Illinois Birds: Most Common Birds in Illinois (With Pictures)

There’s no way to know for sure how many bird species live in North America, the United States, or even the state of Illinois. However, according to Wikipedia, Illinois is home to 450 different bird species.

Most Common Birds in Illinois

A recent estimate places the number of species in North America at 2,059, whereas a more reliable earlier one states there are only 914 species. Many uncommon species are seasonal. Thus the experience can be somewhat variable. In any case, it’s an interesting thinking experiment.

We’ll look at some of the more well-known and recognized birds found in Illinois in this post. While some of these species spend the whole year in Illinois, others are migratory and only spend some of their lives here. We’ll learn a bit about different species of backyard birds in Illinois in this post.

house sparrowHouse Sparrow
american robinAmerican Robin
downy woodpeckerDowny Woodpecker
european starlingEuropean Starling
white breasted nuthatchWhite-breasted Nuthatch
blue jayBlue Jay
song sparrowSong Sparrow
american crowAmerican Crow
northern cardinalNorthern Cardinal
mourning doveMourning Dove
common grackleCommon Grackle
house finchHouse Finch
red bellied woodpeckerRed-bellied Woodpecker
black capped chickadeeBlack-capped Chickadee
american goldfinchAmerican Goldfinch

Common Birds in Illionis

1. House Sparrow

House Sparrow

Europe introduced the House Sparrow in the 1800s. This sparrow may be found in both urban and rural areas. It is considered a pest.


Compared to other finches, the House Finch’s size is comparable to that of the Dark-Eyed Junco’s.  Its bill is conical and short. Male House Sparrows are brown and grey, with a black mask.

Females are tan and brown, with a faint line behind the eye and no black mask. They are filthy and voracious eaters, and they may be seen in big loud, chattering flocks. They are militant to other feeding birds.


Grain, seed, and insects are their preferred foods.


During the summer, they travel north across Canada to Southern Alaska. Starting from the Middle East, they spread over much of Europe and Asia. They may be found in nearly every nation with a sizable population, including Australia and Africa.

2. American Robin

American Robin

In the north, this well-known bird is a year-round resident, whereas, in the south, it is a periodic visitor.

This is an important species to compare to an unknown bird. This bird is about the same size as a Blue Jay or a Scrub-Jay in all directions, including the tail. This bird is Bigger than the Red-winged Blackbird, Larger than an American kestrel.

Shape: A chubby creature with a lengthy tail.

Bill: It’s long and slender with a rounded end. The upper parts are grey-brown, with a reddish-orange breast.


Open areas include woodlands, farming, city parks, and lawns, Breeds in Alaska and Canada along a migratory path. Most of the United States is where you’ll find me (lower 48). They spent the winters in the United States and Central America, Hop around your yard looking for food and turning his head this way and that. Their caroling melody is a sure sign of spring in the north.


The grass is full of worms and other creatures. Fruit from a tray feeder or the ground is also an acceptable source of food. They should consume small berries found on trees and bushes.

3. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

This little woodpecker may be found throughout the United States except not found in southwest deserts. They are similar in size but have a shorter tail than a White-crowned Sparrow. Their size is more than a Junco or House Finch but smaller than Red-winged Blackbird.


They are stocky, with a big head and a stiff, short tail. Their bill is chisel-shaped and short. To identify them, look for their black and white striped pattern on the head, white spots on the underbelly of their dark wings, and a black tail with white outer tail feathers and black bars or dots on the rear.  The back of the male’s skull has a tiny red patch.


The small deciduous trees, willows, and even weed stocks like teasel, especially near water, are all excellent places to look for a Downy woodpecker. Their males are more likely to be present in more small plants and twigs, whereas females are more likely to be present on tree trunks.


Insects, fruits, and seeds, especially black oil sunflower seeds, are their preferred foods. They pick and eat arthropods from tree bark and use a suet feeder.

4. European Starling

European Starling

The prime invasive species to compare an unknown bird. They arrived in North America in the late 1800s and have spread across the continent since then. 

It measures about 8.5 inches from bill top to tail tip. The White-crowned Sparrow and the Spotted/Eastern Towhee are more prominent, almost the same size as a Red-winged Blackbird. It is stocky, with a big head and a short, squared-ended tail with long legs and the sharp-tipped dark-colored bill that is as long as head.

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Their bill is yellow in the spring season and remains dark in the rest of the year. They are greyish brown most of the year, with glossy iridescence and white spotting in the spring.


They are lowland birds that require large enough trees for making a nest and enough open space for eating. They are ubiquitous in cities and suburbs, where they may find food and artificial nesting.


Summer migration takes them north via Canada and Alaska, although their natural habitat is Europe to Pakistan and the northern African country of Algeria. Starlings are typically considered a problem because they harass other backyard birds, snatching bird feeders and nest holes from smaller native birds. They may create millions and millions of flocks in the winter.


When insects are accessible, they mainly feed on insects. By never allowing them to use your backyard hopper and tray feeders, you can keep them away.

5. White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

The White-breasted Nuthatch is a little bird with a white breast. People like it for its lively antics and bravery. It is the biggest nuthatch in North America, despite its tiny size.

The length is about the same as a chickadee, smaller Junco, or a House Finch. It is large-headed, neckless, and has very short tails and legs. Its bill is almost as long as his head, straight, and slim.


It is blue-grey from the top and white from the bottom. Cap, wingtips, and tail are all black. Near the tail’s base are several rusted-colored feathers.


It commonly resides in Oak and oak-pine forests, as well as forested cities.  This little bird is found throughout the United States, southern Canada, and the central Mexican highlands except in the west, which has land devoid of trees and grasses. It crawls across tree branches and down tree trunks head-first in pursuit of insects.


Insects, seeds, especially black oil sunflower seeds, acorns, and other nuts are preferred food.  It feeds on hopper and tray feeders.

6. Blue Jay

Blue Jay

In the eastern United States, the Blue Jay is a common and well-known bird.

In terms of size, it’s about comparable to an American Robin. It is fluffy with a big crested head and a long tail. Its legs are large and powerful, while the bill is dark, tall, and hefty.


Its color is blue from the top and white from the bottom, the neck collar is black, and the wing has white patches.


It resides in the woodlands and cities in the eastern part of the United States.  In the summer, it travels to southern Canada. It is a bold and expressive bird and can harass smaller birds.


Jays eat a lot of food all at once and store it in their crop for later use. They then take it off and bury food in a secret stash.

7. Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

It’s a common bird that looks like a lot of other streaking brown sparrows.

This tiny bird looks the same in size as a House Finch or a junco. Chickadees and goldfinches are smaller, while White-crowned Sparrows and Spotted/Eastern towhees are more significant than a song sparrow. It is plump with a round head and a long rounded tail, and a short conical bill.


It is pretty varied in terms of color in darkness, from dark rusty to pale grey. It is grey-brown from the top with dark brown striping on the back and complicated head patterns. The side and breast streaking converge in a thick center breast patch.


It resides in the thickets, particularly those near the water shrubs.


You may find it mainly in the western US, southern Alaska, and the northeastern US. Summer is when it extends over the center of Canada and the northern half of the US. It may be observed over the lower 48 states of the US in the winter. In central Mexico, there is also a population. They forage on the ground and are seldom far from low cover, which they would flee to if alarmed.


Their favorite foods are tiny seeds and insects found near the ground.

8. American Crow

American Crow

This Bigger all-black bird may be seen in cities as well as rural areas. Its distinctive cawing call is well-known to most people. They vary a lot in their sizes, but the average is about 17.5 inches from bill top to tail tip.

Blackbirds and grackles are smaller in size than an American Crow, while they are smaller than ravens. They have a thick neck, a big head, and a square-ended tail that is relatively short, and their legs are longer. Their wingtips are rounded, and each primary feather is separated from the others, producing a finger liker structure. They have a long, thick, black beak that extends to their chin. They’re a shiny black hue.

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They favor vast areas with trees, such as fields, farms, and cities to reside.


Except for the dry Southwest, they may be found across the United States except in the lower 48 states. During the summer, they migrate to southern Canada.

They assemble in immense flocks, sometimes numbering in the thousands, and then depart for the surrounding region at daybreak.


They are omnivorous and eat giant insects, grain, small animals, and carrion. These vast, completely blackbirds are probably not what you want in your garden.

9. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

This is a common backyard bird on the east coast of the United States.

Cardinals are slightly smaller than American Robins, resembling Red-winged Blackbirds in size.

Shape: Plump body with a full tail that is rather lengthy. The crest is wispy.

Bill: Pink, short, hefty, conical. Few other birds have the same brilliant red hue as this bird.

Face in black. The female is greyer but has traces of crimson in her wings and tail, as well as a crest.


Cardinals live on shrubby woodland margins throughout the year, from the eastern United States through Texas and Arizona, and south into Mexico.


Seeds are chewed with the big conical bill. Watch them split open sunflower seeds with their mouths, spit away from the hulls, and then pluck the kernel. Sunflower seeds with black oil. In bigger hopper or tray feeders, they can find various seeds, berries, and nuts.

10. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

In the Lower 48 states of the United States, mourning doves are the most widespread backyard bird, and their mournful cooing is a well-known spring birdsong.

It is about 12 inches long. The Northern Flicker is the same in size as a mourning dove. It is nearly double in size of an American Robin and a bit little smaller than the domestic city pigeon. They have a tiny, spherical head on a large, plump body.

Their tail is long and slender with a pointed tip, and their legs are thin. Their bill is small and lean.


Their body is a dull brown-pink, with darker wings and tail with white borders.


They prefer urban regions, farmlands, woodlands, and other such semi-open spaces to live. They are generally spotted perched on wires and fences.


They spend most of their time in the lower 48 states and Mexico; however, some migrate north for the winter.


Black oil sunflower seeds are a favorite meal of Mourning Doves, as are other types of seeds.

11.  Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Grackles are longer and lankier than blackbirds. They are often considered pests to crops.

They are somewhat larger than Red-winged Blackbirds and about the same size as Mourning Doves. They have long bodies with a full keel-shaped tail, long legs, and a flat crown. Their sturdy pointed bill is longer than their head.


They are glossy black with a golden or green tinge on the head and eyes that are yellow.


Agricultural regions, forest margins, municipal parks, and lawns are all the places where they may be found. They are mainly residing in the southeast of the United States. During the summer, they go to the mid-west and north-central United States and Canada. They have a stronghold on feeders and threaten other birds.


Grain, maize, acorns, tiny aquatic fish, and amphibians are their preferred foods. You can use tube feeders instead of hopper or tray feeders to inhibit them. Don’t overfeed, and pick up spilt seed.

12. House Finch

House Finch

Initially a Western bird, they may now find it across the United States. Some more species of red finch exist, and those are the ones most commonly encountered in urban areas.

This is a crucial species to compare to an unfamiliar bird. From bill top to tail tip, it’s about 6 inches long. They are smaller than Goldfinches and chickadees but smaller than White-crowned Sparrows and Spotted/Eastern towhees in size.

They have long pointed tails. With a round head, their bill is short and conical.


They have brown and grey upper parts with light underparts that are streaked. Their males’ chairs, breasts, and rump are red, orange, or yellow.


Their small flocks can be seen on wires, on treetops, and in shrubs.


Originally they were most common in deserts and grasslands but now in rural and urban regions. Initially found throughout western North America and Mexico.

Then brought to the northeastern United States, it is now present in virtually every state in the lower 48 and extreme southern Canada but rare from Dakotas to Texas and south Florida. Male House Finches chirp a fast, wiry song in f buzzy notes all year. House Finches are not communal, although males sing all year.


Sunflower seeds and tube feeders are their favorite foods, but they may also eat t thistle socks.

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13. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

In the eastern portion of the United States, this is one of the most abundant species.

For a backyard bird, it’s enormous. It has a size in between the size of a Starling and an American Robin. It’s smaller than a Northern Flicker. It has a muscular body with a big head and a short tail. It adheres to a tree stem with a fast, stiff back and powerful short legs. It has a chisel-shaped and long bill.


They have a soft grey body with several thin black-and-white bands over the back and wings. Their male has a red nape that extends forward on the crown.


These birds live in a variety of habitats, including oak and pine forests.


They may be found from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in the lower 48 states, from Texas to the extreme south of Canada, and east of Florida northward only to the southern boundary of the New England states. It sticks to the tree trunk and branches in a classic woodpecker way.


This bird consumes insects and nuts, peanuts from a tray feeder, and a suet block.

14. Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

In the northern portion of the United States, this is a common backyard bird.

Chickadees are tiny birds that are similar in size to American Goldfinches. They have a spherical, with a large round head and a long tail with a rounded tip. Their bill is short, sturdy, and straight. They are grey from the top and buffy from the bottom.


Their cap and bib are black, with a white lower face. Their wing feathers have white margins.


Overwhelmingly, they’re found throughout Alaska and northern America. Small groups fly from tree to tree, grabbing insects from twig tips acrobatically.


Chickadees are the mainstay of mixed-species flocks in the winter, including nuthatches, kinglets, creepers, and woodpeckers.


Seeds, insects, and berries are the foods and feeders of choice. Tube, hopper, and tray feeders are their preferred methods of feeding. Their select foods are black oil, sunflower seeds, and suet.

15. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch is a lovely little bird with vivid yellow summer plumage that many people are familiar with. It’s also known as a wild canary.

This is an important species to compare to an unknown bird. From the tip of the beak to the tail, this bird is around 5 inches long. It’s about the same size as a chickadee. Hummingbirds are smaller than these. Juncos and House Finches are smaller.

Shape: Small and chubby, with a big head and a short tail.

Bill: Pink, conical, and blunt.


The males are a bright lemon yellow with a black forehead, black wings, and a white barbed tail in the summer. It has a white underside to its tail coverts, which is a distinctive feature. The males are a bright lemon yellow with a black forehead, black wings, and a white barbed tail in the summer. It has a white underside to its tail coverts, which is a distinctive feature. Females have a drab olive color, with browner wings and tails. Winter birds have tan and brown wings and tails and are light greyish-yellow in color.


This species can be found in weedy fields and clearings with thistles and other plants. In the majority of the middle-lower 48 states, it’s visible all year round from coast to coast.


During the summer, it migrates north to the Canadian border. They may be found from the Canadian border to the Mexican border throughout the winter. The flying is extremely undulating, rising and sinking in quick spurts as they flap their wings. They call in flight a lilting 4-part: potato chip, in addition to a lengthy, beautiful lilting melody.


It eats weed seeds and thistle seeds. They may eat black oil sunflower seeds from the tube feeder. Nyjer seed in a thistle sock feeder is my favorite.


Once you’ve started watching backyard birds in Illinois, you might want to expand your search to include other species of birds. Then you’re out to discover the fauna of a Bigger planet. you may find birds almost anywhere. Every area has its own set. The number is in the thousands. Just seeing them once is enough to fill countless lives with delight.


In Illinois, what are the small yellow birds?

In Illinois, the American goldfinch is a frequent migratory, summer resident; forest margins, fields, shrubby regions, and suburban areas are good places to look for it. In mid-April, migrating birds begin to arrive in the state.

What Kinds of Blue Birds Can You Expect to See in Illinois?

Eastern Bluebirds may be found all across Illinois. During the winter, bluebirds that spend the summer in northern Illinois move south.

Are there wrens in Illinois?

In Illinois, the House Wren is rather prevalent. Even though they rarely visit bird feeders, they are frequently spotted flying around backyards searching for insects.

Last Updated on February 6, 2022 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.