35 Common Backyard Birds in Indiana | With Photos

Indianapolis is home to a variety of amazing bird species. Around 422 bird species occupy the state year-round. This article lists 35 of the most common avian species you’re likely to see in your backyard in Indianapolis.

List of Backyard Birds in Indiana

From the vibrant indigo bunting to the more subdued mourning dove, these birds exhibit a variety of morphologies. Most of these species feed on seeds and so will be attracted to backyards with bird feeders.

American Robin
Image of an American Robin perched on the ground
Credit: Fox454x

Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius

Like all robins, the American robin boasts a distinctive red-orange breast. Their head, back, wings, and tail are brown-gray in color.

Fruit and berries alongside small invertebrates make up the majority of their diet, which they forage for along the ground. 

American robins nest in a variety of habitats including woodland, farmland, and urban areas. They can be found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Canada to Northern Mexico.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird
Image of a Gray Catbird perched on a branch
Credit: Rhododendrites

Scientific Name: Dumetella carolinensis

The gray catbird bird is almost entirely gray, except under the tail which is black and rufous-brown. 

Food sources include insects and berries which they pick out from tangles of vegetation. 

Gray catbirds are so-called due to the cat-like shriek they can produce. 

Habitats for this bird include open woodlands across North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. 

Blue Jay

Blue Jay
Image of a Blue Jay perched on a branch
Credit: IzzyMPhotography

Scientific Name: Cyanocitta cristata

Blue jays get their name from the dazzling blue feathers that coat their back, wings, and tail. They have a white face and belly and black stripes adorn the wing and tail feathers.

Nuts compromise the bulk of their diet, which they crack open using their strong black beak.  
Distributed from Southern Canada to Northern America, the blue jay resides in woodland edge habitats.

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse
Image of a Tufted Titmouse perched on a branch
Credit: Dick Daniels

Scientific Name: Baeolophus bicolor

Tufted titmice have a slate-gray head, back, wings, and tail. They have a cream-colored belly, with rust-colored patches on either side of their body. These birds get their name from their distinctive spikey head feathers

Invertebrates and arthropods including caterpillars, beetles, and flies make up most of their diet although it is supplemented by seeds, nuts, and berries. 

The tufted titmouse can be found in evergreen and deciduous forests across Northeast America.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal
Image of a Northern Cardinal perched on a branch
Credit: gary_leavens

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Male northern cardinals possess vibrant red feathers and a bill that are contrasted by a black mask. Females, however, have gray-brown feathers instead of red. 

Using their thick, cone-shaped beak, northern cardinals consume seeds, grains, and nuts for which they forage on the ground.

Northern cardinals are distributed throughout the open woodland habitats of Northeast America. 

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker
Image of a Northern Flicker perched in a tree
Credit: Dario

Scientific Name: Colaptes Aratus

Eastern Northern flickers are identified by a red nape, black whisker patches, and yellow feathers on the end of their wings and tail. On the flip side, Western Northern flickers have red whisker patches instead of black, and red tail and flight feathers instead of yellow. They also lack a red nape.

Woodpeckers are famous for using their beak to drill holes into trees. However, this species consumes insects that live on the ground, using their bill to probe into the soil.

Northern flickers are widespread in North America, including Florida where they reside year-round. They reside in open woodland with plenty of soil and vegetation for foraging.

Brown-Headed Cowbird

Brown-Headed Cowbird
Image of a Brown-Headed Cowbird standing on the ground
Credit: Rhododendrites

Scientific Name: Molothrus ater

Male brown-headed cowbirds have black bodies and brown heads. Females are pale brown overall. 

Seeds and crop grains make up the majority of this bird’s diet, alongside insects that they catch as they become stirred up from cattle movement.

Grasslands with scattered trees and shrubs are the main habitats of this bird. Brown-headed cowbirds are native to North America and migrate further South over winter.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Image of a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at a hummingbird feeder
Credit: Paul Harrison

Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris

Ruby-throated hummingbirds exhibit sexual dimorphism. Males have a bright, metallic red throat and white-gray underparts. The rest of their plumage is an iridescent golden green. Females of this species do not possess the characteristic red throat. 

Nectar is the primary food source for these hummingbirds, which they obtain from flowers using their long, slender bill. Small insects that they flycatch or pluck from spider webs supplement their diet.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds live in open habitats such as meadows, backyards, and woodland edges. They breed in Northeast America. 

White-Breasted Nuthatch

White-Breasted Nuthatch
Image of a White-Breasted Nuthatch standing on a feeding table
Credit: DaPuglet

Scientific Name: Sitta carolinensis 

White-breasted nuthatches have an off-white breast as their name suggests. Gray feathers streaked with black cover their back and wings, whilst a cap of black feathers sits on the top of their head.

Nuts including peanuts, hazelnuts, and acorns make up the bulk of this bird’s diet. They wedge nuts into the tree bark or crevices and break them open using their sharp bill to “hatch” the seeds out. 

Mature, deciduous woodlands situated across North America are where the white-breasted nuthatch can be found, although they tend to avoid cooler and arid areas.

House Wren

House Wren
Image of a House Wren perched on a post whilst singing
Credit: Félix Uribe

Scientific Name: Troglodytes aedon

The house wren has entirely brown plumage with dark brown barring across the wings and tail.

Insects and spiders are their main food source, which they glean from foliage.

The house wren has a large geographical range as they are distributed over the majority of the Americas. They also live in a wide variety of habitats, occupying anywhere with a scrub to nest and forage in.

European Starling

European Starling
Image of a European Starling perched on a fence
Credit: Charles J. Sharp

Scientific Name: Sturnus Vulgaris 

The European starling, also called the Common starling, has a plumage that appears black in the shade but when in the sunlight appears iridescent green and purple. White speckles adorn their feathers.

Being ground foragers, they consume mainly insects that they pluck out from the ground. 

The European starling frequents urban environments throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and Eurasia.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove
Image of a Mourning Dove perched on a fence
Credit: Laslovarga

Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura

Mourning doves are pale gray overall and have large, black spots on their wings. 

Seeds are their primary food source, and they consume roughly 71 calories each day. 

Mourning doves frequent open habitats with plenty of scattered trees and vegetation, such as farmlands and forest clearings. They breed across North and South America.

House Finch

House Finch
Image of a male house finch perched on a branch
Credit: fishhawk

Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus

House finches exhibit sexual dimorphism. Females are buff-brown overall with white and brown streaks along the belly. Males on the other hand boast a vibrant red chest and head.

Males get their red color from their diet of berries and fruit, meaning it can range in intensity. These birds are ground forages and are also common visitors to bird feeders.

House finches live in both urban and rural habitats across North America.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch
Image of an American Goldfinch perched on a branch
Credit: Gail Hampshire

Scientific Name: Spinus tristis 

Breeding male American goldfinches boast vibrant yellow plumage, with contrasting black wings and a black forehead. Breeding females are olive-yellow whilst non-breeding individuals have drab brown feathers. 

American goldfinches feed almost exclusively on seeds and favor sunflower seeds. 

This bird is found in weedy, overgrown habitats that provide plenty of food sources. They are abundant throughout much of North America and migrate South.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird
Image of an Eastern Bluebird perched on a shrub
Credit: Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Scientific Name: Sialia sialis 

Eastern bluebirds show sexual dimorphism. Females have a muted orange breast with a gray-blue head, back, wings, and tail. On the other hand, males boast bright blue plumage with a rusty orange breast. 

Eastern bluebirds perch on branches or posts where they scan the ground in search of prey. A mixture of invertebrates, berries, and seeds make up their diet.
Eastern bluebirds frequent open habitats and nest in man-made boxes or old tree holes that have been excavated by previous birds. They have. a geographical range across North and South America.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting
Image of an Indigo Bunting perched on a blade of grass
Credit: Dan Pancamo

Scientific Name: Passerina cyanea

Both sexes of indigo bunting can be easily distinguished as they show sexual dimorphism. Males are almost entirely bright blue, with dark brown wing tips and tail tips. Females however are dull-brown overall with a lighter colored breast.

The indigo bunting consumes insects and seeds which they glean from foliage and low-lying vegetation.

Distributed across Eastern North America, the indigo bunting can be found in brushy and weedy habitats.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat
Image of a Common Yellowthroat perched on a branch
Credit: Rhododendrites

Scientific Name: Geothlypis trichas

Males have green-brown plumage with a bright yellow chest, a black mask, and a white headband. Females on the other hand lack mask and headbands. 

Common yellowthroats forage along the ground, consuming insects they pluck from the low vegetation. 

The common yellowthroats live among scrub vegetation in habitats such as hedgerows and fields. They are distributed across North America, from Canada to Mexico. 

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren
Image of a Carolina Wren standing
Credit: Dan Pancamo

Scientific Name: Thryothorus ludovicianus

Carolina wrens have red-brown upper parts and a tan-colored belly. They have a white throat and eyebrows. 

As they creep among vegetation, they search for fruit and insects to consume. 

Carolina wrens frequent vegetated habitats including woodlands, overgrown farmland, and bushy suburban yards. They are distributed across Eastern America.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole
Image of a Baltimore Oriole perched on a branch
Credit: Laura Gooch

Scientific Name: Icterus galbula 

Male Baltimore orioles have blackheads and back wings decorated with white wing bars. The rest of their plumage is a fiery orange. Females’ plumage is brown-yellow and their wings are brown with white wing bars. 

This bird feeds high up in trees, searching for insects, fruit, and flowers under leaves and along branches. 

Baltimore orioles live high up in forests of deciduous trees and build their nests in forked branches. They breed across East and Central North America.

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee
Image of a Black-Capped Chickadee perched on a branch
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Poecile carolinensis

The black-capped chickadee gets its name from its black cap and throat feathers, which are contrasted by brilliant white cheeks. They have a cream-colored belly and rump and a slate-gray tail and wings.

Being a very social species, they gather in flocks to forage. They consume predominantly insects, which make up around 90% of their diet. 

Black-capped chickadees favor deciduous forests and dense woodlands, but also frequent urban environments. They are distributed across Southeast America.

Purple Finch

Purple Finch
Image of a Purple Finch perched on a branch
Credit: Alan D. Wilson

Scientific Name: Haemorhous purpureus

Male purple finches can be identified by their raspberry red head, breast, and back. Their rump and tail are brown in color. Females, on the other hand, have brown upperparts and a paler belly that is streaked with dark brown.

Purple finches forage amongst foliage and vegetation for seeds, berries, and insects. They live in coniferous or mixed forests and are common visitors to bird feeders in search of sunflower seeds.

Range distribution extends across Canada and Southern America.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker
Image of a Hairy Woodpecker in flight
Credit: Downy Woodpecker

Scientific Name: Picoide svillosus

Hairy woodpeckers are black and white overall. Their wing pattern resembles that of a checkerboard whilst their underside is plain white. Males of this species can be distinguished from the females due to the red cap on the back of their head.

Using their strong, straight bills, these birds excavate and consume insects that live under the tree bark. Hairy woodpecker prey includes ants, beetles, caterpillars, and insect larvae.

Hairy woodpeckers can be spotted in woodlands with large and mature trees across North America. 

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker
Image of a Pileated Woodpecker perched on a fence chain
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Dryocopus pileatus 

Pileated woodpeckers have mainly black plumage that is contrasted by white stripes running along their face and neck. They also have white patches on the underside of their wings. Both sexes possess a triangular, bright red crest. Male pileated woodpeckers also have red stripes on their cheeks.

Carpet ants and other wood-living insects make up their diet. They use their long, chisel-like bill to drill rectangular-shaped holes into trees and extract insects with their barbed tongue. 

Pileated woodpeckers can be found in forests that have plenty of dead yet standing trees. They use their robust bill to drill large holes in trees where they can nest. They are distributed from Canada down to Florida.

Common Black Birds in Indiana

Common Black Birds in Indiana
Image of an American Crow standing on a railing
Credit: Gordon Leggett

Scientific Name: Corvus brachyrhynchos 

The American crow has an entirely black plumage which has a subtle sheen. They also have jet-black eyes, feet, and a bill.

Crows are an intelligent and social species. They have the ability to mimic other animals and even mechanical and man-made objects.

American crows feed on almost anything from fruit to insects to carrion. They are distributed throughout Canada and the United States and frequent both urban and suburban habitats.  

Common Grackle

Common Grackle
Image of a Common Grackle perched on a branch
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Quiscalus quiscula 

Male common grackles have an iridescent blue head and a shiny, bronze-colored body. Females are less glossy and brown overall. 

Foraging in large flocks, they peck at the ground for agricultural grains and seeds. 

Common grackles reside in open habitats across Central and South America and Mexico.

Red-Winged Blackbirds

Red-Winged Blackbirds
Image of a Red-Winged Blackbird perched on a plant stem
Credit: gary_leavens

Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus

As their name suggests, these birds have black feathers with bright red and yellow patches on their wings. Larger, brighter wing spots are correlated with higher mating success. 

Red-winged blackbirds are omnivores and forage for arthropods and seeds. 

Ubiquitous across North America, these birds inhabit wetlands, living in both freshwater and saltwater marshes. 

Common Brown Birds in Indiana

House Sparrow

House Sparrow
Image of a male House Sparrow perched on a table
Credit: Adamo

Scientific Name: Passer domesticus

Males have chestnut-brown wings and back, a gray cap and underparts, and white cheeks. Females are buff-brown overall with gray underparts. 

Being omnivores, these birds feed on a variety of food sources including seeds, crop grains, and insects. 

House sparrows are found in urban and suburban habitats in close vicinity to people, such as in gardens, towns, farms, and parks. They are common across Eurasia, North America, and South America.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow
Image of a chipping sparrow standing on a fence
Credit: Dick Daniels

Scientific Name: Spizella passerine 

Chipping sparrows have a rufous-brown cap and a soot-gray face and belly. Their wings are streaked with light and dark brown feathers. 

Seeds are their main food source which they forage for on the ground or visit backyard feeders. 

Chipping sparrows occupy woodlands that have plenty of grassy openings. They have a wide range of distribution across most of America.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow
Image of a Song Sparrow perched on a fence
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Melospiza melodia

Song sparrows have brown and white streaked plumage. 

Ground foragers consume invertebrates and berries they find in low vegetation. 

Song sparrows frequent a variety of habitats including grasslands, forests, desert scrub, and backyards. They have a wide geographical range extending from Alaska to Mexico. 

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin
Image of a Pine Siskin perched on a branch
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Spinus pinus

Adults are streaky brown overall with a paler belly. They have bright yellow streaks along the edges of their wings and tail. 

Pine seeds are their favorite food, but they will consume a variety of seeds, buds, and also insects. 

Pine siskins nest in open habitats with coniferous and deciduous trees across North America.

Common Birds in Winter Indianapolis

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Image of a Red-Bellied Woodpecker perched on a post
Credit: Mykola Swarnyk

Scientific Name: Melanerpes carolinus 

Red-bellied woodpeckers have cream-colored underparts. Black feathers with contrasting white barring cover their back, wings, and tail. Males have a bright red nape and cap whilst females just show red on the nape.

Using their straight, black beak they chisel into tree bark, from which they extract insects using their long tongue. Seeds, nuts, and fruits supplement their insect-rich diet.

Red-bellied woodpeckers also drill larger cavities into dead trees, which they use as nests. This species can be found across the Eastern United States in woodlands that have lots of dead but upright trees.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Image of a Downy Woodpecker perched on a tree stump
Credit: Wolfgang Wander

Scientific Name: Dryobates pubescens

Downy woodpeckers have white underparts and black and white checkered patterns on their wings and back. Males can be distinguished by the bright red patch on the back of their heads. Feasting primarily on arthropods that live inside wood and trees, they excavate them with their tongue after drilling holes in the bark with their beak. They also eat plant matter and frequently visit bird feeders in search of suet and sunflower seeds.

Downy woodpeckers frequent open woodlands across the United States. They average around 6 inches in length, making them the smallest species of woodpecker in North America.

Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Junco
Image of a Dark-Eyed Junco perched on a branch
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Junco hyemalis

Color pattern for these birds varies regionally. They can be either entirely slate-gray, gray with a chestnut-brown back, brown with a gray head, or brown with a black hood. They have pale pink bills. 

Around 75% of their diet is made up of seeds which they forage for on the ground or visit bird feeders. 

Dark-eyed juncos occupy forest habitats across much of North America.

White-Throated Sparrow

White-Throated Sparrow
Image of a White-Throated Sparrow perched on a branch
Credit: Rhododendrites

Scientific Name: Zonotrichia albicollis 

As their name suggests, they have a prominent white throat. Brown feathers adorned with black streaks coat their back, wings, and tail. Vertical black stripes run along their head and are contrasted by vibrant yellow lores.

White-throated sparrows forage in flocks, feasting seeds and insects they find on the ground. 

White-throated sparrows live in densely vegetated forests across Northeast America and Canada.

FAQ Indiana Backyard Birds

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