Wisconsin Winter Bird Identification Guide

This is your complete Wisconsin winter bird identification guide! It contains all birds that can be found somewhere in the state of Wisconsin in winter.

If you live in Wisconsin or plan to visit during the winter, you’ll need a comprehensive guide to the birds you can expect to see. Look no further, everything you need to know is inside this guide including color photos of each bird, range maps showing where in the state they live, the food they’ll eat at the feeder and in the wild, their habitat, and so much more.

There are more than 80 species of birds that enjoy Wisconsin at some point in the year. However, not all of them stick around for winter. Some birds travel to Wisconsin just for the winter and others are found year-round in parts of the state but not statewide.

Depending on where you live in the state you can expect to see at least some of the Wisconsin winter birds, but maybe not others. That’s where the range map is handy. If you see purple or light blue in the area you live in, you should expect to see that specific bird.

I’ve been backyard birdwatching in Wisconsin for more than 20 years and have seen many of the winter birds. While winter isn’t my favorite season (especially when the temps are below zero) I’m thankful I have the winter birds to look forward to. Dark-eyed junco visits only in the winter – so that’s always exciting. And, the stunning sight of a red male cardinal against the backdrop of stark white snow never gets old. Somehow, winter birds make the season more bearable.

So, without further delay, enjoy the Wisconsin winter birds:

American Crow

American crow sitting on a fence
American crow. Photo by Khamkhor on Unsplash
AppearanceLarge all-black bird about 16-20″ long, wide neck with a long straight bill. Male and females have the same appearance.
DietOpportunistic scavengers eat just about anything they can find on the ground – especially garbage. Natural living fare includes insects, spiders, frogs, snakes, and other birds’ eggs & young.
Feeder FoodNot likely to visit a feeder.
HabitatCommon birds found in every contiguous US state and most of Canada. Types of habitat include fields, open wooded and forested areas, river edges, shores, towns, cities, parks, and more. The only place you won’t find them is in the hot desert.
NestingNest: Builds nests in a large shrub or tree as high as 20′
Broods: 1-2 broods/season
Clutch: 3-9 eggs per brood
Egg color: Ranging from brighter blue-green to a dull green or blue-gray with heavy gray and brown blotching
Egg size: 1.4 – 1.9 inches by 1 inch
Incubation: Both parents incubate the eggs for about 18 days.

Range Map

american crow range map
American crow range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

American Goldfinch

American goldfinch perched on a pole
American goldfinch. Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash
AppearanceSmall bird about 4.5″ long, bright yellow body, black wings with white stripes, black forehead, short orange beak. During winter has a dingy brown body, duller yellow head, and thicker white stripes on its wings. Breeding females are similar to males except their bodies are lemon yellow and wings have more white tips
DietSeeds from flowers, weeds, grasses, and small trees. Some insects.
Feeder FoodThistle seed (Nyjer)
HabitatCommon bird throughout contiguous US and southern part of Canada. Weedy fields, roadsides, orchards, and backyards.
NestingNest: Builds nest in deciduous shrub or tree, sometimes conifers, placed on branch’s fork as high as 20′
Broods: 1-2 broods/season
Clutch: 2-7 eggs per brood
Egg color: Very pale blue to white, occasionally faint brown spots on the larger end.
Egg size: 0.5 inches by 0.5 inches
Incubation: The female incubates the eggs for about 12-14 days while the male brings food to the female.

Range Map

American goldfinch map range
American goldfinch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

American Robin

American robin perched on a branch
American robin. Photo by Trac Vu on Unsplash
AppearanceMedium-size bird about 10″ long, gray/brown upper, brown/orange underparts, yellow beak, white chin, white surrounding eyes. orange beak. The Female has a lighter head and underparts.
DietEarthworms, insects, and fruit.
Feeder FoodNot a feeder visitor.
HabitatCommon and pervasive throughout US and Canada. Found in fields, parks, wooded and forested areas, mountains, and backyards.
NestingNest: Nesting sites vary from the lower half of a tree to rain gutters, outdoor lights, and more.
Broods: 1-3 broods/season,
Clutch: 3-5 eggs/brood,
Egg color: Bright sky blue or blue-green, without spots
Egg size: 1.1″ long x 8″ wide
Incubation: 12-14 days.

Range Map

american robin bird on a branch
American Robin range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Barred Owl

Barred owl
Barred owl. Image by Dawn Huddlestone from Pixabay
AppearanceBarred owls are large birds about 21″ long. They have large round faces with dark eyes and yellow bills. They’re primarily brown with white spots on the upperparts and tan underneath with dark brown streaks.
DietAs a bird of prey, barred owls eat small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and large insects.
Feeder FoodBarred owls do not visit feeders.
HabitatMature forests, especially along side water sources like rivers and swamps in their southern range.
NestingThey nest in a natural tree cavity, often the reused nest of another large bird such as a hawk. They 1 brood/season, 2-3 eggs/brood that are white with a rough surface, and incubate for 28-33 days. The fledglings leave the nest about 28-35 days after hatching.

Range Map

Barred owl range map.
Barred owl range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted kingfisher on a perch
Belted kingfisher. Image by Katherine Durtnell from Pixabay
AppearanceLarge 13″ long bird with a large head, long bill, and stocky body.  Blue/gray throughout with white ring around neck and white chest. Female is same but with additional chestnut band on chest.
DietMostly fish with some crustaceans, insects, amphibians, reptiles, young birds, small mammals, and berries.
Feeder FoodUnlikely to come to the feeder but often attracted to yards with streams or ponds.
HabitatNear streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and calm marine waters – especially unclouded water with little vegetation.
NestingDig burrows along waters edge. 1-2 broods/season, 5-8 eggs/brood – large white glossy eggs (1.5″ long), 22-24 days incubation.

Range Map

belted kingfisher range map
Belted kingfisher range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black capped chickadee on a blackberrybramble
Black-capped chickadee on a blackberry bramble. Photo by Alain Yvan Séguin, Member of the Wild Birds Unlimited group.
AppearanceBlack-capped chickadees are small birds about 5 1/4″ long. They have a black cap – as well as a black throat and cheek. They have a white breast and belly, body and wings are a gray-olive color with edges of white and the wing/belly edge is a soft “buff” tan.
During the summer, the buff area is more faded.
DietInsects & spiders (including their eggs & pupae), seeds, and small fruits, and berries.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower & safflower seeds (They peck a hole in the shell to get at the tiny seed bits inside), suet, peanut butter, and hulled peanuts.
HabitatYou’ll find this bird along the edges of forests and open wooded areas – including your backyard or even tree-lined parks in the city. They will also hang out in shrubs and willow thickets. Trees are still important for this bird because they are cavity nesters.
NestingWill next in an existing woodpecker hole high in a tree or man-made nesting box. They have 1 brood /season. The female lays anywhere from 1-13 eggs. Eggs are white with burgundy colored spots and about .5″ wide x .6″ long. She will incubate them for 12-13 days.

Range Map

Black capped chickadee range map
Black-capped chickadee range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Blue Jay

Blue jay on snowy branch
Blue jay. Photo by Cathy Cardone.
AppearanceLarge bird 12″ long, medium blue & white body, blue crest (which he flattens at will), gray belly and white face. White & blue wings with black spots. Female look the same.
DietInsects, fruit, seeds, nuts, other birds’ eggs and nestlings.
Feeder FoodWhole peanuts, sunflower seeds, and cracked corn.
HabitatForested areas with mixed trees types. Also common in suburbs and urban areas.
NestingNest: bulky large nest made from twigs, bark, and mud resting on a tree branch about 5-50′ up.
Broods: 1-2 broods/season,
Clutch: 2-7 eggs/brood,
Egg color: Pale blue to a light brown base color, and these eggs usually have brown or gray spots.
Egg size: 1 inch by just under 1 inch
Incubation: Both parents incubate the eggs for 17-18 days and the young fledge between 17-21 days.

Range Map

Blue jay range map
Blue jay range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Wouldn’t you love to have blue jays in your yard? Check out: 7 Proven Ways to Attract Blue Jays to Your Yard.


Brown Creeper

Brown creeper climbing up a tree trunk
Brown creeper. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash
AppearanceThe brown creeper is a small bird about 5″ long. They have a brown body with a white belly, long tail, and thin curved bill. They have a white streak above each eye. The female looks the same.
DietInsects, nuts, and seeds.
Feeder FoodHulled sunflower seeds, suet, and hulled peanuts.
HabitatForested areas.
NestingCup-shaped nest They have 1 brood/season and 5-6 eggs/brood. Eggs are white with tiny brown marks. Incubation is for 14-17 days.

Range Map

Brown creeper range map.
Brown creeper range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Canada Goose

Canada goose
Canada goose. Photo by Craige McGonigle on Unsplash
AppearanceThe Canda goose is a large bird about 30-43″ long with a long black neck and a black head with a white “chin strap”. The body is brown and tan-white underneath.
DietThey eat grass, grains and berries.
Feeder FoodCanada geese do not visit feeders.
HabitatSuburban areas including parks, golf courses, and reservoirs.
NestingCanada geese nest on the ground, usually on an elevated piece of land close to water. They have one brood/season, and 2-8 eggs/brood that are creamy white in color. Incubation lasts 25-28 days and fledglings leave the nest about 42-50 days after hatching.

Range Map

Canada goose range map.
Canada goose range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing sitting on a branch
Cedar Waxwing. Photo by Mike Carmo.
AppearanceThe cedar waxwing is about 7 1/4″ long, primarily light brown with a silky crest of the same color, yellow belly, a bright yellow tip on the tail, varying shades of brown underneath, and a touch of red at the tip of the upper wings. The beak is black, short, and pointy.
Male and female adults look pretty much the same with one very subtle difference – the black on the male’s chin encompasses a slightly larger area than the female
DietMostly fruit. Insects if no fruit is available.
Feeder FoodFruit (oranges)
HabitatOpen forests, orchards, and wooded residential areas especially near berry bushes.
NestingThe pair builds an open-cup-style nest 6-20′ high in a tree. She lays 3-5 eggs and incubates for 12-14 days. The eggs are blue-gray and often spotted with black or gray.

Range Map

US map showing the migration range of the cedar waxwing
Map depicting where cedar waxwings can be found throughout the year. Compliments of Cornell University.

Common Grackle

Common Grackle
Common Grackle. aPhoto by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash
Appearance12.5″ long bird with iridescent blue with purple and bronze. Eyes are yellow, long flared tail. Female is similar with less vibrant coloring (more brown) and shorter tail.
DietInsects, grains, seeds, fruit, scavenged garbage.
Feeder FoodSunflower seeds, black-oil sunflower seeds.
HabitatFields with scattered trees, open woodlands, farmlands, and marshes. Common in suburban yards.
NestingBulky cup-shaped nest of twigs placed 3-20′ high in conifer tree. 3-5 eggs incubated for 12-15 days. Young fledge at about 12-15 days.

Range Map

Common grackle range map.
Common grackle range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Common Raven

Raven sitting on the branch
Common raven
AppearanceThe common raven is a very large bird about 22-27″ long. It’s all black with a large black bill and a jagged array of feathers on its chin. The tail is also large and shaped like a wedge. The female is the same as the male.
DietInsects, fruit, small animals, carrion.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seed, suet, cracked corn, peanuts, and peanut hearts.
HabitatForested areas.
NestingThey build a platform nest and have 1 brood/season. They have 4-6 eggs/brood that are pale green with brown marketings. Incubation is for 18-21 days.

Range Map

Common raven range map.
Common raven range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Common Redpoll

Common redpole perched on a b ranch
Common redpoll. Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay
AppearanceThe common redpoll is a small bird about 5″ long. It’s a heavily streaked bird with a bright red crown, a black spot beneath the chin, and raspberry splotch on its chest. The female is similar except without the raspberry chest.
DietSeeds, insects.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seed, and nyjer.
HabitatOpen areas lined with trees.
NestingCup-shaped nest. They have 1 brood/season and 4-5 eggs/brood that are pale green with purple markings.

Range Map

Common redpole range map.
Common redpole range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's hawk perched on a tree branch
Cooper’s hawk. Image by SK_Zurcher from Pixabay
AppearanceCooper’s hawk is a medium-sized bird about 15-18″ long. They’re blue-gray with rusty underparts, and a black cap.
DietBirds less than 12″ long and small mammals.
Feeder FoodThey don’t visit feeders.
HabitatForests and forested areas.
NestingThey build large nests, about 27″ in diameter, in trees about 25-50 up where branches intersect in a forked manner. They have 1 brood/season, and 2-6 eggs/brood that are pale blue to blue/white. Incubation is for 30-36 days and fledglings leave the nest at about 27-34 days after hatching.

Range Map

Cooper's hawk range map.
Cooper’s hawk range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-eyed junco. Photo by Lonnie Gilstrap.
Dark-eyed junco. Photo by Lonnie Gilstrap.
AppearanceDark-eyed juncos are tiny birds about 5.5″ – 6.5″ long. Males are dark gray with a white underside and pink bill. Females are the same except brownish gray.
DietInsects, spiders, seeds.
Feeder FoodNyjer, black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, cracked corn, hulled peanuts, and suet.
HabitatJuncos are found across the US and Canada so can be found in a variety of habitats including forested areas (both coniferous and deciduous), wide-open spaces, partially wooded edges, parks, and backyards.
NestingNests are located in a variety of locations from ground-level surrounded by vegetation to in a hanging basket. They have 1-3 broods/season, 3-6 eggs per brood that can be any of these colors: White, gray, pale bluish-white, or pale-greenish white speckled with brown, gray, and green. Occasionally unmarked. Incubation lasts 9-13 days.

Range Map

Map of the dark-eyed junco range
Map of the dark-eyed junco range.

Want to see dark-eyed juncos in your yard? Check out my article: 7 Proven Ways to Attract Dark-Eyed Juncos.

Downy Woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker at suet
Male downy woodpecker. Photo by John Holland Jr of JEHJR Photography
AppearanceDowny woodpeckers are small birds 6″ – 7″ long. Males are tuxedo-black with a white stripe on the back, white belly, white outer tail feathers, some spotted areas of white on the wings, a yellow/tan spot above the beak, and the infamous red patch on his head at the back of the crown. Females are nearly identical without the red coloring.
DietInsects, and fruit from trees/shrubs.
Feeder FoodSuet, peanut butter spread, Sunflower seeds, Safflower seeds, hulled peanuts, corn, fruits, nectar (sugar water).
HabitatAnywhere there are trees.
NestingDowny woodpeckers nest in cavities – either a hole in a tree trunk or a nesting box. Usually only one brood per season, 3-6 all-white eggs. Incubation is about 11-12 days.

Range Map

Downy woodpecker range map
Downy woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Eastern Bluebird

Male eastern bluebird
Male eastern bluebird. Photo by Mike Carmo.
Appearance7″ long, royal blue, orange throat & breast, white belly & undertail. Female is similar but more muted colors
DietInsects & spiders in spring/summer. Small fruit in Fall/Winter. 
Feeder FoodSuet, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, jelly. 
HabitatWide-open spaces, fields, meadow.
NestingNest: Cavity nesters. The male bluebird determines the nest site (an old woodpecker hole in a tree or manmade nestbox), but the female is the one who builds the nest. She keeps the nest for multiple broods.
Brood: 2-7 broods/season
Clutch: 4-5 eggs/brood
Egg color: Pale blue eggs (sometimes white) with no blemishes or discoloration. 
Egg size: 0.9 inches by 0.8 inches
Incubation: 11-19 days

Range Map

US map showing the migration range of the eastern bluebird
Map depicting where Eastern bluebirds can be found throughout the year. Compliments of Cornell University.

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern meadowlark singing on a fence post
Eastern meadowlark. Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash
AppearanceLarge bird about 9″ long with brown back, lemon yellow-colored chest, and black v-shape around the neck. White outer tail feathers. Female and male look the same.
DietInsects and seeds.
Feeder FoodHulled sunflower seeds and cracked corn.
HabitatOpen grassy areas.
NestingCup-shaped nest on the ground within a dense cover. They have 2 broods/year and 3-5 eggs/brood. Eggs are white with brown markings and incubation lasts 13-15 days.

Range Map

Eastern meadowlark range map
Eastern meadowlark range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Eastern Screech-Owl

Eastern screech owl perched
Eastern screech owl. Image by Irene K-s from Pixabay
AppearanceThe eastern screech-owl is a small owl about 8 1/2″ long with a big head, little tufts of ears sticking up, and yellow eyes. There are 2 variations of coloration – primarily reddish/brown (rufous) and primarily gray. They’re darker above with white spots and tiny streaks and underparts are marked with vertical dark streaks.
DietTheir diet is mostly comprised of songbirds and rodents. They also eat insects, earthworms, snakes, lizards, frogs, and crayfish.
Feeder FoodEastern screech-owls do not visit feeders.
HabitatWooded habitats include forests, wooded lots, suburban backyards, and large city parks.
NestingEastern screech-owls nest in existing tree cavities and sometimes manmade nesting boxes. They have 1 broods/season and 2-6 eggs/brood that are all white. Incubation is for 27-34 days and fledglings leave the nest about 26-30 days after hatching.

Range Map

Eastern screech owl range map.
Eastern screech owl range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian collared dove perched on concrete block
Eurasian collared dove. Image by Markéta Machová from Pixabay
AppearanceThe Eurasian collared-dove is a large bird about 12 1/2″ long, gray/tan with a black collar on the back of its neck. Eyes are large and black, bill long and slightly curved down. They have a long, squared-off tail with a white tip best seen from underneath.
DietSeeds, grain, berries, and insects.
Feeder FoodMillet on the ground or platform feeder.
HabitatLive in towns, suburbs, and farms.
NestingThey build their flimsy platform nest of twigs and stick then place them in a tree or shrub about 1/2 way up. They have 3-6 broods/season with 1-2 eggs/brood. Eggs are white and slightly glossy. Incubation is for 14-19 days and fledglings leave the nest about 16-20 days after hatching.

Range Map

Eurasian collared dove range map.
Eurasian collared dove range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

European Starling

European starling singing on a branch
European starling.
AppearanceMedium-sized bird about 7 1/2″ long with iridescent shades of purple and black with white speckles throughout. They have a long pointed gray bill in fall and yellow in spring. The tail is short. The Female looks the same.
DietInsects, seeds, fruit.
Feeder FoodEverything and anything you could offer at the feeder.
HabitatUrban and residential areas throughout the US and Canada including backyard lawns, parks, and fields.
NestingNest: They are cavity nesters
Brood: 2 broods/year.
Clutch: 4-6 eggs/brood
Egg color: Glossy bluish or a pale green
Egg size: 1.1 – 1.3 inches by 0.8 – 0.9 inches
Incubation: 12-14 days.

European starling range map
European starling range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Evening Grosbeak

Male evening grosbeak perched on a branch
Male evening grosbeak. Image by Alain Audet from Pixabay
female evening grossbeak perched on feeder
Female evening grosbeak. Image by Veronika Andrews from Pixabay
AppearanceThe evening grosbeak is a medium-sized bird about 8″ long. They have an olive-yellow head with a yellow streek above each eye extending across and above the bill. The wings and tail are black and white. The belly and rump are bright yellows. their beak is large, stocky, and yellow-blue/green.

The female has softer colors than the male and has a gray head and throat instead.
DietSeeds, insects, fruit.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seeds and hulled sunflower seeds
HabitatForested areas
NestingCup-shaped nest. They have 1 brood/season with 3-4 blue eggs with brown spots in each brood. Incubation is 12-14 days.

Range Map

evening grosbeak range map
Evening grosbeak range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Gray Jay (Canada Jay)

Gray jay perched on pine tree
Gray jay. Image by Hans Toom from Pixabay
AppearanceThe gray jay often referred to as the Canada jay, is a large bird about 11 1/2″ long. It’s gray all over with black on the back of its neck, a white chest, a short bill, and a dark eye. Also sports a white patch on his forehead. The female is the same as the male.
DietInsects, seeds, fruit.
Feeder FoodAny kind of birdseed, peanuts, fruit, mealworms, and suet.
HabitatNorth woods.
NestingCup-shaped nest. They have 1 brood/season, 304 gray/white eggs/brood, and incubate for 16-18 days.

Range Map

Gray jay range map
(Canada) gray jay range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Great Horned Owl

Great horned owl
Great horned owl. Image by Amber Dawn from Pixabay
AppearanceThe Great horned owl is a large bird about 22″ long. They have a large barrel-shaped body with tufts of feathers that stick up and appear as though they’re ear (but they’re not). They’re mostly brown with dark bars and specks throughout and a subtle white stripe across the throat. Large yellow eyes with a short bill.
DietMammals, large birds, snakes, and large insects.
Feeder FoodThey don’t visit feeders.
HabitatWoodlands with open areas but will live just about anywhere.
NestingThey use the nest of another large bird typically located in a tree or will nest in a tree cavity. They have 1 brood/year and 1-4 eggs/brood. Eggs are white and round with a rough surface. Incubation lasts 30-387 days and fledglings leave the nest about 30-45 days after hatching.

Range Map

Great horned owl range map.
Great horned owl range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker hopping up a tree
Hairy woodpecker. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash
AppearanceA medium-sized black-and-white bird about 9″ long with a white belly, black wings with white spots. A white stripe runs down the back. They have a red mark on the back of the head and a long black bill. The Female is the same except with no red mark.
DietInsects, seeds, nuts.
Feeder FoodSuet, hulled peanuts.
HabitatMature forested areas, urban and suburban areas where dense trees are found.
NestingThey are cavity nesters generally excavating their own holes. They have 1 brood/year, 3-6 white eggs per brood. Incubation is 11-15 days.

Range Map

Hairy woodpecker range map.
Hairy woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Horned Lark

horned lark in the snow
Horned lark.
AppearanceMedium-sized bird about 8″ long. Tan to brown with a black necklace and yellow chin. Bill is black. They have two tiny “horns” on the top of their head. The tail is black with white outer feathers.
DietSeeds and insects.
Feeder FoodThey do not visit feeders.
HabitatShort grassy areas such as prairies, deserts, beach dunes and farmers’ fields.
NestingThey have 2 broods/year, 3-4 eggs/brood that are gray with brown markings. The nest is located on the ground. Incubation from 11-12 days.

Range Map

Horned lark range map.
Horned lark range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

House Finch

Male house finch
Male house finch. Photo by Kathleen Balsamo.
AppearanceSmall bird about 5″ long, orange/red face chest and rump. Brown wings streaked with white. White belly with brown streaks. The Female and juvenile are brown with streaks of white.
DietSeeds, fruit, tree buds.
Feeder FoodBlack oil sunflower seed is their favorite.
HabitatHouse finches are found in the western and eastern parts of the US. They prefer to live around human dwellings (buildings, backyard trees, and shrubs, barns. Also are found in parks and other urban areas.
NestingNest: Small cup about 3-7″ wide, constructed from stems, leaves and plant roots, and feathers. The nests are built in coniferous or deciduous trees or even any place that holds a nest (ledges, vents, hanging plants).
Broods: 1-6 broods/season
Clutch: 2-6 eggs/brood (typical is 4-5)
Egg color: Eggs are pale blue and speckled with black and purple dots.
Egg size: 0.6 – 0.8 inches by 0.5 inches
Incubation: 13-14 days and the young fledge between 12-19 days.

Range Map

House finch range map.
House finch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

House Sparrow

Male and female house sparrows perched facing one another
Male and female house sparrows. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash
AppearanceSmall bird about 6″ long. Brown with a large black spot on the chin down to the chest. White wing bar and gray belly & crown. The Female is a bit smaller, all light brown and no black.
DietSeeds, insects, fruit.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seed, cracked corn, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.
HabitatAround people and buildings in the city, towns, villages, suburbs, and farms.
NestingDom-shaped nest within a cavity. They have 2-3 broods/year, 4-6 white eggs with brown markings. Incubation is 10-12 days.

Range Map

House sparrow range map.
House sparrow range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Mallard

Male and female mallard floating on water together
A pair of mallards. Photo by Massimo Adami on Unsplash
AppearanceMallards are large ducks about 23″ long. The male has a metallic green head, chestnut breast, and yellow bill. The female is a mottled brown with an orange bill and heavily streaked dark brown.
DietInsect larvae, snails, seeds.
Feeder FoodThey’re not feeder visitors.
HabitatAround freshwater habitats.
NestingMallards nest on the ground near water. The nest is typically made from plant materials and lined with feathers and down. They have 1-2 broods/season and 10-12 eggs/brood. Incubation lasts for 28 days and fledglings leave their mom at about 7-8 weeks.

Range Map

Mallard range map.
Mallard range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Mourning Dove

Mourning dove.
Mourning dove. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash
AppearanceA large bird about 12″ long smooth with fawn colors. Black spots on the wings and tail. A single black spot below and behind the eyes. Wide brown tail with white edges. Red-orange legs. Gray patch between head and back and iridescent colors around the neck. Large black eyes with light blue around the eyes. Pointy bill.
DietSeeds.
Feeder FoodWill come to eat seeds that drop below the feeder.
HabitatOpen areas.
NestingThey build a platform-style nest that’s located on a tree branch. Sometimes will nest on the ground. They have 2 broods/year, 2 eggs/brood that are white. Incubation is 13-14 days.

Range Map

Mourning dove range map.
Mourning dove range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Mute Swan

mute swan swimming in lake
Mute swan. Photo by Robert Woeger on Unsplash
AppearanceMute swans are enormous waterbirds at about 50-60″ in length. They’re white with an orange bill and black at the base of the bill on the face.
DietFish and plant material
Feeder FoodN/A
HabitatMute swans are found floating on the water in urban ponds (parks), lagoons, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas where saltwater meets freshwater rivers and streams.
NestingMute swans are ground nesters. They construct the nest on beaches, dikes or even on nearby islands.
Clutch: 5-7 eggs/brood on average
Egg color: pale green
Incubation: Incubation is about 36 days. The young fledge after about 4-5 months.

Range Map

Mute swan range map.
Mute swan range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Northern Bobwhite

Male and female northern bobsites sitting amidst purple flowers
Northern bobwhite pair. Image by PublicDomainImages from Pixabay
AppearanceNorthern bobwhites are a type of quail and are about 10″ long. They’re reddish-brown with streaking and spotting throughout. They have a whisp of a crown (hardly noticeable), and a white stripe starts at the bill and goes over the eye all the way to the back. Their throat is also white. Females are the same except the head is brown and tan.
DietSeeds, berries, and insects.
Feeder FoodThey will indulge in seed or crack corn scattered beneath the feeder.
HabitatFound in rural and farm areas.
NestingNorthern bobwhites nest on the ground in a sheltered location. They have 1-3 broods/season and 12-14 eggs/brood. Incubation is for 23 days and fledglings leave the nest about 7-10 days after hatching.

Range Map

Northern bobwhite range map
Northern bobwhite range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Northern Cardinal

male cardinal on platform feeder
male cardinal perched on platform feeder
female cardinal perched on a branch
Female cardinal. Photo by Cheryl Anne.
AppearanceNorthern cardinals are medium-sized bright red birds about 8 1/2″ long with a black mask, red crown, orange beak, and black areas on wings and tail. The female also has an orange beak but is buff-brown with a tan crown + a tinge of red, red spots on the wings & tail.
DietInsects, spiders, centipedes, snails, and slugs. Fruit and seeds from plants.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seed, safflower seed, mealworms, striped Sunflower seed, hulled peanuts, and cracked corn.
HabitatEdges of wooded areas to thickets, tangled vines, city parks, and our backyard gardens.
In the southwest live around desert washes, areas thick with mesquite, and along the riverbanks of wooded areas.
NestingOpen-cup nest in a dense shrub about 3-10′ up. They have 2-3 broods/year, 1-5 eggs/brood that are beige with brown spots. Incubation is 12-13 days.

Range Map

Northern cardinal range map
Northern cardinal range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Northern Flicker

Red-shafted northern flicker
Red-shafted northern flicker. Photo by Kathy Overfield.
Northern flicker
Yellow-shafted northern flicker. Photo by Mike Carmo.
AppearanceA large bird about 12.5″ long. They have brown backs with black bars, a black crescent on the upper chest, and white with black spots on the belly and underparts.
• In the eastern part of their range, they are referred to as “yellow-shafted northern flickers” and have bright yellow underwings and undertail. They have a gray crown, tan face, and a red patch on the nape. The male has a black swipe on his cheek, the female does not.
• In the western part of their range, they are referred to as “red-shafted northern flickers” and have pink underwings and undertail, brown crown, gray face, and crown & nape are brown. The male has a red swipe on his cheek, the female does not.
DietInsects, especially ants.
Feeder FoodUnlikely to visit a feeder.
HabitatOpen areas near trees.
NestingThey are cavity nesters and have 1 brood/year. 5-8 white unmarked eggs per brood. Incubation is 11-14 days.

Range Map

Northern flicker range map
Northern flicker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern mockingbird standing on an electrical box
Northern mockingbird. Image by zoosnow from Pixabay
AppearanceNorthern mockingbirds are about 10″ long. They have gray above and white below. Wings are dark gray with patches of white. They have long beaks and yellow eyes.
DietInsects and berries.
Feeder FoodSuet.
HabitatNorthern mockingbirds prefer thickets and brushy areas with open areas nearby.
NestingNest: They nest in a thick shrub or tree between 1-10′ up. Northern mockingbird males select several nesting sites and begin building nests in each. The female will pick her favorite and finish the nest. They won’t abandon these nests but move to another with each brood
Brood: 2-3 broods/season
Clutch: 2-6 eggs/brood
Egg color: Light blue to greenish-white sporting brown or red spots.
Egg size: 1.1 inches by 0.8 inches
Incubation: 12-14 days and fledglings leave the nest at 11-15 days.

Range Map

Northern mockingbird range map.
Northern mockingbird range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Pileated Woodpecker

Male pileated woodpecker
Male pileated woodpecker. Photo by Anne Spiers
AppearanceA large bird about 19″ in length. They’re mostly black with white stripes on their face and neck with white underwings. The flaming red triangle-shaped crest is unmistakable and the male also has a red stripe on his cheek. The female is the same except her crest does not go all the way to her bill. And, she does not have a red stripe on her cheek.
DietInsects, especially carpenter ants.
Feeder FoodSuet, shelled peanuts, safflower seed, sunflower seed, and
songbird fruit & nut seed mix.
HabitatForests and wooded areas that offer tall deciduous (leafy trees like maple &  beech), coniferous trees (like evergreen & pine), and lower fruit & nut-bearing trees & shrubs.
NestingThey excavate their own cavity in a tree. They have 3-6 white eggs per brood and incubate them for 15-18 days.

Range Map

US map showing the range of the pileated woodpecker
Map depicting where pileated woodpeckers live. Compliments of The Cornell University.

Pine Grosbeak

Male pine grosbeak
Male pine grosbeak. Photo by Janet Jarzynski.
AppearanceSturdy bird approx 8-10″ long, soft pinkish-red with gray, short charcoal beak, medium tail with black tip, wings of black, white, and red. No crown. The Female is gray with a yellow head and tail.
DietMostly seeds and fruits from their habitat (pine trees). Sometimes supplements with insects.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seeds and suet.
HabitatOpen areas with coniferous trees and deciduous trees in winter.
NestingAbout 20′ up in evergreen trees rests their rather large nest constructed with roots and twigs then lined grass, pine needles, and feathers. 1 brood/season, 3-4 eggs/brood, incubation lasts 13-14 days and they fledge between 13-20 days. Eggs are light blue and dotted.

Range Map

Pine Grosbeak range map.
Pine Grosbeak range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Pine Siskin

Pine siskin.
Pine siskin. Photo by Bryan Hanson on Unsplash
AppearanceSmall brown bird about 5″ long with streaks on back, breast, and belly. Some yellow in wing bars at end of the tail. The Female is the same.
DietSeeds, insects.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, suet & fruit.
HabitatOpen areas, wooded edges.
NestingCup-shaped nest for 2 broods/year. 3-4 eggs/brood that are green/blue with brown spots. Incubation is 12-13 days.

Range Map

Pine siskin range map.
Pine siskin range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Purple Finch

Male purple house finch
Male purple house finch. Photo by Chris Harris.
AppearanceSmall bird about 6″ long with a raspberry-red head with lighter shades on breast, back, and rump. The wings and tail are brown. Females are brown with brown striped breasts and white streaks across their eyes.
DietSeeds, insects, and fruit.
Feeder FoodBlack oil sunflower seeds are their favorite.
HabitatPrefer coniferous forests in summer along with mixed forests near streams and tree-lined backyards.
NestingNests are found anywhere from 2-60′ off the ground on a tree branch and constructed from twigs, sticks, and plant roots. Lined with grass and hair.

Range Map

Purple finch range map.
Purple finch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red Crossbill

Male red crossbill sitting on a branch
Male red crossbill. Photo by Šárka Krňávková on Unsplash
AppearanceSmall bird about 6.2″ long, dark red-orange with brown sings and tail. Bill is long, pointed, and “crossed”. A brighter color of red on the head and rump. No crown. Female and young are pale yellow and gray.
DietSeeds and tree buds. Crossbill is designed to pry open pinecones to get at the seed inside.
Feeder FoodBlack oil sunflower seed and sometimes thistle.
HabitatFound throughout the US and Canada, this bird prefers mature coniferous forests.
NestingNests are built about 70′ high on tree branches near dense branches. They’re relatively large (about 9″ in diameter) made from twigs and lined with grasses, weeds, pine needles, feathers, or hair. 1 brood/season, 2-6 eggs/brood, incubation 14-18 days, and the young fledge at about 16-20 days. Eggs are bluish-white with brown specs.

Range Map

Red crossbill range map.
Red crossbill range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker climbing a tree
Red-bellied woodpecker. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash
AppearanceMedium-sized bird about 9 1/4″ long. Zebra-like striped back with a white rump. The red crown extends down the nape of the neck. The chest is tan with just a tinge of red on the belly. The females are the same except they don’t have a red crown.
DietInsects, nuts, fruit.
Feeder FoodSuet, hulled peanuts.
HabitatIn or near forests and woodlands.
NestingThey’re cavity nesters and prefer dead trees or fence posts. They have 1-3 broods/year, 2-6 eggs/brood. Eggs are white without markings. Incubation is 12-14 days.

Range Map

Red-bellied woodpecker range map.
Red-bellied woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch on a suet cage
Red-breasted nuthatch. Photo by Robert Heyer.
Appearance4.5″ long, gray/blue backs, white head with black stripes running over either eye, orange-cinnamon-colored breast, and a pointy pick-like beak. Females look the same except their underside is a more faded color. Usually spotted climbing upside-down a deciduous tree foraging for insects beneath the bark.
DietInsects, spiders, and other bugs.
Feeder FoodSuet, sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts, fruit.
HabitatForested areas primarily comprised of coniferous trees (i.e. pines). Woodsy areas of deciduous trees in the east. Southern birds prefer mountainous regions until winter comes in which case they head to lower land.
NestingCavity nesters – prefer to excavate their own holes. 1 brood/season, 6 eggs/brood, eggs are white & speckled with red-brown.

Range Map

Map of the red-breasted nuthatch range
Red-breasted nuthatch range. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

For more details about the Red-Breasted Nuthatch such as its mating & nesting details, how to attract them to your yard, and more: check out 7 Ways to Attract Red Breasted Nuthatches to Your Yard.


Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-headed woodpecker.
Red-headed woodpecker. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash
AppearanceRed-headed woodpeckers are medium-sized birds about 9″ long with a red head, black back, white rump, chest, and belly. Also has white patches on its wings, black tail, and gray legs and bill. The female is the same as the male.
DietInsects, fruit, nuts, and seeds.
Feeder FoodSuet and hulled peanuts.
HabitatOpen woodlands especially when ample deciduous trees are present.
NestingThese birds are cavity nesters and will choose a tree hole or manmade nesting box. They have 1 brood/year, 4-5 white eggs/brood, and incubate for 12-13 days.

Range Map

Red-headed woodpecker  range map.
Red-headed woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawk perched on a branch
Red-tailed hawk. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash
AppearanceThe red-tailed hawk is a large bird about 22″ long and primarily brown with white patches underneath with dark streaks, and a broad-squared tail. In the west, the tail is red/brown (rufous) underneath while those found in the east have a more washed-out reddish tail.
DietSmall mammals, reptiles, and larger birds.
Feeder FoodThey don’t visit feeders.
HabitatRed-tailed hawks live in a variety of habitats including mountainous, woodlands, prairies, and deserts.
NestingThey place their bulky platform-style nests high in a large tree – sometimes on power-line towers or building ledges as well. They have 1 brood/season, 1-5 eggs/brood, and incubation for 28-35 days. Fledglings leave the nest 6-7 weeks after hatching.

Range Map

Red-tailed hawk range map.
Red-tailed hawk range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-winged blackbird.
Red-winged blackbird. Photo by Richard Sagredo on Unsplash
AppearanceA medium-sized jet black bird about 8 1/2″ long with a red and yellow patch on the shoulder of the upper wing. Pointy black bill. The females are brown and heavily streaked. She has white eyebrows and a brown bill.
DietInsects, seeds.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn, peanut hearts, millet.
HabitatWet areas like marshes but also found in meadows, fields, and even wooded edges.
NestingNest: Cup-shaped nest located low in shrubs or trees. Broods: 1-2 broods/year
Clutch: 2-4 eggs/brood
Egg color: Bluish-green to gray with brown or black markings
Egg size: 1″ by about .6 – .8″
Incubation: 10-12 days.

Range Map

Red-winged blackbird range map.
Red-winged blackbird range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon. Photo by Kieran Somerville on Unsplash
AppearanceLarge bird 12-14″ long, chubby with blue/gray wings with black pointy tips, short red legs, black, round wide tail, and iridescent neck. 
DietGrains, seeds, and fruit. Commonly seen scavenging trash cans for food.
Feeder FoodMillet, cracked corn, black-oil sunflower seed, safflower, peanut hearts.
HabitatCommon around cities and towns as well as farmlands
NestingA large nest of sticks and grass wherever there’s a ledge (e.g. highway overpass, barns, bridges, tall buildings). 1-6 broods/year, 1-3 eggs/brood, eggs are white, incubation about 18 days and the young fledge at about 25-32 days.

Range Map

Rock pigeon jay range map.
Rock pigeon jay range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted titmouse.
Tufted titmouse. Image by Gregory Sabin from Pixabay
AppearanceSmall bird about 6″ long with slate gray above and white chest, belly and around eyes. Below wings is rusty brown, legs are gray and eyes are dark. Has a pointed “tuft” crest.
DietInsects, seeds, fruit.
Feeder FoodSuet.
HabitatOrchards are a draw for them as they consume fruit. They also live in deciduous wooed areas or mixed woods.
NestingThey build a nest within a cavity – usually an old woodpecker hole. They have 2 broods/year and 5-7 eggs/brood that are white with brown markings. Incubation lasts 13-14 days.

Tufted titmouse range map.
Tufted titmouse range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

White-Breasted Nuthatch
White-Breasted Nuthatch. Photo by Shawn Conlon.
Appearance5-6″ long, gray/blue back, white head with a black cap, chestnut under the tail, and a long thin pick-like beak. Females look similar except their cap and neck are gray. Usually spotted climbing upside-down a deciduous tree foraging for insects beneath the bark.
DietInsects & seeds.
Feeder FoodSuet, sunflower seed, shelled peanuts.
HabitatNear mature deciduous and mixed forests; wooded suburban areas such as orchards, parks, and backyards.
NestingCavity nester, 1 brood/season, 5-9 eggs/brood, eggs are white with brown markings, incubation is 11-12 days and young fledge at about 13-14 days.

Range Map

White breasted nuthatch range map
White breasted nuthatch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

While winter in Wisconsin seems like an eternity for many of us Wisconsinites, observing the winter birds makes it a bit more bearable. When spring arrives it’s time to say goodbye to the juncos and hello again to the migrators returning home to Wisconsin. I hope you were able to identify the winter Wisconsin bird you’re interested in or at least learned more about them.

Happy Birding!

More than 25 years ago, Tammy put her first bird feeder outside her kitchen window. Since then she learned how to attract wild birds to her backyard. Studying the meaning & symbolism of wild birds is also a passion of hers.