50+ Wisconsin Winter Birds to Watch Out For This year

Many bird species remain in Wisconsin for winter, others come just for the snowy season, and then there are the intrastate birds that move from one part of the state to the other during winter. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a guide that tells you all the birds you can expect to see in Wisconsin during winter? Even better – wouldn’t it be cool to know which ones will be in the northern or southern parts of the state? And who wouldn’t want to know which ones come to Wisconsin just for winter?

Look no further, everything you need to know is in this article including color photos of each winter bird for easy identification, their winter diet & habitat info, range maps to determine if they’re likely to be found in your particular area, and the winter feeder foods so you can entice them with for a closer look.

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 and the icy winds howl) I’m thankful I have the winter birds to look forward to. Somehow, winter birds make the season more bearable.

Table of Contents

50+ Wisconsin Winter Birds

There are more than 80 species of birds that enjoy Wisconsin at some point in the year. While many species migrate south for winter, quite a few birds stick around. There are even a few cold-loving birds that travel to Wisconsin just for the winter.

No matter where you live in Wisconsin you’re sure to enjoy plenty of wild birds during the chilliest season of the year. Below are all bird species found in Wisconsin during winter.

(Don’t worry! The photos and descriptions of each bird are found later in this article but feel free to jump there now.)

American Crow
American Goldfinch
American Robin
American Tree Sparrow
Bald Eagle
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Black-Capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
Brown Creeper
Canada Goose
Cedar Waxwing
Common Grackle
Common Raven
Common Redpoll
Cooper’s Hawk
Dark-Eyed Junco
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Screech-Owl
Eurasian Collared-Dove
European Starling
Evening Grosbeak
Golden-Crowned Kinglet
Gray Jay (Canada Jay)
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Hairy Woodpecker
Horned Lark
House Finch
House Sparrow
Mallard
Mourning Dove
Mute Swan
Northern Bobwhite
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Northern Mockingbird
Pileated Woodpecker
Pine Grosbeak
Pine Siskin
Purple Finch
Red Crossbill
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Red-Headed Woodpecker
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk
Red-Winged Blackbird
Rock Pigeon
Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Short-Eared Owl
Song Sparrow
Snowy Owl
Swamp Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse
White-Breasted Nuthatch
White-Crowned Sparrow
White-Throated Sparrow
Wild Turkey
Wood Duck

Common Winter Birds in Wisconsin

Now you know all the Wisconsin winter birds but which are the common birds? Below I listed the most common birds that you are likely to see. Some may even visit your backyard or feeder! Again, feel free to jump ahead to the photos and descriptions now.

American Crow
American Goldfinch
American Robin
Black-Capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
Common Grackle
Dark-Eyed Junco
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebird
European Starling
Hairy Woodpecker
House Finch
House Sparrow
Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal
Purple Finch
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Red-Winged Blackbird
Song Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse
White-Breasted Nuthatch

wisconsin birds that stay in winter

Let’s praise the year-round birds that decide to stay in Wisconsin for winter. They deserve props and here they are:

American Crow
American Goldfinch
American Robin
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Black-Capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
Brown Creeper
Canada Jay (Gray Jay)
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Screech-Owl
Eurasian Collared-Dove
European Starling
European Starling
Evening Grosbeak
Great Horned Owl
Hairy Woodpecker
Horned Lark
House Finch
House Sparrow
Mallard
Mourning Dove
Mute Swan
Northern Bobwhite
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Northern Mockingbird
Pileated Woodpecker
Pine Siskin
Purple Finch
Red Crossbill
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Red-Headed Woodpecker
Red-Tailed Hawk
Red-Winged Blackbird
Rock Pigeon
Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Short-eared Owl
Song Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Wild Turkey
Wood Duck

Wisconsin Winter Birds Just Visiting for the Season

If you live in Wisconsin like me, it’s hard to imagine any species of bird that would intentionally migrate to the badger state for the winter. After all, the temperatures and climate can be so frigid, icy, and downright windy!

Only a few bold species travel to Wisconsin for winter yet live outside the state for the other seasons. They are common redpolls, pine grosbeaks, American tree sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, and white-throated sparrows, and snowy owls.

I’m thankful for the variety these birds bring to the landscape as well as another opportunity to look forward to winter. Below are photos of each of these birds. More detail about these birds is found later in the article.

Common Redpoll

Common redpole perched on a b ranch
Common redpole. Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

Pine Grosbeak

male pine grosbeak perched on branch in winter
Pine grosbeak (male). Image by simardfrancois from Pixabay

American Tree Sparrow

American tree sparrow perched on a branch
American tree sparrow. Image by Hans Toom from Pixabay

White-Throated Sparrow

White throated sparrow perched on a branch
White-throated sparrow. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

White-crowned Sparrow

white crowned sparrow
White-crowned sparrow. Image by stephmcblack from Pixabay

Snowy Owl

a snowy owl on snow in winter
Snowy owl. Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

Wisconsin Winter Birds that Migrate Intrastate

Have you noticed your favorite bird listed above is not around your area in winter? It could be they moved to another part of the state! In fact, several bird species live in Wisconsin during the other seasons but migrate to a different part of the state in winter.

This is great if you live in the part of the state they migrate to because it gives you an opportunity to enjoy them – even if just for the winter. Personally, I can’t wait for dark-eyed juncos to appear in my southeastern Wisconsin yard!

Below are the species that migrate to another part of the state for winter along with an explanation of their migration. More detail about them is revealed shortly.

Purple finch

purple finch perched on a snowy branch in winter
Purple finches are found in the northern part of Wisconsin year-round while many migrate south to the rest of the state for winter.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

red-breasted nuthatch on a snowy branch in winter
Red-breasted nuthatches are found in the northern half of Wisconsin year-round while many migrate south to the rest of the state for winter.

Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-eyed junco. Photo by Lonnie Gilstrap.
Dark-eyed juncos are found in the northernmost part of Wisconsin year-round while many migrate south to the rest of the state for winter.

Pine Siskin

Pine siskin.
Pine siskins are found in the northernmost part of Wisconsin year-round while many migrate south to the rest of the state for winter.

Red Crossbill

Male red crossbill sitting on a branch
Red crossbills are found in the northern and central eastern parts of Wisconsin year-round while many migrate south to the rest of the state for winter. They’re somewhat scarce in the far southwestern part.

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned kinglet
Golden-crowned kinglets nest in the northern part of the state and then migrate to southern Wisconsin for winter.

Winter Birds in Northern Wisconsin

Do you live in northern Wisconsin and wonder which winter birds you can expect to see? No problem. They’re all listed below.

American Crow
American Goldfinch
American Tree Sparrow
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Black-Capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
Brown Creeper
Canada Goose
Cedar Waxwing
Common Raven
Common Redpoll
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Screech-Owl
European Starling
Evening Grosbeak
Gray Jay (Canada Jay)
Great Horned Owl
Great Blue Heron
Hairy Woodpecker
House Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Northern Mockingbird
Pileated Woodpecker
Pine Grosbeak
Pine Siskin
Purple Finch
Red Crossbill
Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Rock Pigeon
Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Snowy Owl
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Wild Turkey

Winter Birds in Southern Wisconsin

I didn’t forget about you southern Wisconsinites! Below are the birds you can expect to see in winter:

American Crow
American Goldfinch
American Robin
American Tree Sparrow
Bald Eagle ??
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Black-Capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
Brown Creeper
Canada Goose
Cedar Waxwing
Common Grackle
Common Redpoll
Cooper’s Hawk
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Meadowlark
Eurasian Collared-Dove
European Starling
Golden-Crowned Kinglet
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Hairy Woodpecker
Horned Lark
House Finch
House Sparrow
Mallard
Mourning Dove
Mute Swan
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Northern Mockingbird
Pine Grosbeak
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Red-Headed Woodpecker
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk
Red-Winged Blackbird
Rock Pigeon
Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Short-Eared Owl
Song Sparrow
Snowy Owl
Swamp Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse
White-Breasted Nuthatch
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Wild Turkey
Wood Duck

Wisconsin’s 50+ Winter Birds: Photos, Descriptions, Range Maps +

All these lists of Wisconsin winter birds don’t do much good without photos and more information about the birds. Am I right? Here you go … the complete list of Wisconsin winter birds:

American Crow in Winter

American crows in winter. Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Appearance: American crows are large all-black bird about 16-20″ long, wide neck with a long straight bill. Male and females have the same appearance.

Diet: They’re opportunistic 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 Food: Crows do not visit feeders.

Winter Habitat: American crows are common birds found throughout the contiguous US in winter as well as southernmost Alaska and far northwestern Canada. Types of habitat include fields, open wooded and forested areas, river edges, shores, towns, cities, parks, and more.

Range Map

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

American Goldfinch in Winter

American goldfinch. Photo taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ80 10' away.
American goldfinch in winter plumage. Photo taken by Tammy Poppie.

Appearance: The American goldfinch is a small bird about 4.5″ long. They molt their bright yellow feathers revealing a dingy brown body, duller yellow head, and thicker white stripes on its wings for winter. Females are similar to males except their wings have more white tips

Diet: Seeds from flowers, weeds, grasses, and small trees. Some insects if they can find them in winter.

Feeder food: Thistle seed (Nyjer)

Habitat: They’re a common bird in winter throughout contiguous US. You can find them in weedy fields, roadsides, orchards, and backyards.

Range Map

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

American Robin in Winter

american robin perched on snowy branch in winter
American robin. Photo by Jedidiah Church on Unsplash

Appearance: Medium-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.

Winter diet: In winter, robins eat berries and other fruits left on shrubs, trees, and vines.

Feeder food: Robins do not visit feeders.

Habitat: In wintertime, American robins are common and pervasive throughout the US, far southern Alaska and southwest Canada. Found in fields, parks, wooded and forested areas, mountains, and backyards.

Range Map

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

American Tree Sparrow in Winter

American tree sparrow
American tree sparrow. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash

Appearance: The American tree sparrow is a small bird about 6″ long. It’s brown with a tan breast and rust-colored crown. They have a single black spot in the center of the chest, a dark upper bill, and a yellow lower bill. Eyes are accented with gray eyebrows. The female looks the same.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and peanut hearts.

Winter habitat: American tree sparrows migrate south for the winter. They prefer wooded areas, especially on edges.

American tree sparrow range map
American tree sparrow range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Bald Eagle in Winter

a bald eagle flying in the air
Bald eagle. Image by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay

Appearance: The bald eagle is the United State’s national bird. It’s enormous at about 30-38″ in length with an equally impressive wingspan. They’re brown with a white head and tail, gold bill, and yellow eyes. Male and females look the same.

Winter Diet: Bald eagles are opportunistic eaters but prefer fish. They’ll also eat small mammals, other birds, carrion (dead animals), and anything they can retrieve from the garbage.

Winter feeder food: Bald eagles do not visit feeders (Thank goodness!)

Winter habitat: During winter, bald eagles expand their range to include the entire US, and western British Columbia. They prefer to be near open lakes, rivers, marshes, and coasts so they can fish.

Range Map

Bald eagle range map.
Bald eagle range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Barred Owl in Winter

barred owl perched on branch with a snowy winter backdrop
Barred owl. Image by Darno Bege from Pixabay


Appearance: Barred 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.

Winter diet: In winter, barred owls eat small mammals, other birds. If they can find them, they’ll also dine on reptiles, fish, and large insects.

Winter feeder food: Barred owls do not visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Barred owls do not migrate. They remain year round in the eastern half of the US, the Pacific Northwest coast, as well as southern portions of Canada. They prefer mature forests, especially along side water sources that don’t freeze like rivers – especially in the southern part of their range.

Range Map

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

Belted Kingfisher in Winter

belted kingfisher perched with insect in mouth
Female belted kingfisher. Image by PublicDomainImages from Pixabay

Appearance: The belted kingfisher is a big bird about 13″ long with a large head, long bill, and stocky body.  They have blue/gray throughout with a white ring around neck and white chest. The female is same but with additional chestnut band on chest.

Winter diet: Mostly fish and leftover berries they find on trees & shrubs.

Winter feeder fare: Belted kingfishers will not visit a feeder.

Winter habitat: Many of these birds remain in their year-round range while others of the species will migrate southwest to southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico. The northern birds stay near bodies of water that haven’t frozen so they have access to their main food – fish.

Range Map

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

Black-Capped Chickadee in Winter

Black capped chickadee on a branch
Black capped chickadee. Photo by Peter Lewis on Unsplash

Appearance: Black-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 during the winter their belly changes to a buffer tan.

Diet: Seeds, small fruits, and berries that remain on the trees, shrubs, and vines.

Feeder Food: Black-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.

Habitat: Black-capped chickadees are year-round birds found throughout the northern half of the US as well as most of Canada. They prefer 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 and offer a much needed place to roost in winter.

Range Map

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

Blue Jay in Winter

Blue jay on snowy branch
Blue jay. Photo by Cathy Cardone.

Appearance: Large 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.

Diet: Fruit and seeds that remain on the trees, shrubs, and vines as well as nuts.

Feeder food: Whole peanuts, sunflower seeds, and cracked corn.

Habitat: Forested areas with mixed trees types. Also common in suburbs and urban areas.

Range Map

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

Brown Creeper in Winter

Brown creeper climbing up a tree trunk
Brown creeper. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash

Appearance: The 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.

Winter diet: Insects hibernating beneath the bark, nuts, and seeds.

Winter feeder food: Hulled sunflower seeds, suet, and hulled peanuts.

Winter habitat: While many brown creepers remain in their year round range, some head south for the winter. As a result there are brown creepers found in every state of the US and Canada during winter. They prefer to be in forested areas.

Range Map

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

Canada Goose in Winter

Canada goose walking through the snow
Canada goose. Image by Gregory Sabin from Pixabay

Appearance: The Canada 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.

Winter diet: Grasses and grains.

Winter feeder food: Canadian geese do not visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Many Canadian geese are year-round birds in the northern half of the US while a fair amount of them migrate south for the winter taking up seasonal residence throughout the southern half of the US and a bit into northern Mexico. They prefer suburban areas including parks, golf courses, and reservoirs.

Range Map

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

Canada Jay (Gray Jay) in Winter

canada gray jay perched on a branch in winter
Canada jay (formerly Gray jay)

Appearance: The Canada jay often (formerly known as the Gray 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.

Winter diet: Insects, seeds, fruit.

Winter feeder food: Any kind of bird seed, peanuts, and suet.

Winter habitat: Canada jays spend all four seasons in their year-round range in Canada, Alaska, and a few northern US states including Washington, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, as well as Wyoming and Colorado. They’re commonly found in wooded areas.

Range Map

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

Cedar Waxwing in Winter

cedar waxwing puffed for warmth in winter
Cedar waxwing puffed out for warmth in winter. Image by mlmclaren from Pixabay

Appearance: The 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

Winter diet: Fruit that still remains on the branches and vines – especially cedar berries.

Winter feeder food: Fruit (especially oranges)

Winter habitat: Some cedar waxwings live year-round in the northern part of the US/southern part of Canada all the way from the west to the east coast while others migrate to the southern US states and Mexico for winter. They prefer open forests, orchards, and wooded residential areas, especially near berry bushes.

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 in Winter

common grackle in a tree
Male common grackle.

Appearance: The common grackle is a 12.5″ long bird with iridescent blue with purple and bronze. Their eyes are yellow with a long flared tail. The female is similar with less vibrant coloring (more brown) and a shorter tail.

Winter diet: Grains, seeds, fruit left on the vine.

Winter feeder food: Sunflower seeds, black-oil sunflower seeds.

Winter habitat: Fields with scattered trees, open woodlands, farmlands, and marshes. Common in suburban yards.

Range Map

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

Common Raven in Winter

common ravens walking through snow
Common ravens. Image by Ralph from Pixabay

Appearance: The 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.

Winter diet: Fruit, small animals, carrion.

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seed, suet, cracked corn, peanuts, and peanut hearts.

Winter habitat: Common ravens are year-round birds throughout much of North America including the western half of the US, northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, a few eastern and northeastern states, and most of Canada. They prefer forested areas.

Range Map

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

Common Redpoll in Winter

male and female common redpolls perched on snowy branch in winter
Common redpolls (male and female).

Appearance: Commonly known as the “winter finch”, the 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. In winter the breast becomes much redder/pink. The female is similar except without the raspberry chest and in winter adopts whiter underparts.

Winter diet: Seeds mostly. In winter flocks, they’ll feed on the ground or in seed-bearing trees

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seed, and nyjer.

Winter habitat: In winter, most common redpoll leave their breeding area of northern Canada and head south – as far south as the US states of Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York. Yet many remain in their year-round location in northern Quebec, Newfoundland, the Yukon territory, and Alaska. A few may show up even further south but those instances are infrequent. They prefer open areas lined with trees.

Range Map

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

Cooper’s Hawk in Winter

cooper's hawk on a branch with snow falling in winter
Cooper’s Hawk.

Appearance: Cooper’s hawk is a medium-sized bird about 15-18″ long. They’re blue-gray with rusty underparts, and a black cap.

Winter diet: Medium-sized birds such as doves, jays, and robins as well as small mammals as large as squirrels.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Cooper’s hawks remain in their year-round range throughout winter: most of the US except for the northern most states of northern Washington, northern Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota, the northern halves of Wisconsin & Michigan, and states north and east of New York. Others migrate south into Mexico for warmer temps. They prefer forests and forested areas.

Range Map

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

Dark-Eyed Junco in Winter

Dark-eyed junco. Photo by Lonnie Gilstrap.
Dark-eyed junco. Photo by Lonnie Gilstrap.

Appearance: Dark-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.

Diet: Seeds.

Feeder food: Nyjer, black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, cracked corn, hulled peanuts, and suet.

Habitat: In winter, dark-eyed juncos are found across the US and southernmost parts of 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.

Range Map

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

Downy Woodpecker in Winter

Downy woodpecker on a tree trunk
Downy woodpecker (male). Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash

Appearance: Downy 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.

Diet: Fruit and berries that remain on the trees, shrubs, and vines.

Feeder food: Suet, peanut butter spread, Sunflower seeds, Safflower seeds, hulled peanuts, corn, fruits, nectar (sugar water).

Habitat: Downy woodpeckers are common throughout the US and Canada. They’ll be found anywhere there are trees.

Range Map

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

Eastern Bluebird in Winter

Eastern bluebird perched on a snowy branch.
Eastern bluebird perched on a snowy branch. Photo by Misty Ladd on Unsplash

Appearance: 7″ long, royal blue, orange throat & breast, white belly & undertail. Female is similar but more muted colors

Diet: Small fruit left on the branches of trees, shrubs, and vines.

Feeder food: Suet, sunflower seeds, dried fruit.

Habitat: Wide-open spaces, fields, meadow. In winter they’ll roost in tree cavities or manmade birdhouses to stay warm.

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 in Winter

eastern meadowlark in snow winter
Eastern Meadowlark.

Appearance: The eastern meadowlark is a large bird about 9″ long with a brown back, lemon yellow-colored chest, and black v-shape around the neck. White outer tail feathers. Females and males look the same.

Winter diet: Grain.

Winter feeder food: Hulled sunflower seeds and cracked corn.

Winter habitat: In winter eastern meadowlarks can be found in their year-round range of the eastern half of the US south of southern Wisconsin, in spotty areas of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas as well as southern Mexico, and as far south as South America. They prefer open grassy areas.

Range Map

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

Eastern Screech-Owl in Winter

Eastern screech owl perched
Eastern screech owl. Image by Irene K-s from Pixabay

Appearance: The 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.

Winter diet: Their winter diet is mostly comprised of songbirds.

Winter feeder food: Eastern screech-owls do not visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Eastern screech-owls are year-round birds in their range, so they remain for winter. Their range includes Montana and the great plains eastward. They can be found in forests, wooded lots, suburban backyards, and large city parks.

Range Map

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

Eurasian Collared-Dove in Winter

eurasian collared dove perched on a snowy branch in winter
Eurasian collared dove. Image by Ralph from Pixabay

Appearance: The 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.

Winter diet: Seeds, grain, and berries that happen to be left on the vine/branches.

Winter feeder food: Millet on the ground or platform feeder.

Winter habitat: In winter, the Eurasian collared dove remains in its year-round range including all US states except New England. They prefer to live near towns, suburbs, and farms.

Range Map

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

European Starling in Winter

European starling singing on a branch
European starling.

Appearance: The European starling is a medium-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 of the species looks the same.

Winter diet: Seeds and fruit that happen to remain on the barren branches.

Winter feeder food: Everything and anything you could offer at the feeder.

Winter habitat: Starlings are year-round birds found throughout the US and Canada. A handful of them migrates south into Mexico. They don’t have a strong preference for habitat but are commonly found in urban and residential areas including backyard lawns, parks, and fields.

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

Evening Grosbeak in Winter

evening grosbeak perched on a branch in snowy winter
Evening grosbeak (male). Photo by Jeremy Hynes on Unsplash

Appearance: The evening grosbeak is a medium-sized bird about 8″ long. They have an olive-yellow head with a yellow streak 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.

Winter diet: They’ll forage for seeds on the ground or in seed-bearing trees.

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seeds and hulled sunflower seeds

Winter habitat: Many evening grosbeaks spend winter in their year-round range in parts of Canada and the US’s Pacific northwest while many others will head south for the winter into the remaining US states-except Florida. They prefer forested areas

Range Map

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

Golden-Crowned Kinglet in Winter

Golden-crowned kinglet
Golden-crowned kinglet. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash.

Appearance: Golden-crowned kinglets are small birds about 4″ long, olive-green in color with crowns striped with reddish/orange and white stripes above & below eyes. Females are the same except for their crowns are yellow instead.

Winter diet: Seeds and whatever insects they can uncover.

Winter feeder food: Suet

Winter habitat: While some golden-crowned kinglets remain in their year-round mountainous range for winter (including the Pacific coast & New England), even more birds migrate south and east to inhabit every US state. In winter they prefer conifers, deciduous forests, suburbs, swamps, bottomlands, and scrubby habitats.

Range Map

Golden-crowned kinglet  range map
Golden-crowned kinglet range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Great Blue Heron in Winter

great blue heron wading in water
Great blue heron. Image by terrysartifacts from Pixabay

Appearance: Great blue herons are enormous waterbirds about 45-55″ long. They have a large body with blue/gray feathers, long legs, a white face with a black streak on the cheek and crown, a long pointy orange bill, and a curvy neck which they often curl into the shape of an “S”.

Winter diet: Fish, frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, small mammals, and birds.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: In winter, great blue herons remain in their year-round range which includes most of the US and some migrate south into Mexico. They prefer calm freshwaters, rivers, and shallow coastal areas.

Range Map

Great blue heron range map.
Great blue heron range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Great Horned Owl in Wintera

Great horned owl flying in winter
Great horned owl. Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash

Appearance: The 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 ears (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.

Winter diet: Mammals and large birds.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Great horned owls spend all four seasons in their year-round range which includes all of Canada, the US, and Mexico. Some are even in South America. They prefer wooded areas.

Range Map

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

Hairy Woodpecker in Winter

Male hairy woodpecker perched on branch in winter
Male hairy woodpecker. Image by Jennifer Beebe from Pixabay

Appearance: The hairy woodpecker is a medium-sized black-and-white bird about 9″ long with a white belly and 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.

Winter diet: Seeds, nuts, and any hibernating insects they can find beneath the tree bark.

Winter feeder food: Suet, hulled peanuts.

Winter habitat: Hairy woodpeckers are year-round birds throughout the US and Canada. They prefer mature forests, urban, and suburban areas where dense trees are found.

Range Map

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

Horned Lark in Winter

horned lark in the snow

Horned lark.

Appearance: The horned lark is a medium-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.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: They do not visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Horned larks spend winter throughout the US and southern British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. They prefer short grassy areas such as prairies, deserts, beach dunes, and farmers’ fields.

Range Map

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

House Finch in Winter

male house finch perched on a branch in winter
Male house finch. Image by Bryan Hanson from Pixabay
female house finch on a peanut feeder
Female house finch. Photo by Tammy Poppie.

Appearance: The house finch is a small 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.

Diet: Seeds, fruit.

Feeder food: Black oil sunflower seed is their favorite.

Habitat: House finches are found year-round 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.

Range Map

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

House Sparrow in Winter

Male house sparrow in winter on a pine branch
Male house sparrow in winter plumage. Image by SAM_MINO from Pixabay

Appearance: House sparrows are small bird about 6″ long, brown with a large grayish edged bib (in spring & summer the bib becomes a prominent black) and chin down to the chest. White wing bar and gray belly & crown. The Female is a bit smaller, all light brown and no black.

Diet: Seeds and fruit.

Feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seed, cracked corn, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.

Habitat: House sparrows are prominent and common throughout the US and Canada. They’re found around people and buildings in the city, towns, villages, suburbs, and farms.

Range Map

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

Mallard in Winter

mallard walking on snow beside water winter
Mallard (male). Image by Zuzanna Zembrzuska from Pixabay

Appearance: Mallards 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.

Winter diet: Seeds, aquatic vegetation, acorns, corn, rice, and wheat.

Winter feeder food: They’re not feeder visitors.

Winter habitat: Mallards spend winter in every US state as well as British Columbia. They prefer to be around open, freshwater areas but can also be found around farmer’s fields.

Range Map

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

Mourning Dove in Winter

mourning dove in snow in winter
Mourning dove. Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay

Appearance: A 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.

Diet: Seeds

Feeder food: Will come to eat seeds that drop below the feeder as they are ground foragers.

Habitat: Mourning doves are commonly found throughout the US in winter with the exception of North Dakota. They prefer open areas.

Range Map

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

Mute Swan in Winter

mute swans beside open water in winter
Mute swans. Photo by Tom van Ooijen on Unsplash

Appearance: Mute 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.

Winter diet: Fish and plant material.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Mute swans spend winters in their year-round homes in southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Mute swans are found floating on the water in urban ponds (parks), lagoons, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas where saltwater meets freshwater rivers and streams. Mute swans are found floating on the water in urban ponds (parks), lagoons, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas where saltwater meets freshwater rivers and streams.

Range Map

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

Northern Bobwhite in Winter

bobwhite quail in winter
Northern bobwhite quail (female).

Appearance: Northern 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 with no white streaks.

Winter diet: Seeds and leftover berries.

Winter feeder food: Seed or crack corn scattered beneath the feeder.

Winter habitat: Bobwhite quails spend winter in their year-round homes south & east of Wyoming plus Wisconsin but excluding New England. Some are also found in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. Found in rural and farm areas.

Range Map

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

Northern Cardinal in Winter

Cardinal on branch when snowing
Male cardinal fluffs his feathers to stay warm. Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash
Female cardinal with a backdrop of snow
Female northern cardinal. Photo by Cheryl Anne.

Appearance: Male northern 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 cardinal also has an orange beak but is buff-brown with a tan crown + a tinge of red, red spots on the wings & tail.

Diet: In winter, northern cardinals primarily forage for small berries and seeds.

Feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seed, safflower seed, mealworms, striped sunflower seed, hulled peanuts, and cracked corn.

Habitat: Northern cardinals are year-round birds that do not migrate for the winter. They prefer edges of wooded areas, thickets, tangled vines, city parks, and our backyards. In the southwest they live around desert washes, areas thick with mesquite, and along the riverbanks of wooded areas.

Range Map

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

Northern Flicker in Winter

northern flicker standing in snow in winter
Yellow-shafted northern flicker. Photo by Misty Ladd on Unsplash

Appearance: The northern flicker is a 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 brown. The male has a red swipe on his cheek, the female does not.

Winter diet: Insects they’re able to find hibernating beneath tree bark.

Winter feeder food: Unlikely to visit a feeder.

Winter habitat: Northern flickers spend winter throughout every state of the US, British Columbia, and the southern parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba as well as Mexico. They prefer open areas near trees.

Range Map

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

Northern Mockingbird in Winter

Northern mockingbird standing on snow in winter
Northern mockingbird.

Appearance: Northern 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.

Winter diet: Berries and fruit left on the vines.

Winter feeder food: Suet

Winter habitat: Northern mockingbirds spend winter in their year-round range throughout the US and Mexico. They prefer thickets and brushy areas with open areas nearby.

Range Map

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

Pileated Woodpecker in Winter

pileated woodpecker climbing tree in winter
Female pileated woodpecker. Photo by Anne Spiers

Appearance: A 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.

Winter diet: Insects that they drive out of hibernation from beneath the tree bark – especially carpenter ants.

Winter feeder food: Suet, shelled peanuts, safflower seed, sunflower seed.

Winter habitat: Pileated woodpeckers spend winters in their year-round along the Pacific Northwest coast, the eastern half of the US, and Canada. You can find them in forested and wooded areas that offer tall deciduous (leafy trees like maple &  beech), coniferous trees (like evergreen & pine), and lower fruit & nut-bearing trees & shrubs.

Range Map

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

Pine Grosbeak in Winter

male pine grosbeak perched on branch in winter
Pine grosbeak (male). Image by simardfrancois from Pixabay

Appearance: The pine grosbeak is a sturdy bird approx 8-10″ long, soft pinkish-red with gray & charcoal body, 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.

Winter diet: Mostly seeds and fruits from their habitat (pine trees). Sometimes supplements with insects.

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seeds and suet.

Winter habitat: North American pine grosbeaks spend winter in Canada as well as several northern US states including Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England states. They prefer open areas with coniferous trees and deciduous trees in winter.

Range Map

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

Pine Siskin in Winter

pine siskin perched on a branch with berries in winter
Pine siskin. Photo by Ann Spiers.

Appearance: The pine siskin is a small brown bird about 5″ long with streaks on the back, breast, and belly. There’s faint yellow in the wing bars at end of the tail. The female is similar but has less yellow on the wings and tail.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: Nyjer, black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, and suet.

Winter habitat: Pine siskins expand their range considerably during winter and inhabit all US states, the southern parts of Canada, and even Mexico. They prefer open areas and wooded edges.

Range Map

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

Purple Finch in Winter

purple finch perched on a snowy branch in winter
Purple finch. Photo by Kevin Cress on Unsplash

Appearance: The purple finch is a small 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.

Diet: Seeds, insects, and fruit.

Feeder food: Black oil sunflower seeds are their favorite.

Habitat: While some purple finches are year round birds (especially those in from the upper midwest to the east and those along the pacific coast) many head south for the winter and can be found in the eastern part of the US as well as the southernmost parts of Canada. They prefer coniferous forests in summer along with mixed forests near streams and tree-lined backyards.

Range Map

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

Red Crossbill in Winter

red crossbill on snow in winter
Red Crossbill.

Appearance: The red crossbill is a small bird about 6.2″ long, dark red-orange with brown singes and tail. Their bill is long, pointed, and “crossed”. A brighter color of red on the head and rump. No crown. The female and young are pale yellow and gray.

Winter diet: Seeds – especially those inside pinecones. The bird’s “crossbill” is designed to pry open pinecones to get at the seed inside.

Winter feeder food: Black oil sunflower seed and sometimes thistle.

Winter habitat: Red crossbills either remain in their year-round territory for winter or expand south to create a wide winter range that includes Canada, the Pacific Northwest, states west of the Great Plains, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusettes. They prefer mature coniferous forests.

Range Map

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

Red-Bellied Woodpecker in Winter

red-belied woodpecker perched on a dead tree in winter
Red-bellied woodpecker. Photo by Mark Olsen on Unsplash

Appearance: The red-bellied woodpecker is a medium-sized bird about 9 1/4″ long. They have a 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.

Winter diet: Insects hibernating beneath the tree bark, nuts and fruits that remain on fruit-bearing trees & shrubs.

Winter feeder food: Suet, hulled peanuts.

Winter habitat: Red-bellied woodpeckers are found in the eastern half of the US year-round. They do not migrate for winter. They prefer to be in or near forests and woodlands.

Range Map

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

Red-Breasted Nuthatch in Winter

red-breasted nuthatch on a snowy branch in winter
Red-breasted nuthatch. Image by Sabine Löwer from Pixabay

Appearance: Red-breasted nuthatches are about 4.5″ 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.

Winter diet: Insects hibernating beneath the tree bark.

Winter feeder food: Suet, sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts, fruit.

Winter habitat: Red-breasted nuthatches are found year-round in northern Canada. While some stay there year round, many migrate south for the winter and can be found in every US state during that time. They’re usually spotted climbing upside-down a deciduous tree foraging for insects beneath the bark.

Range Map

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

Red-Headed Woodpecker in Winter

Red-headed woodpecker.
Red-headed woodpecker. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Appearance: Red-headed woodpeckers are medium-sized birds about 9″ long with a red head, black back, white rump, chest, and belly. They also have white patches on their wings, a black tail, and gray legs & bill. The female is the same as the male.

Winter diet: Nuts, seeds, and insects hibernating beneath tree bark.

Winter feeder food: Suet and hulled peanuts.

Winter habitat: During winter, red-headed woodpeckers stay within their year-round range which includes the midwest states (except the Dakotas), and most states east and south of there. They prefer open woodlands especially when ample deciduous trees are present.

Range Map

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

Red-Shouldered Hawk in Winter

red shouldered hawk
Red-shouldered hawk. Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash

Appearance: Red-shouldered hawks are large birds of prey about 17-24″ in length with broad, brownish-red shoulders (wings) and breasts, round heads with a curved beak, dark eyes, and black tails with white stripes. The female looks the same.

Winter Diet: Small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds.

Winter Feeder food: They don’t dine on feeder food.

Winter Habitat: During winter, red-shouldered hawks remain in their year-round range which includes states in the eastern half of the US as well as the Oregon & California coast. Some migrate further south into southern Texas and Mexico. They prefer wooded areas with deciduous trees and often streamsides and swamps.

Range Map

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

Red-Tailed Hawk in Winter

red tailed hawk perched on a branch in winter
Red-tailed hawk.

Appearance: The 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.

Winter diet: Small mammals, reptiles, and larger birds.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Red-tailed hawks remain in their year-round range during winter which includes all of the US except perhaps North Dakota and New England. They’ve adapted to a variety of habitats including mountainous, woodlands, prairies, and deserts.

Range Map

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

Red-Winged Blackbird in Winter

Red-winged blackbird.
Red-winged blackbird. Photo by Richard Sagredo on Unsplash
female red winged blackbird perched on a cattail
Female red-winged blackbird. Photo by Camerauthor Photos on Unsplash

Appearance: Red-winged blackbirds are medium-sized jet black birds about 8 1/2″ long with red and yellow patches on the shoulder of their upper wings. They have pointy black bill. The females are brown and heavily streaked. She has white eyebrows and a brown bill.

Winter diet: Seeds, grains, and berries if there are any leftover on the trees & shrubs..

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn, peanut hearts, millet.

Winter habitat: The red-winged blackbirds that traveled north for breeding will head back south for the winter around the September-December timeframe. The birds that stayed back in their year-round range for breeding remain for winter which is all of the US, British Columbia, and Mexico. In winter they gather in large flocks, often with grackles, cowbirds and starlings. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see them in your backyard.

Range Map

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

Rock Pigeon in Winter

Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon. Photo by Kieran Somerville on Unsplash

Appearance: The rock pigeon is a large bird about 12-14″ long, chubby with blue/gray wings, black pointy tips, short red legs, and a black & round wide tail. The neck is iridescent. 

Winter diet: Grains and seeds. Commonly seen scavenging trash cans for food.

Winter feeder food: Millet, cracked corn, black-oil sunflower seed, safflower, peanut hearts.

Winter habitat: During winter, rock pigeons remain in their year-round range which includes all of the US, the southern part of Canada, and Mexico. They’re commonly found in cities and towns as well as farmlands

Range Map

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

Sharp-Shinned Hawk in Winter

sharp shinned hawk perched on a snowy branch in winter
Sharp-shinned hawk.

Appearance: The sharp-shinned hawk is a medium-sized bird about 10-14″ long. They are blueish/gray above with a dark cap that blends into the nape and white underneath with reddish/brown horizontal stripes. The female is the same but about 2-3″ larger than the male.

Winter diet: Birds smaller than 12″ long and small mammals.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: During winter, sharp-shinned hawks can be found in western British Columbia and throughout the US (except in the Dakotas and Nebraska). Some are even found in Mexico. They prefer forests, forest edges, and urban areas where their prey is found.

Range Map

Sharp-shinned hawk range map
Sharp-shinned hawk range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Short-Eared Owl in Winter

short eared owl
Short eared owl. Image by cadop from Pixabay

Appearance: Short-eared owls are medium-sized owls at about 14-17″ long. They’re brown spotted birds with tan, white, and ivory on the upper parts. The face is lighter and the eyes are yellow surrounded by black. As you would expect, their ears are so short they appear to be missing. Females are the same.

Winter Diet: Small mammals such as shrews, moles, rabbits, gophers, bats, and rodents in which they first decapitate and then swallow the prey whole.

Winter Feeder food: Short-eared owls do not visit feeders.

Habitat: In winter, short-eared owls inhabit most of the entire northern hemisphere including the US, Canada, and Mexico. They prefer open grassland areas so they can perch on the ground or low in trees looking for prey.

Range Map

Short-eared owl range map.
Short-eared owl range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Snowy Owl in Winter

a snowy owl on snow in winter
Snowy owl. Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

Appearance: Snowy owls are large owls about 20-30″ long with round heads and thick feathering throughout their body. Although much of their body is white they also sport black and brown markings throughout. The males are much whiter than the females.

Winter Diet: Snowy owls will eat a variety of food including lemmings, Arctic hares, mice, ducks, and seabirds. They’ll swallow the smaller prey whole.

Winter feeder food: They do not visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Snowy owls spend winter throughout Canada and a few northern US states including Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England. During winter they prefer to be near lake and ocean shorelines but are also seen in farmers’ fields and open areas.

Range Map

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

Song Sparrow in Winter

Song sparrow on a branch
Song sparrow puffed up to stay warm in winter. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Appearance: Song sparrows are small birds between 5-6″ in length with round heads and varying shades of brown streaks on the chest that converge into a central dark spot. They have dark brown eyes, short stubby beaks, and long, round tails. The females appear the same.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: Unlikely to visit a feeder.

Winter habitat: Song sparrows are found throughout the US during winter as well as in British Columbia, Canada. They prefer open areas and edges of woodlands.

Range Map

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

Swamp Sparrow in Winter

Swamp sparrow perched on small branch with soft golden background.
Swamp sparrow.

Appearance: Swamp sparrows are small birds about 5-6″ long. They sport an array of colors including blue/gray on its head with a rust-colored crown and a black stripe that connects to the cone-shaped bill. The tail is brown and points up – legs are relatively long for a sparrow. The female looks the same.

Winter Diet: Seeds, fruits & invertebrates.

Winter Feeder food: They don’t usually visit feeders.

Winter habitat: For winter, some swamp sparrows remain in their small year-round range in parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New England while many more migrate to the southern US states, along the pacific coast, and Mexico and a small patch in Arizona. As their name implies they prefer to be near water as well as vegetation near water.

Range Map

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

Tufted Titmouse in Winter

Tufted titmouse.
Tufted titmouse. Image by Gregory Sabin from Pixabay

Appearance: The tufted titmouse is a small bird about 6″ long with slate gray above, white on its chest, belly and around the eyes. Below the wings is a patch of rusty brown, the legs are gray and eyes are dark. They have a pointed “tuft” crest.

Winter diet: Seeds and fruits left on the branches & vines.

Winter feeder food: Suet.

Winter habitat: Tufted titmice are year-round birds in the eastern half of the US. They prefer orchards because of the fruit availability and may hang around through winter to glean whatever remains on the vines. They also live in deciduous wooded areas or mixed woods.

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

White-Breasted Nuthatch in Winter

white breasted nuthatch head first down a tree in winter
White-breasted nuthatch. Image by Gregory Sabin from Pixabay

Appearance: The white-breasted nuthatch is a small bird about 5-6″ long with a 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.

Winter diet: Insects hibernating beneath the bark & seeds.

Winter feeder food: Suet, sunflower seed, shelled peanuts.

Winter habitat: White-breasted nuthatches are year-round birds that do not migrate for winter. They’re found throughout the US and parts of Canada.They prefer mature deciduous and mixed forests; wooded suburban areas such as orchards, parks, and backyards and usually spotted moving head-first down a tree trunk foraging for insects beneath the bark.

Range Map

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

White-Crowned Sparrow in Winter

white crowned sparrow
White-crowned sparrow. Image by stephmcblack from Pixabay

Appearance: The white-crowned sparrow is a small bird about 7″ long. Mostly brown with a gray throat & chest, black & white striped crown, and a small thin pink bill. The female is the same.

Winter diet: Seeds and berries.

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower, cracked corn, millet, and milo.

Winter habitat: White-crowned sparrows migrate for the winter. While some head as far south as Mexico and the Caribbean, many are found in the northern regions of the US as far north as British Columbia in the west, Wisconsin in the midwest, and Pennsylvania in the east. Some remain in their year-round range along the pacific coast. They prefer open areas with shrubby thickets, open meadows, and forest edges.


White-crowned sparrow range map.
White-crowned sparrow range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

White-Throated Sparrow in Winter

White throated sparrow perched on a branch
White-throated sparrow. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Appearance: The white-throated sparrow is a small bird about 6-7″ long. They’re brown with a gray chest & belly and have a small yellow spot between their eyes (lore). They also have a white patch on their throat & crown, and white or tan stripes alternating with black stripes. Females and males are the same.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: Millet and sunflower seeds.

Winter habitat: White-throated sparrows migrate south for the winter and can be found in the eastern half of the US as well as Oregon & California coasts, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. They prefer forested areas of coniferous and deciduous trees.

Range Map

White-throated sparrow range map.
White-throated sparrow range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Wild Turkey in Winter

a wild turkey walking through grass
Wild turkey (male). Photo by William Stark on Unsplash
wild turkey walking across snow
Wild turkey. Image by Mohan Nannapaneni from Pixabay

Appearance: Wild turkeys are enormous birds about 45″ long with long necks, large prominent red wattles, and snoods (hanging skin from the neck), and a bronze-greenish iridescence to most of their feathers. The feathers also give the appearance of a variety of textures. Their wings are dark, with white bars and a fanned-out tail with rusty or white tips. Their head and neck show their skin with colors of red, blue, and gray. The red neck is unmistakable. The females are similar but lighter in color, they don’t fan their tail feathers, have subtle-looking wattle and snood, and they don’t strut like the male.

Winter diet: Seeds, nuts (acorns, beech nuts, pecans, hickory nuts), and berries.  

Winter feeder food: Wild turkeys do not come to feeders.

Winter habitat: During winter, wild turkeys remain in their year-round territory which includes all US states, the southernmost parts of Canada, and even Mexico. They prefer open forested areas, especially those with nut-producing trees. In the southwest, they can be found in open grassy savannahs.

Wild turkey range map.
Wild turkey range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Wood Duck in Winter

Male wood duck floating on water
Wood duck (male). Image by lkbeach from Pixabay
Female wood duck gliding across water
Wood duck (female). Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Appearance: The wood duck is a large bird about 19-22″ long and the male sports an array of colors. The male’s head and crest are metallic purplish-green, the sides of the face are black, a white stripe runs along the neck and a smaller one goes up each cheek. Their chest and the rump are dark red, and the sides are olive-yellow with black & white stripes on the edges, the belly is white, tail and back are black. The eyes are red, bill white with red on each side. The top of the bird’s head and crest are metallic purplish-green. The sides of the face are black, and a white stripe runs along the neck. A small white stripe also extends up each cheek. The chest and the rump are dark red, and the sides are a drab yellow with black and white stripes at the edges. The wood duck’s belly is white, its tail and back are black, and its wings are black and blue. The female looks vastly different. She is gray-brown with a white-speckled breast

Winter Diet: During winter, when water plants and insects become scarce, wood ducks will eat seeds, nuts, and grains.

Feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: During winter, many wood ducks remain in their year-round range along the pacific coast as well as the easter half of the US. Other wood ducks will migrate further south and inland including the states of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico. Wet areas including swamps, marshes, streams & creeks as well as small lakes.

Range Map

Wood duck range map
Wood duck range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Wrapping Up

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 common redpolls, pine grosbeaks, American tree sparrows, white-throated sparrows, and other species only visiting for a season, 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.