26 Backyard Birds in Montana (Pictures & Facts)

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Montana is home to amazing habitats and national parks. It’s no wonder there are many different species of wild birds in the state. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the more recognizable and well-known birds. Some of these species live in Montana year round, while others are migratory and only part-time residents to the state. In this article, we’re going to take a look at 26 backyard birds in Montana and learn a little about each species.

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After that I’ll show you how to attract them to your yard, give you a crash course in the 10 different types of bird feeders you can use to do so, and even mention a few Montana birdwatching hotspots. 

How many different species of wild birds are in Montana?

It’s difficult to get an exact number on how many bird species are found in North America, the United States, or even in the state of Montana. However, according to Wikipedia there are at least 442 species of birds in the state of Montana on the official list. One source claims there are 2,059 species in North America, another older source says there are just 914. So I’m not sure how much I trust these numbers, but they give us a general idea of the number of species.

For the purposes of this article we are just going to look at some of the most commonly seen (especially in your backyard) species found in Montana. 

26 backyard birds in Montana

Below we’ll look at 26 species of backyard birds in Montana, some are year-round residents and some aren’t. These obviously aren’t all the species in the state, or even close to it, but they are some of the more notable and recognizable Montana backyard birds. Let’s get to it!

1. Red-winged Blackbird

Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Length: 6.7-9.1 in
Weight: 1.1-2.7 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in

Among the most abundant birds in all of North America, male red-winged blackbirds are unmistakable because of their red and yellow “shoulders” that stand out amongst their black bodies. The females of this species however, look quite different and are mostly brown with light streaks. They are known as a polygynous species, meaning males will have up to 15 different females that they are mating with. Unfortunately they sometimes show up at feeders in flocks and gobble up seed quickly.  

Red-winged Blackbirds can be found in western parts of Montana all year, but in the east they tend to only be spring and summer visitors. 

Red-winged Blackbirds visit most types of feeders and will eat seed as well as suet.


2. Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin | image by Shenandoah National Park via Flickr

Scientific name: Spinus pinus
Length: 4.3-5.5 in
Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz
Wingspan: 7.1-8.7 in

Pine siskins are tiny members of the finch family with sharply pointed beaks. They are brown and white streaked all over, and in fact can look a lot like female house finches. However the pine siskin will always have yellow (of varying brightness) along their wings and sides of their tails. They are considered nomadic and can move erratically each winter following good seed crops, with their favorite food source being conifer seeds. This is why some winters you may see a lot of them, while others you may not see them at all.  

Pine siskins can be found year round in the western part of the state, whereas in the east they tend to only be seen during the winter months.

It's never too late to start feeding hummingbirds. Here's a quick list of things you'll need to get you started!

  1. Hummingbird feeder poles
  2. 12oz hummingbird feeders
  3. Ant moats (optional)
  4. Make your hummingbird nectar at home
Fill your feeders with the nectar, and put them out! Hummingbirds can start showing up anywhere between late February and early May, depending on where you live.

Pine Siskins will readily visit nyjer (thistle) feeders, and may also eat millet or hulled sunflower.


3. Black-capped Chickadee

Image: birdfeederhub.com

Scientific name: Poecile atricapillus
Length: 4.7-5.9 in
Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz
Wingspan: 6.3-8.3 in

 Chickadees are tiny little birds with rounded bodies that are very easy to recognize because of their “black cap” and black bib. Their cheeks are solid white, their wings and backs are blackish gray, and their underbodies are fluffy and light.  

They are very common at bird feeders and are often seen darting back and forth from a feeder to cover and back again for more. Chickadees are always among the first birds I see visiting a new feeder in my yard, and they can be quite bold for their size! 

Black-capped chickadees can be found year round throughout Montana. 

Chickadees will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds.


4. Black-billed Magpie

Image: Tom Koerner/ USFWS Mountain-Prairie

Scientific name: Pica hudsonia
Length: 17.7-23.6 in
Weight: 5.1-7.4 oz
Wingspan: 22.1-24.0 in

The beautiful black-billed magpie has the shape of a jay but the size of a crow. Black head, chest and back, bright white shoulder and sides, metallic blue along their wings and their long tail. They have a varied diet of fruit, grain, insects, small mammals, carrion and eggs. They are even seen hanging out on the backs of large mammals like moose or deer, picking through their hair looking for ticks. These flashy birds aren’t shy and are often seen perched in trees or on fenceposts. They can be quite loud, especially in groups. 

Black-billed magpies can be found year round in Montana.

While they prefer open rangeland, black-billed magpies may visit backyards. Try to attract them with sunflower seeds and peanuts on a platform feeder, with suet, or by leaving out fruit such as orange halves.


5. Red-breasted Nuthatch

Scientific name: Sitta canadensis
Length: 4.3 in
Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz
Wingspan: 7.1-7.9 in

These little nuthatches have a dark gray back, rusty (ranges from boldly colored to pale) chest and belly, and a boldly black and white striped face. They are quick and active birds most commonly found hopping around on tree trunks and branches looking for insects beneath the bark. They nest in tree cavities, and will even use backyard nest boxes.  

Red-breasted nuthatches are found year-round along the western and southern Montana border, but otherwise tend to be winter-only birds. Their population often “follows the food” so they can seem very abundant one year and sparse the next, depending on the crop of conifer seeds. 

Red-breasted Nuthatches will readily visit feeders. Offer sunflower seeds, peanuts or suet.


6. Common Raven

Image: Neal Herbert

Scientific name: Corvus corax
Length: 22.1-27.2 in
Weight: 24.3-57.3 oz
Wingspan: 45.7-46.5 in

Common Ravens are solid black in color, and quite large in size. They are also know for being highly intelligent problem solvers, like their cousin the crow. They seem equally at ease living alongside human activity as out in very remote wilderness. Ravens can make a large number of different vocalizations, the most common sound like a series of croaks.

Ravens are found year round in western Montana. 

Common Ravens are omnivorous and generally do not visit bird feeders, they are much too large. But keep an eye on your trash or outdoor pet food.


7. American Robin

Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
Length: 7.9-11.0 in
Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in

Highly common in backyards, Robins are mostly seen hopping around the grass looking for worms and other invertebrates to eat. While they will occasionally visit bird feeders, they do not typically eat seeds. Their bright red, round bellies, and yellow beaks make them easy to identify. 

Robins live all year in Montana, although you may see them less frequently in your yard during the winter. 

American Robins do not often visit bird feeders, so attract them with mealworms, native fruit-bearing plants, leaf-litter for foraging, or a bird bath. 


8. Mourning Dove

Image: KarolOlson | pixabay.com

Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
Length: 9.1-13.4 in
Weight: 3.0-6.0 oz
Wingspan: 17.7 in

About the size of a robin, doves are very common in backyards and will often sit perched on telephone wires or in groups in trees. I sometimes see them on my tray feeder, but more often they like to hang out underneath feeders and pick up the seeds that fall to the ground. Mourning doves are mostly gray with black spots on top and a pale peachy color below. They have a pale blueish-gray eye ring and pink legs. 

Mourning Doves are found all year in western Montana, but for most of the state they can only be found in the spring and summer.

Doves will often visit seed feeders, but prefer scouring the ground for seeds that have fallen. Try a ground feeder with a mixed seed blend, or simply scatter some seeds on the ground.


9. European Starling

Image: pixabay.com

Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
Length: 7.9-9.1 in
Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in

100 starlings were set loose in New York in the 1890s and they have since taken over the country. They destroy other birds’ nests, kill their young, and will overtake feeders not allowing other birds to get any of the food that you put out. They are mostly all dark with white specks on their backs and wings, and have yellow beaks and feet. While Starlings often look black, they are actually iridescent and in the right lighting can have pretty purple and green plumage.

Unfortunately starlings are found in every one of the lower 48 states year-round, Montana included. 

European Starlings will eat almost anything, but are especially fond of suet. They are an invasive species so we suggest you do not attempt to attract them, they’ll show up anyway.  


10. American Goldfinch

Scientific name: Spinus tristis
Length: 4.3-5.1 in
Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in

Goldfinches are among my favorite birds to see at feeders, especially when they have their bright yellow feathers in the spring and summer. During this period breeding males become mostly yellow, or “gold”, with black-tipped wings and black cap on top of their heads. Females and juveniles are not as bright yellow and they lack the black cap. In the winter they will molt and lose these flashy colors and have more dull brownish or olive colors. You can always recognize them any time of year by the black on their wings, and their finch-like beaks. 

Goldfinches are found all year in western Montana, but may only be present during the spring-summer in the eastern half of the state.

Goldfinches prefer thistle feeders, they may also eat sunflower chips but a thistle feeder is your best chance to attract them. 


11. House Finch

Male and Female House Finch

Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
Length: 5.1-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in

The house finch is a common backyard bird across both the eastern and western parts of the country. In some “middle states”, like Montana, their population can be locally spotty. If you attract them, which is fairly easy to do, they usually show up in groups at your feeders. Males are mostly streaked brown in color with some red on the head and chest, females are all brown.

House finches are common in certain parts of Montana, and are likely to continue to spread throughout the state.

Like other finches, house finches often visit thistle feeders. They are seen at seed feeders more than goldfinches, so try some black sunflower seeds to attract them as well.  


12. House Sparrow

Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Length: 5.9-6.7 in
Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in

Generally looked at as pests, Houses Sparrows are the only other species of wild birds in the U.S. besides starlings that you can legally trap and humanely kill. Like starlings, they were introduced to the U.S. in New York in the 1800s and have since spread across our country like wildfire. They are mostly brown in color, with some black and brown streaking on their wings and buffy chest. House sparrows are overall aggressive towards other birds, especially around nests. They are known to evict other birds nesting in birdhouses.  

House sparrows are found throughout Montana, especially around areas of human activity. If you see drab brown birds hanging out around shopping areas and building nests inside of storefront signs, they are likely house sparrows.

Like the european starling, house sparrows are invasive and pose a threat to native species. They will eat almost anything. 


13. Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee | image by Yellowstone National Park via Flickr

Scientific name: Poecile gambeli
Length: 4.3-5.5 in
Weight: 0.4 oz

Chickadees are tiny little birds with rounded bodies that are very easy to recognize because of their “black cap” and black throat. Their cheeks are solid white, their wings and backs are gray, and their underbodies are fluffy and light. In Montana you can also see black-capped chickadees, but it is easy to tell them apart because only the mountain chickadee has the eye stripe above the eye. Their preferred habitat is evergreen forests in mountainous areas.    

Mountain chickadees can be found year round in more mountainous areas of Montana, especially in the western part of the state.

Chickadees will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends and black sunflower seeds. They will also often eat suet in the winter.


14. Eurasian Collared-Dove

Scientific name: Streptopelia decaocto
Length: 11.4-11.8 in
Weight: 4.9-6.3 oz
Wingspan: 13.8 in

As you might suspect from its name, the Eurasian collared dove is native to parts of Europe and Asia. During the 1970’s, some of them escaped from a pet shop in the Bahamas and flew to Florida. It is thought that these escaped birds, and some set loose in the south Caribbean on Guadeloupe, began the colonization of the U.S. Today they can be found across much of the U.S. and Mexico. They are similar to a mourning dove, but with a chunkier body and longer tail. They lack the black spots on their back that a mourning dove has, and instead have a plain back with a black stripe across the back of their neck. 

The Eurasian collared dove can be found in Montana year round. 

Eurasian collared doves will come to backyards to eat seeds and grain, usually from platform feeders or scattered on the ground. They especially enjoy millet. 


15. Song Sparrow

Scientific name: Melospiza melodia
Length: 4.7-6.7 in
Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz
Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in

Similar to many sparrows, song sparrows are mostly brown on the back and wings, with heavy brown streaks on a white breast.  Song sparrows are very common throughout most of North America and their plumage can vary a bit from region to region. The male of the species uses his song to attract females as well as to defend his territory. 

Song sparrows are found year round throughout western Montana, but in central and eastern parts of the state they only migrate in for the spring and summer months. 

Song Sparrows will sometimes visit bird feeders and snack on mixed seeds and sunflower seeds. 


16. Blue Jay

Image: Graham-H | pixabay.com

Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
Length: 9.8-11.8 in
Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz
Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in

Another very well-known bird species in North America and the U.S. is the blue jay. They have a large blue crest on top of their heads with mostly blue feathers along their back and wings. They have a black ring around their neck, and beneath that their breast and belly are white. Their wings and tail have black stripes and barring. Females and males share the same coloration. Blue jays have several loud, metallic sounding calls, and will often be among the first to alert all the birds in the area to a nearby predator such as a hawk.

Blue jays are mainly found in Montana during the winter months, although they may stick around all year along the eastern border. 

Blue Jays like platform feeders, peanut feeders, and feeders with large perches. Offer them black sunflower seeds, mixed seeds, and peanuts.


17. Yellow Warbler

Image: birdfeederhub.com

Scientific name: Setophaga petechia
Length: 4.7-5.1 in
Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
Wingspan: 6.3-7.9 in

Aptly named, the yellow warbler is yellow throughout its whole body. Their chest and head tends to be brighter while their back can be more of a darker, olive yellow. Males have some reddish-brown streaking on their chest. Their preferred habitat is thickets and small trees near wetlands or streams. They fly a long distance each year, spending winters in Central and South America. 

Yellow Warblers can be found throughout Montana during the spring and summer. 

Yellow warblers are insect eaters so they won’t visit bird feeders. You can try to attract them by planting small trees that support caterpillars.


18. Downy Woodpecker

Scientific name: Picoides pubescens
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in

Downy’s are very common backyard birds that love to visit bird feeders. They are the smallest woodpeckers in North America and are always one of the first species I see at a new bird feeder. They are easily identifiable by their all white underbodies, black wings with white spots, black and white striped heads, and the red spot on the back of their heads (in males, females have no red). Though they do closely resemble the Hairy Woodpecker, downy’s are smaller. 

Downy woodpeckers are found all year throughout Montana. 

Downy Woodpeckers are very common at most types of bird feeders. Offer them mixed seed, black sunflower seed, and suet. 


19. Cedar Waxwing

cedar waxwing
Image: 272447 | pixabay.com

Scientific name: Bombycilla cedrorum
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 1.1 oz
Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in

Cedar waxwings are easy to identify by their unique coloring. These medium sized birds have a tawny brown head and chest, yellow belly, dark gray wings, and a yellow tipped short tail. Their face sports a dramatic black eye mask rimmed in white, and a large fluffy brown crest. The name “waxwing” comes from small, red, waxy nubs found at the tips of their wings. These can often be hard to see and no one is really sure what purpose they serve. They may help attract mates.

Cedar waxwings love fruit, and are one of the only North American birds that can survive on fruit alone for several months. They do supplement their diet with insects and other foods, but they can eat a much higher percentage of fruit than other birds.

Cedar Waxwings can be found throughout Montana all year.

Cedar Waxwings won’t eat from seed feeders. You can attract them to your yard with native trees and shrubs that produce small fruits and berries.


20. Dark-eyed Junco

Image credit: Oregon by Robb Hannawacker, Pink-sided by birdfeederhub.com

Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
Length: 5.5-6.3 in
Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in

There are multiple sub-species of the dark-eyed junco across the U.S. that have different color variations. In Colorado the Oregon and pink-sided variety are common. But there may be others such as the slate-colored and white-winged. A good bird ID book should help you to distinguish them. Two good things to look for when recognizing dark-eyed junco’s in general that are found on all varieties are their pale pink beak and roundish body shape. They are also usually darker on the head and back, and lighter on the belly.  

Dark-eyed Juncos stay in most of Montana all year, but they may only be winter birds in the north and east.

Juncos will sometimes visit hanging feeders, but prefer to eat seeds on the ground. You will often see them picking up the spilled seeds on the ground directly under bird feeders. 


21. Chipping Sparrow

Scientific name: Spizella passerina
Length: 4.7-5.9 in
Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz
Wingspan: 8.3 in

Chipping sparrows have their most crisp feathers in the summer, with a buffy gray breast, brown and tan streaked wings, rusty red cap, and a black line through the eye with white above. In winter their markings may appear less defined and their coloring more buffy-brown. They are common sparrows that like to feed on open ground. 

Chipping Sparrows are found throughout Montana only during the spring and summer.

Chipping Sparrows are common at backyard feeders, and often like to remain on the ground picking up what has spilled. Attract them with sunflower and mixed seed, especially scattered on the ground.


22. Brown-headed Cowbird

Image: Patricia Pierce / flickr / CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Molothrus ater
Length: 7.5 – 8.7 in
Weight: 1.5 – 1.8 oz
Wingspan: 12.6 – 15.0 in

Brown-headed cowbirds are often lumped into the “blackbirds” category not only due to the color of the males, but also because they travel in large flocks (sometimes mixed with actual blackbirds) and can mob your feeders. Males have an iridescent black body with dark brown head. Females are an all-over lighter brown.

Unfortunately, cowbirds are “nest parasites” and lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, reducing the other species numbers. Sometimes they sneak in and lay one egg among the others, sometimes they kick other eggs out of the nest to make room for their own. Many birds do not recognize the imposter egg and will raise the chick as their own. 

Cowbirds are found all year in Montana.

Brown-headed cowbirds will readily visit feeders, sometimes in large groups. They will eat just about any type of mixed seed.


23. House Wren

Scientific name: Troglodytes aeon
Length: 4.3-5.1 in
Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
Wingspan: 5.9 in

The house wren is a tiny brown bird with a big voice. They are common throughout the U.S., and are known for nesting in just about any small cavity that they deem is fit, even boots or old cans. If you put up bird houses they will likely at least check it out, if not decide to use it. They are the birds I’ve had nest in my bird houses most frequently. House Wrens are probably zipping around through the shrubs in your yard catching insects, but their drab coloring and small size make them easy to miss. Dark above and light below, their wings and tail have black barring. 

House wrens are found throughout Montana during the spring and summer months.

House wrens eat almost exclusively insects and spiders, so they won’t be visiting a bird feeder. But having insect supporting plants or a bird house in the yard will likely attract them.


24. Northern Flicker

Two Northern Flicker Varieties

Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in

These medium to large sized woodpeckers are quite common in backyards throughout the United States. In my opinion they are also among some of the most colorful birds in North America. Flickers feed mainly on insects and unlike other woodpeckers, often like to find them on the ground rather than trees. Identify them by the black spots on their bellies, solid black bib, barred black and gray wings, and light brown and gray head. Males will have a “mustache” while females do not. 

There are two color varieties in the U.S., the “yellow-shafted” and the “red-shafted” and Montana has both! The main difference is the color underneath the wings and tail, and the color of the mustache on the males. You may even seen something that looks like a combination of both, as they sometimes interbreed and form a hybrid.

Northern Flickers are common throughout Montana all year.

Northern Flickers may not visit feeders as often as other woodpecker species, but they will still come to suet feeders. If you have some leaf piles in the yard, you may see them digging around for bugs. 


25. Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark | image by Larry Lamsa via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Sturnella neglecta
Length: 6.3-10.2 in
Weight: 3.1-4.1 oz
Wingspan: 16.1 in

A breeding adult western meadowlark has heavily streaked wings and back, bright yellow on the chest, throat and face, a bold white eyebrow and a black bib. Immature and non-breeding birds have a much paler yellow and usually lack the black chest patch. They are known for their beautiful “flutelike” song, often sung from perches on fence posts. Typically found in a flock, they feed on insects and seeds in grasslands, meadows and pastures. 

Western meadowlarks can be found in Montana during the spring and summer months only.

If you live near open habitat they may visit your yard for seed. They are more likely to use a platform feeder or feed from the ground. Use hulled sunflower and cracked corn.   


26. Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) | Image by Jacob W. Frank via Yellowstone National Park’s Flickr

Scientific name: Setophaga coronata
Length: 4.7-5.5 in
Weight: 0.4-0.5 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-9.1 in

The color pattern on the yellow-rumped warbler can vary depending on it’s location. In Montana, you are most likely to see the “Audubon’s” variety, which has bright yellow on the throat, rump, and sides. You may even see a dash of yellow on top of their head. Females share the same color pattern, but the colors may appear duller overall and markings less distinct than males. Like most warblers, their colors will be the most crisp and bright in the spring, and fade considerably during the winter. 

Throughout most of Montana these warblers are only seen during spring or fall migration, however along the far western border they may spend all summer. 

Yellow-rumped warblers will occasionally visit bird feeders. Try attracting them with sunflower seeds, suet and raisins.


How to attract birds to your yard

Interested in attracting some of these birds to your backyard? Take a look at these 5 simple tips, starting with the most obvious.

1. Put out bird feeders

The best and most obvious way to attract birds to your yard is to put out a bird feeder or two. I suggest starting with a simple tube feeder, hopper feeder, platform feeder, or a window feeder. See below for suggestions for each. 

2. Add a water source

A pedestal birdbath like this one on Amazon is great, but you can also use something as simple as a terra cotta flower pot saucer, like this one. Birds need water not only to bathe in but also to drink and adding a water feature to your yard will only increase your chances of attracting birds. Also consider adding a solar fountain since moving water will entice the birds to visit the water even more. 

3. Offer birdhouses

Many species of birds will readily take up residence in birdhouses if put out in the right spot at the right time of year. Eastern Bluebirds are among the most common sought after birds to attract to birdhouses. I have this birdhouse in my backyard and a mating pair of bluebirds were checking it out the same day I installed it.  

4. Provide shelter

Make sure that your yard has trees, bushes, and shrubs that the birds can dart back and forth to when they sense danger. This is their main defense from predators. If your yard is perhaps in a new subdivision with no mature trees then do your best to add some landscaping features that will allow birds to look at your yard as safe.

5. Add native plants

For many birds that eat nuts, berries, and seeds, having native plants that produce these things will only aide your efforts to attract more birds. Try to avoid invasive and non-native plants as they can be harmful to native birds who are not used to these plant species. 


10 different types of bird feeders

Here are 10 of the most common bird feeders people set up in their yards. 

  1. Hopper feeder – Hopper feeders get their name because they have a compartment in the middle, the hopper, that holds the bird seed. There are perches on the sides for birds to land on and eat from. Many hopper feeders are in the shape of a house and are covered on top to keep the seed dry. Use black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed for this type of feeder. Here’s one of my favorite hopper feeders, it’s squirrel-proof too. 
  2. Platform feeder – Sometimes called tray feeders, platform feeders are open on top and can usually be hung from a tree or hook, or pole-mounted. They are great for feeding most types of birds and are easy to get set up. Though since they are completely open, every animal in your yard that can reach them will eat from them. Use black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed for this type of feeder. I’m using this platform feeder in my backyard right now. 
  3. Tube feeder – Tube feeders are nothing more than clear plastic tube-shaped bird feeders. They can range in size from holding a few cups of seed to holding 5 lbs or more. They are great because they keep your seed fresh and dry while also allowing you to easily seed when it needs to be refilled. Many types of birds will use a tube feeder. You can use black sunflower seeds and mixed seeds in tube feeders. Squirrel Buster makes some of the best tube feeders on the market, this one is great and is of course squirrel proof. 
  4. Suet feeder – Suet feeders are for one type of bird food, suet cakes. They are a very simple concept, usually made of nothing more than a metal wire cage, sometimes with a tail-prop coming down for larger birds. Suet feeders are popular in the winter time when birds are looking for high-fat foods and are frequently visited by woodpeckers. I suggest getting a suet feeder with a long tail prop so you can attract larger woodpeckers, like the Pileated and Northern Flicker. 
  5. Window feeder – Window feeders are small bird feeders that typically mount right onto a glass window by means of suction cups. They are similar to tray feeders in that they are open on top and you just pour the seed into the tray area to refill them. These feeders are popular with many different types of birds, are super easy to get started with, and great for people who don’t have big yards. Use black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed for this type of feeder. This is by far the most popular window feeder on Amazon, and maybe the most popular bird feeder on Amazon overall. 
  6. Thistle feeder – Thistle feeders, aka Nyjer feeders, are specialized bird feeders made especially for thistle seed. The main types of birds that thistle feeders attract are birds in the finch family, which includes the American Goldfinch and House Finch whom are both on this list. Thistle feeders are often in a tube shape and have tiny holes all along the sides of the tube allowing the birds to pick out the thistle. Here’s a good thistle feeder from Droll Yankees. 
  7. Ground feeder – Ground feeders are more or less tray feeders that sit on ground level. They will be very popular with birds like Mourning Doves and Juncos as well as squirrels, raccoons, and any other type of ground animal. Use black sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed for this type of feeder. You might like this ground feeder made from recycled plastic. 
  8. Oriole feeder – Oriole feeders are another type of specialty feeder for pretty much one type of bird, orioles. The feeder itself is often orange in color and usually has little plastic or glass dishes made for holding jelly, which orioles love. They also allow you to stick orange halves onto the feeder, another food that orioles relish. Here’s a simple oriole feeder with 4 jelly trays that holds for orange halves. 
  9. Hummingbird feeder – Nectar feeders, aka hummingbird feeders, are designed specifically for hummingbirds to extract sugar water. Even though they are designed for hummingbirds, I frequently see Downy Woodpeckers at mine who also loves that sweet nectar. See this article to learn how to make hummingbird nectar without boiling the water. Hummingbird feeders are simple and inexpensive so there’s no need to spend much on one, here’s one that I’ve personally used and had success with. 
  10. Peanut feeder – Similar to thistle feeders, peanut feeders are tube-shaped and usually composed of a metal wire mesh material. Only the holes in the wire mesh are much further apart to allow for either whole unshelled or shelled peanuts to pass through the holes. These feeders attract birds like Blue Jays and as the name suggests, should be filled with peanuts. If you want to keep squirrels out of your peanut feeder, then this one by Squirrel Buster is your best bet. Otherwise this simple one will do the trick. 

Bird watching in Montana

Montana is a wonderful state for birding if you want to go take your hobby outside of your own backyard. The Montana Audubon Society  is always having meetups, workshops, field trips, and birding tours, should you want to get a little more involved.

If you are a Montana resident and would like to add some new species to your life list, then take a look at this list I’ve compiled some popular birding locations in Montana.

Montana birding locations

Learn more about what each of these locations has to offer from birdwatchersdigest.org

You can also check out Montana Audubon’s Important Bird Areas.

About Melanie

Melanie has been a birding hobbyist for years and loves feeding and photographing birds of all types.