South Dakota Birds: Common Birds in South Dakota

The ‘Mount Rushmore State of South Dakota is a wonderful site to be a birder, with gorgeous rolling plains and the Black Hills National Forest.

A diverse range of bird species can be found in South Dakota. More than 400 different bird species call it home. There is a variety of species. One will observe the common species like the American Robin to the rare species like the Bell’s Vireo.

The state bird of South Dakota is the Ring-necked Pheasant. A wide range of bird species may associate with its diverse topography that lures a hefty amount of birds to south Dakota.

Below some common dwellers are mentioned among them some birds tend to visit during particular weathers and most of them are present all around the year.

Black-capped ChickadeeBlack-capped Chickadee
Indigo BuntingIndigo Bunting
Mourning DoveMourning Dove
Blue GrosbeakBlue Grosbeak
American GoldfinchAmerican Goldfinch
Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed-bellied Woodpecker
White-breasted NuthatchWhite-breasted Nuthatch
Scarlet TanagerScarlet Tanager
Lazuli BuntingLazuli Bunting
Downy WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker
Dark-eyed JuncoDark-eyed Junco
House SparrowHouse Sparrow
Lapland LongspurLapland Longspur
Purple FinchPurple Finch
American RobinAmerican Robin
Golden-crowned KingletGolden-crowned Kinglet
European StarlingEuropean Starling
Eastern BluebirdEastern Bluebird

Common Birds in South Dakota

1. Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadees have velvety grey backs, short grey wings with a white border, and long, thin tails with white edging on the outside margins. This bird has a white underbelly and chest, with a mild buffy hue on the flanks.

These birds have a black and white face with white in the middle and a small black bib and a huge black cap that ends at the mid-eye level. These birds have short black beaks that are trapezoidal.

Length & Habitat

These small birds range from 4.7 to 5.9 inches in length, with wings length ranging from 6.3 to 8.3 inches. Almost any mix of trees and shrubs will suffice. They can be found near the forest border, in gardens, on pine logs, and in backyards.

They like to sit on cattails and be near water, so search for them in wetlands or along streams. These birds prefer peanut butter and suet mixed. They also enjoy fruit, particularly little cherries.

2. Indigo Bunting

indigo Bunting

Male Indigo Buntings are a sight to behold, with nearly all of their plumage being indigo blue. They have short wings and short tails with a little grey border. The beaks of these birds are sturdy, medium-length, and conical in shape.

Females have an olive-brown body with olive and white striped neck, chest, and belly and tiny blue touches on their feathers and tails. Males as juveniles will have a combination of browns and blues, with the browns becoming less prominent as the bird matures.


The length of these birds is 4.7–5.1 inches, and their wingspans are 7.5–8.7 inches broad. Shrubs, thickets, brambles, and thorns are all favorites of these Buntings. The greatest ways to attract the Indigo Bunting’s interest are nyjer thistle, live silkworms, and tiny berries of any type.

3. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Light brown backs, broad and big wings, and long, pointed tails distinguish Mourning Doves. The belly and chest will be a mixture of white and creamy tan, and its wings will have a large proportion of shiny tan color with some unique black markings.

These birds have the highest number with tan-colored faces and white eyering around their eyes. These birds have black beaks that are thin and modest in length.

Length & Habitat

The length of these birds ranges from 9.1 to 13.4 inches, with wingspans of around 17.7 inches. Mourning Doves dislike the deep forests and enjoy spending their days in parks, farms, or, more commonly, in cities.


White Proso millet, Cracked corn, and Nyjer thistle are three favorites you can put out in your feeder to attract the Mourning Dove’s interest.

4. Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

Male Blue Grosbeaks have stunning plumage. They feature medium-length blue wings and tails and a deep blue back. This bird’s underside and chest are dark blues. The beaks of these birds are broad, triangular, and bent downward.

Female Grosbeaks will have a cinnamon-colored underside and chest, with light coloring on the underside.

Length & Habitat

These birds are 5.9–6.3 inches long from head to tail, with wingspans reaching 11 inches broad. Old, overgrown pastures, especially those with a few huge trees, are a favored habitat of Grosbeaks.

They prefer regions that are becoming wild. While they consume a lot of invertebrates in the wild, they also like nuts, cherry, and suet nuggets.

5. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Male American Goldfinches have bright yellowbacks, long black wings, and moderate black tails during the summer. Two white wing bars and a couple of straight white markings towards the bottom center of the wings will be visible.

The pigment on the bottom of the tail comes from the bird’s rump, while the underbelly and chest are the same brilliant yellow as the back. These birds have bright yellow feathers, a black half-cap on their foreheads, and a robust, medium-length orange beak.

Females will have olive-colored plumage instead of black, and the remainder of yellow feathers will be duller in hue than the males. Both genders change to brown plumage in the winter; however, the wings are substantially darker, and the wing bars are dull but still visible.

Habitat & Food

Goldfinches prefer to forage in weedy, overgrown fields, particularly in flood-prone locations. Adding Nyjer thistle to your feeder is a simple and effective approach to drawing these birds.

6. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers have black and white stripes with long wings, making them special birds. The chest and the abdomen of these birds are white. However, there is a red mark on the belly and a crimson wash on the breast and cheeks of this bird.

Excluding the bird’s red hat, which extends down to the nape of its neck, the rest of the face is mostly white. The bills of these birds are long, robust, and straight. These birds are 9.4 inches long from head to tails.


When you see these birds in the woods, look for them among stands of oak and hickory. They, like other Woodpeckers, are brave and will often range. Thus they can be found in yards with well-stocked feeders.

Walnuts, suet, and any fruit you have had on hand are all favorites of these birds.

7. White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatches have velvety grayish-blue backs and medium-length grayish-blue wings and tails. Both the tails and wings will have a black border and wing bars.

These birds have lengthy, straight bicolor bills that are black above and grey to greyish black below, giving them a ‘slightly cross’ appearance. They also have a thin, angular line coming from the back of the eyes, giving them a ‘slightly cross’ appearance.

Length & Habitat

These birds have a wingspan of 7.9 to 10.6 inches. Nuthatches can be found in deep forests or on the outskirts of the forest, with a strong affinity for deciduous trees. While they mostly consume insects, suet, live, or mealworms.

8. Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanagers

These birds have some really beautiful plumage during the warmer months. This bird has a tiny, notched tail with expanded outer tail feathers and a scarlet back with little black wings. The underside and chest are red and often feature a combination of yellow for a flame-color impression, and traces of yellow may be observed in the wings.

This bird’s face has a color that is a blend of brown and red. Their beaks are of medium length and also are a little bit curved. Females and juveniles are more greenish-yellow, with richer olive wings, and adult males, apart from their wings of black color and tails.

Length & Habitat

These birds are between 6.3 and 6.7 inches long. During the summer, these birds prefer deciduous woodlands, and during migration, they tend to spread out more. During this period, they are frequently seen in gardens and backyards. Suet, caterpillars, oranges are among the Scarlet Tanager’s preferred foods.

9. Dickcissel

Credits – Wikipedia

Dickcissels have brown and grey backs, long, broad grey wings, and short grey tails. These birds have a predominantly grey appearance, with a yellow eyestripe in the front and white behind the eyes, a yellow spot on the lower bill, and a thin grey mustache line.

These birds have brown or grey bills that are medium in length and conical in shape.

Habitat & Food

Females will have similar coloring to males, These birds are between 5.5 and 6.3 inches long. These birds like tall grasses, grasslands, and pastures, but occasionally venture out to roadsides and backyards. Normally insectivorous, these birds adapt to a seed-based diet in the winter.

10. Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting
Credit – Wikipedia

Male Lazuli Buntings feature beautiful blue backs and medium-length blue wings. This bird’s rear, abdomen, and chest are white, with a strong cinnamon border that extends to fill the chest. These birds have light indigo blue faces with a small bit of black in front of their eyes and stout, medium-length, slightly curved black bills.

Female Lazulis have buffy tan wing bars and greyish brown upper bodies, with blue splashes on the wings and tail.

Length & Habitat

The length of these birds ranges from 5.1 to 5.9 inches, and their wingspans are around 8.7 inches wide. The Buntings prefer slopes and hillsides with dense brush and hedges. They enjoy visiting backyards with a good garden, and they can see ponds and fields.

Small berries, such as chopped cherries or entire blueberries, can attract and hold Lazuli Bunting’s interest.

11. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

These birds have elongated wings of black color and peculiar white lines running down their backs, and there is a chequered pattern of white spots that originates from below their wings and goes until their tips. Their tails are notched and short in size, white underneath and black atop. The breast and the stomach of these birds are white.

The length of these birds can range from approximately 5.6 to 6.6 inches, and the length of their wingspans ranges from 9.7 to 11.9 inches wide.

There are also prospects that they may be visiting backyards. There are a lot of prospects that you can notice these birds. They are among the smallest woodpecker species that reside in North America about their sizes.

These tiny, vibrant birds are inclined towards a mixture of suet and peanut butter.

12. Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

There are present several variations, but the most common color is dark grey. These birds have tails of decent length, and their wings share the same color as present on the rest of their bodies.

Because of the bird’s grey or brown head, the upper two-thirds of its body is brown or grey, while the lower third is white. Their beaks are very attractive, and it is of pink color that makes them very distinguishable thing from the rest of their body color, predominantly grey or dark brownish.

Habitat & Food

When the bird is at rest, it appears to be sitting in white paint. Juncos enjoy open habitats, such as meadows, sides of roads, parks, and lawns, and prefer coniferous cracked corn Black Oil millet and white Proso millet Sunflower seeds are three of the Dark-eyed Junco’s favorite foods.

You can use them to entice them in for a closer look.

13. House Sparrow

House Sparrow

The backs of male House Sparrows are a rich brown color with black striping. They have a short brown wingspan with similar streaking and short brown tails with a grey underside. This bird’s underbelly and breast are a smoky grey, and its long, black bib reaches down to the top of the breast.

A smooth grey stripe runs across the bird’s forehead and top of its head, and it has a robust, normal-sized black beak Females will be plainer in color, with buffy brown and black streaks on their backs grayish-brown underside, and breasts.


The length of these birds ranges from 5.9 to 6.7 inches. While they may be found on farms, they are unlikely to be found in the forests.

Look for them on telephone wires, fences, or in your garden where they’re already waiting. Two of this bird’s preferred foods are white Proso millet and black oil sunflower seeds.

14. Lapland Longspur

Lapland Longspur

The backs of Lapland Longspurs are mottled brown and white, with moderate wings and tiny tails of the same hue, with white outer feathers. This bird’s underbelly and breast are white, with black streaks on the flanks, just under the wings, and a black mask blends into the black cheeks and bib and extends down into the chest.

Excluding a rufous patch on the back of the skull and a thin, black cap, the rest of the face is white. The beak of these birds is big, conical, and pointed, yellow or brown.

Females have a similar appearance to males but have less black in their feathers and lose most of their plumage in the winter.

The length of these birds ranges from 5.9 to 6.3 inches; these birds are at home in various environments, including fields, farms, the dunes off the coast, and the polar tundra. These birds feed on worms and seeds that they find on the ground.

15. Purple Finch

Female Purple Finch

Male Purple Finches resemble little brown songbirds that have been dipped in raspberry sauce. They have backs of brown color that are pinkish-red in color, short wings with two thin white wing bars on each side, and little, notched tails.

This bird’s rump, underside, and chest are white, with crimson lines surrounding the underbelly that get denser as you get closer to the breast. This bird’s face has a raspberry red tint, with markings of various pinkish-red colors. The brow line and the cheekbones and throat are pale in hue, while the rest of the face is a darker raspberry color.

The beak of these birds is thick, conical, and medium-length, with a hint of black. Rather than the reddish tint, female Finches will have a light olive hue with stronger streaking, a more apparent eyebrow line, and obvious green lines at the throat. The length of these birds ranges from 4.7 to 6.3 inches.

Habitat & Food

These Finches prefer coniferous and mixed coniferous woods in the summer, but in the winter, they broaden their reach to graze, and you may find them at the forest’s border, in fields, and even in the rare garden, much to the owner’s surprise.

Purple Finch seeds like safflower, and Niger thistle seeds, black oil sunflower, which you can use to try to entice them into your yard.

16. American Robin

American Robin

American Robins have greyish brown backs, medium-length grayish-brown wings, and lengthy, brown tails that are white underneath and colored from the rump. This bird’s underbelly and breast are tangerine oranges, occasionally a little more reddish, with blackheads on its face.

Both eyes have a prominent, broken-looking white eyering, and these birds have moderate, curved yellow bills with a little black splash.


The length of these birds varies from 8 to 10.9 inches, with wingspans ranging from 12.3 to 15.7 inches. They are fearless birds that may be seen in various environments.

Habitat & Food

They can be found in snowy fields, gardening areas, golf courses, notable backyards with well-stocked feeders and pine forests, and deciduous woods.

Suet, Black Oil Sunflower seeds, and Crushed peanuts are all favorites of robins, especially when mixed with some tasty raisins.

17. Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-Crowned Kinglets are little, brightly colored birds. Their backs are grey, and their wings are modest and olive in color, with wing bars that are white and yellow on the exterior. The underside and chest are usually grey or grey with a very mild olive hue, and they have thin grey and olive tails.

These birds have grey faces with a thin black mustache line, and very few masks outline around the eyes. These little birds are only 3.1 to 4.3 inches long.

Habitat & Food

These birds can be found in boreal woodlands throughout the summer, though they also spend time in coniferous forests.

While mostly insectivorous, these birds visit suet feeders throughout the winter.

18. European Starling

European Starling

European Starlings resemble yellow-billed Blackbirds from afar, but up close, their gleaming ‘black’ feathers are made up of bright purples and greens. They have long, pointed wings and small tails, and when flying, they have a characteristic four-pointed shape that resembles a four-pointed star.

This bird’s underbelly and breast and the face are purple and green, and it has a long, thick yellow bill. They shed their dark feathers during the wintertime and adopt a gorgeous color scheme of brown with white markings.

These birds have wingspans of 12.2 to 15.8 inches European Starlings, introduced to the United States in the nineteenth century, can be seen on walls or phone lines, and occasionally visit farms.

19. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Male Eastern Bluebirds are charming tiny creatures. They have a stunning color contrast with their vivid blue backs, little blue feathers, tails, and a white back and underside, flanked by a cinnamon-orange tint that deepens and solidifies towards the chest, throat, and chin.

The rest of the bird’s face is blue, and its bills are medium in length and slightly downward curved from grey to black. Females have some blue in their plumage, but it’s more grey generally, and their reddish-orange coloring is a little muted, but it’s still visible.

These birds like open, wooded environments, particularly when the trees have large enough knotholes to nest in. They’re also drawn to nesting boxes, so if you don’t put out a ‘welcome mat,’ this small bird could end up in your backyard.

They can also be found on the edges of fields, on the side of the road, and on golf courses, Bluebirds enjoy fruits and suet, and if you put crushed eggshells out, they’ll eat them.

If you are looking for information on North Dakota Birds, then check this article on Birds of North Dakota.


In this write-up, we have talked about the common birds prevalent in South Dakota. Their physical features have been discussed, as to their diet regime also.

Some of the birds mentioned above tend to dwell in all the seasons, whereas few pay visits in particular weathers.

The beautiful physical features have also been discussed, which would help you spot these birds if you happen to see any of these birds.


What is the name of south Dakotas’ state bird?

Ring-necked Pheasant is known to be the state bird of South Dakota.

Which birds are inclined towards a mixture of suet and peanut butter?

Downy woodpeckers prefer this mixture.

Which birds are most likely to spot in urban centers?

Mourning doves are very much prevalent in urban centers.

Can we spot Lapland Longspurs in South Dakota?

Yes, Lapland Longspurs can be seen in South Dakota.

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.

1 thought on “South Dakota Birds: Common Birds in South Dakota”

  1. Where can I send a picture of the bird we spotted at Mount Rushmore? I did not see it in your list and the books I have I cannot tell what it is.

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