16 Most Common Birds in Iowa (with Pictures)

Feast your eyes on the vibrant beauty of Hawkeye State! From chirping chickadees to soaring bald eagles, Iowa is home to a plethora of feathery friends.

But which birds reign supreme in the heartland?

Join us as we delve into the 16 most common birds in Iowa and discover the fascinating stories behind each feathered creature.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

  • Scientific Name: Spinus tristis
  • Family Name: Fringillidae
  • Length: 4.5-5.5 inches (11.5-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.5-0.7 ounces (14-20 g)
  • Wingspan: 0.5-0.7 ounces (14-20 g)
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Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

  • Scientific Name: Poecile atricapillus
  • Family Name: Paridae
  • Length: 12 cm
  • Weight: 9-14 g
  • Wingspan: 17-20 cm
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Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

  • Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura
  • Family Name: Columbidae
  • Length: 28-33 cm
  • Weight: 93-109 g
  • Wingspan: 39-44 cm
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Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

  • Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis
  • Family Name: Cardinalidae
  • Length: 21-23 cm
  • Weight: 41-68 g
  • Wingspan: 25-31 cm
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Blue Jay

Blue Jay

  • Scientific Name: Cyanocitta cristata
  • Family Name: Corvidae
  • Length: 28-33 cm
  • Weight: 70-100 g
  • Wingspan: 44-50 cm
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White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

  • Scientific Name: Sitta carolinensis
  • Family Name: Sittidae
  • Length: 14-15 cm
  • Weight: 20-26 g
  • Wingspan: 22-25 cm
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House Wren

House Wren

  • Scientific Name: Troglodytes aedon
  • Family Name: Troglodytidae
  • Length: 12-14 cm
  • Weight: 9-13 g
  • Wingspan: 16-20 cm
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European Starling

European Starling

  • Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris
  • Family Name: Sturnidae
  • Length: 22-25 cm
  • Weight: 80-120 g
  • Wingspan: 45-50 cm
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Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

  • Scientific Name: Dumetella carolinensis
  • Family Name: Mimidae
  • Length: 21-25 cm
  • Weight: 28-38 g
  • Wingspan: 30-35 cm
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Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

  • Scientific Name: Melospiza melodia
  • Family Name: Passerellidae
  • Length: 14-18 cm
  • Weight: 18-29 g
  • Wingspan: 21-25 cm
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American Robin

American Robin

  • Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius
  • Family Name: Turdidae
  • Length: 25-28 cm
  • Weight: 63-100 g
  • Wingspan: 63-100 g
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Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Dryobates pubescens
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 14-18 cm
  • Weight: 20-30 g
  • Wingspan: 25-30 cm
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Common Grackle

Common Grackle

  • Scientific Name: Quiscalus quiscula
  • Family Name: Icteridae
  • Length: 33-43 cm
  • Weight: 80-120 g
  • Wingspan: 50-57 cm
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Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

  • Scientific Name: Molothrus ater
  • Family Name: Icteridae
  • Length: 17-19 cm
  • Weight: 25-40 g
  • Wingspan: 25-30 cm
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Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

  • Scientific Name: Geothlypis trichas
  • Family Name: Parulidae
  • Length: 13-14 cm
  • Weight: 10-14 g
  • Wingspan: 20-22 cm
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Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

  • Scientific Name: Toxostoma rufum
  • Family Name: Mimidae
  • Length: 28-30 cm
  • Weight: 70-85 g
  • Wingspan: 40-46 cm
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If you don’t have the time to read the whole article, check out this video for a quick understanding.

Most Common Birds in Iowa

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’ males and females 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 upper parts.

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.

Below are the characteristics of the American Goldfinch,

Scientific Name Spinus tristis
Family Name Fringillidae
Length 4.5-5.5 inches (11.5-14 cm)
Weight 0.5-0.7 ounces (14-20 g)
Wingspan 7.5-8.5 inches (19-22 cm)
Habitat Open woodlands, fields, gardens, and parks
Food Seeds, insects, and spiders

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.

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.

Below are the characteristics of the Black-capped Chickadee,

Scientific Name Poecile atricapillus
Family Name Paridae
Length 12 cm
Weight 9-14 g
Wingspan 17-20 cm
Habitat Coniferous and deciduous forests
Food Insects, seeds, nuts, suet, and fruit

3. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

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

A 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.

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.

Below are the characteristics of the Mourning Dove,

Scientific Name Zenaida macroura
Family Name Columbidae
Length 28-33 cm
Weight 93-109 g
Wingspan 39-44 cm
Habitat Open country, farmlands, deserts, woodlands
Food Seeds, grains, insects

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.

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.

Below are the characteristics of the Northern Cardinal,

Scientific Name Cardinalis cardinalis
Family Name Cardinalidae
Length 21-23 cm
Weight 41-68 g
Wingspan 25-31 cm
Habitat Woodlands, thickets, suburban areas
Food Seeds, fruits, insects

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.

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.

Below are the characteristics of the Blue Jay,

Scientific Name Cyanocitta cristata
Family Name Corvidae
Length 28-33 cm
Weight 70-100 g
Wingspan 44-50 cm
Habitat Deciduous and coniferous forests, suburban areas
Food Acorns, nuts, seeds, insects, fruits, eggs and nestlings of other birds

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 short tails, a large heads, powerful beaks, and robust feet.

Their face, sides, and chests are white, with black caps and a blue-grey back.

They come in nine distinct kinds, each of which may be distinguished by the color of its plumage.

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.

Below are the characteristics of the White-breasted Nuthatch,

Scientific Name Sitta carolinensis
Family Name Sittidae
Length 14-15 cm
Weight 20-26 g
Wingspan 22-25 cm
Habitat Coniferous and deciduous forests
Food Seeds, nuts, insects, sap

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.

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.

Below are the characteristics of the House Wren,

Scientific Name Troglodytes aedon
Family Name Troglodytidae
Length 12-14 cm
Weight 9-13 g
Wingspan 16-20 cm
Habitat Open areas with scattered trees and brush, suburban areas
Food Insects, spiders, snails

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.

Below are the characteristics of the European Starling,

Scientific Name Sturnus vulgaris
Family Name Sturnidae
Length 22-25 cm
Weight 80-120 g
Wingspan 45-50 cm
Habitat Open areas, farmlands, urban areas
Food Insects, fruits, seeds, nectar

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.

Below are the characteristics of the Gray Catbird,

Scientific Name Dumetella carolinensis
Family Name Mimidae
Length 21-25 cm
Weight 28-38 g
Wingspan 30-35 cm
Habitat Deciduous forests, thickets, suburban areas
Food Insects, fruits, berries, seeds

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.

Below are the characteristics of the Song Sparrow,

Scientific Name Melospiza melodia
Family Name Passerellidae
Length 14-18 cm
Weight 18-29 g
Wingspan 21-25 cm
Habitat Fields, marshes, suburban areas
Food Seeds, insects, snails

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 trimmed shrubs and bushes.

Below are the characteristics of the American Robin,

Scientific Name Turdus migratorius
Family Name Turdidae
Length 25-28 cm
Weight 63-100 g
Wingspan 39-42 cm
Habitat Deciduous forests, open fields, suburban areas
Food Worms, insects, fruits, berries

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 to entice them.

In comparison to the summer, they are more commonly spotted in the feeding areas throughout the winter.

Below are the characteristics of the Downy Woodpecker,

Scientific Name Dryobates pubescens
Family Name Picidae
Length 14-18 cm
Weight 20-30 g
Wingspan 25-30 cm
Habitat Deciduous and mixed forests, suburban areas
Food Insects, spiders, sap, berries

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.

Males and females 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 cereal.

They also engage in combat with other birds in order to snare their prey.

Below are the characteristics of the Common Grackle,

Scientific Name Quiscalus quiscula
Family Name Icteridae
Length 33-43 cm
Weight 80-120 g
Wingspan 50-57 cm
Habitat Open fields, farmlands, urban areas
Food Insects, fruits, seeds, garbage

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.

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 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.

Below are the characteristics of the Brown-headed Cowbird,

Scientific Name Molothrus ater
Family Name Icteridae
Length 17-19 cm
Weight 25-40 g
Wingspan 25-30 cm
Habitat Open fields, farmlands, suburban areas
Food Seeds, insects, grains

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.

Below are the characteristics of the Common Yellowthroat,

Scientific Name Geothlypis trichas
Family Name Parulidae
Length 13-14 cm
Weight 10-14 g
Wingspan 20-22 cm
Habitat Wetlands, thickets, marshes
Food Insects, spiders, snails

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.

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. 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.

Below are the characteristics of the Brown Thrasher,

Scientific Name Toxostoma rufum
Family Name Mimidae
Length 28-30 cm
Weight 70-85 g
Wingspan 40-46 cm
Habitat Shrublands, thickets, forests
Food Insects, fruits, berries, small reptiles


In conclusion, Iowa is home to a diverse population of birds that includes both common and rare species.

The 16 birds mentioned in this article represent some of the most frequently seen birds in Iowa and serve as a starting point for birdwatching enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Again, These are the most common birds in Iowa:

  1. American Goldfinch
  2. Black-capped Chickadee
  3. Mourning Dove
  4. Northern Cardinal
  5. Blue Jay
  6. White-breasted Nuthatch
  7. House Wren
  8. European Starling
  9. Gray Catbird
  10. Song Sparrow
  11. American Robin
  12. Downy Woodpecker
  13. Common Grackle
  14. Brown-headed Cowbird
  15. Common Yellowthroat
  16. Brown Thrasher

Whether you are a seasoned birder or just starting to explore the world of birds, taking the time to observe and learn about these beautiful creatures can be a rewarding experience.

From the majestic Bald Eagle to the brightly colored Cardinal, these birds play a crucial role in the ecosystem and bring beauty and wonder to the natural landscapes of Iowa.


What are the most common birds in Iowa?

Some of the most common birds in Iowa include the American Robin, Blue Jay, Cardinal, Chimney Swift, Downy Woodpecker, European Starling, House Sparrow, Mallard, Northern Cardinal, Northern Flicker, Red-tailed Hawk, Rock Pigeon, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Wood Duck, and Woodpecker.

Where can I find common birds in Iowa?

Common birds in Iowa can be found in various habitats such as forests, prairies, wetlands, and urban areas. You can also find them in parks, gardens, and nature reserves.

What is the best time to observe common birds in Iowa?

The best time to observe common birds in Iowa is during the spring and fall migration seasons, when many species are on the move. However, birds can be seen and enjoyed year-round, with different species being more abundant at different times of the year.

What is the role of common birds in Iowa's ecosystem?

Common birds play an important role in Iowa’s ecosystem by helping to maintain the balance of nature. They help to pollinate plants, disperse seeds, and control insect populations. Some birds, such as the Blue Jay and Tufted Titmouse, also act as keystone species, which play a critical role in shaping their ecosystems.

How can I attract common birds to my yard in Iowa?

To attract common birds to your yard in Iowa, you can provide food, water, and shelter. Offer birdseed, suet, and nectar, and place birdhouses and bird baths in your yard. You can also provide cover and nesting sites by planting native shrubs and trees.

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 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.

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