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Indiana Birds: 15 Favorites Vacationers Love To See & Record

Last Updated on: June 9, 2024

The Hoosier State boasts many serene attractions, and vast farmlands, not to mention high school and high school basketball. And for such a temperate region with a moderate population, you bet Indiana is a birdwatcher’s paradise. 

Actually…

I find it easy to attract an array of bird species to my yard with just a feeder and bird bath in my backyard. And whilst observing the birds stay calm, I began to wonder just how many species of birds there are in Indiana.

So, I looked them up and was amazed at the results. Thus, you should keep reading as I’ll discuss Indiana’s most common bird species. Likewise, specific Indiana bird identification techniques.

15 Backyard Birds Of Indiana

There are over 413 species of backyard birds in Indiana. However, while you can always spot some species all year-round, the others require you to be vigilant to see them as they’re seasonal. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into some prevalent species of birds in Indiana:

1. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal happens to be the most spotted backyard bird and Indiana’s official bird. It is a relatively large, long-tailed songbird with a short, very thick bill and a prominent crest. You can’t ignore a northern cardinal in your yard with its striking red color.

Color Pattern

The male cardinal species have an overall bright red color, with a reddish bill and black-colored face. This contrasts with the females, who possess a pale brown overall with warm reddish tinges in the wings, tail, and crest. They also have the same face and bill color as the male.

Behavioral Pattern

Male Cardinals are territorial and are pretty hostile when defending their area against Intruders. Due to this, they often fly through glass windows as they usually mistake their reflections for intruders. 

They’re friendly birds and often flock with other bird species.

Size and Shape

These birds are comparatively smaller than American robins. 

Both Sexes
  • Length: 8.3-9.1 in (21-23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz (42-48 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in (25-31 cm)

Habitat

Northern cardinals have an observation frequency of 59%, meaning they are commonly found all year-round in various parts of Indiana. 

Ultimately, you’ll find them easily in backyards, parks, woodlots, and shrubby forest edges. They also nest in dense tangles of shrubs and vines.

Feeding/ Diet

They majorly feed on seeds and fruits. You could offer sunflower seeds, buckwheat, mulberries, and blackberries in your feeder, and you can be sure of attracting a cardinal. You can supplement these with insects like spiders, butterflies, and moths.

2. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Another common backyard birds found in Indiana are the woodpecker species. Northern Flickers are fairly large birds with a slim, rounded head, slightly curved bill, and long flared tail that tapers to a point. 

Color Pattern

Flickers are dark brown all around with a white rump patch that is easily seen during flight. The undersides of the wing and tail feathers differ in color depending on the region. Those found in the east boast of bright yellow. On the other hand, the western birds are red. 

Upon closer inspection, you’ll see the brown plumage is richly patterned with black spots, bars, and crescents.

Behavioral Pattern

They’re ground backyard birds that prefer to perch upright on horizontal branches instead of leaning against their tails on a trunk. They fly in the characteristic undulating pattern of most woodpeckers. Furthermore, the male has a high-pitched musical tone that it uses to attract the females for breeding.

Size and Shape

Northern Flickers are relatively half the size of hairy woodpeckers. The males and females are the same in size.

Both Sexes
  • Length: 11.0-12.2 in (28-31 cm)
  • Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz (110-160 g)
  • Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in (42-51 cm)

Habitat

You can find the Flickers all year-round in Indiana in open habitats such as woodlands, yards, parks, edges, and near trees. You can also find them in mountain forests.

Feeding/ Diet

Like most backyard birds, flickers feed primarily on seeds, nuts, berries, and insects. They can also feed on the larvae of those insects if present. 

3. Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are large crested songbirds with broad, rounded tails. You can quickly tell this bird apart from its characteristic blue and white plumage.

Color Pattern

Jays have a distinctive color pattern of a white chest with a blue back and wings. You can spot a feathery crown on its head, which usually indicates its mood and feelings. This songbird also has a bold black necklace. The wings and tail are barred with black, and it has a bold white wing bar.

Behavioral Pattern

Blue Jays are often regarded as noisy backyard birds due to their loud call sounds. When foraging for food, they store the food in their throat pouch to eat somewhere else. Also, they use their feet to peck the seeds and nuts open when eating.

Size and Shape

Blue Jays are usually smaller than crows. However, they’re bigger than Robins.

Both Sexes
  • Length: 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)
  • Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz (70-100 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in (34-43 cm)

Habitat

These year-round birds have an observation frequency of 45% in Indiana. You can observe them in forest edges, woodlots, towns, cities, and parks.

Feeding/ Diet

Blue Jays are no different from other bird species. Filling your bird feeders with tiny seeds, nuts, berries, worms, and small insects is bound to attract a blue jay to your yard.

4. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove is a medium-sized bird belonging to the Dove family. It has a plump body and long pointed tail, with short legs, a small bill, and a head that looks particularly small compared to the body.

Color Pattern

They have delicate brown to buffy-tan overall coloring, black dots on the wings, and white tips with black borders on the tail feathers.

Behavioral Pattern

Mourning doves are agile fliers that move with powerful wingbeats. Additionally, in the spring and winter, the male and female mate. The male entices the female with a beautiful mating call that sounds like a song. 

Size and Shape

The male and female are relatively identical in size.

Both Sexes
  • Length: 9.1-13.4 in (23-34 cm)
  • Weight: 3.4-6.0 oz (96-170 g)
  • Wingspan: 17.7 in (45 cm)

Habitat

Mourning doves are seen all year-round flapping their wings in Indiana. You can look for them in fields, patches of bare ground, or overhead perches. However, you can hardly see them in deep woods.

Feeding/ Diet

Seeds, nuts, and small insects all make up what a mourning dove feeds on, and it also eats small worms picked from the ground.

5. American Robin

American Robin

American Robins are relatively large songbirds with a large, round body, long legs, and fairly long tail.

Robins are the largest North American thrushes, and they are a reference for comparing other birds’ sizes and shapes.

Color Pattern

American Robins are gray-brown with orange underparts and dark heads. They have a white patch on their undersides, which is better seen during flight, and you can differentiate the females due to their paler heads.

Behavioral Pattern

During the cold seasons, the American Robin flocks together and gathers in a tree to roost or eat. The males attract the females to mate using songs.

Size and Shape

American Robins are the largest North American Thrush.

Both Sexes
  • Length: 7.9-11.0 in (20-28 cm)
  • Weight: 2.7-3.0 oz (77-85 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)

Habitat

With a high observation frequency of backyard birds in Indiana, American Robins are common across parks, yards, golf courses, fields, pastures, tundra, deciduous woodlands, pine forests, and shrublands.

Feeding/ Diet

These birds eat small insects and their larvae, nuts, and berries, and they also eat seeds of small bushes and shrubs.

6. Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse is a small-sized songbird commonly found in North America. One peculiar thing about this bird is the black crest/crown over its head. Consequently, this usually serves as a means of identification for tufted titmouse between other birds.

Color Pattern

The upper body of the Tufted Titmouse is grey, with the belly white-colored. They have rusty flanks all over their upper body as well. The Tufted Titmouse has a black patch on the forehead and a tufted grey crest or crown on its head. The male has a more prominent forehead patch, differentiating it from the similar-sized female species.

Behavioral Pattern

These birds are songbirds boasting of over 20 different variations in their rhythms. Their tunes vary by situation and enable them to produce different songs in such instances. Furthermore, tufted titmice live in tree holes; however, they cannot dig them on their own. 

They use natural cavities and old holes made by the woodpeckers. 

They also forage for food in the company of other birds. When they find large seeds like the sunflower seeds, titmice typically hold the seed with their feet and hammer it open with their beaks.

Size and Shape

Both the male and female tufted titmice are identical in size and shape.

Both Sexes
  • Length: 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (18-26 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-10.2 in (20-26 cm)

Habitat

You can spot a tufted titmouse year-round in Indiana, especially in places like deciduous woods or mixed evergreen woods. They are also common in orchards, parks, and suburban areas.

Feeding/ Diet

A sure way to attract a titmouse to your feeder or yard is to provide insects, seeds, nuts, and berries. Tufted Titmice eat mainly insects in the summer, including caterpillars, beetles, ants, wasps, spiders, and snails. 

7. European Starling

European Starling

European Starling is chunky and blackbird-sized but has short tails and long, slender beaks.

Color Pattern

From afar, starlings look like blackbirds. However, in summer, they are purplish-green iridescent with yellow beaks; in fresh winter, they are brown, covered in bright white spots.

Behavioral Pattern

They’re loud, friendly birds that often migrate in flocks with other bird species. You usually find them high on wires or trees, making a constant stream of rattles, whirrs, and whistles.

Size and Shape

Both Sexes
  • Length: 7.9-9.1 in (20-23 cm)
  • Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz (60-96 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)

Habitat

They are all-year-round backyard birds commonly found near human residents in towns, suburbs, and the countryside. 

Feeding/ Diet

Starlings forage for food from trees and soils. However, occasionally, they visit bird feeders in search of food like small insects, worms, seeds, and berries.

8. House Finch

House Finch

House Finches are small-bodied finches with relatively large beaks and long, flat heads. Their wings are short, with rather long tails.

Color Pattern

The adult male and female house finch differ in color, with the males having a bright red color around the face and upper breast. On the other hand, females sport a grayish-brown plumage.

Behavioral Pattern

Finches are friendly birds that frequently visit human settlements and get their food mainly from bird feeders. However, they sometimes feed on the ground, weed stalks, or trees.

Size and Shape

Both Sexes
  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (16-27 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm)

Habitat

A house finch is common in city parks, backyards, urban centers, farms, and forest edges. 

Feeding/ Diet

The House Finches feed on small worms, insects, seeds, and berries of some small plants.

9. Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadees are approachable, small birds with short necks and large heads, giving them a distinctive spherical body shape. 

Color Pattern

The cheeks of a Carolina Chickadee are a striking white color, with a black head and bib. A soft gray can be found on the back, wings, and tail.

Behavioral Pattern

These backyard birds are social birds that migrate with other bird species during breeding. However, when feeding, they separate themselves. Furthermore, they’re acrobatic and curious.

Size and Shape

Both Sexes
  • Length: 3.9-4.7 in (10-12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (8-12 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9-7.9 in (15-20 cm)

Habitat

Carolina Chickadees are prevalent in most parts of Indiana, including forested areas or urban and suburban yards or parks with large trees.

Feeding/ Diet

They are primarily small insect eaters and feed on the larvae and eggs of such insects. However, they can visit a bird feeder offering suet, seeds, and berries.

10. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpeckers are classified as medium-sized woodpeckers with square heads. The head and Bill are almost the same lengths, and their bills are long, straight, and chisel-like.

Color Pattern

They have contrasting black and white colors. On the black wings, you will find white spots. The head has two white stripes, although, on the male species, there is a red stripe along the back of the head. On the center of the black back of the bird, you will spot a white patch.

Behavioral Pattern

On tree trunks and branches, hairy woodpeckers are mainly hitched there. They also feed at the bases of trees, fallen logs, and even on the ground at times. Similar to other woodpeckers, they fly in an up-and-down pattern.

Size and Shape

Both Sexes
  • Length: 7.1-10.2 in (18-26 cm)
  • Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz (40-95 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in (33-41 cm)

Habitat

Hairy woodpeckers can be found in mature forests. You can also find them in woodlots, suburbs, parks, forest edges, freshly burnt forests, and open woodlands.

Feeding/ Diet

You can attract these backyard birds by offering black oil sunflower seeds, nuts, berries, and small insects.

11. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpeckers are the largest woodpeckers in Indiana, with their long neck and triangular crest that sweeps off the back of the head.

You can easily mistake them for an American crow because of their size.

Color Pattern

Most Pileated Woodpeckers are black-colored, with white stripes on the face and neck. You can see their white underwings in flight, with small white crescents on the upper side. You can also spot their flaming-red crest. The male adults have a red bar on the cheeks, which is absent in the female species.

Behavioral Pattern

Pileated Woodpeckers are regarded as loud birds because of their whinnying calls. They drum on dead trees in a deep rolling pattern with their beaks. They are also known to drill rectangular-shaped holes in rotten woods. These holes enable them to access their meals – carpenter ants and other insects. 

Size and Shape

Pileated Woodpeckers are the most prominent and bulkiest woodpeckers.

Both Sexes
  • Length: 15.8-19.3 in (40-49 cm)
  • Weight: 8.8-12.3 oz (250-350 g)
  • Wingspan: 26.0-29.5 in (66-75 cm)

Habitat

Pileated Woodpeckers make the forest their home, often regarded as forest birds. These forests can be evergreen, deciduous, or mixed. In the west, these forests are often old, while they live in young forests in the east.

Feeding/ Diet

Pileated woodpeckers feed on small insects found in trees. You can also complement this by offering nuts, seeds, and berries.

12. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

These woodpeckers are medium-sized with round heads. The head and Bill are almost the same lengths, and their bills are long, straight, and chisel-like. They are similar in size to the hairy woodpeckers but lack blocky outlines.

Color Pattern

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers are mostly pale all around, which contradicts the name. However, their back is striped boldly with the colors black and white. They have flashing red caps, nape, and white patches near the wingtips. You can observe this while they’re in flight.

Behavioral Pattern

They would hitch along branches and trunks of medium to large trees while picking at the bark surface rather than drilling into it. They also have the characteristic undulating flight pattern similar to other woodpeckers.

Size and Shape

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers are relatively one-third of the Northern Flicker. The males and females are similar in size.

Both Sexes
  • Length: 9.4 in (24 cm)
  • Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz (56-91 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in (33-42 cm)

Habitat

You can easily find a red-bellied woodpecker in places like woodlands and forests. Sometimes, you can find them in your garden feeders.

Feeding/ Diet

Small insects, sunflower seeds, nuts, and berries make up their diet.

13. Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow is a comparatively large and robust bird with a beautiful voice. The head is moderately rounded, with a short, sturdy beak typical of a sparrow. In addition to having broad wings, the tail is long and rounded. 

Color Pattern

Brown Song Sparrows have solid brown stripes on their white chest and sides. Although these hues and the degree of streaking differ significantly across North America, the head is a lovely blend of warm red-brown and slate gray upon closer inspection. The body of a song sparrow is covered with brown feathers marked with black spots.

Behavioral Pattern

When searching for food, these birds dart through dense or low branches and occasionally fly onto open land. They fly in brief, fluttering flights as their tails pump down characteristically. 

Additionally, you can hear the males sing from their spot on exposed small trees. During the breeding season, the females are in charge of laying eggs and sitting on them, whereas the males provide food and security.

Size and Shape

Song Sparrows are smaller than the juncos but bigger than a Chipping sparrow, and the males are bigger than the female species.

Both Sexes
  • Length: 4.7-6.7 in (12-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz (12-53 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in (18-24 cm)

Habitat

Regardless of the season, song sparrows are found all year-round in Indiana. They can be found in almost any open area, including the edges of marshes, overgrown fields, backyards, desert washes, and forests. In residential settings, song sparrows frequently nest and visit bird feeders.

Feeding/ Diet

You can attract a song sparrow to your feeder by offering it worms and small insects, and you can also include the larvae of such insects. Alongside, green seeds and berries of small plants and shrubs can be offered to song sparrows.

14. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are the classical small-sized woodpeckers. They have a straight bill, broad shoulders, and blocky heads, and the male species are small with short snouts.

Color Pattern

A downy woodpecker has a color mixture of black and white. The upper part, colored black, is checkered with white on the wings. At the center of its back, you will spot a white stripe. The tail feathers are white-colored with black spots. You can differentiate the male species from the female by the red patch on the back of the head.

Behavioral Pattern

They are regarded as one of the noisiest woodpeckers, especially during summer and spring. Their small size enables them to move more acrobatically than larger woodpeckers. They hitch around tree limbs and trunks and can also drop quickly on tall weeds to feed on galls.

Size and Shape

These are small-sized woodpeckers, with the male and female having similar sizes.

Both Sexes
  • Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz (21-28 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)

Habitat

Downy Woodpeckers are found all year-round in Indiana in places like open woodlands, particularly among deciduous trees and brushy or weedy edges. You can also find a downy woodpecker near your home, especially if you have a backyard.

Feeding/ Diet

Downy woodpeckers love to eat small-sized insects, worms, seeds, nuts, and berries of the small shrubs. They are attracted to the feeders that offer them suet. These birds do not travel far to forage for food.

15. Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow with a rounded head, a short, stout bill, and a reasonably long, conspicuous tail. You can easily spot them with their prominent white outer tail feathers.

Color Pattern

These snowbirds are usually of different colors depending on the region. In the west, they’re mainly black, white, or brown. On the other hand, in the east, they’re slate-colored. However, they’re generally dark gray or brown birds with pink bills and white outer tail feathers. These feathers occasionally flash open in flight.

Behavioral Pattern

The dark-eyed junco birds are migratory birds that alternate between north and south America depending on the season. During winter, you mostly find them in the south as they search for food and shelter against the North’s cold temperature.

Additionally, they’re birds of the ground. They hop around the bases of trees and shrubs in forests, looking for fallen seeds. With their high-pitched voice, the males can attract the females for breeding.

Size and Shape

Both Sexes
  • Length: 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-30 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in (18-25 cm)

Habitat

The juncos are mainly winter birds found in different parts of Indiana. During winter, you’ll find them in open woodlands, fields, parks, roadsides, and backyards.

Feeding/ Diet

They primarily eat insects and worms. Thus, including these in your feeder would attract a junco to your yard. Furthermore, you can find them eating seeds, nuts, and berries of small plants and trees.


How Do I Attract Blackbirds To My Backyard?

Birders take great delight in welcoming their favorite birds to their homes. In addition to bragging to your friends about having the state bird in your backyard, you can casually shy and rare species closely.

What best way can you tell a woodpecker from a sparrow, if not through close inspection, which can happen right in your backyard. Thus, let’s look at simple ways to attract a backyard bird to your feeder:

1. Grow Tall and Sturdy Trees

Birds need a place to roost, and a tall tree is suitable. A tree allows them to perch while waiting or watching its prey. Although this is rare, they can also build their nests on such trees. If you don’t have a tree in your backyard, you can create a makeshift place that provides them an environment to roost and perch.

2. Provide A Constant Water Supply

Living things need water for survival, and birds are no different. Birds need water for cooling and rehydrating. Thus, if your backyard has a vast water bath, the possibility of attracting a bird is high. Ensure the water bath isn’t close to your home windows and that the water supply is steady. 

However, if you have a natural water source around your home, you might not need to build an artificial source.

3. Offer The Right Feeder & Food to Them

A bird can’t be attracted to your backyard if there is no food available. Most birds feed on seeds, nuts, berries, and small insects, and some birds like hawks even go as far as eating dead smaller animals. To attract your favorite bird species to your yard, ensure you’ve abundant food and suet in your feeder. 

Black oil sunflower seeds, blueberries, mulberries, buckwheat, caterpillars, beetles, ants, wasps, spiders, and snails are a good start.

4. Use Flashy Colors

Birds are attracted to bright, beautiful colors. Thus, if you intend to build a birdhouse, you should have that in mind. Also, due to their ability to see more colors than humans, colorful bird feeders, water pots, or nest cages are a great way to attract a bird to your backyard. Furthermore, remember to keep the surroundings clean and less crowded. 


Identifying Birds In Your Backyard

Luring a bird in your yard can be easy, especially if you follow the tips mentioned above. However, it might be a wasted effort if you don’t know how to identify which you have there.

Most birds have specific characteristics that can be used to identify them. Keeping an eye out for these characteristics is essential. They are as follows:

1. Physical Appearance

You can identify the particular bird species or family you have there by looking at its color, beak shape, presence of hairs on the head, tail feather color, and plumage color. To make an accurate guess, all you need to do is carefully study these features.

2. Shape and Size

Depending on the family and species, birds can range from small to huge. It’s interesting to note that even birds from the same families can vary in size. Often, spotting a fairly large bird perched on your rooftop may indicate that you have a raptor there, as raptors are typically enormous birds.

3. Behavior

You can identify the sort of bird you have by observing the different behaviors that birds display. Some birds also congregate in individuals, pairs, or groups, and their vocalizations can occasionally serve as another helpful cue. For instance, seeing a bird drill holes into your yard tree would indicate that you’ve seen a woodpecker.

4. Seasons

A bird’s family or species can be determined by the seasons in which it was observed. For instance, some birds prefer to flock during the summer and seek shelter during the winter, or vice versa. However, some bird species are year-round residents. 


Watch This!


Frequently Asked Questions

What Sparrows Live In Indiana?

The state of Indiana is home to several different species of sparrow birds. However, the most prevalent is the Song Sparrow and House Sparrow, which live in moist, shady, and open regions.

What Is Indiana’s State Bird?

The official bird of Indiana is the Northern Cardinal. Additionally, Indiana designated the visually-stunning Northern Cardinal, with its striking red plumage, as its state bird in 1993.

How Many Types Of Backyard Birds Are In Indiana?

Despite the fact that there are thousands of different bird species in the world, 413 bird species have been observed to call Indiana home. While some are year-round, others are only present during certain seasons.

In the article, I discussed a handful of the most prevalent birds in Indiana out of these 413 species.


Conclusion

Bird watching has always been an intriguing pastime for most birders. Observing their behavior and listening to their vocalizations while trying to distinguish each species is exciting.

You can go on forest hiking, visit parks, woodlands, or even swampy areas, and you would see thousands of birds flying in the sky. You can also attract them to your backyard for a closer view—using the tips above would be a great start.

Nonetheless, which Indiana bird species have you seen before and where? And if you haven’t been observant, I guess it’s time you start!

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