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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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