Popular Backyard Birds of Illinois - Blue Jay
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Birds are one of nature’s most amazing animals, and they are certainly no different in Illinois. The state is home to many species, and wherever you go, you can see them. Here are the most popular birds of Illinois.

Illinois is home to a wide range of wild bird species, and in this article, we’ll look at some of the state’s most identifiable and well-known birds. Some of these species live in Illinois all year, while others are migratory and only visit the state on occasion. In this post, we’ll look at 10 backyard birds in Illinois and learn a little bit about each one.

One of the best things about Illinois is the chance to view many different birds, and that will be our emphasis today. We’ll tell you what these birds look like, where to locate them, how to attract them, and much more! Let’s talk about the popular backyard birds of Illinois!

10 Popular Backyard Birds of Illinois

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Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove Color Pattern:: Mourning Doves oftentimes camouflage in their open-country environments, blending in with the browns, tans, and greys of their environment. They’re a delicate brown to buffy-tan color on the outside, with black patches on the wings and black-bordered white tips on the tail feathers.

Mourning Dove Size and Shape::  Plump-bodied and long-tailed, with short legs, a tiny beak, and a head that seems to be far smaller than the body. The long, pointed tail identifies this dove from others in North America and can be used to distinguish it from similar-looking species. These Birds of Illinois Measure in at 9.1 – 13.4 inches with wingspans of about 17.7 inches.

Mourning Dove Distribution and Habitat::   In tropical regions of North America, it may be found in almost any open or semi-open environment, including woodland clearings, farms, suburbs, prairies, and deserts. It is most frequent in edge habitats with both trees and open land, and may also be found in treeless places. Avoids densely forested areas.

Mourning Dove Diet::  A Mourning Dove’s diet is made up of 99 percent seeds, including farmed grains and even peanuts, as well as natural grasses, weeds, herbs, and occasionally berries. They may also consume snails. Mourning Doves can consume up to 12 to 20 percent of their body weight each day, or 71 calories on average.

Mourning Dove Facts:: Mourning Doves fly quickly on powerful wingbeats, performing fast ascents, descents, and dodges with their pointed tails hanging behind them. They fly with their heads pointed forward, and they make quick turns and stops in flight.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay Color Pattern::  One of the loudest and most colorful birds of eastern backyards and woodlots. Blue Jays have beautiful blue backs, wings, and long blue tails. Each wing has a white wing bar with an upscale look of black-outlined brighter colors of blue surrounding it. More white dots adorn the predominantly blue wings, and the scaling pattern extends to the tail, where bigger square scales with an almost white blue in the middle are found. These Birds feathers are iridescent. The wings and tails are longer than the body.

This bird’s breast and underbelly are paper-white, and its face is framed by a black line that runs from the rear of the head to the opposite side.

Blue Jay Size and Shape::  

The bird has a white face and a huge, light blue crest, as well as an ‘abstract’ mask that covers the eye and expands like a tree branch in front of it, while the back of the mask is a straight line that terminates at the black line that isolates the face. The bills of these birds are long and straight, and the feet, legs, and wings are all black. These Backyard Birds of Illinois measure in at 9.8 – 11.8 inches from head to tail and have wingspans of 13.4 to 16.9 inches.

Blue Jay Distribution and Habitat::  The blue jay is one of the most common and well-known birds in North America and may be found from southern Canada (including the southern parts of provinces from Alberta eastward to Quebec and across the Atlantic provinces) through the eastern and central United States, as well as in Florida and northeastern Texas. Blue jays are so common that they are sometimes considered pests by farmers, as they will eat livestock feed.

Blue Jay Diet:: The blue jay birds are Omnivorous. The majority of the food they eat is vegetable matter (up to 75% of the diet year-round, with a larger percentage in winter), which includes acorns, beechnuts, and other nuts, various types of seeds, grain, berries, tiny fruits, and occasionally cultivated fruits.

Eats a variety of insects, including caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, and others; also consumes spiders, snails, bird eggs, tiny rodents, frogs, young birds, carrion, and other objects. The amount of food they eat is significant, with one study finding that they can eat up to 40% of their body weight in food each day.

Blue Jay Facts::  Blue Jays are easily identified by their loud calls and distinctive feathers. They move in loose groups around shorelines, and you may identify them by their steady flying, rounded wings, long tail, and a white underbelly. Residents may form flocks, although they mainly fly through open regions one at a time, often quietly. Keep an eye out for them at feeders as well, as they often come there to eat.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal Color Pattern:: The State Bird of Illinois, Male cardinals have a bright red body, a reddish bill, and a black face surrounding the beak. On the exterior, females are pale brown with warm reddish tinges on the wings, tail, and crown. They both have a black faces and a red-orange beak.

Northern Cardinal Size and Shape::  This Popular backyard bird of Illinois also has a black mask that covers the eyes and goes down to the chin, displaying its robust, conical orange beak, and a gorgeous, visible red crest atop its head. Females will also catch your attention, but their appearance is much different, with a light brown overall hue and some tinges of red in their crest and other places of their bodies. These Popular backyard birds of Illinois are 8.3 – 9.1 inches from head to tail with wingspans of 9.8 to 12.2 inches.

Northern Cardinal Distribution and Habitat::  Edges of woodland, thickets, residential gardens, settlements, and desert washes are all places where this bird may be found. In the East, it may be found in a broad range of brushy or semi-open environments, from forest clearings and marshes to city parks, basically anywhere there are some thick shrubs for nesting. More local in the Southwest; found in tall brush, streamside thickets, and desert mesquite groves.

This Popular Backyard Birds of Illinois are also found in a wide variety of other brushy or semi-open environments, from forest clearings and marshes to city parks, basically everywhere there are some thick shrubs for nesting.

Northern Cardinal Diet::  These Popular Backyard Birds of Illinoi’s are Diet is highly diverse. Insects, including beetles, real bugs, grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, flies, and others, as well as spiders, centipedes, and snails, are all eaten. The majority of the diet consists of vegetative materials, including weed and grass seeds, waste grain, leaf buds, flowers, and a variety of berries and wild fruits.

Northern Cardinal Facts:: Northern Cardinals feed on or near the ground or perch low in bushes and trees, typically in couples. They are frequent around bird feeders, so they can be easy to see when they are around them. However, they can be difficult to see away from the feeders, at least until you become acquainted with their harsh, metallic chip call.

European Starling

European Starling Color Pattern:: European Starlings appear black from a distance, but up close, they are more of a purplish-green and black all over. They have large wings and short tails, as well as long, straight yellow bills. In the winter, they undergo a radical ‘wardrobe shift,’ appearing as brown birds with large, white spots all over. It’s a sight to behold, and these astute birds can be very fascinating.


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European Starling Size and Shape::   Starlings are common blackbird-sized birds with bulky bodies and long, narrow beaks. In flight, their wings are short and pointed, resembling little four-pointed stars, and they are black with white shoulder patches. They are common throughout Europe. These Backyard Birds of Illinois measuring in 7.9 – 9.1 inches in length with wingspans of 12.5 to 15.8 inches.

European Starling Distribution and Habitat:: The European Starling is a lowland bird that typically inhabits non-mountainous environments. During the mating season, these birds require holes for nesting as well as vegetative fields for foraging. The starling spends the rest of the year in a wider variety of habitats, from open moorland to salt marshes. During the rest of the year, the starling can be found in a variety of habitats from open moorland to salt marshes.

European Starling Diet::  When available, eats largely insects, notably beetles, grasshoppers, flies, and caterpillars, but sometimes spiders, snails, earthworms, and other invertebrates. Eats a broad range of berries, fruits, and seeds, especially in the fall and winter.

European Starling Facts::  Starlings are lively and noisy creatures that move in huge groups (often with blackbirds and grackles), flying through fields with their beaks down, probing the grass for food, or sitting high on wires or trees, emitting a steady stream of rattles, whirls, and whistles.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch Color Pattern::  Adult males are brilliant yellow in the spring and early summer, with a black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches above and behind the tail. Adult females have a duller yellow below and an olive above. Winter birds have dull, unstreaked brown wings with two light wing bars, and a dull yellow belly.

American Goldfinch Size and Shape::  They have a yellow breast and underbelly, with some white on the rump and the underside of the tailfeathers. These birds have yellow cheeks, little orange conical bills, and a characteristic black cap that runs from the upper center of the head down to the beak. Females have similar coloring, but with duller yellows and olive-gray instead of the male’s black. These birds turn a drab brown in the winter but may still be recognized by their beak and their faint but still visible wing patterns. These Birds of Illinois measure in at 4.3 – 5.1 inches in length with wingspans of approximately 7.5 to 8.7 inches.

American Goldfinch Distribution and Habitat:: The goldfinch’s native habitats are weedy fields and floodplains with many thistles and asters, as well as agricultural regions, along roadsides, in orchards, and in backyards. They can also be found at feeders at any time of year, although they are most common in the winter.

American Goldfinch Diet::  The diet is almost entirely composed of seeds, including those of the daisy (composite) family, but also including weeds and grasses, as well as tiny seeds of trees such as elm, birch, and alder. It also consumes buds, bark from young twigs, and maple sap.

American Goldfinch Facts::  These Popular backyard birds of Illinois are acrobatic, tiny finches who cling to weeds and seed stockings, and occasionally they will mill around in huge groups at feeders or on the ground underneath them. Goldfinches fly in a bouncing and undulating style, and frequently they will call in flight, attracting attention.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird Color Pattern::  With its vibrant colors, it’s easy to see why the eastern bluebird ranks at the top of any list of best-loved birds. Bluebirds are peculiar to North America and are classified as thrushes, a family found globally. Male bluebirds are more colorful than females, and juveniles have a spotted pattern that reflects their thrush origin.

Eastern Bluebird Size and Shape::  The tall demeanor, color pattern, and slender, straight beak of eastern bluebirds make them simple to distinguish. Adult males have a deep blue head, back, wings, and tail, a rusty orange chest, and a white lower belly. In subdued hues, adult females exhibit the same pattern. These Birds of Illinois Eastern bluebirds are 16-21 cm (6.3-8.3 in) long, with a wingspan of 25-32 cm (9.8-12.6 in) and weigh 27-34 g. (0.95–1.20 oz).

Eastern Bluebird Distribution and Habitat:: Eastern bluebirds are scientifically known as Sialia sialis. These birds are from the family of thrushes, which breeds and lives in the United States. Coloration distinguishes male and female Eastern bluebirds. Male Eastern Bluebirds have a brighter blue color on their heads and tails than females.

Eastern Bluebird Diet::  Insects and berries predominate the diet of this omnivorous lizard. It feeds on a broad range of insects, including crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles, as well as spiders, earthworms, snails, and, on rare occasions, tiny lizards or tree frogs. It also eats a lot of berries, especially in the winter. These include blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

Eastern Bluebird Facts:: When sitting upright on wires, poles, and low branches in an open area, Eastern Bluebirds examine the ground for food. In the fall and winter, they feed by descending to the ground and eating insects, or by perching on ripening trees and eating berries. Bluebirds will nest in natural tree cavities in open or wooded environments, as well as nest boxes and old woodpecker holes.

American Robin

American Robin Color Pattern::  The American Robin in gray-brown is native to the United States and has a black head and warm orange underparts. When in flight, a white patch on the lower abdomen and under the tail may be visible. Female Robins have lighter heads that contrast with their gray backs less than male Robins.

American Robin Size and Shape:: The American Robin is a huge songbird with a broad, spherical body, long legs, and a somewhat long tail. These Birds of Illinois Measure in at 7.9-11.0 inches with wingspans of about 12.2-15.8 inches. Robins are the biggest thrushes in North America, and their profile provides an excellent opportunity to understand the fundamental form of most thrushes. Robins are also useful for comparing the size and form of different birds.

American Robin Distribution and Habitat:: The nesting habitat of the American robin is forest, open farmland, and urban areas throughout most of its range in the United States. It becomes less frequent as a breeder in the deep south, where it likes huge shade trees on lawns. It has a similar winter habitat, but with more open regions throughout its range in the United States and Canada.

American Robin Diet:: Robins is best known in the wild for eating earthworms, beetles, and caterpillars. Their diets, on the other hand, are far more diverse. They consume spiders, flies, termites, snails, millipedes, centipedes, and a variety of berries and fruits on a daily basis.

American Robin Facts::

American Robins are hardworking birds who rush over lawns or stand erect with their beaks angled forward to observe their surroundings. When alighting, they repeatedly flick their tails downward. In the fall and winter, big flocks congregate in trees to roost or eat berries. They will also eat grains and suet placed out for them by people, as well as many different types of fruit.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow Color Pattern::  Song Sparrows are medium-sized sparrows with streaky brown feathers with broad streaks on their white breast and flanks. Close inspection reveals an appealing blend of warm red-brown and slaty gray, though the hues, as well as the quantity of streaking, vary greatly across North America. This variation is due to the different locations across North America.

Song Sparrow Size and Shape:: Song Sparrows are active songbirds, and they are found in a variety of habitats. The beak of a sparrow is short and sturdy, and the skull is moderately rounded. The wings are large and the tail is long and rounded. These Backyard Birds of Illinois measure in at 4.7-6.7 inches from head to tail and have wingspans of 7.1-9.4 inches.

Song Sparrow Distribution and Habitat:: Song Sparrows may be found in almost any open environment, including marsh borders, overgrown fields, backyards, desert washes, and woodland edges. Additionally, they frequently visit bird feeders and construct nests in urban environments.

Song Sparrow Diet::  The song sparrow, a small, brown sparrow native to North America, is both a carnivore and an herbivore (granivore, frugivore). They mostly eat insects, seeds, and fruits. Small crustaceans may be eaten by birds in salt marshes in the wild.

Song Sparrow Facts::Song Sparrows fly among thick, low vegetation or low branches in search of food, occasionally going onto open ground. They often make brief and fluttery flights, with a distinctive downward pumping of the tail. Male Song Sparrows sing on perches exposed to the elements, such as tiny trees.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker Color Pattern::  Downy woodpeckers are the smallest woodpeckers in North America, weighing less than half a pound. The upper parts and wings are mostly black, with a white back, neck, and belly, and white spotting on the wings. There is a white band above and below the eye. They have a black tail with banded white outer feathers. Adult males have a red patch on the back of their heads, while juveniles have a red cap. Their black beaks are short and straight. Their feathers are very fine and they have a soft, fluffy plumage.

Downy Woodpecker Size and Shape::  Downy Woodpeckers are little copies of the traditional woodpecker body pattern. As they lean away from tree branches and onto their tail feathers, they have a straight, chisel-like beak, a blocky head, broad shoulders, and a straight-backed stance. In comparison to other woodpeckers, the bill appears smaller for the bird’s size. Their plumage is a mix of brown, black, gray, and white. These Birds of Illinois Measure in at 5.5-6.7 inches with wingspans of about 9.8-11.8 inches.

Downy Woodpecker Distribution and Habitat::Downy woodpeckers are found only in North America. Their range includes the majority of the United States and Canada. They are mainly permanent inhabitants, but northern birds may migrate south, while birds in mountainous places may migrate to lower elevations. Downy woodpeckers prefer deciduous woodlands but can also be found in orchards, parks, and suburban environments.

Downy Woodpecker Diet:: Downy woodpeckers are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and animals. They mainly eat insects, but they also eat berries, seeds, grains, acorns, sap, and suet from birdfeeders.

Downy Woodpecker Facts:: Downy Woodpeckers move more acrobatically than other woodpeckers, clinging to tree limbs and trunks or diving into tall weeds to feed on galls. Many woodpeckers have a characteristic rising-and-falling flying pattern. In the spring and summer, Downy Woodpeckers make a lot of noise, both with their piercing whinnying call and by drumming on trees.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting Color Pattern::  A mating male Indigo Bunting is a vibrant blue throughout, with a slightly darker blue patch on his head and a silver-gray beak. Females are mostly brown with slight striping on the breast, a pale neck, and a hint of blue on the wings, tail, or rump. Males are a spotty blue and brown when they are immature.

Indigo Bunting Size and Shape::  Indigo Buntings are tiny, stocky birds with short tails and short, thick, conical bills (about the size of a sparrow). These birds, which seem chubby in flight, with short, rounded tails, can be found throughout North America. These Birds of Illinois Measure in at 4.7-5.1 inches with wingspans of about 7.5-8.7 inches.

Indigo Bunting Distribution and Habitat:: Indigo buntings may be found breeding from southern Canada to Maine, south to northern Florida and eastern Texas, and west to southern Nevada. Their winter range begins in southern Florida and central Mexico and extends south through the West Indies, Central America, and northern South America. Indigo buntings enjoy brushy forest margins, open deciduous woodlands, second-growth woodland, and farmland as their habitat. They may be found throughout North America, Central America, and South America during the winter months.

Indigo Bunting Diet:: Indigo buntings are both carnivores and herbivores (granivores). Throughout the mating season, they eat caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, beetles, and grass seeds, as well as insects, seeds, and berries. Grass seeds constitute the foundation of their food throughout the winter, while buds and insects are eaten when available. To give protein, the young are first fed mostly insects. Indigo buntings do not drink regularly and get enough water from their food.

Indigo Bunting Facts::  Throughout the summer, male Indigo Buntings sing from trees, bushes, and telephone lines, feeding on insects, seeds, and berries, and are drawn to backyards by thistle or nyjer seed. They frequently flick their tails from side to side while perching. During mating season, however, Indigo Buntings are fairly solitary. During migration and on their wintering sites, however, they form enormous groups. The purpose of this species is to propagate and spread throughout the world.

Additional Resources on: Popular Backyard Birds of Illinois

Faqs About: Popular Backyard Birds of Illinois

Here are some frequently asked questions and facts about Types of Popular Backyard Birds in Illinois

what type of birds are in illinois?

Sandhill Crane. (Antigone Canadensis)
Canada Goose. (Branta canadensis)
Blackbirds.
Vultures.
Eastern Wild Turkey. (Meleagris gallopavo)
American Crow. (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
European Starling. (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow. (Passer domesticus)

why is the northern cardinal the state bird of illinois?

The medium-sized songbird, famed for its brilliant ruby red plumage, picked Illinois as one of its breeding grounds. Northern Cardinals enjoy a balance of wooded and open settings, therefore The Prairie State was an obvious choice for these birds.

what birds are protected in illinois?
All birds are protected in Illinois, with the exception of European starlings, pigeons, and house sparrows, all of which are non-native.  If you require a permit to remove a bird or nest, contact APHIS Wildlife Services before contacting the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
what kind of birds are blue in illinois?

List OF 10 Popular Backyard Birds of Illinois:

Mourning Dove
Blue Jay
Northern Cardinal
European Starling
American Goldfinch
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Song Sparrow
Downy Woodpecker
Indigo Bunting