Whether you're around the city, in the wilderness, or looking out your backyard, you're bound to see a bird or two... or maybe even flocks of them.
There are over 400 bird species found in Wisconsin.
With the number of parks, forests, rivers, and lakes in the state, there are way too many to count!
We compiled 24 different birds of Wisconsin, including backyard birds, raptors, and water birds, for you to identify. Let’s get going.
- The 24 Different Birds of Wisconsin
- 1. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
- 2. American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)
- 3. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
- 4. American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
- 5. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
- 6. Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
- 7. Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
- 8. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
- 9. Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
- 10. Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
- 11. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)
- 12. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
- 13. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
- 14. Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)
- 15. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)
- 16. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
- 17. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
- 18. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
- 19. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
- 20. Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)
- 21. Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
- 22. Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
- 23. Sharp-Shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
- 24. Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
- Frequently Asked Questions
The 24 Different Birds of Wisconsin
1. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
The American Crow is a bird most people are familiar with - you've probably seen it around the streets or in horror movies.
Apart from its all-black wardrobe, American Crows are easily recognized because they're pretty much found anywhere in Wisconsin.
Although they don't visit feeders as often as other backyard birds, you can easily attract them with peanuts. However, remember those horror movies - based on how you treat a crow, you've either made a great friend or an annoying enemy!
2. American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)
The American Goldfinch is a common bird species in Wisconsin all year-round. You can typically spot them around weedy grasslands and other similar clearings, as well as nearby trees.
It's also important to remember that the American Goldfinch isn't comfortable with humans, so they will likely fly away if you get too close.
3. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
If you live in Wisconsin, you're probably familiar with the American Robin as it is recognized as the official state bird.
American Robins are abundant in Wisconsin throughout the year. They can be found in various habitats - woodlands, tundra, parks, backyards, even golf courses!
However, you may still attempt to attract an American Robin using a combination of chopped apples and mealworms.
4. American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
The American White Pelican is a HUGE bird that's pretty hard to miss, considering that it's one of the largest water birds in Wisconsin.
However, they are only found in the Wisconsin wilderness during migration. If you want to see them in the summer, you can visit the Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Wisconsin.
5. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
The Bald Eagle is one of the most famous birds of prey in North America as it holds the title of the USA's national bird!
Bald Eagles are found throughout Wisconsin all year, usually in forests near bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers. Their diet consists mostly of fish, so they visit the water to feed while using the trees for nesting.
Additionally, please watch out for "closed area" signs to avoid stepping in eagle territory and disturbing their nesting activities.
6. Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
This blackbird is present in Wisconsin during the summer. Most of them reside in open woodlands and shade trees in parks and backyards. However, they aren't normally seen in deep forests.
They are pretty difficult to spot in the wild because they prefer living in treetops. However, you may still attract them using ripe fruit (especially oranges) and nectar feeders, similar to those for hummingbirds.
7. Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
With its oversized head, small body, and black cap and bib, the Black Capped Chickadee is one of the cutest birds you will see in Wisconsin!
This bird is a common resident all year in the northern half of the USA. It is often found in deciduous and mixed forests but is also a common sight in parks and suburban areas.
Plus, they are easy to attract, especially with black oil sunflower seeds and suet. With their small size and athletic ability, they are willing to try just about any feeder.
8. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
The Blue Jay has an iconic color pattern that you can recognize almost anywhere! It's also an abundant year-round resident of Wisconsin, so you have plenty of opportunities to see one in action.
However, you may also attract a Blue Jay with a feeder containing peanuts, sunflower seeds, or suet. You may even see it crack a peanut whole!
9. Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
The Common Grackle is quite a fascinating bird due to its iridescent colors. You might mistake it for a crow at first - it's best to take note of its blue head.
As the name suggests, Common Grackles are common and easy to spot everywhere in Wisconsin.
Although they are entertaining to watch, some may consider them a nuisance since they can drive away other backyard birds.
Read Also: Grackles vs Starlings
10. Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
Don't try to listen out for this raptor, as the Coopers Hawk tends to be silent. At first, it may look like a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, but the Coopers species is significantly larger.
You can usually find Coopers Hawks in forests and open woodlands, but they are also known for visiting backyard feeders.
However, instead of eating from the feeders, they eat the birds that visit them, such as blackbirds, starlings, and doves.
11. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)
The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest of its species in North America. You can easily recognize it with its red nape.
This bird resides all year in Wisconsin, usually found in forests (mainly deciduous), parks, and orchards.
Additionally, Downy Woodpeckers are common backyard visitors. You can easily attract them using sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts, peanut butter, and even a hummingbird feeder.
Read Also: Woodpeckers in Wisconsin
12. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
The Eastern Bluebird is quite a sight indeed - you wouldn't want to miss its blue, orange, and white feathers!
However, you may still attract one in your feeding station if you provide its favorite foods. Berries and mealworms are usually the way to go.
13. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Seeing a Great Blue Heron in action is something you don't want to miss - it may look motionless on the water at first, but the heron ferociously strikes down to grab its prey!
Great Blue Herons are usually seen throughout Wisconsin in different bodies of water, such as lakes, marshes, rivers, and wetlands.
Apart from the distinctive blue feathers, you can differentiate this species from other water birds with its "S" shaped neck during flight.
14. Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)
The Hairy and the Downy Woodpecker almost look identical, so you need to take a closer look to tell them apart. Their size is most apparent since the Hairy Woodpecker is significantly larger.
However, some may visit your backyard if your feeder provides suet, peanuts, or sunflower seeds, especially during the winter when food is scarce.
15. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)
Another species that's comfortable around humans is the House Finch. It was originally native to the western USA but is now widespread.
Naturally, they visit bird feeders, especially those containing sunflower, safflower, or nyjer seeds.
The only issue is that they are absent in northern Wisconsin, but present all year in the southern parts of the state.
16. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
The House Sparrow is originally from the Middle East but is now one of the most abundant birds throughout Wisconsin (and the world!)
Naturally, you can attract a House Sparrow to your home with ease. Just load your feeders with corn, millet, and sunflower seeds, and you're good to go. The only issue is that it often competes with other feeder birds.
17. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
Mourning Doves don't usually live inside deep forests. The best places to look for them are open areas with many trees and shrubs, including fields, parks, and backyards.
A Mourning Dove will readily approach your feeder if it contains seeds, nuts, and suet. This species is also a ground forager, so it's best to have a flat tray or platform feeder or simply scatter the food on the ground.
18. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
If you're ever in Wisconsin during the winter, you wouldn't want to miss out on the sight of a Northern Cardinal - its red colors become more fascinating on a white background!
Northern Cardinals usually reside in woodland edges and parks, but they don't hesitate to visit backyard feeders and birdbaths.
However, despite being a common species, there is little to no Northern Cardinal population in northern Wisconsin.
19. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
If there's any bird that will catch your attention, it's the Pileated Woodpecker. This large woodpecker has a bright red crest that's truly eyecatching!
You need to explore for a bit if you want to see it yourself. Pileated Woodpeckers are usually found in mature forests that contain dead trees, wherein deep excavations in rotting wood are a sign of their presence.
20. Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)
Hold on, that's a House Finch, right?
At first, these two species might look similar, but the Purple Finch has a deeper, purple color and a tufted crest.
Purple Finches are only present in Wisconsin during winter, although some may stay all year in the northern parts of the state.
They are usually found in coniferous woodlands and shrubby areas but are also common visitors of bird feeders.
21. Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Red-Shouldered Hawks are uncommon but year-round residents of southern Wisconsin. Meanwhile, they are only in northern Wisconsin during summer.
You can usually find them in forested areas near water, particularly in major river systems, as they tend to make their nests near riverbanks.
22. Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Watch out for the raptors you see in movies because they're not always what they seem. You may see a Bald Eagle on screen, but what you hear is the raspy cry of a Red-Tailed Hawk!
You may find one all year in southern Wisconsin, but only during the summer in the northern parts of the state. Of course, you have to take note of its distinct red tail.
23. Sharp-Shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
Even though the Sharp-Shinned Hawk is the smallest of its species in North America, its athletic and acrobatic abilities allow it to zoom through forests!
This species is migratory, so there are optimal times to look for this bird in Wisconsin. It's common in northern Wisconsin but only found during the summer. Meanwhile, it's uncommon in southern Wisconsin but can be found all year.
24. Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
The Song Sparrow lives up to its name, as you can often hear its persistent melodic singing to communicate with other Song Sparrows.
You can find this species all year in southern Wisconsin, but only during summer in the north.
They prefer living in thickets (especially near water) but are also commonly found in backyard shrubbery and undergrowth in parks. Oftentimes, you may see a Song Sparrow nesting on the ground.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bird City Wisconsin?
Bird City Wisconsin is an organization that educates the public about bird conservation and the contributions that birds provide toward a healthy community.
They also give the title "Bird City" to Wisconsin municipalities that meet the criteria of a safe community for birds. Apart from the recognition, there are many reasons to become a Bird City. Does your municipality have what it takes to be one?
Watch this video of Janesville, one of the designated Wisconsin Bird City:
Do all of these birds visit backyards?
The short answer is no. Some of the birds in this list do not visit backyards because they can't provide the appropriate habitat or food for those birds.
These include eagles, water birds, certain hawks, and Pileated Woodpeckers. You might have to do some traveling to witness these species.
How do I stop hawks from visiting my feeder?
Some hawk species, such as Sharp-Shinned and Cooper's Hawks, stalk backyards to hunt for songbirds that visit them. If you want to prevent this from happening, then you may take down your feeder for 1-2 weeks so these hawks can move on.
It would be best to call professionals for help if you're still having problems with hawks or other raptors. Whatever happens, don't capture or kill any raptor - it's considered a felony!
When we learn all about the birds we encounter, the experience becomes more gratifying, don't you agree?
There are already many Wisconsin birds, but there will be even more of them for us to appreciate if more communities become Bird Cities!
Anyway, that's all we have to offer. We hope this article helped you identify 24 Wisconsin birds. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled because you don't want to miss them in action!