Last Updated on June 5, 2023 by Lily Aldrin
Hello there! If you’re a nature lover or bird enthusiast in Kentucky, you’re in for a treat.
Kentucky is home to a wide variety of bird species, each with its unique charm and characteristics.
In this article, we will explore 13 common birds that you can find across the beautiful landscapes of the Bluegrass State.
From vibrant songbirds to majestic raptors, get ready to discover the feathered wonders that grace the skies of Kentucky.
So grab your binoculars and join me on this avian adventure!
In Kentucky, there are over 392 distinct bird species that may be spotted at different times of the year.
Ohio, West Virginia, and Missouri all border Kentucky, and as a result, they share a number of bird species.
Birds in Kentucky range from common species like the Blue Jay to uncommon species like the Rusty Blackbird.
Kentucky’s state bird is the Northern Cardinal, which was designated as such in 1942.
A list of Kentucky’s most gorgeous backyard birds, along with images and descriptions, is provided below.
There is also information on how often the birds can be seen, as well as when the time of year they may be spotted.
If you don’t have the time to read the whole article, check out this video on 13 Common Birds in Kentucky for a quick understanding.
Common Birds in Kentucky
1. Pileated Woodpecker
The Pileated Woodpecker, which is alternatively called Dryocopus pileatus, is a medium-sized woodpecker that is indigenous to the United States.
The pileated red hat of this bird is particularly well-known.
The reddish crest on top of its head makes it easy to spot it.
With the exception of their reddish crest atop their heads, they resemble the different woodpecker species.
They are distinguished from related Woodpecker species by their distinctive crown.
Males and females have slightly distinct appearances.
The male possesses a red line from its beak to its neck, whereas the female has a black line.
The males’ wings are black, whereas the females’ are somewhat brownish.
The typical body length of a fully grown Pileated Woodpecker is 17 inches, having a wingspan of about 28 inches.
A fully grown woodpecker may weigh anywhere from 8-24 ounces.
These birds, just like all woodpeckers, bore cracks in tree trunks.
They eat from the bird feeders on a regular basis.
They consume a variety of bugs, worms, larvae of bugs and invertebrates, grass seedlings, and tiny grains.
They consume a variety of foods, berries, and veggies as well.
Below are the characteristics of the Pileated Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Dryocopus pileatus|
|Length||16-19 inches (40-49 cm)|
|Weight||8-12 ounces (227-340 grams)|
|Wingspan||26-30 inches (66-76 cm)|
|Habitat||Mature forests, woodland areas with large trees|
|Food||Insects, especially wood-boring beetles, ants, fruits, nuts|
2. Common Grackle
The Common Grackle, which is alternatively called Quiscalus quiscula, is a big bird belonging to the Icteridae family that is indigenous to Northern America.
The eyes of these birds are white, having a little black mark in between.
These birds possess a lengthier tail, a pitch-black beak, and a larger body.
They are a year-round inhabitant of northern America, but they do move to other regions of the country.
Black wings, a gleaming golden throat, and black bottoms distinguish this bird.
Male and female birds are nearly identical and cannot be distinguished simply by looks.
The male and female grackles appear a little different, although it is difficult to tell them apart from far away.
They eat from the bird feeders on a regular basis.
These birds are omnivores, meaning they consume a wide variety of foods.
Smaller birds, rats, bugs, worms, minnows, frogs, larvae, fruits, seeds, and tiny grains of crops are among their favorite foods.
These birds also engage in combat with rival birds in order to seize their prey.
Below are the characteristics of the Common Grackle,
|Scientific Name||Quiscalus quiscula|
|Length||12-13 inches (30-33 cm)|
|Weight||3-5 ounces (85-142 grams)|
|Wingspan||14-18 inches (36-46 cm)|
|Habitat||Urban areas, fields, meadows, marshes, open woodlands|
|Food||Seeds, insects, fruits, grains, small vertebrates, garbage|
3. Gray Catbird
The Gray Catbird, alternatively called Dumetella carolinensis, is a medium-sized bird belonging to the mimid family of tiny and medium-sized birds.
This bird is indigenous to Central and Northern America, although it may now be found in a number of other locations.
Throughout the wintertime, its population relocates to different states, which is the reason for its frequent sightings.
A fully grown Gray Catbird is just 8 inches long in general, having an 11-inch wingspan.
A fully grown Gray Catbird weighs approximately 30-50 grams.
The Gray Catbird’s entire body is coated with lead-grayish feathers.
The body components of the wings, as well as the head, appear darker compared to the stomach and neck.
Gray Catbird males and females are nearly identical, so it isn’t easy to distinguish between these birds.
The male bird has a lovely, musical voice that entices female birds to mate with him.
To acquire the food, it goes to the bird feeders. Throughout the summertime, they come more regularly.
The Gray Catbird eats smaller worms and insects.
These birds consume the fruits and berries of a variety of tiny plants as well.
They also consume the seeds as well as grains of several smaller shrubs and grasses.
Below are the characteristics of the Gray Catbird,
|Scientific Name||Dumetella carolinensis|
|Length||8-9 inches (20-23 cm)|
|Weight||1-2 ounces (28-57 grams)|
|Wingspan||9-12 inches (23-30 cm)|
|Habitat||Woodlands, thickets, shrubs, gardens|
|Food||Insects, berries, fruits, seeds, small invertebrates|
4. Golden Fronted Woodpecker
This Wonderful Woodpecker is a moderate woodpecker indigenous to North America.
The Golden-fronted Woodpecker is a tropical woodpecker that dwells in wet tropical woods and shrubs.
Their plumage is golden in hue, and they have a golden patch on their head near the beak, as their name indicates.
To create their nests, they nibble the olive tree trunks.
Their tail is black and short.
White bellies, breasts, and underpants distinguish the Golden-fronted Woodpecker.
Gray-white feathers cover the Golden-fronted Woodpecker’s throat.
The Golden-fronted Woodpecker possesses a shining stripe that goes from the top of its head to the back of its neck.
The Golden-fronted Woodpecker has an average body length of 8.7-10.2 inches and a wingspan of almost 16.5-17.3 inches.
An adult Golden-fronted Woodpecker weighs between 2.6 and 3.5 oz.
The young have the same appearance as the adults, but their plumage is drab.
While pecking at tree trunks, the Golden-fronted Woodpecker consumes nearly every sort of tiny bug it can locate.
Grain, fruits, and other foods are also consumed.
They also go to the suet feeders, which give them protein.
Below are the characteristics of the Golden Fronted Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Melanerpes aurifrons|
|Length||8.5-9.5 inches (22-24 cm)|
|Weight||2.5-3.5 ounces (70-100 grams)|
|Wingspan||16-17 inches (41-43 cm)|
|Habitat||Woodlands, scrublands, semi-open areas, urban parks|
|Food||Insects, fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, sap|
5. Northern Flicker
The Northern Flicker, which is alternatively called Colaptes auratus, Yellowhammer, or Common Flicker, is a small bird that lives throughout Northern America.
The Northern Flicker belongs to the woodpecker family.
This bird is a migrating bird that spends a high percentage of its time in travel.
It makes its nests hidden in the forest.
The Northern Flicker resembles the Downy Woodpecker in shape.
However, it does not have a red dot atop the head and also possesses paler feathers.
The bird’s feather coat is entirely brown, white, and black.
The bottom and stomach are brownish-greys containing black spots, whereas the above and wings appear brownish with black dots.
Beneath their tails, both the male and female possess pink feathers.
Male Northern Flickers are identical in appearance to females, although males feature a red neck ring whereas females lack it.
In addition, males have a heavier mass, larger size, and wingspan compared to females.
The male possesses a high-pitched melodic voice that it employs to lure the females for reproduction.
These birds come to feeders in plenty of places on a regular basis.
Throughout the summer, these birds come to the feeders to receive their food.
Bugs, maggots, larvae, grains, nuts, and various berries make up the majority of their diet.
Below are the characteristics of the Northern Flicker,
|Scientific Name||Colaptes auratus|
|Length||11-14 inches (28-36 cm)|
|Weight||3-5 ounces (85-142 grams)|
|Wingspan||16-20 inches (41-51 cm)|
|Habitat||Forests, woodlands, open areas, suburban parks|
|Food||Insects, ants, beetles, fruits, seeds, nuts, berries|
6. Chimney Swift
The Chimney Swift, which is alternatively called Chaetura pelagica, is a small bird that lives throughout Northern America.
Identifying Chimney Swifts is a piece of cake.
These birds are nearly entirely grayish-brown, having long wings, shorter, pointy tails, as well as a distinctive cigar-shaped body.
A white eyebrow marked with black surrounding the eyes can be seen at the front of the bird’s small, sturdy, and arched black bill, and some paler colors near the neck.
These are little birds with wingspans varying from 10.6-11.8 inches and a body length of 4.7 to 5.9 inches.
These birds like to live in confined spaces, like tree hollows, tunnels, or more urban settings like ventilation systems or chimneys.
Once they have the opportunity, they prefer to live close to the water since the hunt is excellent.
Chimney Swifts are insect eaters, consuming huge numbers of mosquitos, moths, and other insects per day!
Fortunately, their form makes them easier to see hovering above, and if you’re lucky, they could choose your chimney as a nesting location.
Below are the characteristics of the Chimney Swift,
|Scientific Name||Chaetura pelagica|
|Length||4.7-5.9 inches (12-15 cm)|
|Weight||0.6-1.2 ounces (18-34 grams)|
|Wingspan||11-12 inches (28-30 cm)|
|Habitat||Forested areas, open woodlands, near water bodies, urban areas|
|Food||Insects, spiders, flying ants, beetles|
7. European Starling
European Starling’s length and weight range from 7.9 to 9.1 inches and 2.1 to 3.4 ounces, respectively.
The wingspan of these birds ranges from 12.2 to 15.8 inches.
Invasive species such as European starlings, which are often considered pests, are a good example.
Because of their amazing adaptability, they’ve taken the county by storm since then.
Their beauty hides their violent habits, which include annihilating the nests of rival birds and killing their babies.
In daylight, these birds’ black bodies emit a mixture of purple, green, and blue iridescence, giving them a striking look.
Their beaks, feet, wings, and backs are all yellow, with white spots.
They live in the state all year and may be found all throughout.
Furthermore, because of their versatility, they can eat nearly everything.
You don’t need to feed these birds anything special to attract them; they’ll come to your yard on their own.
Below are the characteristics of the European Starling,
|Scientific Name||Sturnus vulgaris|
|Length||7.5-9.8 inches (19-25 cm)|
|Weight||2.8-3.5 ounces (80-100 grams)|
|Wingspan||12-16 inches (30-40 cm)|
|Habitat||Urban areas, agricultural fields, open woodlands, parks|
|Food||Insects, fruits, berries, seeds, grains, human food scraps|
8. Bay-breasted Warbler
The Bay-breasted Warbler, which is alternatively called Setophaga castanea, is a small bird that lives throughout Northern America.
The Bay-breasted Warbler is an eloquent creature to behold.
These birds have moderate-length grey wings featuring a black border and two noticeable white wing bars on either wing and also grey backs having straight, zigzag black patterning.
This bird has a white chest, underside, and hind with a prominent bordering of a rich, reddish color.
This crimson extends over the bird’s face, finishing just below the beak and highlighting the cheekbones.
Black surrounds the eyes and ends at the bottom of the bill, peaking just over the bill towards the head.
Consider it a ’round mask.’
The white coloring can also be found upon the face, beginning a little above eye level slightly at the back of the throat, and arching downwards to the start of the face.
This bird possesses a high, vertical black bill with the tiniest of bends on the upper beak and a striking reddish cap above.
On the other hand, females possess yellow-greenish upper bodies, white chests, and bottom, and a subtle brownish-red splash on the bottom sometimes.
They possess grey and black wings and whitish backsides, and the unique wing bars are still present.
These birds are small, averaging around 5.5″ from nose to tail, and with wingspans ranging from 7.9-8.7 inches.
This bird prefers northern woods and coniferous zones but may migrate to tropical locations when it becomes too cold.
This bird will occasionally visit parks and feeders.
This little bird is mostly an insect eater, but it may be enticed by a full suet feeder on occasion.
Below are the characteristics of the Bay-breasted Warbler,
|Scientific Name||Setophaga castanea|
|Length||5.5 inches (14 cm)|
|Weight||0.3-0.4 ounces (8-11 grams)|
|Wingspan||8-9 inches (20-23 cm)|
|Habitat||Boreal forests, mixed coniferous-deciduous forests during migration|
|Food||Insects, spiders, caterpillars, berries|
9. Hermit Thrush
The Hermit Thrush, which is alternatively called Catharus guttatus, is a small bird that lives throughout Northern America.
A Hermit Thrush is easily identifiable because of its deep brown back, large wings, and bouncy, lengthy tails.
The tails will have a fox-red hue to them.
Its chest is striking white with black markings that smudge at the sides to reveal an olive smudge of color that runs all the way down to the belly.
These black dots diminish down to the underside, but they extend up into the bird’s face, beginning beneath the cheekbones and narrowing to a point behind the bill, the patches growing denser and much more like striping in the end.
The remainder of the bird’s head is similarly brown like the back, featuring a thin white eye-line, as well as a moderate-length, upright black and yellow beak.
Thrushes vary in size from 5.5-7.1 inches in length, with wingspans of nearly 9.8-11.4 inches.
These birds like the perimeter of the woods, grasslands, and thickets and will cheerfully travel to playgrounds and home feeders once they are hungry.
A triple-combination of suet, figs, and ripe grapes will usually entice a Hermit Thrush.
These tiny fellas adore it!
Below are the characteristics of the Hermit Thrush,
|Scientific Name||Catharus guttatus|
|Length||6.5-7.5 inches (16-19 cm)|
|Weight||0.7-1.1 ounces (20-32 grams)|
|Wingspan||11-12 inches (28-30 cm)|
|Habitat||Forests, woodlands, mountainous areas, thickets|
|Food||Insects, spiders, fruits, berries, small invertebrates|
10. Purple Finch
The Purple Finch, which is alternatively called Haemorhous purpureus, is a small bird that lives throughout Central and Northern America.
Purple Finches have brilliant raspberry-colored behinds featuring brown flecks, lengthy brown-purple wings having white accents, and two narrow white wing bars on either wing.
Their tails are shorter and pale brown, with a thick white border and white underside.
This bird’s chest has a medium to strong raspberry color that fades and becomes mild, with raspberry streaks on the bottom till the hind, which is totally white.
This bird’s face is a combination of pale and deep raspberry, with a broad darker eye stripe that bends down across a lighter cheek and a softer pinkish hue in a line over the eye and beneath the beak.
The bill is upright, dirt-yellow, and robust enough to crush into old Sunflower seeds.
You will see what we’re talking about!
Females lack the elegant raspberry color but retain the design, which includes thicker striping and a black line at the neck region, as well as a conspicuous whitish eye stripe.
The length of these birds ranges from 4.7 to 6.3 inches, with wingspans of 8.7 to 10.2 inches.
These birds prefer coniferous woods, and broadleaf and conifer mixed forests come in second.
They like to roam and can be spotted in weedy fields, densely wooded regions, and backyards.
Suet, Sunflower Seeds, as well as Safflower Seeds, are excellent feeder options for these birds.
Below are the characteristics of the Purple Finch,
|Scientific Name||Haemorhous purpureus|
|Length||5.5-6.5 inches (14-16.5 cm)|
|Weight||0.8-1.1 ounces (23-31 grams)|
|Wingspan||9-11 inches (23-28 cm)|
|Habitat||Coniferous forests, mixed woodlands, suburban areas|
|Food||Seeds, buds, berries, insects|
11. Baltimore Oriole
The Baltimore Oriole, which is alternatively called Icterus galbula, is a small bird that lives throughout Eastern and Northern America.
These birds are slimmer and shorter compared to an American Robin.
Baltimore Orioles are moderate-sized birds having broad necks and lengthy legs that have solid body.
Watch for its long, thick-based, sharp bills, which are distinctive of the blackbird family.
Light orange and a black grown-up male has a pitch-black head and a whitish band on its black wings.
Females and young males have two prominent white wing bars that are yellowish-orange on the chest and brownish on the crown and rear.
The female bird constructs the nest that is normally 3-4 inches deeper and features a little aperture on top that is 2-3 inches broad and a protruding bottom area that is 3-4 inches wide.
This is the place where the eggs will be laid by the female bird.
Females frequently reuse fibers from an old nest while constructing a new one.
Males may supply nesting material, but they don’t participate in the weaving process.
Baltimore Orioles eat bugs, fruits, and nectar.
The percentage of each meal changes according to the season: in the summertime, while mating and nursing their offspring, insects make up a large part of the food, as they are high in the proteins necessary for development.
Below are the characteristics of the Baltimore Oriole,
|Scientific Name||Icterus galbula|
|Length||7-8 inches (18-20 cm)|
|Weight||1.1-1.5 ounces (30-42 grams)|
|Wingspan||9-12 inches (23-30 cm)|
|Habitat||Deciduous forests, woodlands, parks, gardens|
|Food||Insects, fruits, nectar, and occasionally spiders and small vertebrates|
12. Eastern Kingbird
The Eastern Kingbird is among America’s biggest flycatchers.
The Tyrannidae are a family of birds that includes this species.
In the dense forests, the Eastern Kingbird builds its open home.
The belly of the Eastern Kingbird is large and white.
Their bill is black, and their neck is dark grey.
Their bill is elongated and pointed.
The Eastern Kingbird’s plumage is entirely made up of dark grey feathers.
The white tint covers the entire abdomen, underparts, and breast region.
Adult Eastern Kingbirds differ from their juvenile counterparts in a few ways.
Because male or female Eastern Kingbirds are almost similar and therefore have no variation in feathers’ colors or body structure, it’s tough to tell them apart.
The bird forages hunt food on tree branches as well as on the ground.
These birds are omnivores, meaning that they consume a wide variety of foods.
Small bugs, beetles, as well as other crustaceans are predominantly eaten by the Eastern Kingbird.
Green veggies, fruits, nuts, and grains are also consumed.
They also pay a visit to the back gardens of bird feeders in various locations.
Below are the characteristics of the Eastern Kingbird,
|Scientific Name||Tyrannus tyrannus|
|Length||7-9 inches (18-23 cm)|
|Weight||1.2-1.8 ounces (34-52 grams)|
|Wingspan||13-15 inches (33-38 cm)|
|Habitat||Open woodlands, fields, meadows, riparian areas|
|Food||Insects, including bees, wasps, dragonflies, and flying ants|
13. Field Sparrow
The Field Sparrow is a tiny bird with a long tail.
The Field Sparrow belongs to the Passerellidae bird family.
This black-eyed, rusty-skinned bird barely weighs approximately 12 g and measures about 6 inches in length.
The white plumage on their belly contrasts with brown and black stripes on their back.
They don’t dwell in densely forested areas; instead, they prefer bushy areas or grasslands.
Throughout the summertime, they mate, and the ladies lay eggs & stay on them until they emerge, whereas the male guards the nest and provides nourishment.
Male Field Sparrows have a marginally greater pitch than female Field Sparrows.
They employ this high-pitched song to announce their dominance over an area and to recruit females for reproduction throughout the reproductive cycle.
The male and female Field Sparrows have stubby tails and bronze breasts with reddish upper parts.
They feature noir black eyes as well as a grey forehead with a reddish crown.
Field Sparrows construct their nests in tiny trees and shrubs.
They come to the feeders on a daily basis to obtain their food.
They reside near human settlements and largely consume vegetable seeds, tiny herbs, as well as the berries of young plants and fruits.
Bugs, including such larvae, scorpions, and larvae of many other flies, are also eaten by them.
Below are the characteristics of the Field Sparrow,
|Scientific Name||Spizella pusilla|
|Length||5.5-6 inches (14-15 cm)|
|Weight||0.4-0.7 ounces (12-20 grams)|
|Wingspan||7-8 inches (18-20 cm)|
|Habitat||Grasslands, meadows, open fields, brushy areas|
|Food||Seeds, insects, spiders, small fruits|
In conclusion, Kentucky offers a remarkable array of bird species, providing birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts with endless opportunities for discovery and appreciation.
From the melodious songs of the Northern Cardinal to the graceful flight of the Red-tailed Hawk, these 13 common birds exemplify the beauty and diversity of avian life in the Bluegrass State.
Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a beginner, exploring the natural habitats of Kentucky can be a truly enriching experience.
So next time you venture outdoors, keep your eyes and ears open for the fascinating sights and sounds of these feathered inhabitants.
Remember, the world of birds is just a flight away, waiting to be explored and cherished.
Are there any endangered bird species in Kentucky?
Yes, Kentucky is home to several endangered bird species. One example is the Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea), a small songbird that breeds in the state’s forests. Its populations have been declining due to habitat loss, making conservation efforts crucial.
When is the best time to go birdwatching in Kentucky?
The best time for birdwatching in Kentucky is during the spring and fall migration seasons, which occur from April to June and August to October, respectively. Many bird species pass through or stopover in Kentucky during these periods, providing excellent opportunities for sighting a wide variety of birds.
Where are some popular birding spots in Kentucky?
Kentucky boasts several popular birding spots. Some notable locations include the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Mammoth Cave National Park, and the Daniel Boone National Forest. These areas offer diverse habitats and attract numerous bird species.
Are there any guided birdwatching tours available in Kentucky?
Yes, there are several guided birdwatching tours and programs available in Kentucky. Local birding organizations, nature centers, and state parks often offer guided tours led by experienced birders who can enhance your birdwatching experience with their knowledge and expertise.
How can I attract birds to my backyard in Kentucky?
To attract birds to your backyard in Kentucky, you can provide food sources such as bird feeders filled with seeds, suet, or nectar. Planting native trees, shrubs, and flowers can also create a natural habitat and attract birds. Additionally, providing fresh water in a birdbath or fountain can be enticing for birds.
Can I take photographs of the birds in Kentucky?
Absolutely! Photography is a wonderful way to capture the beauty of birds in Kentucky. Just make sure to maintain a respectful distance from the birds to avoid disturbing them or their habitats. Remember, the welfare of the birds should always be a priority.