Top 15 Types Of Birds In Minnesota (with Photos)

Minnesota, with its diverse habitats ranging from prairies to forests and wetlands, is home to a remarkable array of bird species. From majestic raptors soaring high in the sky to tiny songbirds flitting through the trees, Minnesota offers a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

In this discussion, we will explore some of the fascinating types of birds that call Minnesota their home, revealing their unique characteristics, behaviors, and the important role they play in the state's ecosystem.

So, let's embark on a journey through the avian wonders of Minnesota, discovering the hidden gems that await us in the land of ten thousand lakes.

Bald Eagle

national bird of america

The Bald Eagle, scientifically known as Haliaeetus leucocephalus, is a majestic bird species that can be found in Minnesota. Known for its striking white head and tail feathers, the Bald Eagle is an iconic symbol of American wildlife.

This species exhibits interesting migration patterns, with many individuals from Minnesota migrating to southern states during the winter months. The migration routes of Bald Eagles can span thousands of miles, as they follow food sources and favorable weather conditions.

In recent years, conservation efforts have played a crucial role in the recovery and protection of the Bald Eagle population. These efforts include habitat preservation, protection from hunting, and educational programs aimed at raising awareness about the importance of conserving this magnificent species.

Through these conservation initiatives, the Bald Eagle population in Minnesota and across the United States has made a remarkable recovery, demonstrating the effectiveness of dedicated conservation efforts.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

small bird with vibrant colors

How does the Ruby-throated Hummingbird contribute to the ecological diversity of Minnesota?

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is a small migratory bird that plays a significant role in the ecological diversity of Minnesota. Known for its vibrant plumage and iridescent ruby throat, this hummingbird species is the only one found in the state.

Its migration patterns contribute to the diversity of bird species in Minnesota, as it travels from Central America to breed in the state during the summer months.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird also plays a crucial role in pollination, as it feeds on nectar from flowers and inadvertently transfers pollen from one plant to another.

Its feeding habits, which include consuming insects and spiders, help control pest populations.

American Robin

red breasted bird in north america

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is a migratory songbird native to Minnesota, known for its distinct orange chest and melodious singing. This bird is a common sight in the state, as it is found in a variety of habitats including woodlands, gardens, and suburban areas.

The American Robin is known for its unique migration patterns, with individuals flying southward in large flocks during the fall and returning to their breeding grounds in Minnesota during the spring. Migrating robins rely on their keen sense of sight and the availability of food sources along their route.

In terms of mating behavior, American Robins form monogamous pairs during the breeding season. They build cup-shaped nests made of twigs, grass, and mud, usually in trees or shrubs. The female robin lays a clutch of blue eggs and both parents take turns incubating them. Once hatched, the parents work together to feed and care for their young until they fledge.

Common Loon

elegant bird with haunting call

Commonly found in the lakes and rivers of Minnesota, the Common Loon (Gavia immer) is a striking and iconic waterbird known for its enchanting calls and distinctive black and white plumage.

The common loon is well-adapted to its aquatic habitat, with its webbed feet positioned far back on its body, enabling it to swim with ease. It primarily feeds on fish, which it catches by diving underwater.

The common loon's habitat consists of large, freshwater lakes with clear waters and ample fish populations. In Minnesota, it can be found in both summer and winter, as it undertakes long-distance migrations.

During the breeding season, from May to September, the common loon can be seen nesting near the shorelines of lakes.

In the winter, it migrates to the coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The common loon's migration patterns are relatively predictable, with individuals typically returning to the same breeding and wintering areas each year.

Great Blue Heron

elegant bird with long neck

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a majestic wading bird commonly observed in the wetlands and waterways of Minnesota. With its striking blue-gray plumage, long legs, and impressive wingspan of up to six feet, the Great Blue Heron is a captivating sight in its natural habitat.

Migration plays a crucial role in the life of the Great Blue Heron. During the winter months, when the wetlands freeze over, these birds migrate south to warmer regions. They can travel long distances, often reaching as far as Central and South America.

When it comes to nesting, the Great Blue Heron exhibits fascinating behavior. They build their nests in tall trees near bodies of water, providing protection from predators. These large nests are made of sticks and often reused year after year, growing in size with each breeding season. Great Blue Herons are known to be colonial nesters, meaning they nest in groups, creating a bustling community of heronries.

The table below provides key information about the Great Blue Heron's migration and nesting behavior:

Great Blue Heron Migration Great Blue Heron Nesting Behavior
Location Minnesota Wetlands and Waterways Tall trees near bodies of water
Timing Winter months Breeding season
Distance Migration to Central and South America Nests can be reused and grow in size
Social Behavior Migrate in small groups Colonial nesting behavior

Red-winged Blackbird

distinctive blackbird with red wings

A familiar sight in Minnesota's wetlands and marshes, the Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a conspicuous species known for its vibrant plumage and distinctive territorial song. These birds are primarily found in areas of dense vegetation near water, such as cattail marshes, swamps, and the edges of lakes and ponds. Their habitat preference makes them important indicators of wetland health.

Red-winged Blackbirds are migratory birds, with populations in Minnesota typically arriving in early spring and departing in late summer. They undertake long-distance flights to their breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada, returning to Minnesota for the winter.

In terms of diet and feeding behavior, Red-winged Blackbirds are omnivorous, feeding on a wide range of food items. Their diet includes insects, spiders, seeds, berries, and occasionally small vertebrates. They forage by gleaning insects from vegetation, probing the ground for seeds, or visiting bird feeders. Their ability to adapt their diet allows them to survive in various habitats throughout the year.

Northern Cardinal

bright red bird species

With its vibrant red plumage and melodic song, the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a beloved resident of Minnesota's forests and suburban areas. This medium-sized songbird is easily recognizable with its bright red feathers, prominent crest, and black mask around its eyes.

The northern cardinal is a year-round resident in Minnesota and can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, shrubs, and gardens. It prefers areas with dense vegetation where it can find cover and build its nest.

As for its diet, the northern cardinal is primarily granivorous, feeding on seeds, berries, and fruits. It also supplements its diet with insects and spiders, especially during the breeding season when it needs additional protein for its chicks.

Wood Duck

colorful duck with unique plumage

The Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) is a strikingly beautiful waterfowl species commonly found in Minnesota's wetland areas. These stunning birds are known for their vibrant plumage, with males displaying a glossy green head, white stripes on their face, and a chestnut-colored breast. Females have a more subtle appearance, with a grayish-brown body and a white teardrop-shaped patch around their eye.

Wood Ducks prefer forested wetlands near rivers, lakes, and marshes, as their habitat offers a combination of trees and water. They are skilled tree cavity nesters, utilizing natural tree holes or old woodpecker cavities for breeding. This behavior is unique among ducks and contributes to their conservation status, as loss of suitable nesting sites can greatly impact their population.

Wood Ducks are also known for their agility in flight and their ability to perch on branches. They feed on a variety of plant material, including acorns, seeds, and fruits, as well as aquatic invertebrates.

With their stunning appearance and interesting behaviors, Wood Ducks are a delightful sight for bird enthusiasts in Minnesota's wetlands.

American Goldfinch

bright yellow bird species

The American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is a small passerine bird species commonly found throughout the state of Minnesota. These birds are known for their vibrant yellow plumage, which is most pronounced during the breeding season.

The American Goldfinch is highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including open fields, meadows, and woodland edges. They prefer areas with plenty of vegetation, such as thistles and sunflowers, as these provide both food and nesting materials.

In terms of behavior, American Goldfinches are social birds that often gather in flocks, especially during the non-breeding season. They are known for their distinctive flight pattern, characterized by a series of undulating dips and rises.

These birds have a cheerful and melodious song, which is often heard during their breeding season. Overall, the American Goldfinch is a delightful bird to observe in the varied habitats of Minnesota.


bird of prey with wings

What makes the osprey a remarkable bird species found in Minnesota?

The osprey, scientifically known as Pandion haliaetus, is a large raptor that is commonly found near bodies of water in Minnesota.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the osprey is its migration patterns. These birds are known for their long-distance migrations, traveling thousands of miles between their breeding grounds in Minnesota and their wintering grounds in Central and South America.

Ospreys typically begin their migration in early fall, returning to Minnesota in late spring to nest.

Speaking of nesting, ospreys have unique nesting habits. They construct large stick nests, often on top of tall trees or man-made structures such as utility poles and platforms. These nests are reused and expanded upon year after year, serving as breeding sites for these magnificent birds.

The osprey's remarkable migration patterns and nesting habits contribute to its significance as a bird species in Minnesota.


lively mallard at the pond

After discussing the osprey's remarkable migration patterns and nesting habits, it is now time to turn our attention to the Mallard, a prominent waterfowl species found in Minnesota. Mallards, scientifically known as Anas platyrhynchos, are one of the most recognizable and widespread ducks in North America. They are known for their vibrant plumage, with males displaying a glossy green head, white neck ring, and chestnut breast, while females exhibit a mottled brown appearance for camouflage. Mallards are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including lakes, rivers, and marshes.

Mallards have fascinating breeding habits. They form monogamous pairs during the breeding season, which typically occurs from March to July in Minnesota. Females build nests on the ground near water, using vegetation and down feathers for insulation. They lay an average of 8-13 eggs, which incubate for about 26-30 days. Once the ducklings hatch, they are precocial, meaning they are able to leave the nest and feed themselves shortly after birth.

In terms of migration patterns, Mallards are considered partially migratory in Minnesota. While some individuals may remain in the state year-round, many migrate southward to warmer regions during the winter months. They join large flocks and travel along established migration routes, using a combination of flight and stopovers to rest and refuel along the way. Mallards have been known to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles during their annual migrations.

To summarize, Mallards are an iconic waterfowl species in Minnesota, with unique breeding habits and migration patterns. Their adaptability and widespread distribution make them a common sight in various wetland habitats throughout the state. Understanding the behaviors and movements of these beautiful birds enhances our appreciation for the natural wonders found in Minnesota's avian populations.

Mallard Scientific Name Habitat
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Wetlands

Northern Saw-whet Owl

small owl species identification

The Northern Saw-whet Owl, known scientifically as Aegolius acadicus, is a small, nocturnal owl species that can be found in Minnesota's diverse forested habitats. These owls prefer dense and mature coniferous forests, such as spruce and fir, where they can find suitable nesting sites. They typically nest in tree cavities or use abandoned woodpecker holes. The female owl lays a clutch of 3-7 eggs, which she incubates for approximately 28 days. The nesting period is critical for the owlets' survival, as they rely on their parents for food and protection until they are ready to fledge.

Regarding migratory patterns, the Northern Saw-whet Owl is known to undertake seasonal movements. In Minnesota, they are primarily seen during the breeding season, which spans from April to August. However, during the winter months, these owls migrate to more southerly areas where food resources are more abundant. Some individuals may travel as far south as the southern United States or even Mexico. These wintering grounds provide them with access to prey, such as small mammals and birds, which are essential for their survival during the colder months.

Peregrine Falcon

fastest bird in flight

The Peregrine Falcon, scientifically known as Falco peregrinus, is a majestic and highly skilled raptor species that can be found in Minnesota's diverse habitats. Known for its incredible hunting techniques and remarkable speed, the Peregrine Falcon is considered one of the fastest birds in the world, reaching speeds of up to 240 miles per hour during its hunting dives, known as stoops. Its hunting techniques include soaring at great heights, scanning the surroundings for prey, and then executing a swift and precise dive to capture its target.

In addition to its hunting prowess, the Peregrine Falcon is also known for its impressive migration patterns. These birds undertake long-distance migrations, covering thousands of miles each year. They breed in the northern regions of Minnesota during the summer and migrate to warmer regions, such as Central and South America, during the winter months. These migrations are undertaken with great precision, as the Peregrine Falcons rely on favorable wind patterns and thermals to assist them in their journey.

Sandhill Crane

migratory bird with red crown

Sandhill Cranes, scientifically known as Antigone canadensis, are large, elegant birds that inhabit Minnesota's diverse wetland habitats. With a height of around 3 to 4 feet and a wingspan of 5 to 7 feet, they are easily recognizable. Sandhill Cranes are known for their distinctive red crowns and long, slender bills. They have grayish feathers with a rusty hue on their necks and upper bodies.

Behaviorally, Sandhill Cranes exhibit fascinating patterns. They are highly social birds, often seen in pairs or small family groups. During their courtship displays, they engage in elaborate dances, leaping into the air and calling loudly. These dances strengthen the bond between mates and establish territories.

In terms of habitat preferences, Sandhill Cranes favor wetland areas such as marshes, bogs, and prairie potholes. They rely on these habitats for breeding and nesting, as well as for food sources like insects, small vertebrates, and plant matter.

Black-capped Chickadee

small bird with black cap

Black-capped Chickadees, scientifically known as Poecile atricapillus, are small passerine birds that can often be found in the same wetland habitats as Sandhill Cranes in Minnesota. These charming birds are known for their distinctive black cap and bib, white cheeks, and grayish body. Black-capped Chickadees are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including deciduous and coniferous forests, woodlands, and urban areas. They have a wide distribution across North America, including Minnesota.

In terms of behavioral characteristics, Black-capped Chickadees are known for their acrobatic foraging habits. They have the ability to hang upside down while searching for insects and larvae in tree bark. These birds also have a unique vocalization, which consists of a series of 'chick-a-dee-dee-dee' calls. This vocalization serves as a form of communication among individuals and helps to establish territories.

When it comes to nesting, Black-capped Chickadees prefer to build their nests in tree cavities or nest boxes. They line their nests with soft materials such as moss, fur, and feathers. These birds are known to excavate their own cavities, but they also readily use pre-existing cavities. They typically lay 6-8 eggs and both parents take turns incubating them. Once the eggs hatch, the parents work together to feed and raise the chicks until they fledge.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!