20 Amazing Backyard Birds Of Illinois: You Must Know About

Backyard Birds Of Illinois

Illinois has a great range of backyard birds. And In this article, I’ll list and explain all the backyard birds in Detail.

Note: If you’re short on time I have compiled a table of all the backyard birds with identification and their Diet. You can also read about these birds in detail below.

Backyard Birds in IllinoisLengthWeightIdentification(Color)Diet/Favorite Food
Northern Cardinal 21-24 cm43 gm (1.5 oz)Males are red with a black patch around their faces. Females have brown shades with red highlights and beaks.Sunflower seeds, millet, milo, peanut hearts.
American Robin23-28 cm77 gm (2.7 oz)These birds have black heads and backs with a hint of red or orange on their breast.Mostly insects, berries, earthworms. In early summer, insects make up the majority of the diet; they also feed on many earthworms, snails, spiders, and other invertebrates.
Dark-eyed Junco12-16 cm19 gm (0.6oz)These are dark-eyed variants of Sparrows. These birds are long-distance migratory birds.Black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts.
Mourning Dove22-36 cm120 gm (4.2 oz)Soft brown in color with hints of black on the wings. Millet, black sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, peanut hearts.
Song Sparrow12-17 cm19 gm (0.60z)Brown-streaked birds are well known for singing all day just in order to attract mates during the season. They eat a wide variety of insects like caterpillars, beetles, midges, spiders, and earthworms, along with buckwheat, raspberries, sunflower, wild cherries, wheat, and rice.
American Goldfinch11-13 cm14 gm (0.4oz)They are quite popular, with bright yellow and black colors in males. The female counterparts however tend to be dull brown in shade.Mostly seeds, some insects. Diet is primarily seeds, especially those of the daisy (composite) family, also those of weeds and grasses, and small seeds of trees such as elm, birch, and alder. Also eats buds, the bark of young twigs, maple sap.
Red-winged Blackbird24cm/37cm85 gm (2.9oz)All black only with a bright red and yellow patch on the top of their wings. The female is pale brown. Mixed grains.
House Wren11-13 cm11 gm (0.3oz)Small brown birds with dark wings and tails and pale throats. Insects like spiders, beetles, earwigs, brush piles caterpillars.
Common Yellowthroat11-13 cm9 gm (0.3oz)Small songbirds with a brown back with a hint of yellow and a long tail. They have an apparent black mask across their face. They might also have olive undertones.They eat all kinds of insects.
European Starling22 cm58-100 gm (2.04- 3.5oz)These birds are stocky black, with a purple, green and blue hue. These birds are famous for their aggressive behavior.They eat insects like flies, beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, and spiders, along with fruits like cherries, holly berries, mulberries, Virginia Creeper, sumac, blackberries, and even seeds and grains.
American Crow40-53 cm320-620 gm (11.2- 21.8oz)These birds are large with all black bodies. They are found on treetops, beaches, and towns.Earthworms, seeds, insects, fruits, fish, young turtles, clams, eggs, mussels, and nestlings of different species of birds.
Common Grackle28-34 cm110 gm (3.8oz)Tall blackbird with a long tail and glossy texture. These birds move in huge flocks. Eats mostly insects, berries, seeds, fruit, bird eggs, although it is also known to eat frogs and snakes.
Indigo Bunting4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm)0.4-0.6 oz (12-18 g)This bird is covered in blue color, with slightly shiny blue on his head and a shiny, silver-gray bill.This bird’s diet mostly consists of insects, seeds, and berries.
House Sparrow14-18 cm24-40 gm(0.8-1.4 oz)These birds are extremely common and would literally eat out of your hand. They are mostly found in busy areas close to human existence.They feed on all grains and seeds, like birdseed, millet, corn, and sunflower seeds along with discarded food.
Downy Woodpecker 14-17 cm21-28 gm (0.7-0.9oz)They are b&w in color with patches of red here and there. They are found in woodlots, in backyards, and along streams.Insects, beetle larvae, acorns, berries and grains, black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, millets.
Black-Capped Chickadee 10-15 cm12 gmSmall bird with a big round head. They have black caps and beaks, white cheeks, with a gray back, wings, and tail. They eat seeds, different berries, insects, suet, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and spiders.
American Tree Sparrow5.5 in (14 cm)0.5-1.0 oz (13-28 g)This bird has a grey head with a rusty cap and eye-line. This bird has a streaked brown back and a smooth gray breastMostly seeds and insects
Blue Jay22-30 cm65-110 gm (2.2- 3.8oz )Blue crest, black backs, and white undersides. Acorns, insects, grain, nuts, and seeds.
Gray Catbird21-24 cm35 gm (1.2oz)Their songs sound like a cat’s mew. Gray in color with a black cal and reddish patch on the tails.Fruits like dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry.
House Finch14 cm19-22 gm (0.6-0.7oz)These birds have a redhead and breast in the males and a brown streak of colors in females. They are generally noisy and move in flocks.Seeds, buds, and fruits like thistle, cactus, cherries, apricots, plums, blackberries, figs, and strawberries.

Backyard Birds Of Illinois In Different Seasons

Winter Backyard Birds

  •  Northern Cardinal (44% frequency)
  •  Dark-eyed Junco (41%)
  •  Downy Woodpecker (36%)
  •  House Sparrow (34%)
  •  Black-capped Chickadee (33%
  •  European Starling (30%)
  •  American Crow (30%)
  •  Mourning Dove (28%)
  •  Red-bellied Woodpecker (26%)
  •  American Goldfinch (25%)

Summer Backyard Birds

  • American Robin (61% frequency)
  • Northern Cardinal (46%)
  • American Goldfinch (43%)
  • Song Sparrow (39%)
  • Mourning Dove (35%)
  • Indigo Bunting (32%)
  • Common Grackle (32%)
  • European Starling (30%)
  • House Sparrow (30%)
  • Barn Swallow (29%)
  • Gray Catbird (28%)

Backyard Birds Of Illinois In Detail

Northern Cardinal

northern cardinal

Northern Cardinals, the state bird of Illinois, are easy to spot and no less beautiful as a result. This bird’s plumage is almost entirely red, however, there are some scattered greys on the wings and tail.

This bird also has a black mask that covers the eyes and extends down to the chin, emphasizing its robust, conical orange beak, and a magnificent, prominent red crest above its head.

Females will also attract your attention, but their appearance is quite different, with a light brown overall hue and red tinges in their crest and other sections of their body. These birds have a head-to-tail length of 8.3–9.1 inches and wingspans of 9.8–12.2 inches. 

These birds prefer the woodland border, but they also like the city, where they can be seen sitting on fences or telephone wires looking for food.

They will eventually visit your backyard feeders, so leave a treat or two out for your neighborhood Cardinals.

You can feed Northern Cardinals a mixture of black Oil Sunflower seeds and White Proso millet. These birds also enjoy peanuts and safflower seeds, but one of their favorite combos appears to be a sunflower and white proso.

American Robin

American Robins, which consume earthworms, are common on lawns. Their heads and backs are black, and their breasts are crimson or orange. Because they like to roost in trees throughout the winter, you’ll see them more frequently in your backyard in the spring.

Their favorite meals are sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, berries, and mealworms. They may even eat mealworms directly from your hand.

Food that is dispensed on the ground or on a platform feeder is perfect for them. You can also grow berries-producing plants such as juniper, sumac, hawthorn, and dogwood.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Juncos are common sparrows and have diversified colors according to their region. In the east, they are slate-colored, whereas, in the west, they are black, white, and brown.

They may be found in open and sparsely wooded areas, mainly on the ground, all across the continent. Some people spend the entire year in the Appalachian Mountains and western US states. Those who breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south to the United States in the winter.

If you want to attract Dark-eyed Juncos to backyard feeders then feed them black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts. The ideal feeders are platform feeders or those that are dispersed on the ground.

Mourning Dove

While there is some geographical variation, the Mourning Dove has a silky grey back and wings with a substantial amount of tan centered on each wing and huge black markings.

They feature long grey tails with white-in-black ends, as well as a creamy tan breast and underbelly bordered by white on the flanks.

The bird’s darkest tan coloring may be seen on its face, and a prominent white eyering can be seen right in front of the short, straight black beak. These birds have wingspans of roughly 17.7 inches and measure 9.1 – 13.4 inches in length.

These birds can be found in overgrown fields and even on city pavements. They are not afraid to go to a town or metropolis.

When they’re in the woods, they stick to the outskirts, although they appear to favor parks and residential areas in general.

Mourning Doves will come to your backyard if Black Oil Sunflower seeds are combined with White Proso Millet.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows are adorable small brown birds with grey streaks. Their backs are a brown-streaked grey, and their wings are a similar grey, waxing grey as you approach the wingtips.

Their brown tails are long and fanning, and their breast and underside are a lighter grey with the same brown streaks as their backs.

Brown faces with broad grey lines that often circle the eye and continue to the back of the head, and a white mustache mark that frames the cheek.

The beak of this bird is small and conical in shape. The length of these birds ranges from 4.7 to 6.7 inches, with wingspans ranging from 7.1 to 9.4 inches.

These birds like open environments such as meadows, fields, and parks, as well as water, where they may be seen feeding around ponds or along the borders of marshes. They are also big supporters of backyards with bird feeders.

Seeds and grains are excellent choices for Song Sparrows. You’ll get great results with these birds if you mix in some White Proso millet, wheat, oats, and some chopped cherries or strawberries. In a pinch, several dried fruits can suffice, but they prefer fresh fruit.

American Goldfinch

The American finch has a basic, attractive plumage pattern that makes it easy to spot. Spring males have vivid yellowbacks and yellow shoulder parts of their wings, with black wingtips, vertical white striping mid-wing, and varied white markings on a long, black tail.

They have a yellow breast and underbelly, with white beginning at the rump and running all the way down to the underside of the tailfeathers.

These birds have yellow cheeks and short, orange conical bills, as well as a characteristic black cap that runs from the top of the head to the beak.

Females have the same colors as males, but with duller yellows and olive-grey instead of black. These little creatures are between 4.3 and 5.1 inches long, with wingspans ranging from 7.5 to 8.7 inches.

Because these birds eat thistles, any field with a lot of weeds is likely to have a few of them. They are also not afraid of occupied areas, frequently entering orchards, gardens, and backyards where feeders have been set up for their enjoyment.

The American Goldfinch is easy to please; simply add plenty of Nyjer, thistle, and suet to your feeders.

Red-winged Blackbird

The Red-winged blackbirds have an all-black plumage with bright red and yellow shoulder patches, making them easy to see. The ladies are extremely drab in comparison to the brown streaky coloring of the males.

They are usually observed perched on telephone wires, and males will fiercely defend their territory during mating season, even assaulting anyone who strays too close to nests. They roost in massive flocks that number in the millions during the winter.

If you want to attract Red-winged blackbirds then spread some mixed grain and seeds on the ground of your backyard. They’ll eat enormous tube feeders or platform feeders as well.

House Wren

The back, wings, and short brown tail of a House Wren are all brown. The bottom part of the wings has dark barring, which is also seen on the tail.

These birds have a light-brown breast and underbelly that darkens as it approaches the rump and a brown face with a faint eyebrow line and some white accenting the cheeks. Their black bills are long and somewhat curled.

These little Wrens are around 4.3 – 5.1 inches long and have a wingspan of about 5.9 inches.

These birds like open locations such as the forest’s edge, fields, parks, and backyards in the summer, but as it becomes colder, they prefer the cover of scrub and shrubs.

Although most Wrens are wary of feeders, peanut butter, peanuts, suet, mealworms, and dried crickets may attract them.

Common Yellowthroat​

These are common little songbirds with brown and yellow color shades. The male wears a black mask that covers their entire face. The brilliance of the yellow can vary from region to region and they may be more greenish in sections beneath.

They breed over most of North America and may be found in marshy or wetland environments, brushy fields, and thick, tangled vegetation in the spring and summer. They consume largely insects and can be found in vast, densely vegetated backyards.

European Starling​

From afar, European Starlings appear black, but when you come closer, you’ll notice that they’re more of a purplish-green and black all over.

They have large wings and short tails, as well as long, straight yellow bills on their faces. They change their appearance dramatically in the winter, becoming brown birds with large white patches all over.

It’s a sight to behold, and these astute birds can be very amusing. These birds are roughly the same size as Robins, measuring 7.9–9.1 inches in length and 12.5–15.8 inches in wingspan.

These are city and country birds that may be seen on fields and in cities, scavenging for food off telephone lines or happily eating from garden feeders. They are not afraid of densely crowded locations.

These birds will eat almost anything, but grains are their favorite. Wheat, oats, and White Proso millet can all be added to the feeder.

American Crow​

Due to their brazen natures and excellent intellect, American Crows are common but entertaining to watch. They’re also simple to detect since they’re totally black, save for a few brown feathers when they’re molting.

Their tails are long and fanning, and their bills are huge and muscular, with a little curvature. These are huge birds, with wingspans ranging from 33.5 to 39.4 inches and lengths ranging from 15.8 to 20.9 inches.

These birds may be found in almost any woodland region, but they favor the city, where they can be found fishing for nibbles in dumpers, strolling around on sidewalks, or scouting from telephone lines.

American Crows aren’t shy at all, and a little food may turn you into a buddy. Just remember to keep your distance since these perceptive birds remember faces.

These birds enjoy human food, yet it is unhealthy for them. Instead, you may simply delight them with a dish or feeder full of peanuts.

Common Grackle​

The Common Grackle is a beautiful bird that is simple to spot. They are purple and blue all over and appear black until you get a closer look at them.

Their color tends to get darker from the breasts up, with a stronger saturation of blue from here on out and towards the face. They have long wings and medium-sized tails, and bronze-metallic eyes are set in front of a long, straight black beak.

Females are less lustrous, while youngsters are browner in color and have darker eyes. The length of these birds ranges from 11 to 13.4 inches, with wingspans ranging from 14.2 to 18.1 inches.

Grackles are intelligent and urbanized, scavenging at farm feeding stations and in cities in parks, trash, golf courses, and anywhere else where people or their waste food could be left behind.

They like high trees, riversides, and other spots where they can have a good look before moving in for foraging when they are in the woods.

The bird-like white Proso millet, wheat, oats, and Black Oil Sunflower seeds. For optimal results, combine at least one-grain offering with the seeds.

Indigo Bunting​

These are little colorful birds. Males have a vivid blue color while females have a brown shade with black streaks on their wings and tails.

After breeding in the Eastern United States they migrate to Florida, Central and South America, and the Caribbean for the winter.

Indigo Buntings can be seen foraging for seeds and insects in weedy fields and shrubby places. Small seeds like nyjer and thistle might help you attract more to your yard.

House Sparrow​

house sparrow

The back, wings, and tail of male House Sparrows are all a deep brown hue, with black streaks accentuating the color of the wings. They have a ‘dirty’ grey and white breast and underbelly, with some black in the upper breast as part of a bib that runs all the way down to the bill.

With the exception of the bird’s mask, which is black from the bill to the front of the eye, where it becomes brown, the rest of the lower face is white. The brown continues down and frames the cheek before coming to a halt after crossing the eye.

This bird has a light grey top to its head and a short, sturdy, and slightly curved black beak. These Sparrows have wingspans of 7.5 to 9.8 inches and are 5.9 – 6.7 inches long.

House Sparrows will go to parks and farms, although they prefer the city over the countryside. They hang around on roofs, streets, and backyards of buildings where they nest. If you’ve given them some snacks, they won’t be afraid to visit your feeder.

House Sparrows will be delighted if you fill your feeder with broken corn, White Proso millet, and Black Oil Sunflower seeds.

Downy Woodpecker​

downy woodpecker

Downy woodpeckers are popular backyard birds that frequent bird feeders. They are the tiniest woodpeckers in North America, and they are always among the first to arrive.

Their all-white underbodies, black wings with white spots, black and white striped heads, and a red patch on the rear of their heads make them instantly recognizable. Downy Woodpeckers are smaller than Hairy Woodpeckers, despite their resemblance.

Most types of bird feeders are frequently visited by Downy Woodpeckers. Suet, mixed seed, and black sunflower seed are all good options.

Black-capped Chickadee​

The back, wings, and medium-sized tail of the Black-Capped Chickadee are light grey with some white highlighting in the form of minute feather edging.

This bird has a buff-shaded white breast and underbelly, a black bib with a white face, and a huge black cap that ends just behind the eyes.

The birds have a short black beak that is conical in shape. From tip to tail, these birds are 4.7–5.9 inches long, with wingspans of 6.3–8.3 inches.

This bird prefers the woods, although it will also tolerate thick vegetation such as brush or bushes. Marshes are also popular with this species, as long as they provide enough shelter for the Black-capped Chickadee to feel secure.

This bird-like peanut and peanut butter as feeder feed, but they also enjoy Black Oil Sunflower seeds and suet.

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

The backs, wings, and tails of American Tree Sparrows are grey with brown streaks. On each wing, they have two noticeable white wing bars, and their breast and underbelly are grayish-white with some soft brown hue bordering them.

A huge brown patch in the middle of the breast is relatively unusual, but it is not always present. These birds have grey faces with white highlighting behind the beak and a brown eyeliner that runs from under the eye to the rear of the head, stopping just short of the back of the skull.

A rust-red head and short black and yellow beak distinguish these birds. These birds have a wingspan of around 5.5 inches and an overall length of about 5.5 inches.

Hedges, brambles, thickets, and bushes are their preferred habitats, although they may also be found in untended fields or at the forest’s edge. They’re frequent in backyards as well, so make sure to leave something out for them.

These birds prefer tiny fruits and seeds when they aren’t eating insects. Fill your feeder with fresh whole or diced cherries, strawberries, or blackberries, as well as Black Oil Sunflower seeds. You’ll be adored by these small ones as a result.

Blue Jay​

blue jay

Blue Jays have blue backs, wings, and long blue tails, which make them highly attractive. Each wing has a white wingbar with a scale look of black-outlined lighter colors of blue surrounding it.

The scaling pattern extends to the tail, with bigger scales with an almost white blue in the middle, and more white spots on the mostly-blue wings. This bird, on the other hand, has a paper-white breast and underbelly, and its face is framed by a black line that runs from the rear of the head to the opposite side.

The bird has a white face and a huge, light blue crest, as well as an ‘abstract’ mask that covers the eye and stretches out in front of it like a tree branch. From head to tail, these birds are 9.8 – 11.8 inches long, with wingspans ranging from 13.4 to 16.9 inches.

These birds are quite urbanized when they are not frequenting the forest’s edge, spending time in parks, cities, and especially backyard feeders in such cities.

If you want to observe a local Bluejay, make sure to fill the feeder with suet, peanuts, and Black Oil Sunflower seeds.

Gray Catbird

Gray catbirds like the shade of bushes and thickets, although they are also at home in open settings like parks and fields. They are drawn to water as well, and it is typical to find them foraging near rivers or streams.

These birds are around the size of Robins, measuring 8.3–9.4 inches long with a wingspan of 8.7–11.8 inches.

Fruit attracts Gray Catbirds, so put chopped apples or different dried fruits in your feeder to attract them. If you have a garden with fruiting plants, your chances of getting a visit are significantly better, so if you don’t already have some, try adding some blackberry vines or other fruiting plants for great results.

House Finch

Male House Finches are little and attractive. They have brown or grey backs, wings, and medium-sized tails, with vertical black streaking on the wings and two wing bars on each.

The breast is a rosy red and grey color that fades to white with black streaks as it reaches the underbelly, and these birds have rosy cheeks with grey skin around the eyes and one or two zigzag grey lines in their plumage.

The bills of these birds are tiny and sturdy grey with a little bend. These birds have wingspans of 7.9 to 9.8 inches and are 5.5 – 5.5 inches long.

House Finches, like the Blue Jay, are well-adapted to human culture and like spending time in parks, farms, and backyards when they aren’t in the woods.

They’ll come to your feeder, but you’ll need a lot of food because they prefer to travel in groups.

Insects and fruits are the principal foods of this bird in the wild, so add mealworms and berries (fresh or dried, fresh is preferable) to your feeder.

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