Have you wondered what those birds are that are visiting your backyard in Indiana? Do you need help identifying common backyard birds in Indiana?
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 Indiana that visit feeders or hop across your lawn.
So if you’re ready to do some backyard birding in Indiana 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 Indiana to help you identify and keep track of the birds that visit your backyard.
American robins, Mourning doves and Red-winged Blackbirds are more common birds in summer in Indiana.
Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are more common birds in winter in Indiana.
28 Common Backyard Birds in Indiana:
- Northern Cardinal
- American Robin
- Blue Jay
- Mourning Dove
- American Goldfinch
- Downy Woodpecker
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- Tufted Titmouse
- American Crow
- Song Sparrow
- Carolina Chickadee
- European Starling
- Red-winged Blackbird
- House Sparrow
- House Finch
- Carolina Wren
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Northern Flicker
- Eastern Bluebird
- Indigo bunting
- Gray Catbird
- House Wren
- Common Grackle
- Chipping Sparrow
- Common Yellowthroat
- Brown-headed Cowbird
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird
These free bird identification worksheets have all the common backyard birds in Indiana 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.
The 20 most common birds in Indiana
1. Northern Cardinal
The bright red male Northern Cardinal with black around their faces is a great sight, especially against a white winter background. The females are also a little showy with their brown coloring, sharp brown crest, red highlights, and red beaks.
Northern Cardinals will sometimes attack their own reflection during breeding season as they obsessively defend their territories.
You can attract more Northern Cardinals to backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.
They will feed from large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, or food scattered on the ground.
There are a surprising number of red birds in Indiana for you to spot.
2. American Robin
American Robins are a common sight on lawns eating earthworms. They have black heads and back with red or orange breasts. 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.
3. Blue Jay
Blue Jays are common songbirds with a blue upright crest, blue and black backs, and white undersides. They are noisy birds that travel in family groups eating acorns when available and can migrate in large flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coast.
They can be found in forests, but especially near oak as they eat acorns. They can also be found in backyards near feeders. As well as acorns they eat insects, nuts and seeds, and grain. They may also take eggs from nests or take nestlings
To attract more Blue Jays to your backyard try peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet but they prefer these on tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post. They will also enjoy a birdbath.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckers are small birds that are common at backyard feeders. They are often mixed in with other birds such as chickadees and nuthatches. They have black and white coloring with a red patch at the back of their heads. They look similar to the Hairy Woodpecker.
Downy woodpeckers can be found in woodlots, along streams, city parks, and backyards and eat mainly insects beetle larvae, but also berries, acorns, and grains.
To attract more Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard try suet feeders but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.
There are several species of woodpeckers in Indiana.
7. Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a pale red belly that can be difficult to spot, with a red cap and nape and black-and-white stripped back. They are a similar size as a Hairy Woodpecker at around 9 inches.
Find out the differences between male and female woodpeckers.
They make a loud call in spring and summer and are found in woods and forests, especially with deadwood in eastern states. Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat mainly insects and spiders but they will also eat acorns, nuts and pine cones, and some seeds and fruits.
You can attract more Red-bellied Woodpeckers with suet feeders and they will sometimes feed from hummingbird feeders.
Check out these quick photo ID guides:
8. White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatches are active little birds that are gray-blue on the back and white on the face and belly, with a black cap. They will often have a chestnut color on the lower belly and under the tail.
They can be found in deciduous forests, woodland edges, parks, and yards with trees or at feeders. They mainly eat insects including beetles and their larvae, caterpillars, ants, and also spiders.
White-breasted Nuthatches also eat seeds and nuts including acorns, hawthorns, sunflower seeds, and sometimes corn crops. They jam large nuts and acorns into tree bark and then whack them with their bills to open or ‘hatch’ them to get the seed out.
You can attract more White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts on tube feeders or suet feeders.
9. Tufted Titmouse
The Tufted Titmouse is a small gray bird. With gray on the back and white underneath with a cute gray crest and large eyes that often flock with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.
They can be assertive over smaller birds and are found in woodlands, parks, and at backyard feeders. They eat mostly insects in summer including caterpillars, beetles, ants, and wasps as well as spiders and snails. They will also eat seeds, nuts, and berries and will hoard shelled seeds.
You can attract Tufted Titmice to your backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts on tube feeders or suet cages. They will also eat from platform feeders. You can also try putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair.
10. 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.
11. 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.
Song Sparrows 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.
12. Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadees are tiny birds with large heads, black cap and neck, white cheeks and belly, and soft gray back, wings, and tail.
They are visually very similar to the Black-capped Chickadee and they interbreed where their range overlaps. They can be found in forested areas, parks, and backyards.
You can attract more Carolina Chickadees to your backyard feeders with Black oil sunflower seeds, Nyjer seeds, suet feeders, or peanuts. They will feed on most types of feeders including tube feeders, suet cages, or platform feeders.
13. 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.
14. 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.
Red-winged Blackbirds are resident over most of the U.S but they may migrate after breeding from the far north. 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.
Find out more about birds in Indiana:
15. 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.
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. They can be considered a pest as they are non-native but will be found in backyards even if you do not feed them.
You can attract more House Sparrows to your backyard feeders with most kinds of birdseed, including millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.
16. House Finch
House Finches are birds with 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.
House finches can be found in parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders. They can be found in noisy groups that are hard to miss. House finch 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.
17. Carolina Wren
Carolina Wrens are shy birds that are dark brown on top and light brown underneath. They have a white eyebrow stripe and upright tail and loud teakettle song.
They can be found in woods or thickly vegetated areas, overgrown farmyards, and suburban areas and they will visit backyard feeders. Carolina Wren eats mostly insects and spiders, including caterpillars, moths, crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles.
You can attract more Carolina Wrens to your backyard feeders with suet feeders, hulled sunflower seeds, or peanut hearts in large tube feeders or platform feeders. They may also nest in nest boxes, especially if you leave brush piles.
18. Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrows that are of different colors depending on the state. They are generally slate gray colored in the east and black, white, and brown in the west.
Some remain resident all year in the west and in the Appalachian Mountains. Those that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south in winter over much of the United States. They can be found in open and partially wooded areas often on the ground and are common across the continent.
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.
19. 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.
Those that breed in Canada or Alaska migrate to southern states but otherwise, they can be found all year over the lower 48. They can be found on the ground looking for ants and beetles in woods or forest edges.
You can attract more Northern Flickers to your backyard feeders with suet and black oil sunflower seeds.
Find out more woodpecker facts.
20. Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebirds are small thrushes with big, rounded heads, large eyes, and big bellies. The males are deep blue on the back and a reddish color underneath. Females are grayer above with some blue in the wings and tail and a less vivid orange-brown breast.
They live in meadows and can be spotted perched on wires and posts or low branches looking for insects.
You can attract more Eastern Bluebirds to your backyard by offering mealworms and nest boxes if your yard is fairly open and spacious.
21. Indigo bunting
Indigo Buntings are small birds with the males being bright blue with streaks of black in the wings and tail, females are brown. With their bright blue coloring and cheerful song, they are a delight in summer.
They migrate far from breeding grounds in eastern States to winter grounds in Florida, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
Indigo Buntings can be found in weedy fields and shrubby areas foraging for seeds and insects.
You can attract more to your backyard with small seeds such as nyjer and thistle.
22. Gray Catbird
Gray Catbirds are so named because of their distinctive catty mew song that can last for up to 10 minutes.
They are medium-sized songbirds with a slate gray coloring, black cap and tail, and a reddish patch under their tails.
Gray Catbirds breed over much of the U.S except the Pacific Coast and inland along the west and southwest before heading south to the Gulf Coast of the U.S, Mexico and Central America, and the West Indies. Some remain all year along the Atlantic Coast.
You can spot Gray Catbirds in dense shrubs, small trees, and along forest edges or hedgerows.
You can attract more Gray Catbirds to your backyard feeders with fruit and fruit trees or shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry.
23. House Wren
House Wrens are small nondescript brown birds with darker barred wings and tails 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, and spiders, such as beetles, caterpillars, and earwigs in brush piles. They can often be found energetically hopping through tangles and low branches with their tails up, stopping to sing their cheerful song.
House Wrens are fierce for their size, when it comes to getting the best nest holes, they will often harass larger birds, sometimes dragging eggs or nestlings out of a nest site they want.
You can attract more House Wrens to your backyard by leaving piles of brush or putting up a nest box.
24. Common Grackle
The Common Grackle is a blackbird that is taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird and with glossy iridescent bodies.
They eat many crops but mostly corn and gather in noisy groups high up in trees. They will also eat garbage and so can be a nuisance.
Their habitat is varied and includes open woodlands, marshes, parks, and fields. They may gather in their millions in winter to forage and roost, mixed in with other species of blackbird.
The Common Grackle is resident all year in much of the east and all southeastern states but migrate south after breeding in the far north and to the west of their range.
Common Grackles will be attracted to your backyard with most mixed grain and seed if sprinkled on ground feeders or on platform feeders.
25. 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 or in the far south they remain all year.
They can be found in small flocks on open ground. You can attract Chipping Sparrows to your backyard with most kinds of birdseed.
26. Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroats are small songbirds that are brownish on the back and bright yellow underneath, with long tails. The males have a black mask across the face. The brightness of the yellow can vary geographically and they may be more olive in parts underneath.
They breed over much of North America and so can be found in the spring and summer often in marshy or wetland areas and brushy fields living in thick, tangled vegetation. They eat mostly insects and will be found in large backyards that have dense vegetation.
27. 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.
28. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are bright green on the back and crown, with a gray-white underside and the males have an iridescent red throat. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are green on the back and white underneath with brownish crown and sides.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America, they then migrate further south to Central America. Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be aggressive in their defense of flowers and feeders. They do not stick around long after mating and may migrate by early August.
You can find Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in flowering gardens or woodland edges in summer, they are also common in towns.
Find out more about birds in Indiana:
Common Birds at Different Times of Year in Indiana
These are the backyard birds most often seen in Indiana 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 Indiana in summer (June and July), winter (December and January), and throughout the year.
Birds that are not often seen at feeders or in backyards were removed to give you the birds in Indiana you are most likely to see from home.
This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are backyard birding in Indiana these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.
The birds that are attracted to backyards in Indiana change throughout the year. The lists below show the backyard birds that are most commonly seen at different times of the year in Indiana and recorded in checklists on ebird.org.
Common birds in Indiana all year
Northern Cardinal 59%
Blue Jay 45%
American Robin 44%
Downy Woodpecker 43%
Mourning Dove 42%
American Goldfinch 42%
Red-bellied Woodpecker 39%
White-breasted Nuthatch 38%
Tufted Titmouse 38%
American Crow 37%
Common birds in Indiana summer
American Robin 62%
Northern Cardinal 62%
Mourning Dove 55%
Red-winged Blackbird 49%
American Goldfinch 48%
Song Sparrow 46%
Blue Jay 39%
Indigo Bunting 38%
Gray Catbird 36%
Downy Woodpecker 34%
Common birds in Indiana winter
Northern Cardinal 54%
Downy Woodpecker 46%
Dark-eyed Junco 45%
White-breasted Nuthatch 41%
Blue Jay 41%
Red-bellied Woodpecker 40%
Tufted Titmouse 38%
American Crow 35%
American Goldfinch 35%
Carolina Chickadee 34%
Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds
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
If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in Indiana 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
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