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24 Ohio Birds (Common Backyard Species): Where To Find Them

Summer Tanager perched on a tree

Last Updated: September 20, 2022

With the number of parks, forests, nature preserves, wildlife areas, and the Lake Erie shoreline, Ohio is a great place to go birdwatching. Many birds in the state can be seen around the streets or in your backyard, while some are scarce and only live in deep forests. 

There are hundreds of species recorded in Ohio, all fascinating and unique in their own way.

But then…

We'd be here forever if we talked about every species, so we'll only discuss 24 common birds in Ohio. We also included pictures so you can identify each one the next time you go birding!

The 24 Common Species Of Ohio Birds

1. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American crow standing over a wood

Even non-birders recognize the American Crow due to its fascination with shiny objects, such as rings and keys.

Because of its opportunistic nature, this crow can exploit almost any habitat, but it prefers living in woodlands, agricultural fields, and meadows.

This bird species is abundant as well and can be easily seen statewide throughout Ohio, especially during winter when thousands of American Crows roost together.

Not-so-fun fact: Despite their abundance, the population of this crow species has been greatly affected by the West Nile Virus, where an infected crow becomes a dead bird within a week.

2. American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

American Goldfinch on a branch

The American Goldfinch (also called "wild canaries") is a common bird throughout the year in Ohio, especially between July and August.

They are primarily found in open areas such as weedy grasslands and parks, but you may attract them with a bird feeder containing seeds or by planting thistles or milkweed.

However, these finches are pretty wary of humans, so they may fly away if you get too close.

Fun fact: The male American Goldfinch molts into a bright yellow plumage during spring for the breeding season. This is the only species in its family to have two molts per year (one fall and one spring).

3. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

two American Robins on a fallen tree

One of the most popular Ohio songbirds is the American Robin. Many of them can be heard singing in the morning, especially in spring and summer.

This bird is so abundant that it can be found almost everywhere outdoors, both rural and urban, throughout the year.

You can easily attract American Robins with a platform feeder or food scattered on the ground. Sometimes, they may even take food from your hands.

Fun fact: There is a color called "robin egg blue," which is a cyan shade based on the color of the American Robin's eggs.

4. American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

American Woodcock on the ground

Compared to the other birds of Ohio that are easily found, finding the American Woodcock can be quite the challenge.

This funky bird is only active whenever there is low light (night, dawn, dusk, and cloudy days), its plumage makes it camouflage with the surroundings, and it has a secretive nature.

Additionally, it's only present in Ohio during the summer, typically residing in open woodlands and damp fields.

Fun fact: American Woodcocks have an elaborate courtship that may last up to four months, which sometimes continues even if the nesting is over.

5. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

two blue jays on a feeder

If you hear a misplaced call of a Red-Shouldered Hawk, that's probably an imitation of a Blue Jay trying to ward off intruders.

This bird species is abundant year-round in eastern North America. In northeast Ohio, it's prevalent during May when they form migratory flocks along Lake Erie!

Although the Blue Jay can thrive in many habitats from suburbs, parks, farmlands, and oak/hickory woods, it may also regularly visit your backyard feeder.

Fun fact: Blue Jays are blue not because of pigment, but light refraction on their feathers' structure. Thus, this blue color will disappear once you crush these feathers.

6. Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

Carolina Wren on top of a storage box

The Carolina Wren is a year-round species in the eastern half of the USA. In Ohio, it's more common in the southern parts of the state.

This bird prefers dense shrubs and brushes, typically found in almost any parks or wildlife areas that are well-vegetated.

They readily approach humans, so you may find Carolina Wrens visiting your bird feeder. Some may even use nest boxes if you leave brush piles inside.

Fun fact: This wren species builds multiple nests using snakeskin, feathers, hair, and other materials to confuse predators.

7. Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

black and white chickadee

Often confused with the Black-Capped Chickadee, Carolina Chickadees can be recognized through their range because they occur in southern Ohio.

Easily found in the south, this bird's preferred habitats include various woodlands, including deciduous, mixed, riparian, and swamps.

They may also visit parks and suburbs since they are attracted to most types of feeders, especially the suet feeder. It may also use nest boxes if you have one.

Fun fact: Sometimes, hybridization develops between the Carolina and Black-Capped Chickadee, where their populations overlap in the eastern sections of their range.

8. Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)

two Common Grackle in water

The Common Grackle is an abundant blackbird found almost anywhere in Ohio except dense forests.

This species is a year-round resident in the state but is particularly common in winter when they form enormous groups with other blackbird species to roost and forage.

You may also attract them with a backyard feeder, although this isn't such a good idea because they're unpleasantly noisy.

Fun fact: Common Grackles walk, compare to other small birds in Ohio that hop.

9. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

Downy Woodpecker looking up

The Downy Woodpecker is the most common Ohio woodpecker, easily found all year in all types of forestry and wooded parks or gardens.

They are easily lured to backyard feeders with suet, especially during winter when food is scarcer. It's also pretty common to see one in a birdhouse or bird bath.

Fun fact: As the smallest woodpecker species in North America, Downy Woodpeckers can drill into smaller surfaces, giving them more versatility in habitat and food sources than larger woodpeckers.

10. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Eastern Bluebird orange and blue color

One of the most celebrated birds in Ohio is the Eastern Bluebird, a thrush species found in North America.

It can be found year-round in the state, but more prominently during winter. Its preferred habitats include all types of open country, but can also be seen perched on utility wires and fences.

You can attract this bird species with mealworms and a nest box if your backyard is spacious enough.

Fun fact: This species has declined due to its competition with starlings and sparrows for nesting, but many bluebird nest boxes have been erected throughout Ohio to expand its population.

11. European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

European Starling standing on a bench

Even though it isn't native to America, the European Starling is one of the most common Ohio songbirds today. It's found in the state year-round and easily recognized with its unique colors.

Its preferred habitats include human settlements such as cities, suburbs, and ranches. It may also visit a feeder if it doesn't find enough food from trees or soil.

However, some consider this starling a pest because of its aggressive behavior, evicting occupants from its desired nest.

Fun fact: All European Starlings in America today are descendants of the birds that were introduced in New York City in the 1890s.

12. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Blue Heron with fish on its beak

Compared to the other birds of Ohio in this list, the Great Blue Heron is a large bird species.

It is seen year-round in the state, usually found on lakes, ponds, wetlands, and rivers. Even if it spends much of its time on the water, its nest is built high up on a tree.

It may look motionless on the water at first, but it strikes down quickly and ferociously once it finds prey!

Not-so-fun fact: Even though they're the biggest herons in North America, there are cases where some choke to death upon consuming prey that's too large.

13. Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)

Hairy Woodpeckers perched on a feeder

The Hairy Woodpecker resembles a jumbo-sized Downy Woodpecker, but not as abundant.

However, it's still fairly common in Ohio if you look at the right places - Its preferred habitat is deciduous forests, but you may find it in any of Ohio's state parks throughout the year.

If you have a feeder containing suet, this woodpecker may also visit frequently.

Fun fact: Both genders incubate their eggs, with the male incubating at night and the female at daytime.

14. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

House Finch on a tree branch

Like Europen Starlings, the House Finch is one of the abundant backyard birds in Ohio that aren't native to the state.

This bird species is easily found in the state all year, as they aren't afraid to approach humans and often form noisy groups. They are present in many human settlements, parks, farmlands, and bird feeders.

Not-so-fun fact: Some poultry farmers consider the House Finch as a pest because it's prone to infections that can spread to other backyard birds and commercial poultry.

15. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

House Sparrow on a backyard fence

Yet another non-native species in Ohio is the House Sparrow. It's a common bird year-round and usually seen near houses, buildings, or anywhere with people.

Often found eating from bird feeders or food scattered around, the House Sparrow is tame and human-friendly that it may even eat from your hand.

Fun fact: Sparrows symbolize loyalty in Japan due to their social nature; in the Bible, they symbolize loneliness (Old Testament) and insignificance (New Testament).

16. Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

Indigo Bunting picking food from the ground

The Indigo Bunting is one of the Ohio backyard birds that are easily found statewide due to its color and its preference for conspicuous spots in open country, such as weedy grasslands and woodland edges.

Visiting Ohio from March to October, you can attract this bird in your backyard with seeds, such as nyjer and thistle.

Fun fact: Despite the name, male Indigo Buntings are naturally black - they are only blue because of light diffraction. Hence, you may see them in different shades of black and blue.

17. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

two Mourning Dove facing each other

The Mourning Dove is a very common and widespread species in Ohio, occupying many types of habitats and frequently visiting bird feeders.

It can be seen in the state throughout the whole year, but larger concentrations occur during fall in places such as Killdeer Plains and Paint Creek wildlife areas.

Apart from bird feeders, you can also attract this dove by scattering millet on the ground.

Fun fact: Due to its abundance and high reproduction, the Mourning Dove is a popular game bird for hunters.

18. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Cardinal looking down

One of the most popular songbirds in the USA is the Northern Cardinal. It can be easily found in Ohio since it lives in both woodlands and suburbs.

Although it's present in Ohio all year, the best time to look for this bird is in winter, as both genders' red plumage becomes flashier in a snowy background.

You can also attract this cardinal with a backyard feeder containing peanut hearts, sunflower seeds, millet, and more.

Fun fact: The Northern Cardinal is recognized as Ohio's state bird. Most people are familiar with this species as it's sometimes depicted on license plates!

19. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Pileated Woodpecker perched on a tree

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest of its species in North America.

It prefers dense and mature forestry, but can still be found in all Ohio state parks. However, it isn't as common in western and northwestern Ohio.

This woodpecker is quite difficult to attract, so your best option is to look for deep cavities/excavations in wood to determine its presence.

Fun fact: Pileated Woodpeckers drill different sections of a tree to prevent predators from entering and have escape routes if a predator manages to enter.

20. Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Song Sparrow on a grass field

The Song Sparrow lives up to its name as it's one of the most persistent singers.

It's the most common and widespread sparrow year-round in Ohio as its preferred habitat is anywhere with an open or semi-open landscape

You may usually find this sparrow perched on a low shrub, but it may also frequently visit your backyard feeder.

Fun fact: A Song Sparrow deals with enemies through instinct, learned experiences, and observations from other birds dealing with their enemies.

21. Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)

Male Summer Tanager on a feeder

Although easily recognizable due to its bright red plumage, the Summer Tanager isn't as common in Ohio. It's only present during summer in the southern half of the state.

The songbird prefers open oak and hickory woodlands, but can still be found in parks, orchards, and roadsides.

Fun fact: Summer Tanagers are also called "bee birds," specializing in killing bees and wasps.

22. Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)

Swamp Sparrow in a leafy branch

In Ohio, the Swamp Sparrow can be seen statewide during migration, but only in the state's northern half during its breeding season, and only in the southern half during winter.

As you may have already guessed, this sparrow is typically found in swamps and other forms of wetlands, especially those that contain non-woody plants such as cattails.

Fun fact: This sparrow has longer legs than other members of its genus, allowing it to step through shallow waters as it searches for food.

23. Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

white and blue bird on a branch

The Tree Swallow is another one of the Ohio wild birds that are easily recognized due to their color - it's blue on the top and white on the bottom.

It's seen all year in Ohio, but more frequently during November to May.

Some of its preferred habitats include open areas near water, such as fields, beaver ponds, and wooded swamps, but can also visit feeders for some food during migration.

Fun fact: Tree Swallows "fight" over feathers mid-air for reasons that have yet to be explained, although it's speculated to be some form of play.

24. Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

Tufted Titmouse on top of tree branch

As one of the few Ohio backyard birds with a prominent crest, the Tufted Titmouse can be easily spotted due to its abundance and presence in the state year-round.

Its preferred habitats include swampy or moist woodlands but is also commonly found in neighborhoods with enough shade trees. You can even attract it with a feeder or a nest box.

When you look for Tufted Titmice in the wild, you may also see chickadees and woodpeckers as they often flock together.

Fun fact: Tufted Titmice are only present in areas with enough rainfall (24 inches of rain per year, minimum), where they become more common when rainfall is greater than 32 inches per year.

Watch this amazing video of a Tufted Titmouse and hear its calls:


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I capture these birds in Ohio?

Although there are certain loopholes, keeping wild birds is a bad idea because it's a felony in the USA to keep any wild native bird captive. Plus, there's the ethical issue of taking an animal away from its natural habitat. This is why birds you see in pet stores have an identification (such as a metal bracelet) to show that they are bred in captivity and not taken from the wild.

If you see an uninvited or injured bird in your home, then it's best to contact local authorities, such as the Ohio Wildlife Center for your safety since even a sick bird can defend itself. However, we also mentioned that there are loopholes. You can legally keep a wild and orphaned baby bird only if it's a European Starling, a pigeon, or a sparrow since these three are not protected by law.

How can I differentiate the common birds in Ohio?

The simplest way to differentiate birds is through body shape and size. Surely, you would be able to figure out which is which between Summer Tanagers and Great Blue Herons.

When it comes to species of the same family/genus, color and patterns are the next characteristics to look for. For example, Northern Cardinals and Indigo Buntings are from the same family, but their colors are drastically different. On the other hand, species such as Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers require a bit more observation and studying to fully differentiate.

Why do male and female birds look different?

For some birds, males tend to be more colorful than females because a colorful plumage is more attractive in the bird world. It also signifies health and vitality in certain species, so a brightly-colored male has a better chance of finding a mate during its breeding season. Meanwhile, females tend to be duller for camouflage and protection since bright colors attract predators, especially during nesting.

The Bottom Line

There are many places in Ohio for birdwatching - take Lake Erie, for example.

You don't even have to go that far either. Just by walking around your neighborhood, you're bound to see a couple of birds along the way.

If you want to take a closer look, you can attract some Ohio birds with a feeder. With the variety of bird species in the state, you'd be surprised at how much you can discover even from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you're birding or looking from your backyard, we hope this article helped you identify some of the birds of Ohio!

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