Top 28 Backyard Birds in South Dakota (Free Picture ID Printable)

western meadowlark

Have you wondered what those birds are that are visiting your backyard in South Dakota? Do you need help identifying common backyard birds in South Dakota?

There is a great joy in putting up bird feeders and watching what comes to visit, but it gets better if you know who they are. Now you can find out the most common birds in South Dakota that visit feeders or hop across your lawn.

So if you’re ready to do some backyard birding in South Dakota, then read on to find out how to identify birds and how to attract more birds to your yard.

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Also, get free printable backyard bird worksheets with pictures for South Dakota to help you identify and keep track of the birds that visit your backyard.

Birds in South Dakota

The Ring-Neck Pheasant is the state bird of South Dakota.  This bird was chosen in 1943 and is an introduced species that is native to Asia.

There are 352 species of bird recorded in South Dakota, according to ebird.  Some of the highlight birds in South Dakota include White Pelican, White-faced Ibis, American Avocet, Osprey, Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle, Long-billed Curlew, Mountain Bluebird, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Wild turkey, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, and Orioles.

The biggest bird in South 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 smallest bird in South Dakota is the Calliope Hummingbird which is only about 3 in long, but they can travel long distances from Canada to southern Mexico. 

The most common bird in South Dakota is the American Robin, seen in 36% of recorded checklists for the state on ebird.org throughout the year.

South Dakota has 6 national parks, 2 national forests, 3 National Grasslands, 6 national wildlife refuges, and 56 state parks that offer excellent bird watching opportunities if you want to get out and watch birds in their natural environment.

Common Birds at Different Times of Year in South Dakota

These are the backyard birds most often seen in South Dakota that may visit your lawn or feeders. In addition, they are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird. The data combines birds most commonly spotted in South Dakota in summer (June and July) and winter (December and January). 

Birds that are not often seen at feeders or backyards were removed to give you the birds in South Dakota you are most likely to see from home.

This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are bird-watching in South Dakota, these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.

Notable differences show that Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Mourning Doves, Western Meadowlarks and Eastern Kingbirds are more common in summer and Dark-eyed Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, and Downy Woodpeckers are more common in winter.

Common birds in South Dakota all year

American Robin 36%
Red-winged Blackbird 29%
Mourning Dove 26%
Common Grackle 23%
Black-capped Chickadee 22%
Western Meadowlark 21%
American Goldfinch 21%
European Starling 20%
House Sparrow 19%
Blue Jay 18%

Summer birds South Dakota

American Robin 50%
Red-winged Blackbird 44%
Mourning Dove 43%
Common Grackle 35%
Western Meadowlark 35%
Barn Swallow 33%
Brown-headed Cowbird 27%
Eastern Kingbird 27%
American Goldfinch 25%
Chipping Sparrow 22%

Winter birds South Dakota

Dark-eyed Junco 29%
Black-capped Chickadee 26%
Downy Woodpecker 23%
House Sparrow 21%
European Starling 20%
American Goldfinch 19%
Blue Jay 18%
White-breasted Nuthatch 17%
American Crow 15%
House Finch 14%

Free Printable Backyard Birds Worksheet for South Dakota

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

Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet South Dakota Page 1
Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet South Dakota Page 2
Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet South Dakota Page 3

Top 28 Backyard Birds in South Dakota

1. American Robin

American Robins are a common sight on lawns eating earthworms.  They have black heads and back with red or orange breast.  They tend to roost in trees in winter so you are more likely to see them in your backyard from spring.

American Robins can be found in many habitats, from woodlands, forests, and mountains to fields, parks, and lawns. They eat earthworms, insects, snails, and fruit.

You can attract more American Robins to your yard with sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, fruit, and mealworms.  Platform feeders are best or food scattered on the ground. Also try planting some native plants that produce berries such as juniper, sumac, hawthorn, and dogwood.

American Robin for identification

2. Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are graceful small-headed birds, plump bodies and long tails.  They are a soft brown with black spots on the wings.

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

Mourning Doves are common over all of the lower 48 all year but may migrate after breeding from the far north.

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

Mourning Dove

3. Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged blackbirds are very common and easy to identify with the all-black coloring except for the bright red and yellow shoulder patches.  The females are rather dull in comparison with brown streaky coloring.

They can often be spotted sitting on telephone wires and the males will fiercely defend their territories in the breeding season even attacking people that get too close to nests. In winter they roost in large numbers into the millions.

To attract more Red-winged blackbirds to your backyard try mixed grain and seeds spread on the ground.  They will also feed on large tube feeders or platform feeders.

Red winged blackbird for identification

4. Common Grackle

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

They eat many crops but mostly corn and gather in noisy groups high up in trees.  They will also eat garbage and so can be a nuisance.

Their habitat is varied and includes open woodlands, marshes, parks, and fields. They may gather in their millions in winter to forage and roost, mixed in with other species of blackbird.

Common Grackles are resident all year in the east and southeastern states but migrate south after breeding from the far north and to the west of their range. 

You can attract more Common Grackles to your backyard with most mixed grain and seed, sprinkled on ground feeders or on platform feeders.

Common grackle

5. Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlarks with their bright yellow bellies and melodious song can brighten up your day.  This is probably what makes them so popular, so popular in fact that they are the state bird of 6 states.

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

Breeding in northern US and Canada before moving to more southern states.  Those in the west and midwest remain all year. Western Meadowlarks can be found foraging for insects and seeds on the ground alone or in small flocks in grasslands, meadows, and fields. 

To attract more Western Meadowlarks to your yard try hulled sunflower seeds and cracked corn on ground feeders.

western meadowlark

6. Barn Swallow

Barn Swallows are small birds with a deep-blue back, wings and tail, and reddish-brown underneath and across the face. The tail has long outer feathers that give a deep fork.

They breed over most of North America before heading to Central and South America. They can be found flying over meadows, farms, and fields looking for insects and usually build mud nests on man-made structures such as in barns.

You can attract more Barn Swallows by putting up nest boxes or cups and may eat ground-up eggshells on a platform feeder.

barn swallow

7. Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird males are black-bodied and brown-headed Blackbirds with short tails and thick heads.  Females are brown all over with slight streaking. 

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

They breed in much of the noth and west of North America before heading further south but remain all year in the Eastern and Southern states and Pacific Coast.

Brown-headed cowbird

8. Eastern Kingbird

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.

They breed in much of 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.

eastern-kingbird

9. American Goldfinch

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

American Goldfinches breed in far northern states and Canada before migrating to southern states, they remain all year in the rest of the US.

They can be found in weedy fields and overgrown areas foraging for sunflower, thistle, and aster plants. They are also common in suburbs, parks, and backyards.

To attract more American Goldfinches to your backyard try planting thistles and milkweed.  They will visit most bird feeders and prefer sunflower seed and nyjer seed. 

American Goldfinch for identification

10. Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrows that are different colors depending on the state.  They are generally slate-colored in the east and black, white, and brown in the west.

They can be found in open and partially wooded areas often on the ground and are common across the continent. Some remain resident all year in the west and in the Appalachian Mountains.  Those that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south in winter to much of the United States.

You can attract more Dark-eyed Juncos to backyard feeders with a variety of seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts.  Platform feeders or scattered on the ground are best.

Dark eyed junco for identification

11. Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-capped Chickadee is a cute bird with a big round head and tiny body. These birds will happily feed at backyard feeders and will investigate everything including you! 

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

They can be found in forests, open woods, parks. Black-capped Chickadees eat seeds, berries and insects, spiders, and suet.

To attract more Black-capped Chickadees to your backyard try suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or peanut butter. They will even feed from your hand and are often one of the first birds to discover new feeders. They will also use nest boxes, especially if you fill them with wood shavings.

Black-capped Chickadee

12. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are small birds that are common at backyard feeders.  They are often mixed in with other birds such as chickadees and nuthatches. 

They have black and white coloring with a red patch at the back of their heads.  They look similar to the Hairy Woodpecker but smaller.

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

To attract more Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard try suet feeders but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.

Check out all the species of woodpeckers in South Dakota you can spot.

Downy woodpecker for identification

13. House Sparrow

The House Sparrow is another introduced species that has done very well and is now one of the most common birds. They are found near houses and buildings and can be quite tame so will eat out of your hand.

They can be considered a pest as they are non-native but will be found in backyards even if you do not feed them.

You can attract more House Sparrows to your backyard feeders with most kinds of birdseed, including millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.

House sparrow for identification

14. European Starling

European Starlings are not native but are now one of the most numerous songbirds.  They are stocky black birds with iridescent purple, green, and blue tones. 

Considered a pest by some due to their aggressive behavior these birds fly in large noisy flocks and can be seen perched in groups on the top of trees or flying over fields in flocks.

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

You can attract more European Starlings to your backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts.

European Starling for identification

15. Chipping Sparrow

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

Breeding over much of North America and Canada then flying to Mexico and Florida or in the far south they remain all year.

They can be found in small flocks on open ground and will come to backyards for many kinds of birdseed.

chipping sparrow

16. House Wren

House Wrens are small nondescript brown birds with darker barred wings and tail and a paler throat. Breeding in most states before migrating to the far south and Mexico for winter.

House Wrens can be found in backyards, parks and open woods foraging for insects, and spiders, such as beetles, caterpillars, and earwigs in brush piles. They can often be found energetically hopping through tangles and low branches with their tails up, stopping to sing their cheerful song.

House Wrens are fierce for their size, when it comes to getting the best nest holes, they will often harass larger birds, sometimes dragging eggs or nestlings out of a nest site they want. 

You can attract more House Wrens to your backyard by leaving piles of brush or putting up a nest box.

house wren

17. Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers are large woodpeckers, between the size of a robin and a crow, with brownish coloring and black spots, bars, and crescents and red on the nape.  The undersides of tail and wing feathers are bright yellow in eastern birds and red in western birds.

They can be found on the ground looking for ants and beetles in woods or forest edges. Those that breed in Canada or Alaska migrate to southern states but otherwise, they can be found all year over the lower 48.

You can attract more Northern Flickers to your backyard feeders with suet and black oil sunflower seeds.

Northern Flicker

18. Song Sparrow

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

They can be found in open, shrubby, and wet areas often perched on a low shrub singing. They are often found at backyard feeders.

They eat a wide variety of insects and plants including beetles, caterpillars, midges, spiders, and earthworms. They will also eat buckwheat, sunflower, raspberries, wild cherries, blackberries, wheat and, rice.

You can attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.

Song sparrow for identification

19. Common Yellowthroat

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

They breed over much of North America and so can be found in the spring and summer often in marshy or wetland areas and brushy fields living in thick, tangled vegetation.  They eat mostly insects and will be found in large backyards that have dense vegetation.

common yellowthroat

20. Western Kingbird

Western Kingbirds are large flycatchers with yellow bellies, whitish chests, gray heads, grayish-brown wings, and a darker tail.

They breed over all of western North America and are a familiar sight in summer before migrating to Mexico and Central America, some may overwinter in the south of Florida.

They live in open habitats and are often found perched on fences and utility lines waiting for insects to fly by before catching them in mid-flight. They can often be found near the edge of woodlands so they can nest in the trees and forage in the open. They also nest in human-made structures.

You can attract more Western Kingbirds to your yard by making it insect-friendly and planting elderberry or hawthorn, which they will also eat the fruit from.

Western Kingbird

21. Blue jay

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

They are noisy birds that travel in family groups eating acorns when available. Mostly resident but may migrate from the far northwest of US and can migrate in large flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coast.

They can be found in forests, but especially near oak as they eat acorns. They can also be found in backyards near feeders.  As well as acorns they eat insects, nuts and seeds, and grain. They may also take eggs from nests or take nestlings

To attract more Blue Jays to your backyard try peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet but they prefer these on tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post.  They will also enjoy a birdbath.

Blue Jay for identification

22. American crow

American crows are large all-black birds that make a hoarse, cawing sound. They are common birds found in many 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 communal roosts.

You can attract more American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts but can become a nuisance as attracted by garbage or pet food if left out.

American Crow for identification

23. House Finch

House Finches have a red head and breast in the males and brown-streaked coloring in the females.  Originally only in western states it was introduced to the eastern states and has done very well, even pushing out the Purple Finch.

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

You can attract more 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 red birds in South Carolina.

house finch male

24. White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatches are active little birds that are gray-blue on the back and white on the face and belly, with a black cap. They will often have a chestnut color on the lower belly and under the tail.

They can be found in deciduous forests, woodland edges, parks, and yards with trees or at feeders. They mainly eat insects including beetles and their larvae, caterpillars, ants, and also spiders.

White-breasted Nuthatches also eat seeds and nuts including acorns, hawthorns, sunflower seeds, and sometimes corn crops. They jam large nuts and acorns into tree bark and then whack them with their bills to open or ‘hatch’ them to get the seed out.

You can attract more White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts on tube feeders or suet feeders.

White breasted nuthatch for identification

25. Eurasian Collard-Dove

Eurasian Collared-Doves are an introduced species that only arrived in the 1980s but are now across most of the country. They are light brownish-gray, with white patches in the tail, and look very similar to Mourning Doves, but with a black half collar at the nape of the neck, they are also larger, and with a square tail rather than pointed.

Preferring areas near people where seeds are plentiful, such as backyard feeders and farms, they are not found in heavy forests. Eurasian Collared’Doves predominantly eat a wide variety of seeds and grain and eat some berries and insects.

You can attract more Eurasian-Collared-Doves to your backyard with millet, oats, cracked corn, and Black oil sunflower seeds or hulled sunflower seeds on ground feeders, but they may also visit platform or hopper feeders.

Eurasian collared dove

26. Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker can be found across most of North America, except some of the far south.  They have a small flash of red at the back of their heads but are predominantly black and white.

They are slightly larger but look similar to the Downy Woodpecker but with a longer bill. They can be found in large trees and can be heard tapping if you listen for them.

Hairy Woodpecker’s diet is primarily insects, especially larvae of wood-boring beetles and ants, beetles, bees, wasps, caterpillars, and spiders.

You can attract more Hairy Woodpeckers with suet feeders and peanut and black oil sunflower seeds, especially in winter.

Hairy woodpecker feeder

27.Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatches remain all year in northeastern and western states, Alaska and Canada but may move south across all of North America in winter if cone crops are poor.

They are blue-gray birds with black and white stripes on the head and a rusty underside.

Red-breasted Nuthatches can be found in coniferous woods foraging for cones and they do visit backyard feeders.

You can attract more Red-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds, suet feeders, peanuts, and mealworms.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

28. Northern Cardinal

The bright red male Northern Cardinal with black around their faces is an incredible sight, especially against a white winter background.  The females are also showy with their brown coloring, sharp brown crest, red highlights, and red beaks.

Northern Cardinals will sometimes attack their reflection during breeding season as they obsessively defend their territories.

You can attract more Northern Cardinals to backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.

They will feed from large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, or food scattered on the ground.

Northern cardinal male and female for identification

Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds in South Dakota

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

  1.  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.
  2. Ground Feeders or a 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.
  6. Hummingbird feeders attract these tiny fascinating birds but they also attract other birds too.

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in South Dakota

If you would like to attract more birds to your yard in South Dakota 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 South Dakota

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

Birds to Spot if Out Birding in South Dakota

If you go out Birding in South Dakota these are other birds that you may be able to spot:

  1. Mallard
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Killdeer
  4. Red-tailed Hawk
  5. Turkey Vulture
  6. Ring-necked pheasant
  7. Blue-winged Teal
  8. Northern Shoveler
  9. Great Blue Heron
  10. Bald Eagle
  11. Double-crested Cormorant
  12. Cliff Swallow
  13. Redhead
  14. American White Pelican
  15. Pied-billed Grebe
  16. American Kestrel
  17. Wild Turkey
  18. Belted Kingfisher
  19. Northern Harrier
  20. Snow Goose
  21. White-faced Ibis
  22. American Avocet
  23. Osprey
  24. Sandhill Crane
  25. Long-billed Curlew
  26. Mountain Bluebird
  27. Golden Eagle
  28. Prairie Falcon