, flocking, and warning threats.
Such a crow is well-known for frequenting suburban areas and woodlands. Besides its shrewdness, an American crow is naturally curious and resourceful. It mimics other birds' sounds and sometimes mobs predators loudly.
Interestingly, this crow is well-adapted to any habitat, from roadsides to farmlands and city parks. The expedient bird typically does ground foraging for nuts, insects, berries, and garbage. Otherwise, the crow could be devouring eggs and chicks from the nests of other birds.
Being one of the most brilliant birds, you might be surprised to know that this crow eats roadkill, but automobiles hardly hit such a bird. It places nests on platforms, reusing them yearly unless an owl robs them.
14. Dark Eyed Junco
Wintering juncos are abundant and widespread throughout much of their range. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that many people call this feathered friend and the snow bunting the snowbirds.
However, you are least likely to encounter such a bird in dense and high-altitude forests, making an altitudinal migration.
This junco has four subspecies; each features noticeable color variations, while females are less colorful. The white outer tail feathers are a standard distinguishing feature you will notice in juncos regardless of geographical variation.
Not to mention that all forms also have dull-looking beaks, dark eyes, and whitish bellies. Males from Canada have slate-colored overall, although dominantly gray with a white belly.
One junco subspecies from the Black Hills feature a faint-gray head, a black mask, a brown-colored back, and pinkish-brown sides. Another junco form has a dark face and a reddish-brown back from New Mexico and Arizona mountains.
Lastly, the Oregon form is instantly recognizable in its black or brown hood with rusty undersides.
The bird's vocalization sounds like a rapid musical trill combined with twitters, chips, and warbles. Dark-eyed juncos prefer to inhabit edges and clearings in most coniferous and mixed woodlands, gardens, and weedy fields.
Most of these juncos feed on the ground, sometimes foraging underneath picnic tables, and occasionally visit feeders to enjoy the birdbath and sunflower seeds.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the birds native to Oklahoma?
While the scissor-tailed flycatcher is Oklahoma's state bird, there are many birds around the state. However, throughout the year, the most familiar resident birds in the state are the Eastern bluebird, Carolina chickadee, red-bellied woodpecker, and northern cardinal.
What Oklahoma birds are rare species?
Oklahoma birds currently at high risk of extinction are winged mapleleaf, whooping crane, red-cockaded woodpecker, Bachman's sparrow, etc. At the same time, the threatened birds in Oklahoma include the mountain plover prairie chickens. Lastly, the song sparrow, dark-eyed junco, dickcissel, black-chinned hummingbird, black vulture, and long-eared owl are some of the rare avian species in Oklahoma.
What common Oklahoma birds sing at nighttime?
Despite northern mockingbirds being active in the daytime, you will hear this bird vocalizing at night. Adult males have a vast repertoire and can sing two hundred songs simultaneously or mimic songs from other birds all day.
What are the winter birds in Oklahoma?
Birdwatching gets more challenging in winter but some birds are designed to brave such a climate, like the American goldfinch, a bright yellow bird with a black cap. Despite the Eastern bluebirds being permanent residents in Oklahoma, you'll see the mountain bluebird in winter.
Other birds wintering in the state are the Carolina chickadees, northern cardinals, house finches, dark eyed juncos, red-winged blackbirds, and house sparrows.
Each bird species' lifeways into their world of survival, habitats, songs, colors, and flight patterns never fail to captivate many people's imaginations.
Familiarizing field marks and birdsongs help us better identify with these creatures, but there are other effective ways you could learn during your course of birdwatching.
Hopefully, your understanding of the different birds of Oklahoma identification will improve through this article. However, your close encounters with these feathered friends can help you decide which effective methods can lead to better bird recognition.