26 Backyard Birds In South Dakota (with Pictures)

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South Dakota is home to a variety of wild birds. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the most recognizable and well-known birds in South Dakota, especially those that can be found close to home. Some of these species live in South Dakota all year long, others are only part-time residents. So let’s take a look at 26 backyard birds in South Dakota 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 birdwatching hotspots and birding organizations in South Dakota. 

How many different species of wild birds are in South Dakota?

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 South Dakota. However, according to Wikipedia, there are about 438 species included on the official state 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 do give us a rough idea of the number of species. There can be a big difference between a bird that accidentally wanders into a location versus a bird that regularly visits a location. 

For the purposes of this article we are just going to look at some of our favorite, common backyard species found in South Dakota. 

26 backyard birds in South Dakota

Below we’ll look at 26 species of backyard birds in South Dakota, 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 South Dakota backyard birds, many of which you can see at your bird feeders. Let’s get to it!

1. 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 South Dakota during the spring-summer season only.

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.


2. 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

Black-capped chickadees are tiny 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.  

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.

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 South Dakota. 

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


3. Blue Jay

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 white feathers on their chest and belly. Their wings and tail have black stripes. They also have a black ring around their necks that looks like a necklace. They have several loud, metallic sounding calls, and will often be among the first to alert all the birds in the area of a predator such as a hawk.

Blue Jays are a year-round resident to the entire state of South Dakota. 

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


4. Song Sparrow

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

Song Sparrows are very common throughout most of North America and their plumage can vary from region to region. In the east, these sparrows are mostly brown on the back and wings, with heavy brown streaks on their chest and a white belly. The streaks on their chest often converge in a noticeable brown spot, which can help with identification. The male of the species uses his song to attract females as well as to defend his territory. 

Song Sparrows can be found throughout South Dakota. In the southwest they may only be winter visitors, whereas in eastern parts of the state they may show up in summer or stay year-round.

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


5. House Finch

Pictured: Male (left) and Female (right) 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, but their numbers can be spotty in the middle, including South Dakota. 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 year round residents to some parts of the state, and their numbers are expected to grow and spread across more of the state in the future.

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. 


6. 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 can be found year-round in South Dakota. 

American robins do not often visit bird feeders, so attract them with meal worms, native fruit-bearing plants, or a bird bath. 


7. Mourning Dove

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 than not they are seen walking around on the ground. Mourning doves are mostly gray with black spots on top, a pale peachy color below, and pink legs.

Mourning doves are found throughout the state during the spring and summer breeding season only, but they may stick around all year along the southern border.

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.


8. 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. Starlings can also be a purple and green iridescent color and in the right light can actually be quite pretty.

Unfortunately this invasive species is found in every one of the lower 48 states year-round, South Dakota included. 

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


9. 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 they are mostly yellow, or “gold”, with black-tipped wings and males have a black cap on top of their heads. During winter they will molt and their bright yellow fades out to a more dull brownish or olive tone. You can always recognize them any time of year by the black on their wings, and their finch-like beaks. 

Goldfinches are only spring and summer visitors to South Dakota, except the far southeast corner where they may stay all year. 

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


10. White-breasted Nuthatch

Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
Length: 5.1-5.5 in
Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 in

White-breasted nuthatches are very common feeder birds found in most backyards within their range. Nuthatches get their name from the fact that they stuff nuts and seeds under tree bark, then use their sharp beaks to hatch the seed from the shell. These birds also have the ability to walk vertically on trees better than many other types of birds. White-breasted nuthatches have a thick black stripe on top of their heads, with white on either side and on their bellies. Their wings are mostly gray and black.  

White-breasted nuthatches are found year-round throughout South Dakota.

Nuthatches will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends, black sunflower seeds, peanuts, or suet. They usually like to grab and run, taking a seed and immediately flying off to eat it or cache it in a nearby tree.


11. 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 look 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 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. They are overall aggressive towards other birds, especially around nests and bird houses. 

House Sparrows are found throughout South Dakota all year.

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


12. 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 all year throughout most of South Dakota, however they may only be present in the spring and summer in the northwestern corner of the state.

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


13. 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 during the spring and summer throughout South Dakota.  

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


14. Dark-eyed Junco

Image: Paul Hurtado / Flickr/ CC BY 2.0

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

Juncos are often thought of by people in the U.S as winter birds, since they spend their summers up in Canada. There are multiple sub-species across the U.S. that have slightly different color variations.  Two good things to look for when recognizing dark-eyed junco’s 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.  They are most common in forests and wooded areas where they can often be seen hopping around on the ground. 

Dark-eyed Juncos are only found in South Dakota during the fall and winter.

Juncos will sometimes perch on feeders, but typically prefer to eat the seed from the ground underneath your feeders that other other birds are dropping. They like mixed seeds.

 


15. 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, who is also listed here, Downy’s are smaller. 

Downy Woodpeckers are found all year throughout South Dakota. 

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


16. Common Grackle

Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Length: 11.0-13.4 in
Weight: 2.6-5.0 oz
Wingspan: 14.2-18.1 in

Though they fall into the bully bird category like the starling does, grackles are also quite pretty in the right light with their iridescent feathers. They often appear black in color, but in the right light you can see hues of blue, green, brown and purple. Grackles sometimes will roost with other types of blackbirds, and appear in massive flocks numbering in the millions of birds. They are easy to identify by their solid coloring, long narrow body and tail, and yellow ringed eye.

Grackles come to South Dakota during the spring and summer months only, however some may stay year-round in the southeastern corner of the state.

Grackles are foragers and will eat just about anything, they are often thought of as pests. 


17. Barn Swallow

Image: popo.uw23 (flickr)

Scientific name: Hirundo rustica
Length: 5.9-7.5 in
Weight: 0.6-0.7 oz
Wingspan: 11.4-12.6 in

Barn swallows, birds of the open field. These beautifully colored birds have a dark blue back, orange between the eyes and on the throat. Their breast and belly can be anything from a light tawny color to a bright orange. One of their trademarks is their long, deeply forked tail. They are very agile fliers that cruise and swoop over water, fields, farms and meadow catching insects in the air. They use a combination of mud and grass to create cup-shaped nests, which are often found in the eaves of barns, gazebos, covered pavilions and under bridges. 

Barn swallows migrate to the U.S. to breed, and you can find them throughout South Dakota during the spring and summer.

Since barn swallows eat flying insects, they won’t visit a bird feeder. You can try to attract them by putting up a nestbox, or providing access if you have a barn, outbuilding or gazebo.


18. 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 South Dakota during the spring and summer breeding season.

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. 


19. Northern Flicker

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, though not as common at feeders. 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, red patch on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings. Males have a black “mustache”. In South Dakota you get the “yellow-shafted” variety, and they have bright yellow feathers on the underside of their wings and tail.

Northern Flickers can be found in South Dakota year-round.

Northern Flickers occasionally visit a suet feeder, but more often than not they find their own food. They will however visit a bird bath if you have one out. 


20. Hairy Woodpecker

Image: insitedesigns | pixabay.com

Scientific name: Leuconotopicus villosus
Length: 7.1-10.2 in
Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in

There’s not much to differentiate hairy woodpeckers from downy woodpeckers. Hairy’s are larger, have a longer beak relative to their head, and a few other subtle differences. They both have very similar markings and are almost always found in the same places of the country as each other. I have found though that the hairy woodpecker does not visit bird feeders as often as Downy’s do. 

Hairy Woodpeckers are found throughout the state of South Dakota all year.

While not as common as Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers will visit suet and seed feeders.


21. 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 South Dakota 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.


22. American Crow

Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
Length: 15.8-20.9 in
Weight: 11.2-21.9 oz
Wingspan: 33.5-39.4 in

American Crows are solid black in color, and quite large in size. They are also know for being highly intelligent problem solvers, like their cousin the raven. Crows will roost higher up in the tree tops in large groups where they can get a birds eye view of everything below. If an owl or a hawk shows up, the roost will call out and let everyone known that there is danger nearby. 

Crows are found throughout South Dakota all year.

American Crows are omnivorous and generally do not visit bird feeders, they are much too large.


23. Yellow Warbler

Imag: 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.

Yellow warblers can be found throughout South Dakota 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.


24. 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 during the fall and winter months in South Dakota, but their population often “follows the food” and may appear more or less abundant year to year depending on availability of conifer seeds.

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


25. Ring-necked Pheasant

Pictured male (right), female (left) and baby. Image: popo.uw23 / flickr

Scientific name: Phasianus colchicus
Length: 19.7-27.6 in
Weight: 17.6-105.8 oz
Wingspan: 22.1-33.9 in

Despite their large size, these pheasants can be hard to find hidden in the tall grass of open fields. Look for them running from field to field, or along the weedy edges of dirt roads. Their powerful muscles allow them to escape predators in a hurry, jumping straight up or running almost 40 mph. All brown females blend in perfectly with their surroundings, while males sport bright splashes of color on their iridescent and red head. 

The ring-necked pheasant can be found year-round throughout South Dakota.

Ring-necked pheasants do sometimes visit backyards, especially if you live near a field. They prefer to eat seed from the ground beneath a feeder or may use a large platform feeder. Offer cracked corn and sunflower seeds. 


26. 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 South Dakota 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.


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. Not only that, but native plants foster caterpillars and other insects that feed many birds and support nesting birds since most songbirds feed insects to their hatchlings. Try to avoid invasive and non-native plants that can out-compete the native plants that foster a healthy ecosystem. 


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 South Dakota

South Dakota has plenty of options if you want to take the hobby outside of your own backyard. Audubon Dakota has many local chapters with meetups, workshops, field trips, and birding tours, should you want to get a little more involved. 

If you are a South Dakota 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 South Dakota.

South Dakota birding locations

Learn more about what each of these locations has to offer (and local birding events) from birdwatchersdigest.org

Find even more hotspots with Audubon South Dakota Important Bird Areas.

About Melanie

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