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Top 15 Types Of Birds In Wisconsin (with Photos)

Wisconsin, nestled in the heart of the Midwest, boasts a diverse array of bird species that call this picturesque state their home. From the majestic Bald Eagle soaring through the skies to the cheerful melodies of the American Robin, Wisconsin offers bird enthusiasts an abundance of sightings.

But the avian wonders of this region extend far beyond these well-known species. In this discussion, we'll uncover some of the lesser-known birds that grace the forests and wetlands of Wisconsin, captivating us with their unique characteristics and captivating behaviors.

So, prepare to embark on a journey through the captivating world of Wisconsin's avian inhabitants, where surprises and discoveries await at every turn.

Bald Eagle

national bird of america

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a majestic bird of prey found in Wisconsin, known for its iconic white head and tail feathers, impressive wingspan, and remarkable hunting abilities. The bald eagle is primarily found near large bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. These habitats provide an abundant food source in the form of fish, which make up the majority of their diet. However, bald eagles are adaptable and can also be found in forested areas where they build their nests in tall trees.

Due to habitat loss, pollution, and hunting, bald eagle populations declined sharply in the past. However, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, including the banning of harmful pesticides and the protection of nesting sites, the bald eagle population in Wisconsin has made a remarkable recovery. Today, the bald eagle is considered a conservation success story, and its population continues to thrive.

Ongoing efforts are being made to monitor and protect their habitats to ensure the long-term survival of this iconic bird of prey.

American Robin

common north american songbird

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is a widespread and well-known bird species found throughout Wisconsin. It is known for its distinctive orange breast, grayish-brown back, and white eye ring. American robins are migratory birds, spending their winters in the southern United States and Mexico before returning to Wisconsin in the spring to breed.

They build their nests in a variety of locations, including trees, shrubs, and even on manmade structures such as window ledges and porch lights. The female robin constructs the nest using grass, twigs, and mud, and lines it with soft materials such as moss and feathers.

When it comes to their diet and feeding behavior, American robins are primarily insectivorous, with a preference for earthworms, beetles, and grubs. They also eat fruits, berries, and other small invertebrates. Robins use their sharp eyesight to locate prey on the ground and then hop or run to capture it.

They have a unique feeding behavior called 'worm-jerking,' where they stand still, cock their heads, and listen for the sound of earthworms moving underground. Once they detect the vibrations, they quickly pounce on the spot to catch their prey. This feeding behavior is especially common after rainfall when worms come to the surface.

The American robin is an adaptable and resourceful bird that plays an essential role in maintaining ecological balance in Wisconsin's ecosystems.

Northern Cardinal

bright red bird species

As we shift our focus to the Northern Cardinal, another prominent bird species found in Wisconsin, we encounter a striking contrast in appearance and behavior. The Northern Cardinal, scientifically known as Cardinalis cardinalis, is a small passerine bird renowned for its vibrant red plumage and distinctive crest. This bird is predominantly found in wooded areas, thickets, and gardens, where it can easily access its preferred habitat of dense shrubs and trees. The diet of the Northern Cardinal consists mainly of seeds, fruits, and insects. During the breeding season, the male cardinal exhibits territorial behavior, defending its nesting territory with vigorous displays of aggression. Additionally, it is well-known for its melodious and complex songs, which are used for both territorial defense and courtship. The vocalizations of the Northern Cardinal include a variety of whistles, trills, and chirps, which contribute to its charm and beauty.

Northern Cardinal
Scientific Name Cardinalis cardinalis
Habitat Wooded areas, thickets, gardens
Diet Seeds, fruits, insects
Breeding Behavior Territorial, aggressive defense
Vocalizations Melodious songs, whistles, trills, chirps

Blue Jay

vibrant blue bird species

A common sight in the woodlands of Wisconsin, the Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a charismatic and intelligent bird known for its vibrant blue plumage and distinctive crested head.

Blue Jays are year-round residents in Wisconsin, but their population may fluctuate due to migration patterns. During the winter months, some Blue Jays migrate south to escape the harsh weather conditions. However, many Blue Jays remain in Wisconsin throughout the year, taking advantage of available food sources.

Blue Jays have a varied diet, feeding on nuts, seeds, insects, and even small vertebrates. They are known for their acrobatic foraging behavior, often caching food for later consumption. Blue Jays can also be opportunistic feeders, visiting backyard bird feeders to supplement their diet.

With their striking appearance and clever feeding habits, Blue Jays are a fascinating species to observe in the woodlands of Wisconsin.

Mallard Duck

colorful waterfowl with iridescent feathers

Continuing our exploration of the avian residents of Wisconsin, we now turn our attention to the Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhynchos), a familiar and widespread species found in various aquatic habitats throughout the state. Mallard ducks are known for their vibrant plumage, with males displaying a striking combination of green head, yellow bill, and chestnut breast. These ducks are highly adaptable and can be found in wetlands, ponds, lakes, and even urban parks.

Mallard ducks are known for their interesting migration patterns. While some individuals migrate long distances, others are non-migratory and remain in Wisconsin year-round. The migratory mallards usually fly south during the winter to find open water and return to Wisconsin to breed during the spring and summer months.

Speaking of breeding, mallard ducks are monogamous and form pairs during the breeding season. They build nests on the ground, usually near water, using vegetation and down feathers. The female lays about 8-13 eggs and incubates them for around 26-30 days. Once the ducklings are hatched, they leave the nest and follow their mother to water.

To help you visualize the information better, here is a table summarizing the mallard duck's migration patterns and breeding habits:

Migration Patterns Breeding Habits
Some individuals migrate long distances, others are non-migratory Monogamous, form pairs during breeding season
Fly south during winter, return to breed in spring and summer Build nests on the ground near water
Find open water during winter Lay 8-13 eggs and incubate for 26-30 days
Ducklings leave nest and follow mother to water

These fascinating migration patterns and breeding habits of mallard ducks contribute to their success as a species in Wisconsin's diverse aquatic ecosystems.

Great Horned Owl

nocturnal predator with feathers

The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is a formidable and highly adaptable bird species found throughout Wisconsin's diverse habitats. Known for its distinctive ear tufts and piercing yellow eyes, this owl species possesses exceptional predatory skills and plays a vital role in maintaining ecological balance.

Great Horned Owls are opportunistic hunters, preying on a wide range of animals including small mammals, birds, reptiles, and even other owls. Their exceptional hearing and silent flight enable them to swoop down on unsuspecting prey with precision and agility.

In terms of habitat, Great Horned Owls are found in forests, woodlands, and even urban areas, using tree nests or abandoned nests of other large birds for nesting. They exhibit strong territorial behaviors during the breeding season and fiercely protect their nest and young.

The Great Horned Owl's ability to adapt to various habitats and its crucial role in predator-prey interactions make it a remarkable and significant species in Wisconsin's avian population.

Sandhill Crane

tall bird with red cap

Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) are large, long-legged birds that are commonly found in Wisconsin's wetland habitats. These majestic birds have distinct physical features, including a gray body, red forehead, and long necks and legs. Sandhill Cranes are known for their unique migration patterns, as they travel long distances during both spring and fall seasons. They breed in the northern parts of the United States and Canada and migrate to southern regions, including Wisconsin, for the winter.

Sandhill Cranes prefer open wetlands, marshes, and meadows as their habitat, where they can find an abundant supply of food like insects, small mammals, and plant matter. They build their nests on the ground, typically near water sources, using reeds, grasses, and other vegetation. These nests are large and well-constructed, providing a safe environment for their eggs. Sandhill Cranes are known for their strong pair bonds and often mate for life. They are highly territorial during the nesting season, vigorously defending their nests and offspring from potential threats. Overall, Sandhill Cranes are fascinating birds that play a vital role in Wisconsin's unique wetland ecosystems.

Migration Patterns Habitat and Nesting Habits
Long-distance migration during spring and fall seasons Open wetlands, marshes, and meadows
Breed in northern parts of the United States and Canada Build nests on the ground near water sources
Winter in southern regions, including Wisconsin Construct nests using reeds, grasses, and vegetation
Travel in flocks during migration Highly territorial during nesting season
Play a vital role in wetland ecosystems Strong pair bonds and often mate for life

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

small bird with red throat

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are a captivating species of avian found in Wisconsin and known for their vibrant ruby-colored throat feathers. These tiny birds undertake remarkable migratory journeys, traveling from their wintering grounds in Central America to their breeding grounds in Wisconsin and other parts of North America.

The migration patterns of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are influenced by the availability of nectar-rich flowers along their route. As they fly long distances, these birds play a crucial role in pollination. With their long bills and tongues, they feed on nectar from various flowers, transferring pollen from one bloom to another. This pollination process helps in the reproduction of flowering plants and contributes to the overall biodiversity of their habitats.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds' migration and pollination activities make them important ecological contributors in Wisconsin and beyond.

Eastern Bluebird

small colorful bird species

An avian species of great significance in Wisconsin is the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), known for its vibrant blue plumage and melodious song.

The Eastern Bluebird has a wide distribution across North America, including the state of Wisconsin. This species primarily inhabits open woodlands, meadows, and farmlands, where it can find suitable nest cavities. Eastern Bluebirds are cavity nesters, often utilizing natural tree cavities or nest boxes.

Their diet mainly consists of insects and small invertebrates, such as beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, and earthworms. They also consume berries and fruits during the winter months when insects are scarce.

Eastern Bluebirds are known for their graceful flight, and they can often be seen perched on fences or tree branches, scanning the ground for prey.

Their presence adds a vibrant touch to Wisconsin's bird diversity and contributes to the ecological balance of the region.

American Goldfinch

bright yellow bird species

The American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is another notable avian species found in Wisconsin, further enriching the region's diverse bird population. Known for its vibrant yellow plumage, the American Goldfinch is a common sight in meadows, fields, and open woodlands throughout the state. This species prefers habitats with ample food sources, such as thistle plants, sunflowers, and grasses.

When it comes to nesting habits, American Goldfinches are late breeders, typically building their nests in July and August. They construct their nests in shrubs or trees, using plant fibers and grasses.

Migration patterns of the American Goldfinch are unique among North American birds. Unlike many migratory species, they undergo a molt in late summer, replacing their bright yellow feathers with a duller olive-brown plumage. They then migrate in flocks, often traveling long distances to reach their wintering grounds in southern regions.

The American Goldfinch's behavior during migration involves foraging for seeds and fruits, often in large groups, before returning to their breeding grounds in Wisconsin during the spring.

Red-tailed Hawk

majestic red tailed hawk soaring

Commonly found in Wisconsin, the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a prominent avian predator known for its distinctive red tail feathers. This species inhabits a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and open fields. They are often seen perched on tree branches or utility poles, scanning the surrounding area for prey.

Red-tailed Hawks are skilled hunters, primarily feeding on small mammals such as mice, rabbits, and squirrels. They employ a hunting technique known as 'stooping,' where they dive swiftly from the sky to catch their prey.

These hawks are also known for their territorial behavior, fiercely defending their nesting sites and hunting grounds from intruders. During courtship displays, they perform aerial acrobatics, soaring high and calling loudly to attract mates.

With their keen eyesight and powerful flight, the Red-tailed Hawk is a remarkable species that showcases the wonders of avian predators.

Pileated Woodpecker

striking red crest bird

The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is a large, forest-dwelling bird species found in Wisconsin known for its striking appearance and impressive woodpecking skills. These woodpeckers prefer mature forests with large trees, as they rely on them for foraging and nesting.

They excavate large, rectangular holes in dead or decaying trees, which serve as their nesting sites. Pileated Woodpeckers have a unique nesting behavior, as they excavate new cavities each year, leaving behind the old ones for other species to inhabit.

Conservation efforts for pileated woodpeckers in Wisconsin focus on maintaining suitable habitat. This includes preserving large tracts of mature forests and promoting sustainable forestry practices. Protecting nesting sites and ensuring an abundance of suitable trees for foraging are also key strategies.

Additionally, educating the public about the importance of these birds and their habitat is crucial for their conservation. By working together to protect the habitat of pileated woodpeckers, we can ensure the continued presence of this magnificent species in Wisconsin's forests.

Common Loon

distinctive bird with red eyes

Found throughout Wisconsin, the Common Loon (Gavia immer) is a distinctive aquatic bird species known for its haunting calls and remarkable diving abilities.

Loons are often considered symbols of wilderness and solitude, and their unique vocalizations have been featured in literature and folktales.

Conservation efforts for Common Loons in Wisconsin have been implemented to protect their breeding habitats and ensure their long-term survival. These efforts include monitoring nesting sites, reducing disturbance, and managing fishing practices to minimize the risk of entanglement in fishing gear.

Furthermore, public education campaigns have been conducted to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the natural environment for the benefit of loons and other wildlife.

The conservation initiatives aim to maintain healthy populations of Common Loons in Wisconsin and preserve their cultural significance and ecological role.

Baltimore Oriole

orange and black bird

As we shift our focus from the Common Loon, an emblem of wilderness and solitude in Wisconsin, we turn our attention to the magnificent Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula), a splendid avian species known for its vibrant plumage and melodic song.

The Baltimore Oriole is a medium-sized songbird that is commonly found in the eastern and central parts of North America, including Wisconsin. These striking birds can be easily identified by their bright orange plumage, contrasting black wings, and black head.

Baltimore Orioles primarily inhabit deciduous forests and woodlands, where they build their intricately woven nests hanging from the branches. They feed on a variety of insects, fruits, and nectar.

In terms of migration patterns, Baltimore Orioles are neotropical migrants, spending their winters in Central America and Mexico before returning to their breeding grounds in Wisconsin during the spring and summer months. Their migration is largely driven by the availability of food and suitable breeding habitats.

American White Pelican

large graceful bird species

With its impressive size and distinctive appearance, the American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) is a remarkable aquatic bird species that frequents the lakes and wetlands of Wisconsin. These pelicans are known for their large size, measuring up to 6 feet in length with a wingspan of 9 feet. They have a white plumage, contrasting with their black flight feathers. American White Pelicans are highly adapted to aquatic environments, and their habitat includes freshwater lakes, marshes, and reservoirs. During the breeding season, they form large colonies on isolated islands or sandbars. In Wisconsin, these colonies are found primarily in the northern parts of the state.

The American White Pelicans are migratory birds, and their migration patterns are influenced by the availability of food. They spend their summers in the northern parts of North America, including Wisconsin, where they breed and raise their young. As the colder months approach, they migrate southward to the Gulf Coast, Mexico, and Central America, where they can find warmer temperatures and abundant food sources. Their migration routes typically follow the Mississippi Flyway, a major bird migration route that passes through Wisconsin.

It is truly fascinating to witness the spectacle of these magnificent birds as they migrate in large flocks, soaring gracefully through the skies.

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!