25 Different Backyard Birds In Illinois (Pictures & Facts)

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the more well-known and prominent wild bird species found in Illinois. Several of these species are migratory and only spend part of the year in Illinois, while others live there all year. We’re going to investigate 25 birds in Illinois’ backyards and learn about each of them in this article.

Then I’ll teach you how to entice them to your yard, provide you with a crash course in the 10 sorts of bird feeders that may be utilized to do so, and even suggest a few birdwatching hotspots around Illinois.

How many different species of wild birds are in Illinois?

It’s difficult to say exactly how many bird species live in North America, the US, or even in Illinois. Nonetheless, the state of Illinois is home to at least 450 different species of birds, according to Wikipedia. According to one source, North America is home to 2,059 species; according to another, just 914. It may change from year to year, since some of the rarer species arrive and depart. This, on the other hand, gives us an idea.

We’re going to examine just a few of the more prevalent backyard birds in Illinois for the purpose of this article.


We’ll take a look at 25 species of Illinois backyard birds, some of which are permanent residents and others that aren’t. Yet, they are some of the most noticeable and identifiable Illinois backyard birds, even if they are far from all of the species found in the state. Let’s have a look right now, without any further delay.


Scientific nameCardinalis cardinalis

Length: 8.3-9.1 in

Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz

Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in

In North America, Northern Cardinals are one of the most recognized and widespread backyard birds. Females have duller hues and are more pale brown with some reddish tint, while males have brilliant red feathers and a black mask. The mohawks of both sexes, as well as their reddish orange beaks, are immediately identifiable.

Year-round, the Northern Cardinals can be found in Illinois.

The majority of seed feeders will be visited by Cardinals, who will give them blended seed blends and black sunflower seeds. There’s more information on how to attract cardinals here.


Scientific nameBaeolophus bicolor

Length: 5.5-6.3 in

Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz

Wingspan: 7.9-10.2 in

In their range, these little birds are very common at feeders and backyards. They, too, have a small crest (the “mohawk”) that distinguishes them from other birds. Titmice have a black patch just above their beaks and are silver-gray on top and lighter on bottom.

Throughout Illinois, and particularly near the western limit of their range, the Tufted Titmouse may be found all year.

Most seed feeders will be visited by titmice, who will give them a variety of seed blends and black sunflower seeds.


Scientific name: Poecile atricapillus (Black-Capped), Poecile carolinensis (Carolina)

Length: 4.7-5.9 in (Black-Capped), 3.9-4.7 in (Carolina)

Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (Black-Capped), 0.3-0.4 oz (Carolina)

Wingspan: 6.3-8.3 in (Black-Capped), 5.9-7.9 in (Carolina)

Because of their “black cap” and black bib, chickadees are tiny little birds that are extremely easy to identify. Their underbodies are fluffy and light, with white cheeks and gray wings and backs.

Black-capped Chickadees and Carolina Chickadees are two varieties of Chickadees that may be found in the east and appear to be similar. They may be able to recognize which one they’re seeing by where they are located. Both chickadees, on the other hand, live in Illinois. Black-capped are found in northern Illinois, while Carolina is found in southern Illinois. They overlap in the middle. They’re fairly frequent on bird feeders, where they dart back and forth to cover the contents and then return to a feeder.

Most seed feeders will be visited by chickadees, who will give them a variety of seed mixtures and black sunflower seeds.


Scientific nameCyanocitta cristata

Length: 9.8-11.8 in

Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz

Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in

In North America and the United States, another well-known bird species is the American robin. The Blue Jay is a bird that can be found. Their heads are topped with a huge blue crest, with white feathers on the bottom and mostly blue feathers on top. Their necks are also adorned with a black ring that resembles a necklace. White, blue, and black are the colors of their wings.

Another year-round resident of Illinois is the Blue Jays. Around feeders and in backyards, they are widespread.

Platform feeders, peanut feeders, and feeders with large perches are popular among Blue Jays. Black sunflower seeds, mixed seeds, and peanuts are available.


Scientific name: Sialia sialis

Length: 6.3-8.3 in

Weight: 1.0-1.1 oz

Wingspan: 9.8-12.6 in

Bluebirds have a blue back and rusty reddish-orange bellies, as their name suggests. Females have a duller color than males. They’re among the most coveted birdhouse tenants in the United States. The bluebird house industry is booming, as a result. While not as common as feeders, they are widespread in backyards. I was able to attract a mating pair with this birdhouse on Amazon, so I put one up and hoped for the best.

In Illinois, only the Eastern Bluebirds stay throughout the year.

Feeding mealworms and suet nuggets on a tray feeder or in a dish may entice bluebirds to visit feeders, although they don’t typically eat seeds.


Scientific nameSitta carolinensis

Length: 5.1-5.5 in

Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz

Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 in

In most backyards within their range, White-breasted Nuthatches are a common feeder bird. Their name comes from the fact that they use their pointed beaks to hatch nuts and seeds that have been stuffed beneath tree bark. They’re also excellent at leaping up and down trees vertically, as well as hanging upside down at feeders. They have white on either side of their heads, as well as bellies, and a thick black stripe. Gray and black are the most common colors of their wings.

Throughout Illinois, White-breasted Nuthatches may be found year-round.

Most seed feeders are visited by nuthatches, who offer black sunflower seeds, peanuts, or suet to the birds.


Scientific nameTurdus migratorius

Length: 7.9-11.0 in

Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz

Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in

Robins are most typically observed hopping around the grass, seeking for worms and other invertebrates to devour. They’re easy to recognize because of their vivid red bellies and yellow beaks. They do not eat seeds and will sometimes stop by bird feeders. Bird baths, on the other hand, appear to be quite popular.

In Illinois, robins may be seen throughout the year.

Meal worms, native fruit-bearing plants, or a bird bath are all good ways to attract American Robins to your bird feeders.


Scientific nameZenaida macroura

Length: 9.1-13.4 in

Weight: 3.0-6.0 oz

Wingspan: 17.7 in

Doves are small birds that may be seen perched on power lines or in groups in trees and are comparable to the size of a robin. They’re frequently seen walking around on the ground, but I occasionally see them on my tray feeder. The majority of mourning doves have a light peachy color below and gray with black markings on top.

Throughout Illinois, Mourning Doves may be seen year-round.

Dove feeders are common, but dove prefer to scour the ground for fallen seeds. Sprinkle some seeds on the ground or use a ground feeder with a mix of seed blend.


Scientific nameSturnus vulgaris

Length: 7.9-9.1 in

Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz

Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in

In the 1890s, 100 starlings were released in New York, and they have since spread across the United States. They’ll overcome feeders, killing the young of other birds and destroying their nests. They’ll also assault other birds’ nests. They have yellow beaks and feet and are mostly black with white specks on their backs and wings. The iridescent purple and green color of starlings may be quite appealing in the right light.

Year-round, starlings can be found in every state in the lower 48.

Almost anything can be consumed by European Starlings. We recommend not trying to attract them, since they are an invasive species and will appear regardless.


Scientific nameSpinus tristis

Length: 4.3-5.1 in

Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz

Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in

Seeing goldfinches at feeders in the spring and summer, especially with their bright yellow feathers, is one of my favorite activities. They have black-tipped wings during this time and are predominantly yellow, or “gold.” A black hat will be worn by both men and women. They’ll molt in the winter, becoming more drab brownish or olive in color, with their vibrant colors gone. Their black wings and finch-like beaks are a distinguishing feature that you can always identify them by.

In Illinois, year-round goldfinches may be seen.

Thistle feeders are preferred by goldfinches, but sunflower snacks are a good option if you want to attract them.


Scientific nameHaemorhous mexicanus

Length: 5.1-5.5 in

Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz

Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in

In Illinois, the House Finch is another ubiquitous backyard bird. They are not as despised as House Sparrows and do not create the problems that the sparrows do, even though they are invasive to Illinois. They may congregate in enormous flocks and mob your feeders if you attract them, which is rather simple. Males have red on their heads and chests, while females are streaked brown and white.

Illinois is home to a variety of House Finches.

House Finches, like other finches, eat thistle seeds. Goldfinches are more common at seed feeders than these birds, so give them some black sunflower seeds to attract them.


Scientific namePasser domesticus

Length: 5.9-6.7 in

Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz

Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in

Houses Sparrows are the only other wild bird species in the United States, and they are often seen as pests. You can legally capture and humanely kill starlings, in addition to other birds. Like starlings, they were first seen in New York in the 1800s, and since then, they have spread like wildfire around the United States. Their wings and buffy chest are streaked with black and brown, and they are mostly brown in color. They’re always aggressive towards other birds, particularly around nests.

Throughout Illinois, you may find House Sparrows.

House Sparrows are invasive, posing a threat to indigenous wildlife, much like European Starlings. Almost anything will fill them.


Scientific nameAgelaius phoeniceus

Length: 6.7-9.1 in

Weight: 1.1-2.7 oz

Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in

Male Red-winged Blackbirds are among the most numerous birds in North America, and their bright red on their “shoulders” makes them unmistakable. Females of this species, on the other hand, are mostly brown and white streaked and look quite different. Males of this species may have up to 15 different females that they are mating with, making them a polygynous species.

Illinois is home to red-winged blackbirds all year.

Most kinds of feeders are visited by red-winged blackbirds, who will eat both seed and suet.


Scientific namePheucticus ludovicianus 

Length: 7.1-8.3 in

Weight: 1.4-1.7 oz

Wingspan: 11.4-13.0 in

The annual return of rose-breasted grosbeaks to the United States is interrupted by their winters in Central and South America. For those who love backyard birds, this is exciting. Males have extremely vivid colors, with females having a stripey brown and white face with a large white eyebrow. They have a vivid red triangle across the breast and a black head and back with white wing marks. Their tough seeds can be broken open with their fat pink beaks.

In the spring and autumn, look for Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in southern Illinois, since they are only migratory. They continue to breed throughout the summer in the upper two-thirds of the state before returning south in the autumn.

Bird feeders are sometimes visited by Red-Breasted Grosbeaks, who eat mixed seeds and sunflower seeds.


Scientific nameMelospiza melodia

Length: 4.7-6.7 in

Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz

Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in

The back and wings of these sparrows are brown, while the breast is white. Brown streaks cover most of the bird. The plumage of song Sparrows varies somewhat from area to area and is very prevalent across most of North America. The male of the species uses his song to attract females and defend his territory.

Illinois Song Sparrows stay here all year.

Song Sparrows will eat mixed seeds and sunflower seeds from bird feeders on occasion.


Scientific nameMelanerpes carolinus

Length: 9.4 in

Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz

Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in

In general, feeders and backyards hosting medium-sized woodpeckers are rather common. The bright red stripe across the back of their heads might be the first thing you notice, despite their classification as “red-bellied.” Their breast is plain white, although the lower part of their belly is pinkish red, which is normally not visible. The white and black barring on their wings is what really distinguishes them from one another.

Throughout the year, Illinois is home to red-bellied woodpeckers.

While they will occasionally eat at seed feeders, especially if you provide sunflower and peanuts, attract Red-bellied Woodpeckers with a suet feeder.


Scientific namePicoides pubescens

Length: 5.5-6.7 in

Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz

Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in

Backyard birds such as thedowny are very frequent visitors to bird feeders. They’re one of the first species I see at a new bird feeder, and they’re the smallest woodpeckers in North America. Their black wings with white markings, black and white striped heads, and a red patch on the rear of their skulls (females lack a red patch) make them easy to distinguish. Despite their resemblance to the Hairy Woodpecker, Downy’s are smaller with shorter beaks.

Throughout the whole state of Illinois,Downy Woodpeckers may be found all year.

With most types of bird feeders, Downy Woodpeckers are very common. Mixed seed, black sunflower seed, and suet should be offered to them.


Scientific nameQuiscalus quiscula

Length: 11.0-13.4 in

Weight: 2.6-5.0 oz

Wingspan: 14.2-18.1 in

Grackles are also rather attractive in the right light, despite being classified as bully birds like the starling. They will roost with other kinds of blackbirds, sometimes in vast colonies numbering in the millions of birds, and appear mostly black in hue. These, however, are iridescent and come in blues, greens, and purples under different lighting. Their yellow ringed eye makes them even easier to spot.

All year, grackles may be found in Illinois.

Grackles are considered pests because they are foragers who will eat just about anything.


Scientific namePasserina cyanea

Length: 4.7-5.1 in

Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz

Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in

These magnificent buntings migrate at night from their wintering grounds in Mexico and southern Florida. Females are mostly brown with just hints of blue, while males are bright blue all over with black on their wings. These feathers reflect light in a different manner than blue pigment does. When they’re performing near farm and forest borders in the summer, it’s the best time to hear them.

During the spring and summer, Indigo Buntings can be found all across Illinois.

They may visit, albeit not as often as feeders, if you offer mixed seed and nyjer.


Scientific nameJunco hyemalis

Length: 5.5-6.3 in

Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz

Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in

Since Juncos spend their summers up in Canada, many people in the United States believe of them as winter birds. They have blackish gray heads and a light pink beak, with a lighter grayish white on their bottom half and overall a dark slate-gray on top. The buffy brown coloration of females and immatures may be more visible. These can be found hopping around on the ground in wooded areas and forests.

Only during the winter months do dark-eyed Juncos visit Illinois.

Juncos prefer to find food and pick up seeds beneath feeders that the other birds are dropping, and they will occasionally visit feeders.


Scientific nameIcterus galbula

Length: 6.7-7.5 in

Weight: 1.1-1.4 oz

Wingspan: 9.1-11.8 in

Fruit-eating birds like Orioles prefer dark berries and fruits to other types. You have a good chance of attracting Baltimore Orioles if your yard contains native fruit-bearing trees and plants. Males have complete orange breasts and underbodies with a black hood on their entire head, black backs with white stripes on their wings. A bright orange rump and tail feathers also distinguishes them. The yellowish-orange of females is much lighter.

Throughout most of the country, including Illinois, the Baltimore Orioles are migratory birds that only arrive during the breeding season. Therefore, throughout the spring and summer, keep an eye out for them.

When the Orioles are in town, set up an oriole feeder and provide them jelly and orange halves to attract them.


Scientific nameArchilochus colubris

Length: 2.8-3.5 in

Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz

Wingspan: 3.1-4.3 in

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the most numerous species of hummingbirds in the United States, despite being only found in the eastern part. In the Eastern United States, they are also the only hummingbird breeding species. Males have a brilliant crimson throat, which is why they are called that. The backs, wings, and heads of Ruby-throated Hummers are emerald-green, with white underparts. The red throat feathers are not seen on females.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the most common hummingbirds in Illinois, and you may chance upon a few uncommon nomad species from time to time. From spring to fall, they can be found all across the state.

If you install nectar feeders, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are almost guaranteed to visit your garden in April or May.


Scientific nameToxostoma rufum

Length: 9.1-11.8 in

Weight: 2.1-3.1 oz

Wingspan: 11.4-12.6 in

Although they aren’t as prevalent as some of the other species on this list in Illinois, these backyard birds may be discovered. Since they thrash through fallen leaves looking for insects, I assume they are called thrashers because of the color of them. They are mostly brown in color and I assume that is their name. The Brown Thrashers are accomplished songsters, with over 1100 different songs, including those of other bird species.

Watch out for Brown Thrashers in the spring and summer, as they have a breeding range that covers most of Illinois. In the far southern tip of the state, however, they might stay all year.

Bird feeders aren’t usually visited by Brown Thrashers, although they may pick up seeds on the ground. They’re mostly after food in the form of insects, which they find by digging through leaves and sticks.


Scientific name: Dumetella carolinensis

Length: 8.3-9.4 in

Weight: 0.8-2.0 oz

Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in

Catbirds have blackish gray wings, a long tail, and black caps on top of their heads. They are dark slate gray. Native fruit-bearing trees and shrubs should attract them since they are mostly fruit eaters. Their cries sound like that of a meowing cat, and they are known as catbird.

Only in the spring and summer do Gray Catbirds live in Illinois and most of the United States.

If you offer some fruits, berries, and other sweet items, catbirds may be able to attract them if they prefer to forage on the ground or in bushes for food.


Scientific nameColaptes auratus

Length: 11.0-12.2 in

Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz

Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in

In the United States, these medium to big woodpeckers are fairly widespread around backyards, though they’re not particularly common at feeders. They are, in my opinion, some of the most stunning birds in North America. Flickers eat mostly insects and are only slightly less frequent than other woodpecker species at feeders, but they can be found in your yard if you know where to look. Their black spots on their bellies, solid black bib, red patch on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings will help you identify them. The yellow-shafted variety of Illinois is distinguished by its bright yellow feathers on the underside of their wings.

In Illinois, Northern Flickers can be found all year.

A suet feeder is visited on occasion by Northern Flickers, but they usually find their own food. If you have one, they will stop by to see the birds in your bird bath.


Are you interested in bringing some of these birds to your yard? Starting with the most obvious, here are five easy ways to improve your memory.


Set up a bird feeder or two, and you’ll have the most effective and obvious technique to attract birds to your yard. A basic tube feeder, hopper feeder, platform feeder, or window feeder are all good places to begin. For more information on each, see the section below.


This Amazon listing has a pedestal birdbath that’s great, but you can improvise with something as simple as a terra cotta flower pot saucer. Birds need water not only to rinse in, but also to drink, so adding a water feature to your yard will only increase your chances of attracting birds. Also, since moving water attracts the birds to visit the water even more, consider installing a solar fountain.


If placed in the proper location at the proper time of year, several bird species will readily take up residence in birdhouses. Among the most popular birds to attract to birdhouses are Eastern Bluebirds. A mating pair of bluebirds visited my birdhouse the same day I put it up in my yard, which I have in my back garden.


When birds sense danger, make sure that your yard contains trees, shrubs, and bushes that they can dart back and forth to. Predators are kept at bay with this as their primary defense. Do your best to add some landscaping elements that will allow birds to view your yard as safe if your yard is in a new development with no mature trees.


Having native plants that produce nuts, berries, and seeds will only help your efforts to attract more birds for many birds that eat nuts, berries, and seeds. Native birds that are not used to these plant species might be harmed by invasive and non-native plants. Try to avoid them.


In the yards of many homes, there are ten of the most popular bird feeders.

  1. The term “hopper feeder” refers to a feeder with a hopper in the middle that holds the bird seed. Perches suitable for bird landing and eating from are placed on the sides. To keep the seed dry, many hopper feeders are shaped like a house and have a roof. For this type of feeder, use black sunflower seeds or a combination of birdseed. This is a squirrel-proof hopper feeder, which is one of my favorites.
  2. Platform feeders are open on top and may be hung from a tree or hook, pole-mounted, or may be placed on the ground. They’re simple to put up and ideal for feeding a variety of birds. Every animal in your yard that can reach them will eat from them, despite the fact that they are completely open. For this kind of feeder, use black sunflower seeds or a mix of birdseed. At the moment, I’m using a platform feeder in my yard.
  3. Tube feeders are simple plastic tube-shaped bird feeders that you may use to supplement your diet. They might hold a few seeds or 5 pounds or more, and they may be of any size. They’re good because they allow you to seed when it’s necessary, while also keeping your seed fresh and dry. Tube feeders are used by a variety of birds. In tube feeders, you may use black sunflower seeds as well as mixed seeds. This squirrel-proof tube feeder is made by Squirrel Buster, and it’s one of the best on the market.
  4. Suet feeders are used to feed suet cakes to one kind of bird. They are a very basic notion, typically consisting of a metal cage with a tail-prop for bigger birds, and are often constructed of nothing more than that. Suet feeders are highly favored throughout the winter when birds are seeking for high-fat foods, and woodpeckers frequently visit them. I recommend getting a long-tail prop for a suet feeder to attract bigger woodpeckers, such as the Pileated and Northern Flicker.
  5. Window feeders are small bird feeders that use suction cups to mount onto a glass window. They’re open on top and you simply pour seed into the tray section to replenish them, similar to tray feeders. Several distinct kinds of birds like these feeders, and they are simple to set up and suit for people with modest yards. For this kind of feeder, use black sunflower seeds or a combination of birdseed. On Amazon, this is by far the most popular window feeder, as well as the most popular bird feeder.
  6. Thistle feeders, sometimes known as Nyjer feeders, are specialized bird feeders made specifically for thistle seed. Birds in the finch family, which includes the American Goldfinch and House Finch, are among the primary species of birds attracted to thistle feeders. The thistle feeders are generally tubular and have tiny openings along the tube’s walls that enables the birds to eat the thistle. Droll Yankees has a great thistle feeder.
  7. Tray feeders that sit on the ground level are known as ground feeders. Birds such as Mourning Doves, Juncos, and squirrels, as well as raccoons and other ground creatures will love them. For this kind of feeder, use black sunflower seeds or a combination of birdseed. This recycled plastic ground feeder is a fun option.
  8. Another kind of specialized feeder for just one kind of bird, orioles, is the oriole feeder. Little plastic or glass dishes designed for holding jelly, which orioles adore, are often used as feeders. They are usually orange in color. They also come with an orange half-sticker that orioles love to eat. Here’s an oriole feeder with four jelly trays that can hold orange halves.
  9. Hummingbird feeders are specialized for hummingbirds to capture sugar water from nectar feeders, also known as hummingbird feeders. I frequently see Downy Woodpeckers at my feeder, even though they are meant for hummingbirds, because they love that sweet nectar as much as I do. Learn how to make hummingbird nectar without heating the water in this article. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on a hummingbird feeder because they are basic and affordable.
  10. Peanut feeders are tube-shaped and often made of metal wire mesh material, similar to thistle feeders. To allow for whole unshelled or shelled peanuts to pass through the holes, the holes in the wire mesh are spaced out much farther. Blue Jays and other birds are attracted to these feeders, which should be filled with peanuts. Squirrel Buster’s bowl is the best option for keeping squirrels out of your peanut feeder. This simple one will suffice.


If you want to go out and about in your spare time, Illinois has plenty of wonderful locations. If you want to get more engaged, the Illinois Audubon Society has numerous chapters and hosts meetups, seminars, field excursions, and birding trips on a regular basis.

Take a look at this list I’ve put together of some popular birding sites in Illinois if you’re an Illinois resident and want to add some new species to your life list.


  • Illinois Beach State Park
  • Mississippi Palisades State Park
  • Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
  • Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Audubon Important Bird Areas in Illinois can help you find even more hotspots.

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