Have you wondered what those birds are that are visiting your backyard in North Dakota?
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 North Dakota. Also, get a free ID chart to print with the most common backyard birds in North Dakota.
In North Dakota, Western Meadowlarks, Eastern Kingbirds and Yellow Warblers are more common in summer and Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatches are more common in winter
Backyard birds in North Dakota all year: House Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, House Finch, American Crow, Northern Flicker, European Starling
Backyard birds in North Dakota in summer: Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Dove, Western Meadowlark, American Robin, Brown-headed Cowbird, Common Grackle, Eastern Kingbird, American Goldfinch, Barn Swallow, Song Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Western Kingbird, House Wren, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Chipping Sparrow, Yellow Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing
Backyard birds in North Dakota in winter: Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay, Hairy Woodpecker, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-breasted Nuthatch
These are the most common backyard birds in North Dakota 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 North Dakota.
If you like backyard birding you will probably enjoy spotting some ducks in North Dakota too.
Facts About Birds in North Dakota
The Western Meadowlark is the state bird of North Dakota. This bird was chosen in 1947. This bright yellow bird is commonly recorded in state checklists for North Dakota in summer, being recorded only 47% of the time.
There are 393 species of bird recorded in North Dakota according to ebird. Some of the highlight birds in North Dakota are Bald, Eagles, Greater Prairie-Chicken, White Pelicans, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Orioles, Bitterns, Wilson’s Phalarope, Short-eared Owl, Grebes, White-faced Ibis, and Northern Harriers.
The biggest bird in North Dakota 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 North Dakota is the American Robin, which is seen in 40% of recorded checklists for the state on ebird throughout the year.
North Dakota has 5 national parks, 5 state forests, 63 national wildlife refuges, 3 national grassland, and 13 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 the top birding locations in North Dakota and how to identify birds.
Free Printable Backyard Birds Worksheets for North Dakota
These free bird identification worksheets have all the common backyard birds in North Dakota 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.
Top 30 Backyard Birds In North Dakota
1. Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged blackbirds are frequently spotted in North Dakota during summer and occur in 55% of checklists submitted by bird watchers at this time. Most migrate south for winter, but a few hang around all year.
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:
Red-winged Blackbird Calls:
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 North Dakota?
2. Mourning Dove
Mourning Doves are mainly seen in North Dakota during the breeding season and occur in 54% of checklists at this time. They are usually spotted from April to October, but some stay in the east of the state all year.
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:
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. Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlarks are frequently spotted during the breeding season in North Dakota. They are recorded in 38% of summer 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:
Attract Western Meadowlarks to your backyard with hulled sunflower seeds and cracked corn.
There are so many yellow birds in North Dakota that you will spot, especially in spring.
4. American Robin
American Robins are more frequently spotted in North Dakota during the breeding season from March to November, but some remain in the state all year. They are recorded in 50% of summer checklists and 6% of winter checklists.
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:
American Robin Call:
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.
5. Brown-headed Cowbird
Brown-headed Cowbirds are mainly spotted in North Dakota during summer and appear in 40% of checklists at this time. They spend the breeding season here, mainly from April to August, but some stay 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:
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.
6. Common Grackle
Although considered near-threatened species, Common Grackles spend the breeding season in North Dakota and appear in 47% of summer checklists. They are most common from April to October, then most migrate south for the winter, but a few remain in the state and occur in 1% of winter checklists.
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:
Attract more Common Grackles to your backyard with mixed grain and seed sprinkled on the ground or platform feeders.
7. Eastern Kingbirds
Eastern Kingbirds spend the breeding season in North Dakota and are spotted here from May to September. They appear in 27% 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 attracts insects.
8. American Goldfinch
American Goldfinches mainly spend the breeding season in North Dakota from May to September in the north of the state, but they can also be spotted in the rest of the state all year. They are recorded in 34% of summer checklists and 8% 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 a surprising number of finches in North Dakota that you can get to know.
9. Barn Swallow
Barn Swallows spend the breeding season in North Dakota and occur in 30% of summer checklists. They are spotted here from April to October.
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 barns.
Barn Swallow call:
Attract Barn Swallows by putting up nest boxes or cups, and they may eat ground-up eggshells on a platform feeder.
10. Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadees are spotted in North Dakota all year, but their numbers increase from December to February. They are recorded in 19% of summer checklists and 43% 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, and parks. Black-capped Chickadees eat seeds, berries and insects, spiders, and suet.
Black-capped Chickadee Call/Song:
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.
You should find out all about the other sociable and inquisitive chickadees in North Dakota.
11. House Sparrow
House Sparrows are an introduced species in North Dakota that can be spotted here all year. They do not migrate and occur in 21% of summer checklists and 33% of winter checklists submitted by the 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:
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 North Dakota.
12. White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatches can be found in North Dakota all year round, especially from December to February. They appear in 13% of summer checklists and 31% of winter checklists.
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:
Attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts on tube feeders or suet feeders.
13. Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckers are spotted in North Dakota all year, but their numbers increase during migration and winter. They appear in 13% of summer checklists and 28% 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:
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 North Dakota.
14. Blue Jay
Blue Jays are more common during winter in North Dakota, but some stay all year in the east of the state. They are recorded in 10% of summer checklists and 20% of winter checklists.
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:
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.
15. Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpeckers do not migrate and are usually spotted during winter in North Dakota and occur in 21% of checklists at this time. However, they also appear in 9% of summer checklists.
Hairy Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers with a black and white pattern and a large white patch on their backs. The males have a flash of red towards the back of their heads.
They are visually similar to Downy Woodpeckers but larger and with longer bills. As they are often found in the same areas, it is hard to tell them apart if they are not near each other.
- Dryobates villosus
- Length: 7.1-10.2 in (18-26 cm)
- Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz (40-95 g)
- Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in (33-41 cm)
Hairy Woodpeckers do not migrate and live in all US states and Canada, except the far north of Canada.
You can find Hairy Woodpeckers in woodlands on trunks or main branches of large trees, but they are also found in a wide variety of habitats, including woodlots, parks, and cemeteries. Hairy Woodpeckers’ diet is mostly insects.
Hairy Woodpecker Call/drumming:
Attract Hairy Woodpeckers to your backyard with suet feeders.
16. Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Juncos can be spotted in North Dakota during winter, but their numbers increase during migration from March to April and October to November. They appear in around 20% of checklists in winter but up to 51% during the migration.
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:
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 is best.
17. Song Sparrow
Song Sparrows are frequently spotted in North Dakota during summer. They are mainly seen during the breeding season, from April to October, and are recorded in 31% of summer 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 Sparrows 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:
Song Sparrow Call:
Attract Song Sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.
Brown birds are often overlooked but once you get to know a few you are hooked so get studying all the brown birds in North Dakota.
18. Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroats are seen in North Dakota during the breeding season and appear in 22% of summer checklists. They are spotted from mid-April until October.
Common Yellowthroats are small songbirds that are brownish on the back and bright yellow underneath, with long tails. The males have 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:
Attract Common Yellowthroats to large backyards with dense vegetation and native plants to attract insects.
19. Western Kingbird
Western Kingbirds are spotted in North Dakota during summer from mid-April to September and occur in 20% of checklists at this time.
Western Kingbirds are large flycatchers with yellow bellies, whitish chests, gray heads, grayish-brown wings, and black tails with white edges.
- Tyrannus verticalis
- Length: 7.9-9.4 in (20-24 cm)
- Weight: 1.3-1.6 oz (37-46 g)
- Wingspan: 15.0-16.1 in (38-41 cm)
Western Kingbirds breed in summer in western US states, the plains area, and into Canada. They migrate to Mexico and Central America, but some may overwinter in the south of Florida.
You can find Western Kingbirds in open habitats, and they are often found perched on fences and utility lines, waiting for insects to fly by before catching them in mid-flight.
Western Kingbird call:
Nests of Western Kingbirds are usually built in trees or shrubs, but they also nest in human-made buildings or posts. The nest is made by the female from twigs, grass, and plant material woven into a cup.
They lay up to seven eggs which take two or nearly three weeks to hatch, and the same again for the young to leave the nest.
Attract Western Kingbirds to your yard by making it insect-friendly and planting elderberry or hawthorn, from which they will also eat the fruit.
Fun Fact: Western Kingbird parents will feed their young for a further three weeks after they leave the nest.
20. House Wren
House Wrens spend the breeding season in North Dakota and appear in 22% of summer checklists submitted by bird watchers of the state. They can be seen here from May to October before they fly south for the winter.
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:
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 North Dakota.
21. Yellow-headed Blackbird
Yellow-headed Blackbirds spend summer in North Dakota and are spotted from April to October. They appear in 23% of summer checklists.
Yellow-headed Blackbirds are striking birds with glossy black bodies, bright yellow heads and chests, and white patches on the wings in males. Females are brown instead of black, and the yellow head is duller. They are larger than the Red-winged Blackbird.
- Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
- Length: 8.3-10.2 in (21-26 cm)
- Weight: 1.6-3.5 oz (44-100 g)
- Wingspan: 16.5-17.3 in (42-44 cm)
Yellow-headed Blackbirds breed in western and prairie wetlands and nest in the reeds. They forage over surrounding wetlands, grasslands, and fields, mostly for insects in the summer.
After breeding, Yellow-headed Blackbirds migrate to fields and farmland in Southwest states and Mexico for the winter in large flocks.
Yellow-headed Blackbirds feed on insects in summer and seeds and grains in winter.
Yellow-headed Blackbirds sounds: The screeching buzz at the end of a few more musical notes is very distinctive.
Attract Yellow-headed Blackbirds to your yard with sunflower seeds.
22. House Finch
House Finches can be spotted in North Dakota all year. They do not migrate and appear in 11% of summer checklists and 19% 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:
House Finch Call:
Attract House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.
There are lots of other red birds in North Dakota that you can spot.
23. Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatches are usually spotted in North Dakota from September to February and occur in 14% of winter checklists. However, some also stay and appear in 2% of summer checklists.
Red-breasted Nuthatches are blue-gray birds with black and white stripes on their heads and a rusty underside.
- Sitta canadensis
- Length: 4.3 in (11 cm)
- Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (8-13 g)
- Wingspan: 7.1-7.9 in (18-20 cm)
Red-breasted Nuthatches remain all year in northeastern and western states, Alaska and Canada but may move south in winter if cone crops are poor.
You can find Red-breasted Nuthatches in coniferous woods foraging for cones, and they also visit backyard feeders.
Red-breasted Nuthatch Call:
Attract Red-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds, suet feeders, peanuts, and mealworms.
24. American Crow
American Crows are spotted all year in North Dakota, but their numbers increase during the migration from March to May and August to mid-October. They appear in around 20% of summer and winter checklists but up to 34% of checklists during migration.
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:
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. Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrows spend the breeding season in North Dakota and appear in 30% of summer checklists. They arrive in April and start to leave in October.
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:
Attract Chipping Sparrows to your backyard with seeds or cracked corn on open feeders such as hoppers or platforms.
26. Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warblers are mainly spotted in North Dakota from May to September and occur in 33% 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.
Yellow Warbler Song:
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.
These colorful and melodious migratory birds don’t stick around for long so be sure to check out all the warblers in North Dakota you can spot before it’s too late.
27. Northern Flicker
Northern Flickers can be spotted in North Dakota all year, but they are more likely to be seen during summer and the spring and fall migration. They appear in 16% of summer checklists, 5% of winter checklists, and up to 47% of checklists during migration.
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:
Attract Northern Flickers to your backyard with suet.
28. Clay-colored Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrows spend the breeding season in North Dakota and appear in 28% of summer checklists. You can spot them here from May to October.
These small, plain birds of the northern prairies and Great Plains have distinctive head markings which set them apart from other sparrows. They have a gray collar around their necks and long notched tails.
- Spizella pallida
- Length: 5.1 – 6 in (13 – 15 cm)
- Weight: 0.42 oz (12 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5 in (19 cm)
Clay-colored Sparrows are the most common sparrow you can spot in summer in the northern prairies. They breed in Canada and the northern Great Plains before migrating south to Texas and Mexico.
In summer, you can find Clay-colored Sparrows in shrubland, looking for seeds, leaf buds, or the occasional insect.
Clay-colored Sparrow sounds: Their song is a two-note buzzing sound.
29. European Starling
European Starlings are considered introduced species in North Dakota that can be seen in the state all year. They appear in 15% of summer checklists and 13% of 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 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:
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.
30. Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwings are mainly spotted in North Dakota during the breeding season, but some remain here all year. They are recorded in 14% of summer checklists and 4% of winter checklists.
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:
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 at Different Times of Year in North Dakota
The birds that are attracted to backyards in North Dakota changes throughout the year. The lists below show the backyard birds that are most commonly seen at different times of year in North Dakota.
These are the backyard birds most often seen in North Dakota 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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota you are most likely to see from home.
This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are bird-watching in North Dakota these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.
Notable differences show that Western Meadowlarks, Eastern Kingbirds and Yellow Warblers are more common in summer and Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatches are more common in winter
Common birds in North Dakota all year
American Robin 40%
Mourning Dove 32%
Red-winged Blackbird 32%
Common Grackle 28%
Black-capped Chickadee 27%
American Goldfinch 25%
House Sparrow 24%
Western Meadowlark 23%
American Crow 21%
White-breasted Nuthatch 20%
Summer birds North Dakota
Red-winged Blackbird 55%
Mourning Dove 52%
Western Meadowlark 46%
American Robin 44%
Brown-headed Cowbird 41%
Common Grackle 41%
Eastern Kingbird 38%
American Goldfinch 37%
Barn Swallow 34%
Yellow Warbler 33%
Winter birds North Dakota
Black-capped Chickadee 41%
House Sparrow 32%
White-breasted Nuthatch 31%
Downy Woodpecker 26%
Blue Jay 22%
Hairy Woodpecker 21%
Dark-eyed Junco 19%
House Finch 18%
American Crow 16%
Red-breasted Nuthatch 15%
Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds in North Dakota
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 North Dakota
If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in North Dakota there are some tips that
- 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 North Dakota
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 North Dakota
If you go out Birding in North Dakota these are other birds that you may be able to spot:
- Canada Goose
- Ring-billed Gull
- Ring-necked Pheasant
- Blue-winged Teal
- Northern Shoveler
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Double-crested Cormorant
- Northern Harrier
- American White Pelican
- Bald Eagle
- Cliff Swallow
- Pied-billed Grebe
- Great Blue Heron
- Red-eyed Vireo
- Western Grebe
- Wilson’s Phalarope
- Turkey Vulture
- American Avocet
- Swainson’s Hawk
- Belted Kingfisher
- Rose-breasted Gosbeak
- Snow Goose