Last Updated on April 11, 2023 by Lily Aldrin
Hey there, bird lovers! If you’re in Idaho, you’re in for a treat because the state is home to a diverse range of bird species.
From majestic raptors to colorful songbirds, Idaho has something for everyone.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to 15 of the most common birds found in Idaho, from the iconic Northern Flicker to the playful Mountain Chickadee.
So, grab your binoculars and get ready to explore the world of Idaho’s fascinating bird life!
|Northern Rough-Winged Swallow|
If you don’t have the time to read the whole article, check out this video for a quick understanding.
Common Birds in Idaho
1. Northern Rough-Winged Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) bird is a tiny migratory swallow bird belonging to the Hirundinidae family.
These birds are North American natives.
During the winter, they travel from the north to the south in search of a warmer climate.
They’re nicknamed rough-winged because their wings have serrated edges.
This species’ male and female are slightly different from one another.
Male tail corvettes are longer than female tail corvettes.
The plumage of the Northern Rough-winged Swallow is brown and grey.
Males have brighter colors than females, who have drab brown tones.
The young ones have the appearance of females.
Northern Rough-winged Swallows have a wingspan of 27–30 cm and a body length of 13–15 cm (5.1–5.9 in).
An adult Northern Rough-winged Swallow can weigh anything from 10 to 18 grams.
Below are the characteristics of the Northern Rough-Winged Swallow,
|Scientific Name||Stelgidopteryx serripennis|
|Length||12-14 cm (4.7-5.5 in)|
|Weight||16-24 g (0.56-0.85 oz)|
|Wingspan||28-30 cm (11-12 in)|
|Habitat||Riparian areas, open woodlands, grasslands|
|Food||Flying insects, including beetles and flies|
2. White-Crowned Sparrow
The White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) is a tiny passerine bird belonging to the Passerellidae family of new world sparrows.
This bird sings and calls sweetly. Because they have a white-colored cap over their heads, they are known as White-crowned Sparrows.
The White-crowned Sparrow is a migratory bird that spends the winter migrating south.
In this species, the male and female White-crowned Sparrows have similar plumage colors, but females lack the crown that matures males have atop their heads.
An adult White-crowned Sparrow’s body length ranges from 5.9 to 6.3 inches, with a wingspan of about 8.3 to 9.4 inches.
An adult White-crowned Sparrow can weigh between 0.9 and 1.0 ounces.
Below are the characteristics of the White-Crowned Sparrow,
|Scientific Name||Zonotrichia leucophrys|
|Length||16-18 cm (6.3-7.1 in)|
|Weight||25-40 g (0.88-1.41 oz)|
|Wingspan||23-25 cm (9.1-9.8 in)|
|Habitat||Brushy areas, shrublands, and open forests|
|Food||Seeds, insects, and spiders|
3. Northern Flicker
Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) have incredible markings which are understandable given that they are woodpeckers.
Their backs are grey to brown and their wings are grey with mottled black patterns of lines and dots as well as long flared grey and black tails.
The wings are red or yellow depending on whether you are in the west or east, and the tails are orange on the underside towards the rump with a black border.
The breast and bottom of this bird are white and light grey with black dots, and a large black crescent mark may be seen just below the neck.
In the middle of the eye, there is a color split in the face, with brown on top and light grey or brown below.
From the bill, a crimson stripe spans the cheek and the eye seems to be outlined.
The beak of this bird is largely black and slightly curled.
The length of these birds ranges from 11 to 12.2 inches with wingspans of 16.5 to 20.1 inches.
These birds prefer open spaces like the border of the forest, fields, and backyards.
When hunting for one keep in mind that these cunning Woodpeckers like to forage on the ground.
Northern Flickers prefer to eat ants however they do occasionally consume fruit and seeds to mix things up.
Try a little bit of everything by filling a ground feeder with peanuts and Black Oil Sunflower seeds for the greatest results.
Below are the characteristics of the Northern Flicker,
|Scientific Name||Colaptes auratus|
|Length||28-36 cm (11-14 in)|
|Weight||85-165 g (3-5.8 oz)|
|Wingspan||42-54 cm (17-21 in)|
|Habitat||Open woodlands, parklands, and suburban areas|
|Food||Ants, beetles, termites, and other insects|
4. Mountain Chickadee
Mountain Chickadees (Poecile gambeli) are little passerine songbirds belonging to the Paridae family.
Mountain Chickadees are found throughout North American mountain ranges.
They usually stay in one spot, but if faced with food scarcity or another hazard, they can fly considerable distances.
This species’ male and female have a black-colored crown that distinguishes them from other species.
Their neck is black, with white breasts and a white belly.
The Mountain Chickadee has brown underparts, back, and wings, with black and white feathers on the wings.
Their tail is covered with white, brown, and black feathers.
Females are somewhat smaller and have a lighter plumage color than males.
Female Mountain Chickadees look like young Mountain Chickadees.
The Mountain Chickadee has a body length of 5–6 inches and a wingspan of about 7.5 inches.
A breeding adult might weigh anything from 9 to 11 grams.
Below are the characteristics of the Mountain Chickadee,
|Scientific Name||Poecile gambeli|
|Length||11-13 cm (4.3-5.1 in)|
|Weight||9-14 g (0.3-0.5 oz)|
|Wingspan||17-20 cm (6.7-7.9 in)|
|Habitat||Coniferous forests, mountainous areas|
|Food||Insects, spiders, and seeds|
5. Black-billed Magpie
The Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia), sometimes known as the American Magpie, is a medium-sized migratory bird belonging to the Corvidae family.
They may be found across North America at various times of the year.
The bird’s plumage consists of two colors: black, which is the predominant hue, and white.
The head, beak, and eyes are entirely black, as are the upper parts and wings.
Meanwhile, the tail’s underbelly, breasts, and belly are all white.
The feathers on the wings are likewise white in tone.
This is a medium-sized bird with a body length of 45–60 cm (18–24 inches) from beak to tail.
Females in this species are smaller than men; in addition to their length, females also weigh less than males.
The female weighs between 167 and 216 grams, with a body length of 230 to 320 millimeters, and a wingspan of 205 to 219 millimeters.
The female lays an average of 13 eggs and the male supplies nourishment while the female sits on the eggs.
Below are the characteristics of the Black-billed Magpie,
|Scientific Name||Pica hudsonia|
|Length||46-60 cm (18-24 in)|
|Weight||145-250 g (5.1-8.8 oz)|
|Wingspan||63-70 cm (25-28 in)|
|Habitat||Open areas, including fields and meadows|
|Food||Insects, carrion, seeds, and small animals|
6. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
The Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) resembles a cartoon bird in appearance.
This bird has a blue-gray back, short wings with black highlighting at the tips, and a medium-length black and whitetail.
The white continues upward till just past the eye, then goes levelly over the face to the back of the neck and is visible in front of the wings on this bird’s breast and bottom.
This bird’s top half is blue-gray, with a thick black brow mark that gives him an angry expression.
This bird has a white eyeing and a slender medium-length straight beak.
These little birds are between 3.9 and 4.3 inches long and have a wingspan of around 6.3 inches.
These birds spend their time in deciduous woods on the edges of them and anywhere there is dense foliage for cover.
If you have some bushes in your garden, you’ll have a better chance of getting a visit since they help these birds feel secure.
You may not have much luck with the feeder because these birds like to catch their food live.
However, you might try dried mealworms, and if they notice you could get a feeder visit.
Below are the characteristics of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
|Scientific Name||Polioptila caerulea|
|Length||10-11 cm (3.9-4.3 in)|
|Weight||5-7 g (0.18-0.25 oz)|
|Wingspan||16-18 cm (6.3-7.1 in)|
|Habitat||Woodlands, forests, and shrublands|
|Food||Insects and spiders|
7. Purple Finch
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) features short grey tails with white tips as well as a white breast and underside with raspberry streaks.
This striping is more prominent at the breast and gradually fades as the coloring moves down the underbelly.
You’ll note that this bird’s face is totally raspberry from the throat up although certain markings are a deeper hue.
This usually appears as a darker raspberry with a thin stripe running down the middle of the head a line on the lower face defining the cheek and a raspberry mask that curves downward after crossing the eyes.
Females on the other hand lack the raspberry color and have heavier streaking at the breast a lighter eye stripe and a black line that runs down the throat.
The bills of these birds are big and conical grey with a splash of black on the top part of the beak.
The length of these lovely little birds ranges from 4.7 to 6.3 inches with a wingspan of 8.7 to 10.2 inches.
Coniferous trees are their preferred habitat with deciduous trees coming in second.
They will occasionally visit parks and this frequency rises in the winter when they will also go into fields and their backyard excursions will become much more frequent as they search for food.
The Purple Finch is quite easy to please when it comes to the standard feeder configuration, preferring Black Oil Sunflower seeds the most.
This bird’s favorite food, so make sure you have plenty on hand to keep them interested.
Below are the characteristics of the Purple Finch,
|Scientific Name||Haemorhous purpureus|
|Length||15-17 cm (5.9-6.7 in)|
|Weight||24-42 g (0.85-1.5 oz)|
|Wingspan||25-28 cm (9.8-11 in)|
|Habitat||Coniferous and mixed forests|
|Food||Seeds, fruits, and insects|
8. Pine Siskin
The Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus) is a bird that belongs to the finch family.
They are migratory birds that migrate from one region to another throughout the winter.
Pine Siskins are small, measuring 5 inches in length, 0.60 ounces in weight, and 9 inches in wingspan.
The Pine Siskins’ upper parts are brown, while their underparts are light.
Males and females are of equal size, although their feather colors vary somewhat.
They are endemic to pine woods (conifer forests) but move to warmer climates during the winter.
To defend themselves and their eggs, Pine Siskins build nests that are concealed from their prey’s eyes.
They also go to the feeders on a daily basis to grab some additional food.
They travel mostly in the winter owing to food shortages during the colder months.
Pine Siskins prefer to consume little grains, seeds from small herbs and plants, small berries, insects, insect larvae, spiders, and other small animals.
They primarily go to the feeders, which provide them with little seeds to eat.
Below are the characteristics of the Pine Siskin,
|Scientific Name||Spinus pinus|
|Length||11-14 cm (4.3-5.5 in)|
|Weight||11-18 g (0.39-0.63 oz)|
|Wingspan||20-23 cm (7.9-9.1 in)|
|Habitat||Coniferous forests and woodlands|
|Food||Seeds, especially from conifer trees|
9. Downy Woodpecker
Do you enjoy woodpeckers but think they’re a touch too big in general? Try to identify one of these men.
Downy Woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens) have white backs and black wings with white blocks and dots across them making them easy to detect.
The bird has a short black tail with white undersides and outer feathers, giving the wings a checkered look.
This bird’s breast and underside are snow-white with only a black mustache a mask band that runs from the front of the eye to the rear of the head and a black cap to break up the whiteness.
This hat has a prominent red patch at the rear of the head in men.
The beak of this bird is tiny and slender and it is black.
These mini-Woodpeckers are just 5.5–6.7 inches long with wingspans ranging from 9.8 to 11.8 inches.
Look for these birds in meadows or at the forest’s edge since they like open woodland settings.
They also like locations with a thick brush or untended weed and they frequent parks and backyards when they range out.
Suet is preferred by these birds but if you don’t have any peanuts, White Proso millet will suffice.
For a little sugar water, hummingbird feeders are said to be a favorite of theirs. Satisfy this little bird’s sweet hunger.
Below are the characteristics of the Downy Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Dryobates pubescens|
|Length||14-18 cm (5.5-7.1 in)|
|Weight||20-33 g (0.7-1.2 oz)|
|Wingspan||25-31 cm (9.8-12.2 in)|
|Habitat||Woodlands, forests, and suburban areas|
|Food||Insects, especially wood-boring beetles|
10. Lapland Longspur
Lapland Longspurs (Calcarius lapponicus) are beautiful yet they appear strange the first time you see them.
They have a white back and tail, but black or dark brown striping on the back and shoulders that extends down the wings but not the short gray-to-brown tail.
The breast and bottom of these birds are white, with a black or brown stripe running down the white.
The backs of these birds’ necks are rusty-red, and they have a little black cap and a mostly-black face, with black coloration beginning at the mid-eye level and framing the cheek as it continues down to the base of the throat.
These birds have short thick yellow bills and the remaining middle section of their face is white.
The length of these birds ranges from 5.9 to 6.3 inches with wingspans ranging from 8.7 to 11.4 inches.
These birds do not mind being in the snow and prefer to nest and feed in open regions.
Coastal regions, turf farms, and even backyards are all examples.
Because the Lapland portion of their name alludes to a location in Scandinavia, these little fellas are extremely resilient in cold weather.
These birds consume mostly insects although they also eat seeds to complement their diet.
You might try making a ground feeder out of Nyjer thistle and tiny Black Oil Sunflower seed but this isn’t guaranteed to work.
While these birds are likely to visit your garden they are wary of feeders.
With the Lapland Longspur, these seeds are your best bet.
Below are the characteristics of the Lapland Longspur,
|Scientific Name||Calcarius lapponicus|
|Length||15-18 cm (5.9-7.1 in)|
|Weight||26-48 g (0.92-1.7 oz)|
|Wingspan||30-35 cm (12-14 in)|
|Habitat||Arctic tundra and grasslands|
|Food||Seeds and insects|
11. European Starling
The purple-green colors of European Starling’s (Sturnus vulgaris) plumage make them easy to spot.
This covers their entire bodies but their long straight yellow bills are another distinguishing feature.
They molt out of their gleaming plumage in the winter and replace it with a brown coloring speckled with white dots.
The length of these birds ranges from 7.9 to 9.1 inches with wingspans ranging from 12.2 to 15.8 inches from wingtip to wingtip.
These birds may be found pretty about wherever we go.
They like populated settings whether on a farm or in a city.
You could spot one on a telephone line or wandering along the street as their lengthy cohabitation has accustomed them to being around people.
Grains are an excellent option and putting some White Proso millet and oats in your feeder may entice a European Starling to pay you a visit and it may return for more.
These creatures have an unhealthy obsession with grain and they may be a problem when they attack grain warehouses, causing contamination concerns.
Below are the characteristics of the European Starling,
|Scientific Name||Sturnus vulgaris|
|Length||19-23 cm (7.5-9 in)|
|Weight||60-100 g (2.1-3.5 oz)|
|Wingspan||31-44 cm (12-17 in)|
|Habitat||Urban and suburban areas, farmland, grasslands|
|Food||Insects, fruits, seeds, and human-provided food|
12. Brewer’s Blackbird
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) is a tiny bird belonging to the Icteridae family.
Their striking black plumage distinguishes them as North American unique.
The males and females of this species are slightly different from one another.
The male Brewer’s Blackbird has lustrous black plumage with azure accents all over his body, with a somewhat purple head.
The body plumage of the female Brewer’s Blackbird is brownish-grey.
In comparison to a man, the female’s physique is somewhat thicker but smaller in size.
An adult’s body length is between 8 and 10.3 inches (20 and 26 cm), while its wingspan is between 13 and 15.5 inches.
During the spring and summer, they swarm to various bird feeders and return on a regular basis for food.
The Brewer’s Blackbird mostly consumes seeds of various types as well as tiny insects.
They also consume some tiny berries. They eat largely from the flock.
Below are the characteristics of the Brewer’s Blackbird,
|Scientific Name||Euphagus cyanocephalus|
|Length||20-26 cm (7.9-10.2 in)|
|Weight||40-70 g (1.4-2.5 oz)|
|Wingspan||35-41 cm (14-16 in)|
|Habitat||Open habitats, including grasslands, agricultural areas, and urban areas|
|Food||Seeds, insects, and other small animals|
13. American Robin
With grayish-brown back large wings of the same hue and a deeper gray-brown at its long tail, the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) has a unique look.
The breast and underbelly have a soft or thick dark orange tint that continues all the way up to just behind the chin and the tail is white on the undersides, with the white emanating from the bird’s rump.
This bird has a fragmented white eyeing on its face and a black head with a small amount of white under its short curved yellow beak.
Females will have similar appearances to males, with the exception of paler coloring on the head.
The length of these birds ranges from 7.9 to 11 inches with wingspans ranging from 12.2 to 15.8 inches.
American Robins have a broad range of habitats so you may find them in evergreen or deciduous forests as well as on a golf course.
Foraging areas for these birds include parks and unkempt fields and they are more than glad to visit well-stocked household feeders.
Use some diced apples and any berries you have on hand to make a fruit salad.
Robins adore fruits when they aren’t eating insects, and you may get some excellent results by feeding them.
Below are the characteristics of the American Robin,
|Scientific Name||Turdus migratorius|
|Length||23-28 cm (9.1-11.0 in)|
|Weight||77-86 g (2.7-3.0 oz)|
|Wingspan||31-41 cm (12-16 in)|
|Habitat||Woodlands, forests, parks, and gardens|
|Food||Insects, worms, fruits, and berries|
14. Mourning Dove
Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) have plump bodies silky grey backs and medium-length white-tipped tails.
From the center of the wing to near the tips there is a huge concentration of creamy tan or light brown hue with characteristic black dots.
They have white and tan breasts and underbelly that lightens as it gets closer to the rump, as well as a stronger tan hue on the face and short straight black bills.
A unique white eyeing will be present on the Mourning Dove completing the appearance and verifying your identity.
The size of these birds varies from 9.1 to 13.4 inches in length, with an average wingspan of 17.7 inches.
These birds prefer wide spaces, so you’ll often encounter them in large parks or even walking down the street.
People are not shy when it comes to feeding, and will readily visit a well-stocked backyard feeder.
Mourning Doves don’t require much in the way of complexity.
They’ll be delighted and come back for more with a simple blend of White Proso millet and Black Oil Sunflower seeds.
Below are the characteristics of the Mourning Dove,
|Scientific Name||Zenaida macroura|
|Length||23-31 cm (9.1-12.2 in)|
|Weight||112-170 g (3.9-6.0 oz)|
|Wingspan||47-63 cm (18.5-24.8 in)|
|Habitat||Open woodlands, agricultural areas, and urban areas|
|Food||Seeds, grains, and occasionally insects|
15. Yellow-Headed Blackbird
The Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) is a medium-sized blackbird that belongs to the Icteridae family.
In this species, only the male is black; young birds and adult females are brown instead.
Its head is yellow, and its plumage is completely black and glossy.
Sexual dimorphism refers to the fact that female and male bodies are of distinct colors and sizes.
Females are drab, whilst males are gleaming black.
An adult Yellow-headed Blackbird’s body length ranges from 8.3 to 10.2 inches with a wingspan of almost 16.5 to 17.3 inches.
An adult Yellow-headed Blackbird can weigh anything from 1.6 to 3.5 ounces.
They also consume a variety of nuts. Small insects and worms are also eaten by the Yellow-headed Blackbird.
They don’t go to the bird feeders very often.
Below are the characteristics of the Yellow-Headed Blackbird,
|Scientific Name||Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus|
|Length||22-27 cm (8.7-10.6 in)|
|Weight||80-120 g (2.8-4.2 oz)|
|Wingspan||36-46 cm (14-18 in)|
|Habitat||Wetlands, including marshes, ponds, and lakes|
|Food||Insects, seeds, and grains|
In conclusion, Idaho is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with an abundance of bird species found throughout the state.
Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a beginner, there’s always something new and exciting to discover.
From the majestic Northern Flicker to the playful Mountain Chickadee, these 15 common birds of Idaho are just a small sample of the diverse birdlife found in the state.
By learning more about these birds and their habitats, we can appreciate and protect the natural beauty of Idaho’s bird populations.
So, grab your binoculars and head outside to experience the wonder of these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.
When is the best time to go birdwatching in Idaho?
The best time to go birdwatching in Idaho is during the spring and fall migrations when many species are passing through the state. However, summer is also a great time to see resident species in their breeding plumage.
Where are the best places to go birdwatching in Idaho?
Some of the best places to go birdwatching in Idaho include national parks such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton, wildlife refuges such as Deer Flat and Kootenai, and natural areas such as Hells Canyon and the Snake River Canyon.
How can I attract birds to my backyard in Idaho?
To attract birds to your backyard in Idaho, you can provide food, water, and shelter. This can include bird feeders, birdbaths, and birdhouses, as well as planting native plants and providing natural cover.
Are there any rare or endangered bird species in Idaho?
Yes, Idaho is home to several rare or endangered bird species, including the Northern Goshawk, Sage Grouse, and Burrowing Owl. It is important to protect these species and their habitats to ensure their survival.
Do I need any special equipment for birdwatching in Idaho?
While not required, a pair of binoculars and a field guide can be helpful for identifying birds in the field. Additionally, wearing neutral colors and moving slowly and quietly can increase your chances of seeing birds up close.
1 thought on “15 Common Birds in Idaho”
Thank you , lily, for all this wonderful information!