Iowa Birds: Most Common Birds in Iowa (with Pictures)

A variety of attractive native bird species may be found in Iowa. In Iowa, there are approximately 428 various known species that can be seen at distinct periods of each year. States like Minnesota, Missouri, and Illinois border Iowa, and as a result, they share a lot of birds.

Most Common Birds in Iowa
Most Common Birds in Iowa

Birds in Iowa range from the more commonly observed Black-capped Chickadee to the less widely seen Yellow-headed Blackbird. In 1933, the American Goldfinch was designated as Iowa’s state bird. The American Goldfinch is a familiar sight in Iowa, where it spends the winter.

American GoldfinchAmerican Goldfinch
Black-capped chickadeeBlack-capped Chickadee
Mourning DoveMourning Dove
Northern CardinalNorthern Cardinal
Blue JayBlue Jay
White-breasted nuthatchWhite-breasted Nuthatch
house wrenHouse wren
european starlingEuropean Starling
gray catbirdGray Catbird
song sparrowSong Sparrow
American RobinAmerican Robin
downy woodpeckerDowny Woodpecker
common grackleCommon Grackle
brown headed cowbirdBrown-headed Cowbird
common yellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat
brown thrasherBrown Thrasher

Most Common Birds in Iowa

With images and identification, these are some of the most attractive typical backyard birds found in Iowa. There is also information on how often the birds can be seen and when the time of year You may spot them.

1. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a little songbird found only in North America. They are a stunning bird species, with plumage that is more vibrant than that of many other birds. This species’ male and female are similar in appearance with the difference that females lack the black mark on their skulls that males possess.


The bird’s plumage is bright yellow, with yellow underparts and upperparts. The American Goldfinch, on the other hand, has black wings. The underside of the American Goldfinch’s wings is white. Black feathers with tiny white patterns adorn their tail. Their beaks have a vibrant golden pink color. The male and female are nearly identical in terms of size and weight.


Tiny insects, berries, and seeds from small plants and bushes are all favorites of the American Goldfinch. They are highly sociable, but they keep a safe distance from humans; they will flee if you approach them too closely.

2. Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

The Poecile Atricapillus bird, often known as the Black-capped Chickadee, is a tiny North American bird. Chickadee is a little and beautiful songbird of the Chickadee family.


They have a lovely look, with a black crown over their heads and black and white stripes all over their plumage. They have a brown underbelly under their wings as well. The male differs from the female because the female has duller colors, is smaller in size, and weighs less than the male.

Length & Weight

They have a total length of 12 to 15 cm and wings of 15 to 21 cm and weigh just 10 to 14 g. They have a tiny yet powerful beak that aids in obtaining food and breaking hard nuts.


Tiny insects, nuts, seeds from small shrubs, and berries are all favorites of the Black-capped Chickadee. These are among the few birds that will approach humans without fear. If you feed them, there’s a good possibility they’ll sit on your hands as well.

3. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

The Zenaida Macroura, often known as the Mourning Dove, is a medium-sized dove in the Zenaida family.


Rusty brown hue covers its whole plumage. Above the wings, there are a few black dots on the plumage. In many regions of the United States, the Mourning Dove is a regular visitor at bird feeders. Mourning Doves, both female and male, have nearly similar body forms and proportions. They have brown and white plumage as well.

Length & Weight

They may reach a length of 12 inches and a wingspan of 18 inches. They may weigh up to 120 grams. It’s easy to detect and identify them because of their look. In the spring and winter, the male and female mate, and the male attracts the female with a lovely song-like mating scream.


The male feeds and guards the female and the eggs while she lays the eggs and sits on them. For the Mourning, Dove bird feeders offer nuts and insect-based bird meals. They also eat small worms that they find on the ground or in trees.

4. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal


Northern Cardinal is a little songbird with beautiful plumage. The males of this bird have a brilliant red coloration. Northern Cardinal females are paler in color than males.

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Length & Weight

They are simple to distinguish since males and females have distinct colors, body shapes, and sizes. A Northern Cardinal’s body length is 21–23.5 cm (8.3–9.3 in), while its wingspan is 25–31 cm. They are around 33.6–65 g in weight.

The Northern Cardinal is distinguished by a red beak and red coloring with a few monochrome markings.


Northern Cardinals like eating tiny insects such as spiders and worms. Earthed items include crushed nuts, little seeds of various herbs, and the berries of numerous small trees and plants.

5. Blue Jay

Blue Jay

The blue jay is a species endemic to eastern North America, but it may also be found abroad. The Corvidae family includes it. They prefer the wooded environment and desire to breed in the woods.


They have a unique blue and white appearance, with white on the breast and blue on the back and wings. Both the male and female have a comparable body color, shape, and weight, as well as a similar wingspan.

Length & Weight

Blue Jays have an average body length of 22–30 cm (9–12 in) and a wingspan of 34–43 cm (13–17 in). They can be up to 100 g (3.5 oz) in weight.

Blue Jays have a feathery crown on their heads that they utilize to communicate their emotions or mood. A black collar line runs over the neck of the Blue Jay.


Their favorite foods include nuts, seeds, insects, and grubs. They can break a variety of nuts with ease.

They mate in the trees, with the female guarding the eggs and baby birds once they emerge and the male supplying her with all of the nourishment she requires. They spend approximately two months with their parents before taking it out on their own.

6. White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

The Sitta carolinensis, often known as the White-Breasted Nuthatch, is a tiny sparrow that belongs to the nuthatch group. They’re relatively abundant in temperate North American climates. They have a short tail, a large head, a powerful beak, and robust feet.


Their face, sides, and chests are white, with a black cap and a blue-grey back. They come in nine distinct kinds, each of which may be distinguished by the color of its plumage.

Length & Weight

White-breasted Nuthatches may grow up to 14 cm in length and have a wingspan of 27 cm. Their body weight varies from 0.6 to 1.0 ounces. Males and females have slightly varied body forms and back colors. Depending on the occasion, they may create a variety of tunes.


Insects and seeds from tiny plants and bushes are their primary sources of food. They also consume and store the nuts of various plants in tree trunks, such as hickory, which they devour throughout the winter season.

7. House Wren

House Wren

The House Wren is a small bird in America that relates to the Troglodytidae family of wrens. They’re also one of the most frequent birds in both North and South America. They are fearless and gregarious birds who will approach humans without hesitation.


They also establish their nests in close proximity to humans. There are seven subspecies of this bird, each with a different plumage color and size. The House Wren’s plumage is brown in hue, with white and dark brown stripes and patterns.

Length & Weight

Adult breeding birds vary from nonbreeding birds in a few ways. Male House Wrens are somewhat larger than female House Wrens. The House Wren has a body length of 11 to 13 centimeters (4.3 to 5.1 inches) and a wingspan of up to 15 centimeters (5.9 in). An adult House Wren can weigh anything from 10 to 12 grams (0.35 to 0.42 oz).


The House Wren prefers to construct its nest near human structures such as houses and parks. They created an open perch. Caterpillars, moths, and tiny invertebrates are among the small insects eaten by the House Wren. Small grains and seeds from various plants and weeds are also eaten by the House Wren. The House Wren forages for food in backyard bird feeders.

8. European Starling

European Starling

The European Starling is a small species widespread throughout America. The starling family includes the European Starling. The bird’s plumage is magnificent and bright, and it covers its entire body.


They are barely 8 inches in length with a 13-inch wingspan.


The European Starling’s plumage is a gleaming black. They also have some bluish-black feathers on their upper parts and wings, which give them a lovely look. Females are somewhat smaller in body size, weight, and wingspan than males, although they have nearly identical appearances.


It is also a regular visitor to bird feeders in many locations. The European Starling prefers tiny insects, little grains, and berries. It eats primarily from the trees and dirt, but it may occasionally approach the feeders for food.

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9. Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

Dumetella Carolinensis is a small bird that belongs to the mimed family of small and medium-sized birds. Even though this songbird is endemic to North America, it has spread to other areas of the world. During the winter, their population migrates to different states, which is why they are less frequently seen.


An adult Gray Catbird weighs between 30 and 50 grams.


The Gray Catbird’s whole body is coated with lead-gray feathers. The body portions of the wings and head are darker than those of the tummy and collar.

Male and female Gray Catbirds are almost similar, rendering it challenging to tell them apart. The male has a lovely, melodic voice that entices females to mate with him. To acquire their food, they go to the bird feeders.


During the summer, they come more regularly. Tiny worms and insects are eaten by the Gray Catbird. They consume the fruits and berries of a variety of miniature plants as well. They also eat the seeds and grains of a variety of small shrubs and grasses.

10. Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows (Melospiza Melodia) are little songbirds with a beautiful melody. It makes a lovely song to connect with other Song Sparrows, which is melodic. The bird’s plumage is brown in hue.


Their bodies are entirely covered in tiny brown feathers. These brown feathers have black dots on them. The bird’s underparts have black markings and a brownish belly. This species’ male and female have a remarkable likeness.

Both have the same color plumage and body form. This species’ male has a somewhat larger body size, weight, and wingspan than the female.


Worms and tiny insects, especially the larvae of many small insects, are primarily eaten by the Song Sparrow. Green seeds from little plants and bushes are also eaten by them. The Song Sparrow consumes berries from a variety of tiny trees.

11. American Robin

American Robin

The Turdus Migratorius, often known as the American Robin, is a small migratory songbird with red and black plumage. It travels throughout the United States. It is shaped and sized like a European Robin, yet it lives in America, hence the name America Robin.


Male American Robins are distinct from female American Robins in that males have more colorful plumage than females. Male American Robins have the most vibrant colors, while females have more muted colors.


The male and female bodies are also different in size and shape; female bodies are thinner and smaller, while male bodies are somewhat larger. Tiny insects and their larvae, small nuts, and berries are among their favorite foods. They also consume the seeds of trim shrubs and bushes.

12. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker, commonly known as Dryobates Pubescens, is a tiny woodpecker that belongs to the family Dryobates.


The plumage of the bird is primarily black, with white patches on the wings and black and white stripes on the head. This species’ male and female have similar plumage colors, but the female lacks the male’s small red dot on the head.

A male Downy Woodpecker weighs more and has a wider wingspan than a female. Female Downy Woodpeckers are likewise somewhat smaller than their male counterparts in terms of body size. They come to the bird feeders on a regular basis.


Small insects, worms, seeds, nuts, and berries from small shrubs are among the Downy Woodpecker’s favorite foods. The feeders that give them with suet entice them. In comparison to the summer, they are more commonly spotted in the feeding areas throughout the winter.

13. Common Grackle

Common Grackle

The Common Grackle is a large songbird endemic to North America that belongs to the Icteridae family. The eyes of this bird are white with a tiny black mark on them.


They have a longer tail, a slate black beak, and larger stature. They are a year-round inhabitant of the north, but they do travel to other areas of the country. Black wings, a gleaming golden throat, and black underparts distinguish this bird.

Male and female are nearly identical and cannot be distinguished simply by looks. The male and female grackle populations are slightly varied; however, it’s difficult to tell them apart from afar.


They eat from the bird feeders on a regular basis. They are omnivores, which means they consume a wide range of foods. Their preferred meals are mice, worms, eggs, berries, and tiny grains of cereals. They also engage in combat with other birds in order to snare their prey.

14. Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

The Molothrus ater, often known as the Brown-headed Cowbird, is a moderate North American bird. The Brown-headed Cowbird is a migratory bird that migrates from one location to another based on food and weather.

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The bird is similar in form to a regular crow, but its back is more colorful. During the summer, they mainly go to the north. The Brown-headed Cowbird’s plumage is entirely black, with the exception of the head and neck, which are brown instead of black.

This bird’s black plumage is more bluish-black in hue rather than pure black. Males have shinier and more colorful plumage than females. The female has brown and black plumage.  Females are easily identifiable within the flock because their coloration differs from that of the males.

To attract females for mating, the bird sings a high-pitched melody. They are migratory birds, meaning they migrate from one location to another.

15. Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat, commonly known as Geothlypis Trichas, is a tiny new world warbler from the Parulidae family of birds. They can be seen in huge groups over North America. This bird has a lemon-yellow neck, as the name indicates.


The Common Yellowthroat has light yellow to greenish-yellow plumage all over its body. A dark streak extends from the beak to the eyes and rear of the Typical Yellowthroat’s head. The back of the Common Yellowthroat bird is olive-colored.

The bird’s wings and upper body are entirely coated in a greenish-yellow hue. The male and Common female Yellowthroats are slightly different from one another. Males wear a black mask that covers their whole face, whilst ladies do not.


Males and females may readily be distinguished and classified into two sexes as a result of this. The typical body length of a Common Yellowthroat is 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm), with a wingspan of almost 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm).


The Common Yellowthroat scavenges on nearby trees and on the floor in search of food. Seeds, green fruits, berry, and nuts are their primary sources of nutrition. Caterpillars, spiders, and beetles are among the tiny insects that the Common Yellowthroat bird consumes.

16. Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

The Brown Thrasher, also known as Toxostoma rufum, is a big bird belonging to the Mimidae family of thrashers. Mockingbirds are genetically linked to birds. The Brown Thrasher is a species that can be seen in hilly regions all over the world, including the United States.


The bird is completely coated in brown plumage, as its name indicates. Above their wings and upper portions of the plumage, they have dark brown to black patches. The underparts and breasts of the bird are covered with brownish-grey plumage.

Because the male and female Brown Thrasher birds are so similar in form, color, and body size, it’s difficult to tell them apart. In the early stages of development, the Brown Thrasher’s chicks have drab coloring and no feathers.

Length & Weight

The Brown Thrasher is a bird with a wingspan of 29 to 33 cm and a body size of 23.5 to 30.5 cm (9.3 to 12.0 in) (11 to 13 in). The average adult Brown Thrasher weighs between 61 and 89 grams (2.2 to 3.1 oz).


The female Brown Thrasher lays three to five eggs, which she waits on until they hatch. For these days, the male supplies nourishment. The Brown Thrasher primarily feeds on tiny insects and worms. Small insect larvae are also eaten by them.

Some birds’ seeds, grains, fruits, and berries are also eaten by the Brown Thrasher. They will come to the bird feeders on a regular basis if the feeders contain suet and other such items.


Knowing the form of a bird will assist you in classifying it into the appropriate family. The structure and size of a bird’s beak may frequently be used to determine which family it belongs to. During specific seasons, certain birds can be seen. From April to September, the Great Crested Flycatcher, for example, can be seen in northern states such as Iowa, but only exceptionally seldom during the winter months. Some birds, such as the American Robin, may be observed all year in Iowa, regardless of the season.


What is the best way to recognize a backyard bird?

The easiest way to identify backyard birds is to employ a balanced observation technique that takes into account the bird’s behavior, sound, color, and field marks. A field guide can also aid in the identification of the most frequent garden birds in your area.

In Iowa, how many distinct bird species can you find?

The roughly 390 bird species reported in Iowa include a mix of south-central and northern species.

Last Updated on July 29, 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.