A List of 26 Backyard Birds in Minnesota with Pictures

In “A List of 26 Backyard Birds in Minnesota with Pictures,” readers will discover a comprehensive guide to the avian residents of Minnesota. Filled with stunning images and fascinating facts, this article showcases the diverse bird species that can be found in the state’s backyards. Whether they are year-round residents or passing through, these birds captivate with their unique characteristics and habits. Additionally, the article offers valuable tips on attracting these feathered friends to one’s own backyard, as well as information on popular birdwatching spots and organizations in Minnesota. With approximately 446 species on the official state list, this article provides an engaging glimpse into the abundant birdlife that calls Minnesota home.

Common Backyard Birds in Minnesota


Minnesota is a haven for birdwatchers, with its diverse bird population attracting enthusiasts from all over. In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, many bird species find their home – or at least a temporary refuge – in the inviting backyards of residents. Whether they are year-round residents or just passing through, these birds add color, song, and delight to the state’s thriving outdoor spaces. This article will explore the common backyard birds found in Minnesota, divided into year-round residents and part-time residents, providing insights into their scientific names, characteristics, habitats, and behaviors.

Year-Round Residents

Let’s start by getting to know the charm of Minnesota’s year-round resident birds. These feathered friends have chosen to make the state their permanent home, enjoying the varied landscapes and abundant resources available throughout the seasons. Here are some of these resilient species:

American Robin

Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius

Characteristics: The American Robin is a medium-sized songbird with a distinct orange breast and dark gray back. It stands out with its melodious warbles and chirps that fill the air, especially during the spring and summer months.

Habitat and Behavior: American Robins prefer open areas, such as lawns, gardens, and forest edges, where they can easily forage for earthworms, insects, and berries. They are known for their habit of pulling up worms from the ground, creating an endearing sight for birdwatchers.

Black-capped Chickadee

Scientific Name: Poecile atricapillus

Characteristics: The Black-capped Chickadee is a small bird with a black cap and bib on its white face, along with a gray back and wings. This charming bird is well-known for its distinctive call, which sounds like “chickadee-dee-dee.”

Habitat and Behavior: Black-capped Chickadees are found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, parks, and gardens. They have adapted well to human presence and are often spotted visiting bird feeders. These sociable birds are remarkable acrobats, effortlessly clinging to branches and pecking insects from tree bark.

Downy Woodpecker

Scientific Name: Picoides pubescens

Characteristics: The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker species in North America, measuring only about six inches long. It features a predominantly black and white pattern, with a small red patch on its head.

Habitat and Behavior: Downy Woodpeckers are commonly found in woodland areas, where they use their sharp beaks to search for insects hiding in tree bark. They are also frequent visitors to backyard feeders, particularly when suet or sunflower seeds are available. Their drumming sounds echo through the forests, creating a distinctive rhythm in Minnesota’s natural symphony.

Mourning Dove

Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura

Characteristics: The Mourning Dove is a graceful bird with a slender body, small head, and long, tapered tail. It has soft, muted gray-brown plumage with a pinkish hue on its chest.

Habitat and Behavior: Mourning Doves are found in a variety of habitats, ranging from open grasslands to urban areas. Their gentle cooing can often be heard in the early morning hours. They primarily feed on seeds, foraging on the ground or perching on branches and telephone wires.

Northern Cardinal

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Characteristics: The Northern Cardinal is a stunning bird, known for its vibrant red plumage and prominent crest. The males possess the iconic red color, while the females have a more subtle combination of gray and reddish hues.

Habitat and Behavior: Northern Cardinals are commonly found in woodlands, suburban areas, and gardens, where their striking appearance stands out amongst the green foliage. Their distinct, melodic songs can be heard year-round, as they defend their territories and communicate with other Cardinals.

Part-Time Residents

While some birds choose to remain in Minnesota throughout the year, others are merely passing visitors during certain seasons. These part-time residents bring a unique charm to the state, adding to the already vibrant tapestry of avian diversity. Here are some of these delightful guests:

Baltimore Oriole

Scientific Name: Icterus galbula

Characteristics: The Baltimore Oriole is a stunning bird with bright orange plumage on its breast and black wings, back, and head. The females possess a slightly more subdued coloration.

Habitat and Behavior: Baltimore Orioles are typically spotted in deciduous trees, where they construct intricate hanging nests. They have a sweet tooth for nectar, making them frequent visitors to backyard feeders offering oranges and sugar water.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris

Characteristics: The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a tiny bird known for its iridescent green feathers and the vibrant red throat patch in males, often not visible unless in direct sunlight. The females have a more muted appearance.

Habitat and Behavior: These miniature marvels can be found in a variety of habitats, including gardens, woodlands, and meadows, where they feed on nectar from brightly colored flowers. Their rapid wing beats and ability to hover in mid-air are a treat for any birdwatcher lucky enough to spot them.

White-throated Sparrow

Scientific Name: Zonotrichia albicollis

Characteristics: The White-throated Sparrow is a medium-sized bird, named after the distinctive white patch on its throat. It has a grayish-brown head, bold white stripes on its crown and eyebrow, and a yellow spot between its eyes and bill.

Habitat and Behavior: These sparrows favor shrubby areas, woodlands, and brushy edges for nesting and foraging. Their clear, melodious whistling song is a sure sign of spring and can often be heard in Minnesota during the mating season.

Cedar Waxwing

Scientific Name: Bombycilla cedrorum

Characteristics: The Cedar Waxwing is a sleek, medium-sized bird with a distinctive smooth plumage of brown, gray, and lemon-yellow. It has a black mask on its face and a small crest on its head.

Habitat and Behavior: Cedar Waxwings are known for their flocking behavior, often seen in large groups perched on trees or in flight. They have a preference for fruit-bearing trees and bushes, where they consume berries and insects. These elegant birds add a touch of sophistication to any backyard they choose to visit.

Yellow Warbler

Scientific Name: Setophaga petechia

Characteristics: The Yellow Warbler is a small, vibrant bird, featuring bright yellow plumage with reddish streaks on its breast. Males display splashes of reddish-orange on their chest, while females exhibit a more subdued coloration.

Habitat and Behavior: Yellow Warblers can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, wetlands, and gardens. They are incredibly active birds, hopping and flitting through foliage as they search for insects or engage in courtship displays. Their sweet, musical songs are a joy to behold, resembling the sounds of a bustling summer day.

Organizations for Birdwatchers in Minnesota

Birdwatchers in Minnesota have access to a wealth of resources and communities where they can further indulge in their fascination with avian fauna. Here are a couple of prominent organizations dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of birds in the state:

Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union (MOU) is a renowned organization committed to fostering the appreciation, study, and conservation of birds in Minnesota. With a rich history dating back to 1955, the MOU has played a significant role in advancing bird research, organizing field trips, and hosting educational events. Their website provides valuable resources, including bird checklists, trip reports, and information on rare bird sightings.

Minnesota Audubon

Minnesota Audubon is a state affiliate of the National Audubon Society, focused on bird conservation and education. The organization offers numerous programs and resources, ranging from birding classes and field trips to skilled volunteer opportunities. Minnesota Audubon also works to protect important bird habitats throughout the state, ensuring a sustainable future for bird populations.


Minnesota’s backyard bird population is a treasure trove for birdwatchers, offering a diverse array of species throughout the year. Whether they are year-round residents or occasional visitors, these feathered creatures bring joy and wonder to anyone who cares to look. By understanding their scientific names, characteristics, habitats, and behaviors, bird enthusiasts can deepen their appreciation for these fascinating creatures. So grab your binoculars, set up a bird feeder, and embrace the beauty of Minnesota’s common backyard birds – nature’s delicate reminders of the irreplaceable wonder that coexists with us every day.

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