Have you wondered what those birds are that are visiting your backyard in Idaho? Do you need help identifying common backyard birds in Idaho?
There is a great joy in putting up bird feeders and watching what comes to visit but it gets better if you know who they are. Well, now you can find out what are the most common birds in Idaho that visit feeders or hop across your lawn.
American Robins, Mourning doves, and Yellow Warblers are more common birds in Idaho in summer and Dark-eyed Juncos and Northern flickers are more common in winter.
So if you’re ready to do some backyard birding in Idaho then read on to find out how to identify birds and how to attract more birds to your yard.
Also, get free printable backyard bird worksheets with pictures for Idaho to help you identify and keep track of the birds that visit your backyard.
Top 28 backyard birds in Idaho
- American Robin
- Mourning Dove
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Song Sparrow
- European Starling
- American Goldfinch
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Black-billed Magpie
- Northern Flicker
- House Finch
- Black-capped Chickadee
- Barn Swallow
- Western Tanager
- Brown-headed Cowbird
- Brewer’s Blackbird
- Cedar Waxwing
- Chipping Sparrow
- Eurasian Collared-Dove
- House Sparrow
- House Wren
- Red-breasted Nuthatch
- American crow
- Pine Siskin
- Yellow-rumped Warbler
- White-crowned Sparrow
- Western Meadowlark
- Yellow Warbler
- Lesser Goldfinch
The Mountain Bluebird is the state bird of Idaho. This bird was chosen in 1931, although it is not commonly recorded in checklists for the state being in only 3%, it won the popular vote with schoolchildren and women’s clubs.
There are 437 species of bird recorded in Idaho according to ebird. Some of the highlight birds in Idaho include Sandhill Cranes, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Mountain Bluebird, Western Tanager, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Calliope Hummingbird, and Belted Kingfisher.
The biggest bird in Idaho is the Bald Eagle, with a wingspan of up to 8 feet (2.5 m) for females, this white-headed national bird symbol of the United States is a powerful bird of prey.
The smallest bird in Idaho is the Calliope Hummingbird which is only about 3 in long, but they can travel long distances from Canada all the way to southern Mexico.
The most common bird in Idaho is the American Robin, which is seen in 40% of recorded checklists for the state on ebird throughout the year.
Idaho has 6 national parks, 7 national forests, 6 national wildlife refuges, 20 national grasslands, and 27 state parks that offer excellent bird watching opportunities if you want to get out and watch birds in their natural environment.
Read to the end of this article to find out more about other birds to spot if you go out birding in Idaho and how to identify birds.
Top 28 backyard birds in Idaho
1. American Robin
American Robins are a common sight on lawns eating earthworms. They have black heads and back with red or orange breast. They tend to roost in trees in winter so you are more likely to see them in your backyard from spring.
American Robins can be found in many habitats, from woodlands, forests, and mountains to fields, parks, and lawns. They eat earthworms, insects, snails, and fruit.
You can attract more American Robins to your yard with sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, fruit, and mealworms. Platform feeders are best or food scattered on the ground. Also try planting some native plants that produce berries such as juniper, sumac, hawthorn, and dogwood.
2. Mourning Dove
Mourning Doves are graceful small-headed birds, plump bodies and long tails. They are a soft brown with black spots on the wings.
They can be seen perching on telephone wires and forage for seeds on the ground in grasslands, fields, and backyards. Mourning Doves can be found in open areas or on the edge of woodland. Mourning Doves are common over all of the lower 48 all year but may migrate after breeding from the far north.
You can attract more Mourning Doves to your backyard by scattering millet on the ground or on platform feeders. They will also eat black sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and peanut hearts.
3. Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged blackbirds are very common and easy to identify with the all-black coloring except for the bright red and yellow shoulder patches. The females are rather dull in comparison with brown streaky coloring.
They can often be spotted sitting on telephone wires and the males will fiercely defend their territories in the breeding season even attacking people that get too close to nests. In winter they roost in large numbers into the millions.
To attract more Red-winged blackbirds to your backyard try mixed grain and seeds spread on the ground. They will also feed on large tube feeders or platform feeders.
4. Song Sparrow
Song sparrows are not as remarkable as other backyard birds but these predominantly brown-streaked birds use their almost constant song to attract mates in spring and summer.
They can be found in open, shrubby, and wet areas often perched on a low shrub singing. They are often found at backyard feeders.
They eat a wide variety of insects and plants including beetles, caterpillars, midges, spiders, and earthworms. They will also eat buckwheat, sunflower, raspberries, wild cherries, blackberries, wheat and, rice.
You can attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.
5. European Starling
European Starlings are not native but are now one of the most numerous songbirds. They are stocky black birds with iridescent purple, green, and blue tones.
Considered a pest by some due to their aggressive behavior these birds fly in large noisy flocks and can be seen perched in groups on the top of trees or flying over fields in flocks.
Starlings eat predominantly insects including beetles, flies and caterpillars, earthworms, and spiders. They also eat fruit including cherries, holly berries, mulberries, Virginia Creeper, sumac, and blackberries, as well as grains and seeds.
You can attract more European Starlings to your backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts.
6. American Goldfinch
American Goldfinches are popular birds with the males bright yellow and black coloring in spring. The females are more dull brown as are males in winter.
American Goldfinches breed in far northern states and Canada before migrating to southern states, they remain all year in the rest of the U.S.
They can be found in weedy fields and overgrown areas foraging for sunflower, thistle, and aster plants. They are also common in suburbs, parks, and backyards.
To attract more American Goldfinches to your backyard try planting thistles and milkweed. They will visit most bird feeders and prefer sunflower seed and nyjer seed.
7. Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrows that are different colors depending on the state. They are generally slate-colored in the east and black, white, and brown in the west.
They can be found in open and partially wooded areas often on the ground and are common across the continent. Some remain resident all year in the west and in the Appalachian Mountains. Those that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south in winter to much of the United States.
You can attract more Dark-eyed Juncos to backyard feeders with a variety of seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts. Platform feeders or scattered on the ground are best.
8. Black-billed Magpie
Black-billed Magpies are black and white birds noisy birds, that are larger than Jays, with long tails and blue-green iridescent flashes in the wing and tail.
They do not tend to migrate and can be found in meadow and grasslands or other open areas feeding on fruit and grain, beetles, and grasshoppers. They have also been known to kill small mammals such as squirrels and voles and raid bird nests for eggs or nestlings and even carrion.
Black-billed Magpies will visit backyards for platform and suet feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, fruit, suet, millet, and milo
9. Northern Flicker
Northern Flickers are large woodpeckers, between the size of a robin and a crow, with brownish coloring and black spots, bars, and crescents and red on the nape. The undersides of tail and wing feathers are bright yellow in eastern birds and red in western birds.
They can be found on the ground looking for ants and beetles in woods or forest edges. Those that breed in Canada or Alaska migrate to southern states but otherwise, they can be found all year over the lower 48.
You can attract more Northern Flickers to your backyard feeders with suet and black oil sunflower seeds.
10. House Finch
House Finches have a red head and breast in the males and brown-streaked coloring in the females. Originally only in western states it was introduced to the eastern states and has done very well, even pushing out the Purple Finch.
They can be found in parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders. They can be found in noisy groups that are hard to miss. They feed on seeds, buds, and fruit including thistle, cactus, cherries, apricots, plums, strawberries, blackberries, and figs.
You can attract more House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.
11. Black-capped Chickadee
The Black-capped Chickadee is a cute bird with a big round head and tiny body. These birds will happily feed at backyard feeders and will investigate everything including you!
They have black-caps and beak, white cheeks, and are gray on the back, wings, and tail.
They can be found in forests, open woods, parks. Black-capped Chickadees eat seeds, berries and insects, spiders, and suet.
To attract more Black-capped Chickadees to your backyard try suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or peanut butter. They will even feed from your hand and are often one of the first birds to discover new feeders. They will also use nest boxes, especially if you fill them with wood shavings.
12. Barn Swallow
Barn Swallows are small birds with a deep-blue back, wings and tail, and reddish-brown underneath and across the face. The tail has long outer feathers that give a deep fork.
They breed over most of North America before heading to Central and South America. They can be found flying over meadows, farms, and fields looking for insects and usually build mud nests on man-made structures such as in barns.
You can attract more Barn Swallows by putting up nest boxes or cups and may eat ground-up eggshells on a platform feeder.
13. Western Tanager
Western Tanagers have a flaming orange-red head, yellow body, and black wings. they can be found all over western states breeding towards the north and then migrating south for winter.
They live in open conifer forests but stay hidden in the canopy, despite their bright coloring. The red coloring probably comes from eating insects that produce a pigment that the Western Tanagers cannot produce themselves.
You can attract Western Tanagers with dried fruit, cut oranges, and other fruits from bird feeders.
14. Brown-headed Cowbird
Brown-headed Cowbird males are black-bodied and brown-headed Blackbirds with short tails and thick heads. Females are brown all over with slight streaking.
They are often considered a nuisance as they destroy the eggs of smaller songbirds so that they can lay their eggs in the nest and have the bird foster their chicks.
They breed in much of the north and west of North America before heading further south but remain all year in the Eastern and Southern states and Pacific Coast.
They can be found in grassland and woodland edges, fields, and backyards and feed mostly on seeds from grasses and weeds. They also eat grasshoppers and beetles and the females will eat snail shells and eggshells to sustain the prolific egg-laying of more than 35 eggs in a season.
15. Brewer's Blackbird
Brewer’s Blackbirds are medium-sized blackbirds with a glossy black coat in the males, that has purple on the head and greenish iridescent on the body, and plain brown in the females.
They breed in central states before migrating are resident in western states before migrating to the southern U.S and Mexico but are resident in western states.
Brewer’s blackbirds live in a vast variety of habitats, including grasslands, marshes, meadows, woodlands, and coasts but also near humans in parks, fields, and backyards. They eat mostly seeds and grain but also insects or anything they can find.
Brewer’s blackbirds come to backyards for seeds such as hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and millet on ground feeders.
16. Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwings are elegant social birds that are pale brown on the head, chest, and crest, which fades to gray on the back and wings and tail. Their belly is pale yellow and there is bright yellow on the tip. They have a narrow black mask over the eyes and bright red on the wingtips.
They are resident all year in northern states and in the winter in the south. They make a high-pitched call and can be found in berry bushes, in woodlands, and along streams.
To attract Cedar Waxwings to your backyard plant native trees and shrubs that have small fruit such as serviceberry, dogwood, juniper, winterberry, and hawthorn. You can also try fruit on platform feeders.
17. Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrows are slender, long-tailed birds that have a grayish belly and brown and black-streaked back, with a rusty crown and black eye line. in winter the colors are more subdued.
Breeding over much of North America and Canada then flying to Mexico and Florida for winter. In the far south, they may remain all year. They can be found foraging on the ground for seeds and insects in grassy forests, woodlands, parks, and backyards.
They can be found in small flocks on open ground and will come to backyards for many kinds of birdseed.
18. Eurasian Collared-Dove
Eurasian Collared-Doves are an introduced species that only arrived in the 1980s but are now across most of the country. They are light brownish-gray, with white patches in the tail, and look very similar to Mourning Doves, but with a black half collar at the nape of the neck, they are also larger, and with a square tail rather than pointed.
Preferring areas near people where seeds are plentiful, such as backyard feeders and farms, they are not found in heavy forest. Eurasian Collared’Doves predominantly eat a wide variety of seeds and grain but also will eat some berries and insects.
You can attract more Eurasian-Collared-Doves to your backyard with millet, oats, cracked corn, and Black oil sunflower seeds or hulled sunflower seeds on ground feeders, but they may also visit platform or hopper feeders.
19. House Sparrow
The House Sparrow is another introduced species that has done very well and is now one of the most common birds. They are found near houses and buildings and can be quite tame so will eat out of your hand.
They can be considered a pest as they are non-native but will be found in backyards even if you do not feed them. House Sparrows can be found in most busy areas, especially around cities, towns, farms, or anywhere there are people. They eat mostly grain and seed as well as discarded food.
You can attract more House Sparrows to your backyard feeders with most kinds of birdseed, including millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.
20. House Wren
House Wrens are small nondescript brown birds with darker barred wings and tail and a paler throat. Breeding in most states before migrating to the far south and Mexico for winter.
House Wrens can be found in backyards, parks and open woods foraging for insects, such as beetles, caterpillars, and earwigs in brush piles. House Wrens can be very aggressive over nesting sites and will harass much larger birds and even drag eggs and young out of a nest site they want.
You can attract more House Wren’s to your backyard by leaving piles of brush for them to use for protection or put up a nest box to attract a breeding pair.
21. Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatches remain all year in northeastern and western states, Alaska and Canada but may move south across all of North America in winter if cone crops are poor.
They are blue-gray birds with black and white stripes on the head and a rusty underside.
Red-breasted Nuthatches can be found in coniferous woods foraging for cones and they do visit backyard feeders.
You can attract more Red-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds, suet feeders, peanuts, and mealworms.
22. American crow
American crows are large all-black birds that make a hoarse, cawing sound. They are common birds that can be found in most habitats including treetops, woods, fields, beaches, or towns.
They eat most things and usually feed on the ground eating earthworms, insects, seeds, and fruit. They also eat fish, young turtles, mussels, and clams and will even eat eggs and nestlings of many species of birds.
American Crows gather in large numbers of up to two million crows in winter to sleep in communal roosts.
You can attract more American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts but can become a nuisance as attracted by garbage or pet food if left out.
23. Pine Siskin
Pine Siskins are small finches that are streaked brown with yellow streaks in the wing and tail. They have a forked tail and ointed wings, with a short pointed bill.
Pine Siskins breed in Canada and can over winter in most of the U.S but their migration depends on pine cone crops so some years they may not migrate. Some birds remain all years in pine forests of the west.
As their name suggests Pine Siskins predominatly eat seeds from conifers but they also eat young buds and seeds from grasses and weeds.
Pine Siskins can be attracted to backyards with thistle and nyjer feeders but also black oil sunflower seeds and suet.
24. Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warblers are gray with flashes of yellow on the face, sides, and rump and white in the wings. Females may be slightly brown and winter birds are paler brown with bright yellow rumps and sides turning bright yellow and gray again in spring.
After breeding predominantly in Canada they migrate in large numbers south across most of southern and central North America and the Pacific Coast and throughout Mexico and Central America.
You can attract Yellow-rumped Warblers to your backyard with sunflower seeds, suet, raisins, and peanut butter.
25. White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrows are large grayish sparrows with long tails and small bills and bold black and white stripes on their heads.
They breed in Alaska and arctic Canada before heading south other much of the lower 48 and Mexico for winter. Some may remain all year over a small area along the Pacific Coast and west.
White-crowned Sparrows can be found in weedy fields, along roadsides, forest edges, and in yards foraging for seeds of weeds and grasses or fruit such as elderberries and blackberries.
You can attract more White-crowned Sparrows to your backyard with sunflower seeds and many types of seeds that are dropped by other birds at the feeders.
26. Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlarks with their bright yellow bellies and melodious song can brighten up your day. This is probably what makes them so popular, so popular in fact that they are the state bird of 6 states.
Western Meadowlarks are related to blackbirds and are about the size of a Robin with shades of brown and white upperparts and with a black V-shaped band across the bright yellow chest that turns gray in winter.
Breeding in northern U.S and Canada before moving to more southern states. Those in the west and midwest remain all year. Western Meadowlarks can be found foraging for insects and seeds from weeds and seeds, on the ground alone or in small flocks in grasslands, meadows and fields.
To attract more Western Meadowlarks to your yard try hulled sunflower seeds and cracked corn on ground feeders.
27. Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warblers are small bright yellow birds with a yellow-green back, and the males have chestnut streaks on the breast, which are a common sight in summer.
They migrate a long-distance and breed over much of North America before heading into Central and northern South America for winter. They can be seen during migration in the far south.
Yellow Warblers can be found along streams and wetlands in thickets and along the edges of fields foraging for insects, including caterpillars, midges, beetles, bugs, and wasps.
Warblers are hard to attract to your backyard as they are shy and eat mainly insects. To attract Yellow Warblers you can try suet, oranges, and peanut butter and plant berries and native plants that attract insects, so no pesticides or being too tidy! Birdbaths with fountains with secluded thickets nearby to provide protection.
28. Lesser Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinches are tiny bright yellow and black songbirds with long pointed wings and short notched tails. Females have olive backs and are more dull yellow underneath.
Residents in the far southwest, with those to the north of their range breeding then migrating further south.
Lesser Goldfinches can be found in large flocks in open habitats including thickets, weedy fields, forest clearings parks, and gardens. They forage for seeds, especially sunflower seeds, but also fruits from elderberry, coffeeberry, and buds from cottonwoods, willows, sycamores, and alders.
You can attract more Lesser Goldfinches to your yard with sunflower seeds and nyjer in tube feeders or platform feeders.
Free Printable Backyard Birds Worksheet for Idaho
These free bird identification worksheets have all the common backyard birds in Idaho at different times of the year. So when you want to do some backyard birding these handy guides have pictures and space to either tick off the types of birds you have seen or keep a tally of the total number of birds.
Common Birds in Idaho in Different Seasons
These are the backyard birds most often seen in Idaho that may visit your lawn or feeders. They are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird and the data is a combination of birds most frequently spotted in Idaho in summer (June and July) and winter (December and January).
Birds that are not often seen at feeders or in backyards were removed to give you the birds in Idaho you are most likely to see from home.
This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are bird-watching in Idaho these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.
Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds in Idaho
A variety of different bird feeders will attract the most species of birds
- Tube Feeders can be filled with different types of birdseed and depending on the seed different birds will be attracted. Black oil sunflower seeds attract Goldfinches, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Pine Siskins.
- Ground Feeders or a tray below a Tube Feeder with Black oil sunflowers tube feeders attract Cardinals, Jays, Finches, and Sparrows.
- Platform feeders with Millet or Corn attract small and medium-sized birds such as sparrows, Blackbirds, Towhees, Juncos, Doves, Grackles, and Starlings.
- Peanut feeders attract Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Jays, Juncos, Finches, and Sparrows.
- Suet Feeders are great, especially in winter, for Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Kinglets, Wrens, and Chickadees.
- Hummingbird feeders attract these tiny fascinating birds but they also attract other birds too.
How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in Idaho
If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in Idaho there are some tips:
- Provide bird feeders for different types of birds to get the most species to visit your yard.
- Provide a water feature such as a birdbath fountain or stream. Ensure that the water is clean and not stagnant
- Grow native plants that will provide food and shelter. Plants, trees, and shrubs that provide fruit, berries, and nuts. Blackberries, wild grasses, elderberries, serviceberries, Oaks, Beeches, Cherries, sumacs, hemlocks, Purple Coneflowers, Sunflowers, Milkweed, Cardinal Flowers, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, Buttonbush, and Dogwoods.
- Let your grass grow long to provide cover and seeds.
- Leave a brush pile to provide food, protection, and nesting opportunities for birds.
- Don’t use pesticides and herbicides as these may be toxic to birds and prevent the natural foraging opportunities for insects and seeds that birds will seek in your yard.
- Set up nest boxes to attract breeding birds and ensure they are cleaned every year.
How to Identify Birds in Idaho
Here are some tips to help you identify birds:
- Size – Size is the easiest thing to notice about a bird. Birds are often measured in inches or centimeters in guide books. It’s best to take a note of the bird in terms of small, medium, or large to be able to look for it later. A small bird is about the size of a sparrow, a medium bird is about the size of a pigeon and a large bird is the size of a goose.
- Shape – Take note of the silhouette of the bird and jot it down or draw the outline. Look at tail length, bill shape, wing shape, and overall body shape.
- Color pattern – Take a note of the main color of the head, back, belly, and wings, and tail for the main color and then any secondary colors or patterns. Also take note of any patterns such as banding, spots, or highlights.
- Behavior – Are they on the ground or high up in the trees. Are they in flocks or on their own? Can you spot what they are eating?
- Habitat – Woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, shore or marsh.
- Use a bird identification app such as those created by ebird or Audubon
Birds to Spot if Out Birding in Idaho
If you go out Birding in Idaho these are other birds that you may be able to spot:
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Great Blue Heron
- Sandhill Cranes
- Bald Eagle
- Mountain Bluebird
- Great Blue Heron
- Turkey Vulture
- Calliope Hummingbird
- Belted Kingfisher
- Common Raven
- Canada Goose
- California Quail
- Swainson’s Hawk
- Double-crested Cormorant
- White Pelican
- Western Grebe
- Red Crossbill
- White Faced Ibis