Top 33 Backyard Birds in Nebraska (Free ID Chart)

Backyard Birds Nebraska ID Chart

Have you wondered what those birds are that are visiting your backyard in Nebraska?

Well, this guide will help you to find out how to identify these birds by sight and sound and what time of year you can spot them in Nebraska. Also, get a free ID chart to print with the most common backyard birds in Nebraska.

Robins and Western Meadowlarks are more common birds in Nebraska in summer and Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays, and woodpeckers are more common in winter.

Backyard birds in Nebraska all year: American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, European Starling, Downy Woodpecker, House Sparrow, American Goldfinch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Northern Flicker, House Finch, American Crow, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Eastern Bluebird, Song Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing
Backyard birds in Nebraska in summer:
Mourning Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Barn Swallow, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Wren, Eastern Kingbird, Western Meadowlark, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Chipping sparrow, Red-headed Woodpecker, Yellow Warbler, Gray Catbird, Common Yellowthroat
Backyard birds in Nebraska in winter: Dark-eyed Junco

These are the most common backyard birds in Nebraska that may visit your lawn or feeders. They are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists submitted by bird watchers on ebird.

This article gives you identification information and photos to help you identify and attract more of the common backyard birds that you can spot in Nebraska.

Free Printable Backyard Birds Worksheet for Nebraska

These free bird identification worksheets have all the common backyard birds in Nebraska 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.

Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet Nebraska Page 1
Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet Nebraska Page 2
Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet Nebraska Page 3

Facts About Birds in Nebraska

The Western Meadowlark is the state bird of Nebraska.  This bird was chosen in 1929. This bird is commonly recorded in state checklists for Nebraska, being recorded 20% of the time.

There are 440 species of bird recorded in Nebraska, according to ebird.  Some of the highlight birds in Nebraska include Sandhill Crane, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great Blue Heron, Orioles, Bald Eagle, Tanagers, Snow Goose, Greater Prarie Birds, White Pelican, and Great Horned Owls.

The biggest bird in Nebraska is the Bald Eagle, with a wingspan of up to 8 feet (2.5 m) for the females. This white-headed national bird symbol of the United States is a powerful bird of prey.

The most common bird in Nebraska is the American Robin, which is seen in 51% of recorded checklists for the state on ebird.org throughout the year.

Nebraska has 5 national parks, 2 national forests, 3 National Grasslands, 8 national wildlife refuges, and 8 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 learn more about the top birding locations in Nebraska and how to identify birds.

The 33 Common Backyard Birds In Nebraska

1. American Robin

American Robin for identification

American Robins are spotted all year in Nebraska but they are more common during the breeding season. They are recorded in 63% of summer checklists and 28% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.

American Robins are a common sight on lawns eating earthworms. They have black heads and backs 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.

  • Turdus migratorius
  • Length: 7.9-11.0 in (20-28 cm)
  • Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz (77-85 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)

American Robins are residents in the lower 48 and the coast of Western Canada and Alaska. Those that breed in Canada and inland Alaska move south for the winter.

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.

American Robin Song:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC656426. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/656426.

American Robin Call:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC698509. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/698509.

Attract American Robins to your backyard 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 Dove

Mourning Doves are found all year in Nebraska but they are more frequently spotted during the breeding season from April to September, in the north of the state. They appear in 63% of summer checklists and 10% of winter checklists.

Mourning Doves are graceful small-headed birds with plump bodies and long tails. They are a soft brown color with black spots on the wings. Males are slightly heavier than females.

  • Zenaida macroura
  • Length: 9.1-13.4 in (23-34 cm)
  • Weight: 3.0 -6.0 oz (96-170 g)
  • Wingspan: 17.7 in (45 cm)

Mourning Doves are common over all of the lower 48 all year but may migrate after breeding from the north of the Midwest and southern Canada.

Mourning Doves can be seen perching on telephone wires and foraging for seeds on the ground in grasslands, fields, and backyards. They can also be found in open areas or woodland edges.

Mourning Dove call:

Credit: Peter Ward and Ken Hall, XC613539. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/613539.

Attract Mourning Doves to your backyard by scattering millet on the ground or platform feeders. They will also eat black sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and peanut hearts.

3. Northern Cardinal

Northern cardinal male and female for identification

Northern Cardinals are residents of Nebraska all year. They do not migrate and can be spotted in 37% of summer checklists and 39% of winter checklists for the state.

The bright red male Northern Cardinal with black around their faces is an incredible sight, especially against a white winter background. They also have red crests and beaks.

Females are also a little showy with their brown coloring, sharp brown crest, red highlights, and red beaks.

  • Cardinalis cardinalis
  • Length: 8.3-9.1 in (21-23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz (42-48 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in (25-31 cm)

Northern Cardinals live in the Eastern half of the US and some states in the south as far west as Arizona.

You can find Northern Cardinals in dense vegetation foraging for seeds, fruit, and insects. Northern Cardinals will sometimes attack their own reflection during the breeding season as they obsessively defend their territories.

Northern Cardinal Song:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC618942. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/618942.

Northern Cardinal Call:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC618945. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/618945.

Attract Northern Cardinals to your backyard with feeders full of 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 lots of other red birds in Nebraska that you can spot.

4. Red-winged Blackbird

Red winged blackbird for identification

Red-winged blackbirds are more commonly seen in Nebraska from March to July but they are also spotted in the state all year. They appear in 50% of checklists in summer and 7% of checklists in winter submitted by bird watchers for the state.

Red-winged blackbirds are very common and easy to identify with the all-black coloring except for the reddish-orange wing patches. Females are rather dull in comparison with streaky brown color.

  • Agelaius phoeniceus
  • Length: 6.7-9.1 in (17-23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-2.7 oz (32-77 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)

Red-winged Blackbirds remain all year in the lower 48 and the Pacific Coast of British Columbia. Those that breed in Canada and some northern US states migrate south for the winter.

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 their nests. In winter, they roost in large numbers into the millions.

Red-winged Blackbird Song:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC629168. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/629168.

Red-winged Blackbird Calls:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC669258. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/669258.

Attract Red-winged blackbirds to your backyard with mixed grain and seeds spread on the ground. They will also feed from large tube feeders or platform feeders.

Blackbirds are a vast family of birds that have numerous family members and why don’t you get to know all the blackbirds in Nebraska?

5. Common Grackle

Common grackle

Although considered near-threatened speciesCommon Grackles are frequently spotted in Nebraska during summer from March to October and appear in 51% of checklists at this time.

The Common Grackle is a blackbird taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird with glossy iridescent bodies.

  • Quiscalus quiscula
  • Length: 11.0-13.4 in (28-34 cm)
  • Weight: 2.6-5.0 oz (74-142 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.2-18.1 in (36-46 cm)

Common Grackles are resident all year in southeastern states, but those that breed in Canada and the Midwest migrate south.

They eat many crops but mostly corn, and they gather in noisy groups high up in trees. Unfortunately, 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 blackbirds.

Common Grackle Call:

Russ Wigh, XC483443. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/483443

Attract more Common Grackles to your backyard with mixed grain and seed sprinkled on the ground or platform feeders.

6. Dark-eyed Junco

Dark eyed junco for identification

Dark-eyed Juncos are mainly spotted in Nebraska from October to April. They are frequently spotted during winter and occur in 57% of checklists at this time.

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.

  • Junco hyemalis
  • Length: 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-30 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in (18-25 cm)

Dark-eyed Juncos remain resident all year in northeastern and western US states and the Appalachian Mountains. Those that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south in winter to the United States.

They can be found in open and partially wooded areas, often on the ground, and are common across the continent. 

Dark-eyed Junco Song:

Credit: Bobby Wilcox, XC667170. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/667170.

Attract 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.

7. Blue Jay

Blue Jays can be spotted all year in Nebraska and occur in 34% of summer and winter checklists for the state.

Blue Jays are common large songbirds with a blue upright crest, blue and black backs, and white undersides. 

  • Cyanocitta cristata
  • Length: 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)
  • Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz (70-100 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in (34-43 cm)

Blue Jays live in eastern US states and Southern Canada all year. Some birds will migrate west for winter but not very frequently.

They are noisy birds that travel in family groups eating acorns when available. They can be found in forests, mainly 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.

Blue Jay Call:

Greg Irving, XC691957. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/691957.

Blue Jays are large birds and prefer to fly in, grab a peanut or sunflower seed and take it away to feed. They prefer platform or tray feeders to make it easy to make a quick exit.

Attract Blue Jays to your backyard with peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. They prefer these on open tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post. They will also enjoy a birdbath.

8. European Starling

European Starlings are considered introduced species in Nebraska that can be seen in the state all year. They do not migrate and appear in 33% of summer and winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.

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. 

  • Sturnus vulgaris
  • Length: 7.9-9.1 in (20-23 cm)
  • Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz (60-96 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)

European Starlings live in all of North America, except the north of Canada and Alaska.

They are 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.

European Starling Calls:

Credit: Lars Edenius, XC657601. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/657601.

Starlings predominantly eat insects, including beetles, flies and caterpillars, earthworms, and spiders. However, they also eat fruit, including cherries, holly berries, mulberries, Virginia Creeper, sumac, blackberries, and grains and seeds.

Attract European Starlings to your backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts.

9. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker for identification in Massachusetts MA

Downy Woodpeckers are spotted all year in Nebraska but are more common during winter. They are recorded in 19% of summer checklists and 36% of winter checklists.

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 but smaller.

  • Dryobates pubescens
  • Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz (21-28 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)

Downy Woodpeckers do not migrate and can be spotted in most states and provinces, except the north of Canada.

You can find Downy woodpeckers in woodlots, along streams, city parks, and backyards, and they eat mainly insects and beetle larvae, but also berries, acorns, and grains.

Downy Woodpecker Call:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC601009. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/601009.

Attract Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard with their favorite treat of suet, but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.

Some woodpeckers are more easily recognized than others, but with this guide, you can identify all the woodpeckers in Nebraska.

10. Barn Swallow

barn swallow

Barn Swallows spend the breeding season in Nebraska and are only spotted here from April to October. They are recorded in 38% of summer checklists.

Barn Swallows are small birds with a deep-blue back, wings and tail, and reddish-brown underneath and across the face. Their tail has long outer feathers that give a deep fork. The dark color of their back can make them look black-and-white.

  • Hirundo rustica
  • Length: 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.7 oz (17-20 g)
  • Wingspan: 11.4-12.6 in (29-32 cm)

Barn Swallows breed in Canada and the US 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.

Song

Paul Marvin, XC452059. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/452059.

Attract Barn Swallows by putting up nest boxes or cups, and they may eat ground-up eggshells on a platform feeder.

11. Brown-headed Cowbird

brown headed cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbirds are spotted in Nebraska during the breeding season and appear in 39% of summer checklists. They are usually seen from March to August, and then they migrate, but some are residents all year.

Males Brown-headed Cowbirds are larger than females, with black-bodies, brown heads, and short tails. Female Brown-headed Cowbirds are brown all over with slight streaking.

  • Molothrus ater
  • Length: 76.3-8.7 in (19-22 cm)
  • Weight: 1.3-1.8 oz (42-50 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.2 in (36 cm)

Brown-headed Cowbirds remain all year in eastern US states, southern US states, and along the Pacific Coast. However, those that breed in northern and western US states and Canada migrate south for winter.

Brown-headed Cowbird Song:

Bobby Wilcox, XC645459. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/645459.

They are often considered a nuisance because they are parasite birds that destroy the eggs of smaller songbirds so they can lay their eggs in the nest and have the bird foster their chicks.

12. House Wren

house wren

House Wrens are frequently spotted in Nebraska during summer and are recorded in 39% of checklists at this time. They are usually seen here from April to October.

House Wrens are small nondescript brown birds with darker barred wings and tails and a paler throat. 

  • Troglodytes aedon
  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (10-12 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9 in (15 cm)

House Wrens spend their summer breeding in the US and southern Canada before migrating to southern US states and Mexico for winter.

You can find House Wrens in backyards, parks and open woods foraging for insects and spiders. 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. 

House Wren Song:

Peter Boesman, XC693927. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/693927.

Attract House Wrens to your backyard by leaving piles of brush or putting up a nest box.

Wrens are often overlooked for more flash birds, but take the time to get to know the sight and sounds of wrens in Nebraska.

13. House Sparrow

House sparrow for identification

House Sparrows are an introduced species in Nebraska that can be spotted here all year. They do not migrate and occur in 27% of summer checklists and 36% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.

The House Sparrow is another introduced species that has done very well and is now one of the most common birds. They have gray and brown heads and white cheeks. Their backs are black and brown, and their bellies are gray.

  • Passer domesticus
  • Length: 5.9-6.7 in (15-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz (27-30 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in (19-25 cm)

House Sparrows live in the US and Southern Canada all year.

You can find them near houses and buildings, and they can be pretty tame, and they may even eat out of your hand.

House Sparrows eat mostly grain and seed as well as discarded food. They can be considered a pest because they are non-native, but they are found in backyards even if you do not feed them.

House Sparrow Song:

Credit: Olivier SWIFT, XC697951. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/697951.

Attract House Sparrows to your backyard feeders with most kinds of birdseed, including millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.

Sparrows are known as LBJs (Little brown jobs) but if you want to know more, check out this guide to sparrows in Nebraska.

14. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch for identification

American Goldfinches can be spotted in Nebraska all year. They are recorded in 35% of summer checklists and 29% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.

American Goldfinches are popular birds with the males’ bright yellow and black coloring in spring. The females are duller brown, as are males in winter.

  • Spinus tristis
  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz (11-20 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in (19-22 cm)

American Goldfinches can be found in most of North America and are usually resident all year. However, those that breed in Canada and the Midwest migrate to southern US States for winter.

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.

American Goldfinch Song:

Attract American Goldfinches to your backyard by planting thistles and milkweed. They will visit most bird feeders and prefer sunflower seed and nyjer seed. 

There are so many yellow birds in Nebraska that you will spot, especially in spring.

15. White-breasted Nuthatch

White breasted nuthatch for identification

White-breasted Nuthatches are found all year in Nebraska but are more common from September to February. They appear in 15% of summer checklists and 27% of winter checklists for the state.

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.

  • Sitta carolinensis
  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-30 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 in (20-27 cm)

White-breasted Nuthatches live all year in the US and southern Canada.

You can find White-breasted Nuthatches 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.

White-breasted Nutcracker Call:

Credit: Russ Wigh, XC560678. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/560678.

Attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts on tube feeders or suet feeders.

16. Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadees do not migrate and can be spotted all year in Nebraska. They appear in 16% of summer checklists and 24% of winter checklists for the state.

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 investigate everything, including you! 

They have black caps and beaks, white cheeks, and are gray on the back, wings, and tail.

  • Poecile atricapillus
  • Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (9-14 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.3-8.3 in (16-21 cm)

Black-capped Chickadees do not migrate and can be spotted in the northern half of the US and Canada.

You can find them in forests, open woods, parks. Black-capped Chickadees eat seeds, berries and insects, spiders, and suet.

Black-capped Chickadee Call/Song:

Credit: Matt Wistrand, XC554222. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/554222.

Attract Black-capped Chickadees to your backyard with 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.

17. Eastern Kingbirds

eastern-kingbird

Eastern Kingbirds spend the breeding season in Nebraska and are spotted from April to September. They occur in 33% of summer checklists.

Eastern Kingbirds are medium-sized, large-headed flycatchers that are blackish on the back and white underneath. Their heads are darker black and they have a white tip on the tail.

They get their name ‘king’ from the aggression they show each other and other birds when defending their nests. They have a concealed crown, of yellow, orange, or red feathers, which they raise when defending themselves or their nest.

  • Tyrannus tyrannus
  • Length: 7.5-9.1 in (19-23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.2-1.9 oz (33-55 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0-15.0 in (33-38 cm)

They breed in the US before heading south into Central and South America for winter.  They usually breed in fields, orchards, and along forest edges.  They can often be found nesting near water such as rivers or lakes.

Eastern Kingbirds catch insects in midair, including bees, wasps, ants beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, bugs, and flies. They will often perch up above fields waiting for insects to fly past. They will also eat fruit, including serviceberries, cherries, blackberries, and elderberries.

You can attract more Eastern Kingbirds to your yard with native berry bushes and having lots of native vegetation that attracted insects.

18. Western Meadowlark

western meadowlark

Western Meadowlarks can be spotted all year in Nebraska, but they are more common during the breeding season. They appear in 31% of summer checklists and 5% of winter checklists for the state.

With their bright yellow bellies and melodious song, Western Meadowlarks 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 US states.

Western Meadowlarks are members of the blackbird family and are about the size of a Robin with shades of brown and white upperparts and a black V-shaped band across the bright yellow chest that turns gray in winter.

  • Sturnella neglecta
  • Length: 6.3-10.2 in (16-26 cm)
  • Weight: 3.1-4.1 oz (89-115 g)
  • Wingspan: 16.1 in (41 cm)

Western Meadowlarks breed in northern US states and Canada before moving to more southern states. Those in The West and Midwest remain all year.

You can find Western Meadowlarks foraging for insects and seeds from weeds. Also, they look for seeds on the ground alone or in small flocks in grasslands, meadows, and fields.

Western Meadowlark Song:

Credit: Paul Marvin, XC698318. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/698318.

Attract Western Meadowlarks to your backyard with hulled sunflower seeds and cracked corn.

19. Baltimore Oriole

baltimore oriole

Baltimore Orioles are frequently spotted in Nebraska during the breeding season. They can be seen here from mid-April to September and are recorded in 32% of summer checklists.

Baltimore Orioles are a colorful sign of spring in the east of North America, and they are members of the blackbird family. Adult males are bright orange and black with white wing bars on the black wings.

Females are mostly dull yellow and brown. They are yellowish underneath and on their heads, grayish-brown on the wings, and brownish-yellow on their backs.

  • Icterus galbula
  • Length: 6.7-7.5 in (17-19 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-1.4 oz (30-40 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.1-11.8 in (23-30 cm)

Baltimore Orioles breed in eastern US States and central US states, including central-southern Canadian provinces and along the southern border with the US.

For winter, they migrate to Florida, Central America, and the Caribbean, leaving as early as July.

You can find Baltimore Orioles high up in open woodland, riverbanks, and forest edges foraging for insects and fruit, and they often come to parks and backyards. They make incredible hanging bag-like nests woven from fibers.

Baltimore Orioles’ diet is insects such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, as well as spiders, and snails, and they help eat pest species. However, they eat a wide variety of fruits and can damage crops such as raspberries, mulberries, cherries, bananas, and oranges.

Baltimore Oriole Song:

Credit: Matt Wistrand, XC415889. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/415889.

Attract Baltimore Orioles to your yard with oranges cut in half on platform feeders or hanging from trees. Also, oriole feeders are filled with sugar water and plant fruit and nectar sources such as raspberries, crab apples, and trumpet vines.

20. Orchard Oriole

orchard oriole

Orchard Orioles can be seen in Nebraska during the breeding season from mid-May until September, and they occur in 23% of summer checklists.

Orchard Oriole males have black heads and backs and reddish undersides. Females look pretty different and are greenish-yellow overall, paler underneath and darker on the back, with darker wings and white wingbars.

  • Icterus spurius
  • Length: 5.9-7.1 in (15-18 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.0 oz (16-28 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8 in (25 cm)

In summer, Orchard Orioles breed in central and eastern US states before migrating south to Mexico and Central America. 

You can find Orchard Orioles in open woodland, along river banks, open shrubland, farms, and backyards. They build hanging pouch-like nests.

Orchard Orioles’ diet is mostly insects such as ants, caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, and spiders. They will also drink nectar from flowers and eat fruit like mulberries and chokeberries.

Orchard Oriole Song:

Credit: Russ Wigh, XC649906. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/649906.

Attract Orchard Orioles to your yard with hummingbird feeders or platform feeders with cut oranges or mango. Also, plant native berry plants such as mulberries or chokeberries.

21. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers are spotted in Nebraska all year throughout the state and are recorded in 22% of summer checklists and 19% of winter checklists.

Northern Flickers are large brown woodpeckers with black spots and a white patch on their rump in flight, plus a red nape of the neck in the males. 

Northern Flickers have red or yellow flashes in the wings and tail depending on where they originate. Red-shafted birds live in the west, and yellow-shafted birds live in the east.

  • Colaptes auratus
  • Length: 11.0-12.2 in (28-31 cm)
  • Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz (110-160 g)
  • Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in (42-51 cm)

Northern Flickers can be spotted across the US all year and in Canada during summer. Those that breed in Canada migrate south for the winter.

Northern Flickers mainly eat ants, beetles, fruits, and seeds, and they can often be seen on the ground digging with their curved bill.

Northern flicker Call:

Credit: Thomas Ryder Payne, XC636252. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/636252.

Attract Northern Flickers to your backyard with suet.

22. Chipping Sparrow

chipping sparrow

Chipping Sparrows breed in Nebraska from April to October and appear in 25% of summer checklists.

Chipping Sparrows are slender, long-tailed birds with a grayish belly and brown and black-streaked back, with a rusty crown and black eye line. In winter, the colors are more subdued.

  • Spizella passerina
  • Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz (11-16 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.3 in (21 cm)

Chipping Sparrows spend their summer breeding in the US and Canada before flying to Mexico and Florida for winter. Some remain all year in the southern states.

You can find Chipping Sparrows in small flocks on open ground and will come to backyards for many kinds of birdseed.

Chipping Sparrow Song:

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC611297. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/611297.

Attract Chipping Sparrows to your backyard with seeds or cracked corn on open feeders such as hoppers or platforms.

23. House Finch

House Finches are residents of Nebraska all year. They do not migrate and appear in 21% of summer checklists and 26% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers for the state.

House Finches males have a red head and breast, and the rest of their bodies are mainly brown-streaked. Females are brown-streaked all over. 

  • Haemorhous mexicanus
  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (16-27 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm)

Originally only in western US states, House Finches were introduced to eastern US states and have done very well, even pushing out the Purple Finch.

They can be found in parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders in noisy groups that are hard to miss.

House Finch Song:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC653352. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/653352.

House Finch Call:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC612573. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/612573.

Attract House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.

There are a surprising number of finches in Nebraska that you can get to know.

24. American Crow

American Crow for identification

American Crows are found all year in Nebraska. They are spotted in 17% of summer checklists and 20% of winter checklists.

American crows are large all-black birds that make a hoarse, cawing sound.

  • Corvus brachyrhynchos
  • Length: 15.8-20.9 in (40-53 cm)
  • Weight: 11.2-21.9 oz (316-620 g)
  • Wingspan: 33.5-39.4 in (85-100 cm)

American Crows are residents all year in most of the lower 48 and the Pacific Coast in Canada and Alaska. Those that breed in Canada and the northern Midwest migrate south for winter.

They are common birds 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.

In winter, American Crows gather in large numbers of up to two million crows to sleep in noisy communal roosts.

American Crow Call:

Credit: Russ Wigh, XC569711. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/569711.

Attract American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts, but they can become a nuisance as they are attracted by garbage or pet food if left out.

25. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are spotted in Nebraska all year, mainly in the east of the state. They are recorded in 15% of summer checklists and 24% of winter checklists.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers can be mistaken for Red-headed Woodpeckers as they have red caps, but they are much smaller than the Red-headed Woodpecker. Female Red-bellied Woodpeckers lack the red cap and only have red at the back of their heads.

They also have a very pale red belly that can be hard to spot, but they do have the typical woodpecker black and white markings over their backs.

  • Melanerpes carolinus
  • Length: 9.4 in (24 cm)
  • Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz (56-91 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in (33-42 cm)

Red-bellied Woodpeckers can be found in eastern US states, and they do not migrate.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat insects, spiders, seeds from grasses, fruit, and nuts. They will also sometimes eat nestlings. They nest in dead trees and may use the same nest year after year. They lay 4-5 white eggs on a bed of wood chips.

The tongue of the Red-bellied Woodpecker sticks out 2 inches past the beak and is barbed at the tip, along with sticky spit. This helps catch prey from deep crevices.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Call:

Credit: William Whitehead, XC473321. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/473321.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers can often be seen at bird feeders, especially if you live near wooded areas. They make a distinctive loud rolling call which means you will often hear them before you see them.

26. Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian collared dove

Eurasian Collared-Doves are residents of Nebraska all year. They do not migrate and occur in 18% of summer checklists and 15% of winter checklists for the state.

Eurasian-collard Doves 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.

  • Streptopelia decaocto
  • Length: 11.4-11.8 in (29-30 cm)
  • Weight: 4.9-6.3 oz (140-180 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.8 in (35 cm)

Eurasian Collared-Doves are an introduced species that only arrived in the 1980s but now live across most of the United States.

You can find Eurasian Collared-Doves in most areas, including rural and suburban and they eat a wide variety of seeds and grain but also eat some berries and insects.

Eurasian Collared-Dove song:

Manuel Grosselet, XC722058. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/722058.

27. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern bluebird

Eastern Bluebirds can be spotted all year in Nebraska, but their numbers increase from May to July and in October. They appear in 10% of summer checklists and 6% of winter checklists.

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.

  • Sialia sialis
  • Length: 6.3-8.3 in (16-21 cm)
  • Weight: 1.0-1.1 oz (28-32 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-12.6 in (25-32 cm)

They live all year in southeastern US states, but those that breed in the northern US and southern Canada migrate south.

You can find Eastern bluebirds in meadows, and they can often be spotted perched on wires and posts or low branches looking for insects.

Eastern Bluebird Song:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC601010. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/601010.

Attract Eastern Bluebirds to your backyard by offering mealworms and nest boxes if your yard is pretty open and spacious.

28. Red-headed Woodpecker

Red Headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpeckers are commonly spotted in Nebraska during the breeding season and are usually spotted from May to September. However, a few hang around all year. They appear in 20% of summer checklists and 1% of winter checklists.

With their bright red-heads and black and white bold markings, these woodpeckers are one of the easiest to identify. Red-headed Woodpeckers are medium-sized with powerful spike bills. They have white undersides, black backs and large white bands on the wings, and short tails.

  • Length: 7.5-9.1 in (19-23 cm)
  • Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz (56-91 g)
  • Wingspan: 16.5 in (42 cm)

Red-headed Woodpeckers can be found in Eastern and Central US states and into southern Canada. Those in the north and east of the range may migrate further east and south depending on acorn crops.

They can fiercely defend their territories, even removing or destroying the eggs of other birds or ducks.  Red-headed Woodpeckers will catch insects in flight as well as in crevices like other woodpeckers.

Insects such as beetles, midges, honeybees, and grasshoppers, make up only about one-third of their diet. The other two-thirds are plant materials such as seeds, nuts, and berries. Red-headed Woodpeckers will also take nestlings or eggs from other birds and sometimes mice.

Red-headed Woodpeckers make a shrill call and nest in tree cavities, sometimes reusing a site, and lay 4-5 white eggs.  Unfortunately, huge declines of 70% of Red-headed Woodpeckers occurred between 1966 to 2014 due to habitat loss.

Where to spot Red-headed Woodpeckers:

They can be found in open woodlots, farms, dead timber in swamps, or pine savannas. Sometimes they visit backyard bird feeders.

How to attract Red-headed Woodpeckers to your backyard feeder:

Red-headed Woodpeckers visit backyards for suet.

29. Song Sparrow

Song sparrow for identification

Song Sparrows can be spotted all year in eastern Nebraska, but only during winter in the west of the state. They appear in 12% of summer checklists and 4% of winter checklists.

Song sparrows are not as remarkable looking as other backyard birds, but these predominantly brown-streaked birds use their almost constant song to attract mates in spring and summer.

  • Melospiza melodia
  • Length: 4.7-6.7 in (12-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz (12-53 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in (18-24 cm)

Song Sparrow live all year in the northern US states. Those that breed in Canada migrate to southern US states for winter.

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.

Song Sparrow Song:

Credit: Christopher McPherson, XC692182. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/692182.

Song Sparrow Call:

Credit: Manuel Grosselet, XC683210. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/683210.

Attract Song Sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.

30. Yellow Warbler

yellow warbler

Yellow Warblers spend the breeding season in Nebraska and are spotted here from April to October. They are recorded in 27% of summer checklists.

Yellow Warblers are small bright yellow birds with a yellow-green back, and the males have chestnut streaks on the breast.

  • Setophaga petechia
  • Length: 4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (9-11 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.3-7.9 in (16-20 cm)

Yellow Warblers migrate a long distance to breed in Canada and the US, except for southeastern states, before heading back into Central and South America for winter. However, they can be seen during migration in southeastern US states.

You can find Yellow Warblers along streams and wetlands in thickets and along the edges of fields foraging for insects, including caterpillars, midges, beetles, bugs, and wasps.

Song

Credit: Richard E. Webster, XC662546. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/662546.

Attract Yellow Warblers to your backyard with suet, oranges, peanut butter, and plants with berries. Also, plant native plants that attract insects without pesticides or being too tidy! Also, try birdbaths with fountains near secluded thickets to provide protection.

31. Gray Catbird

gray catbird

Gray Catbirds spend summer in Nebraska and occur in 21% of checklists at this time. They arrive here in April and start to migrate in October.

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.

  • Dumetella carolinensis
  • Length: 8.3-9.4 in (21-24 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-2.0 oz (23.2-56.5 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in (22-30 cm)

Gray Catbirds breed in the Midwest, eastern US states, and southern Canada before heading to the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean for winter. Some remain all year along the East Coast.

You can spot Gray Catbirds in dense shrubs, small trees, and along forest edges or hedgerows. They are named after their ‘mew’ sounding call.

Gray Catbird Call:

Credit: Paul Marvin, XC460766. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/460766.

Attract Gray Catbirds to your backyard with fruit and fruit trees or shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry.

32. Common Yellowthroat

common yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroats spend the breeding season in Nebraska. They are mainly spotted from April to October and appear in 22% of summer checklists.

Common Yellowthroats are small songbirds that are brownish on the back and bright yellow underneath, with long tails. The males have a black masks across their faces. The brightness of the yellow can vary geographically, and they may be more olive in parts underneath.

  • Geothlypis trichas
  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.3 oz (9-10 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm)

Common Yellowthroats spend the summer breeding over most of North America, except Alaska and northern Canada. Some remain all year along the Gulf Coast and Pacific Southwest. Then, they migrate south for winter.

You can find Common Yellowthroats often in marshy or wetland areas and brushy fields living in thick, tangled vegetation. 

Common Yellowthroat Song:

Credit: Paul Marvin, XC629250. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/629250.

Attract Common Yellowthroats to large backyards with dense vegetation and native plants to attract insects.

33. Cedar Waxwing

cedar waxwing

Cedar Waxwings can be spotted in Nebraska all year. They are recorded in 9% of summer checklists and 5% of winter checklists for the state.

Cedar Waxwings are elegant social birds that are pale brown on the head, chest, and crest, which fades to gray on the back, wings, and tail.

Their belly is pale yellow, and bright yellow towards the tail. They have a narrow black mask over their eyes and bright red on the wingtips.

  • Bombycilla cedrorum
  • Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1 oz (32 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in (22-30 cm)

Cedar Waxwings remain all year in the northern half of the US. Those that breed in Canada migrate to the southern half of the US for winter.

They make a high-pitched call and can be found in berry bushes, woodlands, and streams.

Cedar Waxwing Call:

Credit: Peter Ward and Ken Hall, XC512254. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/512254.

Attract Cedar Waxwings to your backyard by planting native trees and shrubs with small fruit such as serviceberry, dogwood, juniper, winterberry, and hawthorn. You can also try fruit on platform feeders.

Common Birds Nebraska At Different Times Of Year

The birds above are those that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird and the data is a combination of birds most commonly spotted in Nebraska in summer (June and July) and winter (December and January). 

Birds that are not often seen at feeders or backyards have been removed to give you the birds in Nebraska you are most likely to see from home. This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are bird-watching in Nebraska, these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.

The birds that are attracted to backyards in Nebraska change throughout the year.  The lists below show the backyard birds most commonly seen at different times of the year in Nebraska. For example, robins and Western Meadowlarks are more common in summer in Nebraska and Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays, and woodpeckers are more common in winter.

Summer birds Nebraska

Mourning Dove 70%
American Robin 58%
Red-winged Blackbird 48%
Common Grackle 47%
Barn Swallow 40%
Brown-headed Cowbird 39%
Eastern Kingbird 39%
House Wren 38%
Western Meadowlark 38%
Northern Cardinal 32%

Winter birds Nebraska

Dark-eyed Junco 58%
Blue Jay 36%
European Starling 36%
Downy Woodpecker 35%
Northern Cardinal 35%
House Sparrow 33%
American Goldfinch 29%
White-breasted Nuthatch 27%
Red-bellied Woodpecker 25%
Black-capped Chickadee 24%

Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds in Nebraska

A variety of different bird feeders will attract the most species of birds

  1.  Tube Feeders can be filled with different types of bird seed and depending on the seed different birds will be attracted. Black oil sunflower seeds attracts Goldfinches, Checkadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Pine Siskins.
  2. Tray below a Tube Feeder with Black oil sunflowers tube feeders attract Cardinals, Jays, Finches and Sparrows.
  3. Platform feeders with Millet or Corn attract small and medium sized birds such as sparrows, Blackbirds, Towhees, Juncos, Doves, Grackles and Starlings.
  4. Peanut feeders attract Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Jays, Juncos, Finches and Sparrows.
  5. Suet Feeders are great, especially in winter, for Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Kinglets, Wrens and Chickadees.

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in Nebraska

If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in Nebraska, here are some tips:

  1. Provide bird feeders for different types of birds to get the most species to visit your yard.
  2. Provide a water feature such as a birdbath fountain or stream.  Ensure that the water is clean and not stagnant
  3.  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.
  4. Let your grass grow long to provide cover and seeds.
  5. Leave a brush pile to provide food, protection, and nesting opportunities for birds.
  6. 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.
  7. Set up nest boxes to attract breeding birds and ensure they are cleaned every year.

How to Identify Birds in Nebraska

Here are some tips to help you identify birds:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. Habitat – Woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, shore or marsh.
  6. Use a bird identification app such as those created by ebird or Audubon

Best Birding Sites in Nebraska

If you decide to venture out and go birding in Nebraska here are some top sites that give excellent bird watching opportunities in Nebraska:

  1. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Princeton, Oregon. Expansive wetlands attract hundreds of thousands of waterfowl in migration as well as marsh habitat. American White Pelicans and Sandhill Cranes migrate in their thousands through this site and some may stay to nest. The auto tour route is 42 miles long and the number of migratory birds peaks in March. Other notable species include Greater Sage-Grouse, White-faced Ibis, Virginia Rail, Sora, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Snowy Plover, Long-billed, CurlewBurrowing Owl and Short-eared Owl, 
  2. Oregon Coast Birding Trail Newport, Oregon. This route takes you through shady woodland and coastal stretches where you can see Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Stellar’s Jays in the trees and Black Oystercatchers, Black Turnstones along the shore.  Offshore Common Murres, grebes, mergansers, and Brandt’s cormorants.
  3. Crater Lake National Park lies in the collapsed interior of an ancient volcano. and is the deepest lake in the United States. High-elevation birds can be found here including woodpeckers, sapsuckers, flycatchers, Sooty Grouse, Mountain Chickadees, Mountain Bluebirds, and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch.
  4. Upper and Lower Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge is home to the largest winter concentration of Bald Eagles in the lower 48. American White Pelicans arrive in the spring before grebes arrive in May. Rough-legged Hawks arrive in November and Bald Eagles start arriving in December.  Snow Geese, Great Egret, Northern Shovelers, and killdeer can also be spotted in this vast wetland that provides a major migratory route stop off.

Birds to Spot if Out Birding in Nebraska

If you go out Birding in Nebraska, these are other birds that you may be able to spot.

This guide on hawks in Nebraska will also help.

  1. Canada goose
  2. Red-tailed Hawk
  3. Mallard
  4. Killdeer
  5. Turkey vulture
  6. Great Blue Heron
  7. American Kestrel
  8. Ring-billed Gull
  9. Northern Shoveler
  10. Bald Eagle
  11. Wild Turkey
  12. Wood Duck
  13. Belted Kingfisher
  14. Double-crested Cormorant
  15. Pied-billed Grebe
  16. Snow Goose
  17. American White Pelican
  18. Bufflehead
  19. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  20. Redhead
  21. Sandhill Crane
  22. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  23. Great Blue Heron
  24. Greater Prarie Birds
  25. Great Horned Owls