Backyard Birds In Wisconsin (26 Species with Pictures)

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Wisconsin is home to many different species of birds. Some of these species live in Wisconsin all year, others are migratory and only spend the summer or winter in the state. In this article, we’re going to take a look at 26 of the most common backyard birds in Wisconsin 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. Lastly, I’ll mention a few birdwatching hotspots in Wisconsin and some great local birding organizations. 

How many different species of wild birds are in Wisconsin?

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 Wisconsin. However, according to the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, as of March 2021 there have been at least 440 species of birds seen in the state of Wisconsin. One source claims there are 2,059 species in North America, another older source says there are just 914. I’m not sure how much I trust these numbers, but they give us a broad idea of the number of species.

For the purposes of this article we are just going to look at some of the species people frequently see in Wisconsin, especially in backyards. 

26 common backyard birds in Wisconsin

Below we’ll look at 26 species of backyard birds in Wisconsin, including some migrants. These obviously aren’t all the species in the state, or even close to it, but they are some of the birds that are most likely to frequent backyards in Wisconsin. Let’s get to it!

1. Northern Cardinal

Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
Length: 8.3-9.1 in
Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in

Northern Cardinals are among the most recognizable and common backyard birds in North America. Males have bright red feathers and a black mask, females have duller colors and are more tawny brown with some reddish coloring. Both males and females are easily recognized by their  crests, which look like mohawks a top their heads, and reddish orange beaks. 

Northern Cardinals are found throughout Wisconsin year-round, but may be more sparse in areas close to Lake Superior.

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


2. 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. 

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.

Cowbirds are found only during the spring and summer in Wisconsin.

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


3. Black-capped Chickadee

Image: Avia5 | pixabay.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 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 Wisconsin. 

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


4. 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 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 another year-round resident to the entire state of Wisconsin. They are common in backyards and at feeders.

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


5. Eastern Bluebird

Scientific name: Sialia sialis
Length: 6.3-8.3 in
Weight: 1.0-1.1 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-12.6 in

True to their name, bluebirds are all blue on top with rusty reddish-orange bellies. Females and males share the same coloration, however the females colors appear much duller and more faded, especially the blue. They are just about the most sought after tenants of birdhouses in the U.S. They are very common in backyards, but not so much at feeders. Put up a birdhouse and try your luck in attracting a mating pair, I was able to with this birdhouse on Amazon. 

Eastern Bluebirds are short-distance migrants in Wisconsin. They can be found year-round in the southern portion of the state, but in the central and northern parts of the state they are typically only found during the spring and summer. To find out more about helping bluebirds in Wisconsin, visit the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin site to learn more.  

Bluebirds don’t typically eat seeds, but can be enticed to visit feeders with mealworms on a tray feeder or in a dish. 


6. White-breasted Nuthatch

Image: pixabay.com

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 Wisconsin.

Nuthatches will visit most seed feeders, offer them mixed seed blends, black sunflower seeds or peanuts. They also enjoy suet and are adept at clinging to suet feeders.


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

American Robins are plentiful in Wisconsin, and in fact are the state bird! Common in backyards, robins are mostly seen hopping around the grass looking for worms and other invertebrates to eat. They often retreat to the woods during the winter, then emerge back to more public places in the spring, giving the illusion that they had flown south for the winter. While they will occasionally visit bird feeders, they do not typically eat seeds. Their bright orange round bellies, yellow beaks, and larger size make them easy to identify. 

Robins live all year throughout the majority of Wisconsin, but in the far north near the border they may only be present during the spring and summer. 

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


8. 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 then not they are seen walking around on the ground beneath hanging bird feeders. Mourning Doves are mostly gray with black spots on top, a pale peachy color below, and pink legs. Males and females look the same.

Mourning Doves remain all year throughout Wisconsin, except for the northwestern corner of the state where they may only be present during 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. Starlings can also be a purple and green iridescent color and in the right light can actually be quite pretty.

Starlings are found in every one of the lower 48 states year-round, Wisconsin 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.


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 they are mostly yellow, or “gold”, with black-tipped wings. Males also have a black cap on top of their heads. In the winter they will molt and lose these flashy colors and have more brown or olive coloring. Many people mistake them for a different species in the winter, that’s how different they look. You can always recognize them any time of year by their black wings with white bars, and their finch-like beaks. 

Goldfinches are found all year throughout Wisconsin.

Goldfinches prefer thistle (nyjer) 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 yet another very common backyard bird within their range. Though they are invasive in the east, they are not universally hated like House Sparrows, and do not cause the problems that the sparrows do. If you attract them, which is fairly easy to do, they may show up in large flocks and mob your feeders. Both sexes are brown with heavy white streaking. Males have red splashed on their head, chest, and back. 

House Finches are common throughout southern Wisconsin, but may be much less populous in the northern half of the state. 

 House Finches love bird feeders, and will eat black sunflower or mixed seed. Like other finches, House Finches will also visit thistle feeders.


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, House 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 as an invasive species. They are mostly brown in color, with some black and brown streaking on their wings and buffy chest. Males often stand out with a black mask and chest. They are overall aggressive towards other birds, especially around nests and birdhouses. 

House Sparrows are common all year throughout Wisconsin.

Like the European Starling, House Sparrows are invasive and pose a threat to native species. They will eat most types of seed. 


13. Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Scientific name: Pheucticus ludovicianus 
Length: 7.1-8.3 in
Weight: 1.4-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 11.4-13.0 in

Rose-breasted grosbeaks spend their winters in Central and South America, so their annual return to the U.S. is exciting for may backyard bird lovers. While females are a streaky brown and white with a bold white eyebrow, males have quite striking colors. They have a black head and back with white wing spots, and a bright red triangle on the chest. Their fat pink beaks can help them break open tough seeds. 

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks migrate back to Wisconsin in the spring and stall until fall.

Red-Breasted Grosbeaks will sometimes visit bird feeders and snack on mixed seeds and sunflower seeds.


14. 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. They 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 migrate to Wisconsin for the spring and summer breeding season, however along the southern border some may stick around all year. 

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


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

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 may be found in southern Wisconsin year round, but only migrate to central and northern Wisconsin during the spring and summer. 

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


16. Hairy Woodpecker

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, aside from the Hairy’s larger size and a few other key features. 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 in my cases the Hairy Woodpecker does not visit bird feeder near as often as Downy’s do. 

Hairy Woodpeckers are found throughout the state of Wisconsin all year.

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


17. 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 with shorter beaks. 

Downy Woodpeckers are found all year throughout the whole state of Wisconsin. 

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


18. 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 only migrate to Wisconsin for the breeding season so look for them in 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.


19. Indigo Bunting

Scientific name: Passerina cyanea
Length: 4.7-5.1 in
Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz
Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in

These beautiful buntings migrate at night, traveling up from their wintering grounds in Mexico and southern Florida. While females are mostly brown with just hints of blue, males are bright blue all over with some black on their wings. This coloring comes from the way their feathers reflect light rather than blue pigment. Look for them in summer singing along the edges of fields and woods. 

Indigo Buntings can be found throughout Wisconsin during the spring and summer.

While not as common at feeders, they will sometimes visit especially if you offer mixed seed and nyjer.


20. 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. They have many different colorations across the United States. In the eastern U.S. the “slate-colored” variety is common. They are dark gray on their head, chest, back, wings and tail. Their belly all the way to the bottom of the tail is white. Females may look similar or appear a buffy brown instead of gray. Two good things to look for when recognizing junco’s are their pale pink beak and roundish body shape.  They are most common in forests and wooded areas where they can often be seen hopping around on the ground. 

Dark-eyed Juncos will typically only be seen in Wisconsin during the winter months, however they may stick around all year in some areas in the far northern part of the state. 

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


21. 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 Wisconsin 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.


22. Baltimore Oriole

Scientific name: Icterus galbula
Length: 6.7-7.5 in
Weight: 1.1-1.4 oz
Wingspan: 9.1-11.8 in

Orioles are fruit eating birds and like dark colored berries and fruits. If your backyard has native fruit-bearing trees and plants you have a good chance of attracting Baltimore Orioles. Males have a dark hood on their entire head, black backs with white stripes on their wings, and bright orange on their breasts and underbodies. They also have an orange rump and some orange tail feathers. Females coloring can vary quite a bit. They may appear a duller yellow-orange with gray wings, or a lighter orange with a brown head and wings. Either way, they lack the super bright orange and dark glossy black of the males. 

Baltimore Orioles are migratory birds that only show up during the breeding season in most of the country, including Wisconsin. So look for them in the spring and summer. 

Orioles love sweet things, put out an oriole feeder and offer them jelly and orange halves to attract them when they’re in town. 


23. Gray Catbird

Scientific name: Dumetella carolinensis
Length: 8.3-9.4 in
Weight: 0.8-2.0 oz
Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in

Catbirds are robin-sized birds with dark slate gray coloring all over, a black cap on top of their head and a long tail. They have a rusty red patch just beneath their tails which often goes unseen. Catbirds love to eat fruit, so attract them with native fruit-bearing trees and bushes. They get the name catbird from their calls that somewhat resemble that of a meowing cat.  

Gray Catbirds are found in Wisconsin, and most of the U.S., in the spring and summer only. 

You may be able to attract catbirds if you offer some fruits, berries, and other sweet things but they prefer to forage on the ground or in bushes for food.


24. Red-eyed Vireo

Scientific name: Vireo olivaceus
Length: 4.7 – 5.1 in
Weight: 0.4 – 0.9 oz
Wingspan: 9.1 – 9.8 in

Red-eyed Vireo’s are one of the most common eastern U.S. summer birds. After spending winters in South America, they travel up to the U.S. for the breeding season. Their backs and tails are a faded olive, with a lighter breast and belly. They have a dark streak through their eye, a white eyebrow, and dark cap. As their name suggests, they have a red eye-ring, although it can be hard to see and their eye appears black when in the shadows.

Despite how common they are, they aren’t often seen unless you are actively looking. This is because they rarely come down from the treetops. Keep an eye on the trees in your yard. I have often seen something moving around high up near the top, and when I grab the binoculars been able to see it’s the Red-eye Vireo. Also, listen for their song and calls, which once you learn to recognize you will probably start to hear everywhere in the summer since these vireos are known for “talking” all day.  

Red-eyed Vireos can be found throughout Wisconsin in the spring and summer. 

Red-eyed Vireos eat mainly insects when they are in the U.S. for the summer and don’t visit bird feeders. But you can attract them to your yard with native deciduous trees and insect supporting vegetation. 


25. 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 extremely 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 Wisconsin you get the “yellow-shafted” variety, and they have bright yellow feathers on the underside of their wings and tail.

Northern Flickers are common all year in Wisconsin.

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. 


26. 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 the state of Wisconsin all year long. 

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


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 Wisconsin

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

If you are a Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin.

Wisconsin birding locations

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

Find even more hotspots with Audubon’s Wisconsin Important Bird Areas, or the great resources listed at the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail site. 

About Melanie

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