14 Most Common Birds Of Wisconsin: Birdwatching Guide

birds of wisconsin

With no less than 441 recorded types of birds of Wisconsin, the Badger State is a great place for bird watchers. In this article, we’ll take a look at the fourteen most common Wisconsin birds that you are likely to see around your property in America’s Dairyland.

For each bird on this list of Wisconsin birds, there’s a few important facts, as well as some great birds of Wisconsin pictures to help you put a name to some (familiar) faces. 

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1. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

These fast-flying birds are one of the most common species in the Badger State. Mourning Doves measure about a foot long and can be seen in all sorts of different habitats where they have access to the grain they feed on. Mourning Doves are most abundant in the south of the state, becoming less common birds of northern Wisconsin. 

Some Mourning doves spend the winter in Wisconsin, but most of them travel south to warmer areas. These birds enjoy feeding in backyards, especially from the ground or platform feeders

2. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only hummingbirds that breed in the state and also the smallest birds of Wisconsin. These lovely little birds arrive in May and are easy to attract to backyard hummingbird feeders with a simple sugar-water mixture. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds spend the colder months down south, returning in time for plants to start producing nectar-rich flowers and insect life to begin increasing. 

3. Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawks are the most commonly seen Wisconsin birds of prey. These familiar hawks are resident in much of the state throughout the year, although birds from the north of the state do head south to avoid the cold winters.  

These birds can be spotted perched in a prominent position like a fence post or telephone pole, or soaring the skies above. Red-tailed hawks feed on a variety of small animals but most of their diet consists of small mammals like rodents and rabbits. 

4. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are common birds of Wisconsin. They are just as at home in suburban yards and parks as they are out in woodlands in the great outdoors. These acrobatic little birds love visiting suet feeders in particular. 

These small birds of Wisconsin mostly feed on insects, however, but they will also take seeds like sunflower seeds and even peanuts sometimes as well. 

5. Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are beautiful and smart birds of the crow family. These interesting birds don’t like to share their meals, which makes them unwelcome at many backyard bird feeders. Blue jays are present throughout the year in Wisconsin. 

These noisy birds love eating acorns but they are not too fussy when it comes to their diet. Amazingly, Blue Jays are able to make calls that sound just like the Red-tailed Hawk. This is very useful for frightening other birds away from resources. 

6. Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadees are fascinating little winter birds of Wisconsin that are able to brave the cold weather and stick around all year. They get their name from their familiar call, although they can produce quite a variety of different calls. 

Chickadees eat mostly insects in the summertime, but they do supplement their diets with seeds, nuts, and other plant material in the winter. Chickadees often nest in nest boxes, which can make for some very interesting observations. 

7. Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

The cedar waxwing is a great-looking bird that can be seen throughout Wisconsin where they breed each year. They can be identified easily by their jet-black face mask with white edges and the sharp crest on their heads. These birds are fruit eaters, although they do eat some insects as well. 

Although Cedar Waxwings are mostly present in the warmer months, moving south for the winter, some birds stay in the state all year long. These birds are very social and you’re most likely to see a whole flock, rather than just one. 

8. Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

These lovely little birds of Wisconsin mostly feed on insects but in winter, they switch to a diet of nuts, mostly from conifers. These nuthatches are busy little birds that will feed on suet feeders but they also enjoy peanuts and sunflower seeds. 

9. House Wren

House Wren

House Wrens are another little bird that loves nesting in birdhouses and nest boxes. These are pretty plain-looking birds that reach about 5 inches long and weigh just 0.4 ounces. They often move around with their tail held upright, which can be helpful for identification. 

They feed on insects and love dense brush and shrubbery to forage in, looking for small insects to feed on. House wrens move fast and are full of energy, making them interesting birds to watch when they are out in the open. House wrens can be seen in Wisconsin in the Warmer months of the year. 

10. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebirds are great birds of Wisconsin that can be seen pretty much throughout the state in the warmer months when they are breeding. Bluebirds appreciate yards with nest boxes as this provides them with a safe and sheltered place to raise their chicks. 

Bluebirds prefer open country, with scattered trees or perches like fence posts or telephone lines. They sit on these perches, keeping a beady eye out for any tasty insect, and then fly out to catch it. 

Bluebirds feed on insects so they won’t be interested in bird feeders that only provide seeds. They do enjoy bathing in birdbaths and will happily feed on any mealworms that kind folks set out for them. 

11. American Robin

American Robin

American Robins are beloved birds of Wisconsin. They are in fact the official state bird! These familiar birds can be seen pretty much all over the United States, including the Badger State. They feed on insects and are typically seen hunting for bugs and worms on the lawns in parks and backyards. 

American Robins don’t only live in suburban areas though, you can also see them out in wilderness areas and farmland. Up in the north of the state, you’re a lot more likely to spot these familiar birds in the warmer months., but they can be seen throughout the year further south though. 

12. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is one of the most unmistakable backyard birds of Wisconsin. Although they are less common in the north of the Badger State, they are growing in numbers there. In the south where the weather is a little milder, these birds are common. 

Cardinals occur in pairs and they are resident and territorial, choosing to brave the freezing winters rather than follow the migrants south for the winter. Cardinals are mostly seed-eaters, and they especially love sunflower and safflower seeds. They do also supplement their diets with fruits and insects from time to time.  

13. House Finch

House Finch

Even though the House Finch is not exactly native to Wisconsin, it is still a welcome visitor to backyard bird feeders in America’s Dairyland. These birds were originally restricted to the western parts of the United States but adapted to life around humans and have spread almost throughout the United States. 

Although female house finches are pretty non-descript little birds, the males are easily identified by their red heads. House finches love seeds and will visit just about any bird feeder, especially if you put out sunflower seeds. 

14. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinches are very brightly colored little Wisconsin finches that are quite at home in the backyards of the state. The breeding male is a very brightly colored specimen with shocking yellow and black markings. The non-breeding males and females are a lot more subdued but still easy to identify. 

Goldfinches breed all over the state but are only found in the southern two-thirds in winter because temperatures drop a little too low up north in the coldest months. Goldfinches are seed eaters and they particularly enjoy nyjer seed and safflower seeds. They will feed from a variety of bird feeders or from the ground.  


What bird in Wisconsin has a red head?

The best example of a red-headed bird in Wisconsin definitely has to be the Red-headed Woodpecker. These awesome birds can be seen in woodlands in the state in the warmer months of the year. 

What is the rarest bird in Wisconsin?

Of all the birds native to Wisconsin, the rarest is probably the Whooping Crane. This is the tallest bird in the United States and also the most endangered crane species in the world. 

What birds are common in Wisconsin?

With over 400 different bird species recorded in the state, there are many common birds in Wisconsin. The different types of birds all have their own favorite habitats, so what you are going to see will definitely depend on the environment where you are looking. All of the birds in the birding guide to birds of Wisconsin are common sightings. 

What is the largest bird in Wisconsin?

The largest bird in Wisconsin is the Trumpeter Swan. These incredible birds can weigh nearly 30 pounds! Trumpeter Swans were once extinct in Wisconsin, but are now recovering very well.  

Final Thoughts

You can easily see all of the birds on this list on a single summer’s day in Wisconsin. Many of them are even residents throughout the year. If you’re new to birdwatching in the Badger 

State, this list makes a great first challenge to complete before moving on to the other few hundred species that can be spotted in this great birding destination. Happy bird watching!

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