The birds of Nebraska are an impressive 467 bird species! In Nebraska, we see huge flocks of migrating Sandhill Cranes and American White Pelicans, lots of grassland birds, Prairie Falcons, and many other species!
There are more birds in Nebraska than most people think! How many birds have you seen in beautiful Nebraska?
Our list showing the common backyard and wild birds of Nebraska will help!
On this page
Most common birds of Nebraska
According to eBird data from 2021 to 2023, these are the 25 most common birds of Nebraska.
To help with identification, we also included information about field marks and behavior (remember that the species on the bottom of the list are common birds too!).
25 Birds that you can see in Nebraska
Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
Length: 10 inches
Weight: 2.7 ounces
Wingspan: 17 inches
Song: “cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer”
The American Robin is a familiar and common thrush that is dark gray above and brick red below. It also has an orange-yellow bill, a blackish head with white markings around the eyes and on the throat, and a white belly.
Both sexes of this thrush species are similar but males are darker above and more reddish on the underparts. Young American Robins have more white marks on their faces and spotting on orange underparts.
In flight, this common thrush in Nebraska also shows white corners in its outer tail feathers.
American Robins forage on the ground for worms, insects, snails, and other small creatures. In winter, these common birds flock together and perch in trees and bushes to eat berries and fruit.
The American Robin makes a cup nest in trees and lives in parks, woodlands, towns, and many other habitats. They reside in Alaska, most of Canada, the USA and in Mexico.
- Fair-sized songbird that is dark gray above, and brick red and white below.
- Forages for worms and bugs on lawns and other open grassy areas, also flocks together to feed on fruiting trees in the winter.
- Makes a cup nest in trees.
- The American Robin is quite vocal and makes a loud, sharp, “yenk!” call and quieter “check,check,check” calls. It also has a lovely cheerful song of caroled phrases, “cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer”.
With an estimated population of 370 million, the American Robin is considered to be the most numerous landbird in North America.
Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
Length: 11 inches
Weight: 3 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
Song: “Nyeah! Nyeah! Nyeah!”
The Blue Jay is a fairly large, crested bird with a straight black bill. Both sexes look alike and are blue above and gray and white below. They also have some small black lines on their faces and a narrow black necklace that goes up to the side of their face and crest.
Blue Jays also have some white markings and black barring in their wings and on their tail. Young birds look like adults but are duller blue.
They make messy cup nests at various heights in a variety of trees.
These social and intelligent birds feed on acorns, nuts, insects, and other small creatures. Like other members of the jay and crow family, they eat the eggs and nestlings of other birds.
The Blue Jay is a common bird of woodlands, forest, and towns east of the Rocky Mountains in the USA and central and southern Canada.
- Crested, fairly large bird with bright blue above and gray below.
- Feeds in trees and at feeders. Eats acorns, nuts, insects and many other food items.
- Makes a messy cup nest of sticks in a tree.
- Very vocal. In flight, Blue Jays often call as they swoop through the trees. They make a variety of sounds and mimic some other birds. Common calls include a nasal and complaining “Nyeah! Nyeah! Nyeah!” and various whistled calls.
The Blue Jay is a common, intelligent, and noisy bird. They make their presence known with their loud calls and can visit feeders. Ironically, when communicating with each other at close quarters, this species makes much softer and quieter calls. It’s almost as if they are talking with each other!
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
Length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 1.6 ounces
Wingspan: 12 inches
Song: “pichew-pichew-pichew, chew,chew,chew,chew,chew”
Northern Cardinals are medium-sized songbirds with a perky crest and big orange-red beak. Males are bright red with a black throat and face, and have dusky red on their back, wings, and tail.
Female Northern Cardinals are grayish-brown and buff with some black on their face and throat. They also have red highlights in their crest, wings, and long, rounded tail.
This species has short, rounded wings and seems to bounce up and down as they move through the air. In flight, Northern Cardinals also make sharp chip notes.
It eats seeds, insects, and some fruit and is a regular visitor to bird feeders. They forage on and near the ground but males sing from a prominent perch.
This beautiful bird occurs in pairs and nests in bushes and low trees. It is common in the eastern and southwestern USA, southern Ontario, and in Mexico.
- Crested bird with a conical orange-red beak and a black face. Males are red, females are grayish-brown and buff.
- Forages for seeds and insects on and near the ground.
- Makes a cup-shaped nest in bushes and low trees.
- Sings a clear, whistled song of repeated notes. They can sound like “cheer, cheer, chew, chew, chew, chew” or a quick “birdee,birdee,birdee,birdee,birdee“. They also make loud, sharp chip notes.
Northern Cardinals are one of the most beautiful common birds in most states, including Nebraska. It’s no wonder seven different states chose it to be their official bird (including Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky). Another fun fact about this species is that female Northern Cardinals also sing. They sing while sitting on the nest and may do so to tell their mates to bring food or warn them about predators.
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
Length: 12 inches
Weight: 4.2 ounces
Wingspan: 18 inches
Song: “hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”
Mourning Doves are medium-sized, grayish-brown doves with long tails. They have small black spots on their wings and a small head with a slender, dark beak.
Males and females also have narrow gray eyerings, a black mark on the face, and pale iridescent gold on the sides of their necks. They look alike except for males having more gray on the head and neck, and more iridescence.
This dove has fairly long wings and swift, direct flight. When flying, it shows black and white in its tail.
The Mourning Dove occurs in woodlands, gardens, on farms, and in urban areas. This common feeder visitor eats seeds and grains. It also forages in open situations, picking food from the ground.
This pleasant dove species can visit a feeder on its own or forage in small flocks. It builds an unkempt stick nest in bushes and trees and is very common throughout the USA, southern Canada, and Mexico.
- Plain brown and gray dove with a long, pointed tail.
- Feeds on seeds at feeders and on the ground in open areas.
- Makes a small, messy nest of sticks in trees.
- Sings a sad and owl-like “hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”.
The Mourning Dove is the common garden dove in most of its range. It often visits feeders and its cooing song is commonly mistake for an owl. This species has a short lifespan with many adults only living for a couple of years or less.
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .98 ounces
Wingspan: 9.5 inches
House Sparrows are small, plump gray and brown birds with conical, finch-like beaks. Males have a gray and rufous head with pale cheeks, and black near their eyes and on their throat.
The rest of their underparts are gray and they have brown, streaked backs with rufous highlights. They also have a white mark in the shoulder of each wing and a grayish rump and tail.
Females are plainer brown and buff, have paler beaks, and buff eyebrows.
House Sparrows feed on seeds, grain, and insects. They are regular visitors to bird feeders and often dominate other smaller species. They also forage on the ground in farmlands, parks, urban areas, and other open situations.
The House Sparrow nests in cavities. When searching for suitable nesting sites, they can kill and remove the eggs and young of smaller species like Eastern Bluebirds.
House Sparrows usually live near people and occur in most of North America, including Nebraska.
- Brown and gray sparrow with a bold pattern on its head.
- Feeds on seeds, grain, and insects at feeders and on the ground in urban areas and farmlands.
- Nests in tree cavities, including nest boxes.
- This species is vocal and often makes short chirping calls. Its song is a friendly series of chirping sounds, “see,chirrup,see,chirrup,see,chirrup”.
In many places, the House Sparrow is the common urban sparrow. It occurs in pairs and small groups that forage on sidewalks, in parking lots, farm fields, and other familiar places. This species is one of the very few birds that has evolved to live with people and digest the same grains that we eat.
Scientific name: Branta canadensis
Length: 35 – 45.2 inches
Weight: 5.29 – 19.8 pounds
Wingspan: 50 – 67 inches
Song: “uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!”
The Canada Goose is a large, grayish-brown bird with a long black neck, and black head with a white throat and cheeks. Males and females look alike and have pale barring, a white belly and undertail, and a short black and white tail.
They have strong direct flight and make deep flaps with long, broad wings.
Canada Geese feed on grass, sedges, and other vegetation, grain, and berries. They forage by walking along and grazing, or picking food from the ground and bushes. This species also feeds by dipping its head below the surface of shallow water.
This large goose uses grass and other plants to make a large, shallow cup nest on a small mound or other elevated spot next to water.
The Canada Goose prefers open grassy areas and farm fields near water where it can feed and see predators before they get too close. They live in Alaska, most of Canada, and most of the USA, being one of the most common birds of Nebraska.
- Big, gray-brown goose with a long black neck, and black and white head.
- Grazes vegetation and forages for berries in wide open, grassy habitats near water like golf courses, parks, and airports.
- Makes a shallow, open cup nest on an elevated spot next to water.
- Vocal and often makes honking calls, “uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!”.
Canada Geese are a large, common goose species with long black necks, and a black and white head. These big birds are a common sight on golf courses and other places that combine open lawns and water. When the Canada Goose and other birds migrate in “V” formation, they expend less energy than flying on their own.
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
European Starlings are plump, short-tailed birds with long sharp beaks and longish, pointed wings. In summer, they have yellow beaks, glossy black plumage with purple and green highlights, and some small white spots.
Males and females are similar but males have less spotting and glossier plumage. In winter, they have black beaks, white spots, and more reddish colors in their wings.
Young starlings are shaped like adults but are grayish birds with a dark beak and a pale throat.
This species feeds on a variety of insects, fruit, and seeds. They can dominate bird feeders and are common species in urban areas, parks, farmlands, and other open habitats.
This European Starling builds a soft cup nest in a tree cavity, nest box, or suitable cavity in other structures.
European Starlings flock with each other and blackbird species, especially during the winter. They live across a large part of Canada and the USA.
- Rotund, short-tailed bird with a long, sharp beak, and pointed wings. Glossy black with some spotting in the summer and blackish with heavy white spotting and streaking in the winter.
- Feeds on seeds, fruit, and insects. Visits feeders and forages on the ground in flocks.
- Builds a soft cup nest in nest boxes and other cavities.
- The European Starling makes a wide variety of mechanical and whistled sounds. They also mimic other birds and sounds in their environment. They sing long, jumbled mechanical-sounding songs, “tiktiktitZHREEree..tiktiktik..ZHREE”.
European Starlings are rounded, blackish birds with long, sharp beaks and short tails. They live in towns, cities, parks, on farms, and in other open habitats. This species forms large flocks called, “murmurations” that move in coordinated patterns.
Scientific name: Carduelis tristis
Length: 5 inches
Weight: .46 ounces
Wingspan: 9 inches
Song: “swit sweet, sipsipsipchichisweetsweet”
The American Goldfinch is a small, sparrow-sized finch with a black and white, slightly forked tail, pale rump, and white undertail. In summer, males are bright lemon yellow with a small black cap, pale beak, and have some white markings on long black wings.
Females and wintering birds have two pale wings bars and have plain gray, buff, and yellowish plumage. This species often occurs in small flocks and has bounding flight.
American Goldfinches feed on seeds. They forage by picking them from grass, thistle, other low plants, Alders, and other trees. Goldfinches are also frequent visitors to bird feeders.
The American Goldfinch uses plant matter and other soft materials to build a small, tightly woven cup nest high in a shrub or a low tree.
American Goldfinches are summer residents in southern Canada, California, and the northern half of the USA, and winter in most of the USA and parts of Mexico.
- Small, bright yellow finch with a black cap, wings and tail (summer male), female and winter males are plain brown, buff, and yellowish birds with two pale wing bars.
- Feeds on seeds in low plants, trees, and at feeders.
- Makes a tightly woven cup nest high in a shrub or low tree.
- Often gives a “per chickory” call in flight and sings a short, trilled song, “swit sweet, sipsipsipchichisweetsweet”.
American Goldfinches are small, common finches that frequent weedy and brushy fields, second growth, parks, and backyards. Outside of the breeding season, they occur in small flocks and often visit feeders. Brown-headed Cowbirds that hatch in American Goldfinch nests die after a few days because they can’t survive on a diet of seeds.
Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 1.8 ounces
Wingspan: 13 inches
The Red-winged Blackbird is a medium-sized blackbird species with a sharp, all black bill. Males also have a scarlet patch with a pale yellow border on the shoulder of each wing.
Female Red-winged Blackbirds are dark, heavily streaked, brownish-gray birds with an orange-buff eyebrow and throat. She can also have a little bit of dingy red on her shoulder.
Red-winged Blackbirds often flock together and can form very large groups in the winter. They feed on seeds, grain, and insects found on lawns, in marshes, farm fields, and other open habitats.
This species builds a cup nest made of leaves and dead stems in a bush or other low vegetation in a marsh, park, or brushy field.
Red-winged Blackbirds are very common birds that live in all sorts of open habitats. We see them in parks, farming areas, and marshes in much of Canada, the USA, Mexico, and parts of the Central America.
- Males are medium-sized blackbirds with a bright red patch on their wings. Females are heavily streaked, have a sharp black beak, and buff on the head.
- Feeds on seeds, grain, and insects on the ground in many open habitats.
- Builds a cup nest in a bush or other low vegetation.
- Red-winged Blackbirds often call. Males sing a loud, “kan-keree!” and both sexes also make “check!” calls and a high-pitched whistle-like sound.
The Red-winged Blackbird is a common, social species easily seen in marshes and open habitats. In the winter, it can form huge flocks that feed in farm fields. This species can make a daily commute of 50 miles to and from roosting and feeding sites.
Scientific name: Dryobates pubescens
Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: .95 ounces
Wingspan: 12 inches
Song: “Pik! Ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch!”
The Downy Woodpecker is a small black and white woodpecker with a short, black beak. They are patterned black and white above and have white backs and white underparts. Both sexes look alike except that males have a small, bright red patch on the top back part of their head.
Young birds look like adults but have a reddish patch on the top of their head. Downy Woodpeckers also have a few small black marks in their white outer tail feathers, and a small white tuft at the base of their beak.
This woodpecker eats insects, other small creatures, seeds, and small fruits. It pecks into live and dead wood and often forages on smaller branches and twigs. These friendly little woodpeckers are also common feeder birds.
They nest in tree cavities and live in gardens and a wide variety of woodlands. We see Downy Woodpeckers in much of Canada and the USA but not in arid habitats.
- Smallest woodpecker in North America. Mostly black and white with a short, black beak.
- Forages on trees, in bushes, and at feeders for insects, seeds, and suet.
- Nests in tree cavities.
- The Downy Woodpecker makes sharp “pik!” calls and also has a trilled call, “Ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch!“.
Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest woodpecker species in North America and usually occur in pairs. They can also forage with other small birds and often visit feeders. This species takes advantage of its size to peck into the stems of weeds and other plants too small for larger woodpeckers to perch on.
Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .67 ounces
Wingspan: 9.25 inches
Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrow-like birds with pale conical bills and dark eyes. This small bird has variable plumage with most being slate gray or gray and brown with white on their bellies, and white under their tails.
Other plumages include birds with dark masks and faint white wing bars, juncos with pale gray hoods and pinkish sides, and birds with blackish hoods and chestnut sides.
In flight, all Dark-eyed Juncos show extensive white in their longish tails.
This species feeds on seeds, insects, and some fruit and grain. Juncos forage on the ground in wooded areas, parks, and other habitats. They also feed on fallen seed beneath feeders.
They build cup nests on the ground under fallen logs, in roots, and other hidden spots. After breeding, juncos form flocks that forage together in similar wooded and semi-open habitats.
Dark-eyed Juncos are common birds in Canada, the USA, and parts of Mexico.
- Sparrow-like gray and brown bird with dark eyes, a pale beak, and white in the tail.
- Forages for seeds and insects on the ground, can feed on seeds at and beneath feeders.
- Builds a cup-shaped nest on the ground in tree roots, under logs, and other hidden places.
- This species often makes a sharp, high-pitched chip note, “pik!”. On breeding grounds, males sing a short, plain trill, “sipsipsipsipsipsipsip”.
Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrow-like, gray and brown birds with much white in the tail. Common wintering birds in many areas, they forage for seeds on the ground in wooded and park-like habitats. In many places, this common species is also known the “Snowbird” on account of only occurring in the winter months and having white on the belly and tail.
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
Length: 6 inches
Weight: .88 ounces
Wingspan: 10 inches
House Finches are sparrow-sized birds with dark, rounded beaks and fairly long wings. Males are orange-red or rose-red on their head, throat and breast, and have some red on their rump. They also have brownish streaks on their back, flanks, and white belly.
Like the male, female House Finches have two white wing bars on long, gray-brown wings. However, they lack red and are mostly streaked, dull brown-gray birds.
House Finches feed on seeds, buds, fruit, and flowers. They often visit feeders in Nebraska but also forage on the ground, and in bushes and trees.
We see these pretty birds in deserts and arid zones, and in parks, farmland, urban areas, and other semi-open habitats.
The House Finch makes a soft cup nest built on a tree, building ledge or other spot with some overhanging cover. They often occur in small groups and live in southern Canada, most of the USA, Mexico, and Hawaii.
- Reddish or plain gray-brown, streaked, sparrow-like bird.
- Eats seeds, flowers, buds, and fruit. Can visit feeders but also forages on the ground and in bushes and trees.
- Makes a soft cup nest in trees, on building ledges, and other places.
- The House Finch often makes a soft, “fidip” call. Males also sing a warbling song from prominent, high perches. It sounds like, “chip,chip,chiprididip,ZREEYachip”.
House Finches are sparrow-like, reddish or brownish, streaked birds. They live in arid zones as well as in parks and urban areas. All of the millions of House Finches that live east of the Rocky Mountains are descendants of birds released on Long Island in 1939.
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 4.6 ounces
Wingspan: 20 inches
Northern Flickers are fairly large, tan and gray woodpeckers with barring on their backs. They have a black mark on their breast, black spotting below, and a dark, stout beak.
Males in the east have a tawny throat and face with a black moustache and small red spot on the back of their heads. Males in the west have mostly gray heads with a red moustache.
Female Northern Flickers look like males but lack the moustache mark.
In bounding flight, they have white rumps and flash color on their underwings. This is bright yellow in eastern birds and reddish in flickers west of the Rocky Mountains.
This woodpecker eats many ants and other insects that it catches on the ground. It forages by flying to the ground, locating anthills, and lapping them up with its long tongue.
Northern Flickers nest in tree cavities and live in wooded and open habitats in Canada, the USA, and Mexico.
- Tan and gray woodpecker with black barring above, black marks below, and a bright, white rump.
- Forages for ants and other insects on the ground.
- Nests in tree cavities.
- A vocal woodpecker, the Northern Flicker often gives loud, “flicka,flicka,flicka” calls, and another loud, single note that sounds like, “Keer!” They also have a long, laughing vocalization of repeated notes, “kick,kick,kik,kik,kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik!”.
Northern Flickers are common within their range, they have even earned the title of being the state bird of Alabama. They mostly forage for ants on the ground in open and wooded areas.
Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
Length: 5.75 inches
Weight: .74 ounces
Wingspan: 11 inches
Song: “wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn”
The White-breasted Nuthatch is a sparrow-sized bird with a longish, sharp, slightly upturned beak and a short black and white tail. It also has long wings, is mostly blue-gray above, and white and gray below with some chestnut on its belly and undertail.
Both sexes look similar and have a white face but males have a black cap and nape. Females have gray on their head and nape.
This small bird forages for insects, nuts, and seeds by creeping along branches and going down trunks, head-first. It uses its beak to pick food items from bark and also visits feeders.
The White-breasted Nuthatch makes a cup nest out of grass and soft bark inside a tree cavity or nest box.
White-breasted Nuthatches live in various wooded habitats in parts of southern Canada, most of the USA, and mountains in Mexico. They are frequent visitors to gardens near woodlands.
- Sparrow-sized, short-tailed songbird that is blue-gray above, mostly white below, and has a longish, slightly upturned beak.
- Creeps on branches and down tree trunks for insects, nuts, and seeds. Also visits feeders.
- Uses grass and soft bark to make a cup nest in a tree cavity or nest box.
- Quite vocal and makes nasal calls “yank yank”, and sings a nasal, laughter-like song, “wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn”.
White-breasted Nuthatches are small blue-gray and white birds with slightly upturned beaks. They creep down trees in many wooded areas and are regular visitors to feeders. This species prefers to forage in flocks with chickadees and titmouse species because they are good at finding food and quick to make alarm calls when they see a predator.
Scientific name: Poecile atricapilla
Length: 5.25 inches
Weight: .39 ounces
Wingspan: 8 inches
Song: “see bee, see bee”
Black-capped Chickadees are small grayish birds with a black cap, black throat, and a stubby black beak. Both sexes look alike and have a white face, white edging to the feathers in their wings, and some buff on their underparts.
These cute little birds feed on caterpillars, insects, spiders, seeds, and fruit. They are regular visitors to feeders but also forage on bark, twigs, and in foliage. When foraging, they often hang upside down from twigs and usually occur in small flocks.
This species makes a small, soft nest out of moss and deer hair. It builds its nest in tree cavities and can also use nest boxes.
Black-capped Chickadees live in a variety of wooded habitats and can also occur in gardens. They are year-round residents in parts of Alaska, Canada, and the northern USA south to Oregon, northern New Mexico, northern Ohio, and the Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina.
- Small, cute, grayish birds with a black cap, white face, and a black throat.
- Forages for insects, spiders, seeds, and fruit in wooded habitats. Also visits feeders.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- This little bird is quite vocal and often says its name, “chick-a-deedeedeedeedee”. They also make other chattering calls and sing a whistled song, “see bee, see bee”.
The Black-capped Chickadee is a small, acrobatic bird with a black cap, white face, and a black throat. It is also a state bird of Massachusetts. They usually forage in flocks with other chickadees and other small birds, and often visit feeders. This species hides dozens of seeds and other bits of food for the winter, and recalls where each of these food items are hidden.
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Length: 23 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Wingspan: 35 inches
Song: “quack, quack”
The Mallard is a fairly large, familiar duck. The male has a metallic green head, yellow bill, narrow white ring around the neck, and chestnut breast. The rest of the bird is pale gray with pale brown, and black on its back and around his tail.
Female Mallards are mottled brown and buff with a dark crown and line through the eyes, and have a dark gray and orange beak.
In flight, both sexes show a green-blue wing patch bordered with white.
Mallards eat a variety of items including insect larvae, snails, other small aquatic creatures, acorns, seeds, and grain. They forage by filtering and picking up food items in and near shallow water, and in farm fields.
This Nebraska duck species makes a shallow nest with sticks and lined with down feathers. It builds its nest on the ground, hidden in grass or under a bush.
The Mallard lives in ponds, marshes, and many wetland habitats in Canada, USA, and Eurasia.
- Feeds on insect larvae, grain, seeds, and other items picked up with its bill in and near shallow water.
- Makes a shallow stick nest hidden in grass or under a bush.
- The female Mallard makes the classic “quack, quack” duck sound. Males make similar but softer sounds and a whistling call.
The Mallard is a fairly large and familiar duck with a dark green head (the male), or is buff and brown with a dark gray and orange beak (the female). Thus duck species often lives near people and occurs on lakes, ponds, and other wetlands. No matter how different they look, most small domestic duck species are descended from wild Mallards.
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
Length: 9.25 inches
Weight: 2.2 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are medium-sized with black and white barring on their back and wings. They have a long beak and pale gray underparts with a small red patch on the belly.
Males have red on the head from the bill to the back of the neck (the nape). Females have an orange-red spot above their bill and red on the back of their head. Both sexes have a mostly white rump and central tail feathers.
This woodpecker species has long wings and “undulating” flight where it moves up and down as it flies. In flight, Red-bellied Woodpeckers show a small white patch in their wings.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker lives in wooded habitats. It eats nuts, seeds, insects, fruit, and can attack nestlings of other species. It also visits bird feeders.
This striking woodpecker occurs in pairs and nests in tree cavities high above the ground. It is common in the eastern USA and parts of southern Ontario.
- Grayish woodpecker with black and white barring above, and red on the top of the head and back of the neck.
- Forages for seeds, nuts, insects and other food on trunks and branches.
- Nests in a tree cavity, high overhead.
- Makes a loud exclamation, “Qwerr!“. It also makes other, briefer and quieter “chug” calls.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common and adaptable birds. As long as big trees are present, we see them in urban areas as well as wilder places. They also visit feeders and have a very long tongue. When extended, it sticks out 2 inches past the tip of its bill!
Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 4 ounces
Wingspan: 17 inches
The Common Grackle is a jay-sized, glossy black bird with pale eyes and a long, wedge-shaped tail. Depending on lighting, this bird shows metallic purple, blue, green, and bronze highlights.
Males and females look very similar but females have shorter tails and less iridescence. Both sexes also have stout, black beaks, and strong, black legs and feet.
In flight, Common Grackles move up and down as they move through the air. They usually flock together and often forage in farm fields, on lawns, and in other open habitats. These omnivores feed on a variety of items including insects, seeds, grain, small animals, garbage, and the eggs and nestlings of other birds.
Common Grackles build bulky stick nests, usually in conifers in woodlands, parks, near water, and urban areas.
This species can form big flocks in the winter and lives in a variety of semi-open and open habitats in eastern Canada and the eastern USA.
- Fairly large, black bird with glossy purple, greenish, bronze, or dark blue highlights. It also has pale eyes and a long, wedge-shaped tail.
- Forages for insects, seeds, and other food on the ground in a variety of open habitats.
- Constructs a bulky cup nest in a conifer.
- Common Grackles are vocal birds. They frequently give raspy, metallic calls, “Sherink!”, and “kek” calls.
The Common Grackle is a common, glossy black bird with pale eyes. It usually occurs in flocks in open and park-like habitats. This species occasionally nests in odd places, including occupied nests of Great Blue Herons and Ospreys!
Scientific name: Streptopelia decaocto
Length: 13 inches
Weight: 7 ounces
Wingspan: 22 inches
Song: “hoo hoo hoowuh hoo WUH hoowuh hoo WUH!”
The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a medium to large, pale tan and gray dove with a black mark on its nape. Males and females look similar, have a slender black beak, and a narrow gray eyering.
Eurasian Collared-Doves have black primaries and white in their tail feathers. These field marks are especially visible in flight.
These doves feed on grain and seeds picked from the ground and they can also visit feeders. In some places, Eurasian Collared-Doves occur in large flocks, especially around farms and grain silos.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove makes messy stick nests in trees and on structures near people. This species is highly adapted to living with and near people and prefers to feed in farm fields, gardens, towns, and other places where they can find grain and seeds.
This Eurasian species was accidentally introduced to North America in the 1970s and 1980s. It now occurs in parts of Alaska and much of Canada and the USA, including Nebraska.
- Fairly large, pale tan and gray dove with black primaries and white in its longish tail.
- Forages for grain and seeds on the ground.
- Makes messy stick nests in gardens, parks, and on farms.
- This dove species often calls and makes a typical dove-like sound, “hoo hoo hoowuh hoo WUH hoowuh hoo WUH!”.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a fair-sized pale tan and gray dove with much white in its longish tail. These birds can probably only survive near people and live in gardens, towns, and on farms. When drinking water, this species uses its beak like a straw.
Scientific name: Charadrius vociferus
Length: 10.5 inches
Weight: 3.3 ounces
Wingspan: 24 inches
Song: “tideer, tideer, tideer, tideer”
The Killdeer is a fair-sized, slender plover that is dark brown above and white below. They have two black bands on their breast, a patterned, black, white, and dark brown face, and a longish, orange tail.
Both sexes look alike and also have a slender, black bill, narrow, red-orange eyerings, and long, pale legs. In flight, we can see a white stripe in each of their long, dark wings, and a black tip on their long, wedge-shaped, orange tail.
Killdeers often fly high overhead in fast, direct flight but we usually see them foraging on the ground. They pick insects, other small creatures, and seeds from the edges of wetlands and other, open grassy areas.
This species lays its camouflaged eggs on the ground, in gravel and open fields. When people and pets approach too close, they give loud calls and pretend to have a broken wing.
The Killdeer lives in large parts of Canada, the USA, Mexico and also Nebraska.
- Fair-sized plover with two black breast bands and a wedge-shaped orange tail with a black tip.
- Picks seeds and small creatures from open ground.
- Lays camouflaged eggs on the ground, in gravel and open fields.
- Very vocal and sounds like it says its name, “tideer, tideer, tideer, tideer”.
The Killdeer is the most common and familiar shorebird in much of its range and occurs in many open habitats. It is the only plover in North America with two black breast bands and has a longish, orange tail with a black tip. To scare cows near their nests, Killdeers fluff themselves to look bigger, raise their tail over their head, and run at the large animal.
Scientific name: Buteo jamaicensis
Length: 19 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Wingspan: 49 inches
The Red-tailed Hawk is a large and chunky raptor with a broad, orange or reddish tail. Males and females look alike although females are larger.
These raptors are dark brown above and are pale below with dark markings on their belly. Young birds are more streaked on their underparts, and have brown tails with dark barring.
Red-tailed Hawks often soar and have long, broad wings that can show pale square patches on the bases of their primaries. While soaring, they watch for squirrels and other small animals that they feed on.
When they spot prey, these big birds drop down to catch it with their talons. This hawk also hunts by watching for prey from a perch.
The Red-tailed Hawk builds a large, bulky, stick nest high in trees. They thrive in a wide variety of habitats but especially in woodlands near fields and other open habitats.
This raptor lives from Alaska and Canada south to Central America.
- Large, bulky hawk with a broad, reddish tail.
- Catches squirrels, rats, pigeons, and many other small animals on the ground.
- Nests in large, bulky nests made of sticks.
- A vocal raptor, Red-tailed Hawks often call in flight. They usually give a “classic” but quiet sounding raptor scream, “Kreeeyahh!”.
Red-tailed Hawks are large dark brown and pale hawks with broad, reddish tails. The most common raptor in many areas, they often perch on powerline poles along roads. The Red-tailed Hawk’s vision is eight times better than a person’s; they can spot a tiny rodent while soaring 100 feet above it.
Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
Length: 17.5 inches
Weight: 1 pound
Wingspan: 39 inches
Song: “Caw! Caw!”
The American Crow is a big, all black bird with a strong, stout bill. In certain lighting, it can have metallic purple and blue iridescence.
Both sexes look the same and have some feathering on their beaks, long, broad wings, and a broad tail.
American Crows have direct flight with strong, steady wing beats. Crows are very social and intelligent birds that are usually seen in flocks. They forage together on the ground or in trees and eat just about anything they can find.
Some of their more regular foods include carrion, fruit, nuts, seeds, insects, and small animals. Like most jays and crow species, they also eat the eggs and nestlings of other bird species.
This species builds bulky stick nests high in trees and lives in most habitats except for high mountains and arid zones.
The American Crow occurs in southern Alaska and much of Canada and the USA.
- Big, all black bird with long, broad wing and a broad tail.
- Forages for carrion, fruit, seeds, insects, and small animals.
- Builds a bulky stick nest high in a tree.
- American Crows are very vocal birds. They can make several calls but their most common one is, “Caw! Caw! Caw!”.
The American Crow is a common, large black bird that frequently calls, “Caw! Caw! Caw!”. It usually occurs in flocks and lives in all sorts of places, even urban zones. These birds are very smart and have funerals or wakes! When a crow dies, other crows mark the occasion by gathering together and loudly calling.
Scientific name: Hirundo rustica
Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: .67 ounces
Wingspan: 15 inches
Barn Swallows are small to medium-sized swallows with long forked tails. They are dark, steel-blue above, peach-orange below, and have rich chestnut on the throat and above their bill. It also has some white in its tail.
Males and females look similar but females are paler and have shorter tails. Young birds are like females but their tails are even shorter.
The Barn Swallow is one of the most common birds in Nebraska. It has long, pointed wings and fast flight. When flying, they often flap their wings a few times between brief glides.
Barn Swallows live in farming areas, meadows, parks, and other open habitats. They feed on insects as they fly through the air. Although they can fly high overhead, Barn Swallows often swoop low over the ground.
This handsome swallow builds a mud nest on the wall of a barn, bridge, or other structure. Barn Swallows live in large areas of Canada, the USA, Mexico, Europe, and Asia.
- Beautiful dark blue and orange swallow with a long, forked tail.
- Forages for insects in flight over fields and other open habitats.
- Constructs a cup nest out of mud in barns and other structures.
- Often makes brief “fwip” calls in flight, and has a long, complex song, “chipchipfitfibitchipfibitfwip”.
The Barn Swallow is a common and easily species in most of its range, and the only swallow with a long, elegant tail. In summer, it is often seen flying low over the ground in open habitats. Barn Swallows are long distance migrants and some fly 5,000 miles, all the way to Argentina!
Scientific name: Troglodytes aedon
Length: 4.75 inches
Weight: .39 ounces
Wingspan: 6 inches
Song: “sipsipsip twee tereesupsupsup”
The House Wren is a small plain, grayish-brown bird with a thin, sharp, slightly downcurved beak. Males and females look alike, have pale throats, and dark barring on their wings, tail, and under the tail.
They feed on insects, spiders, and other small creatures on logs, in thickets, and in foliage. These inquisitive little birds search for food in low vegetation, rocks, and around structures on and near the ground.
These wrens also find food in dead leaves and other tangled vegetation, and aren’t shy about picking bugs from windows or briefly entering houses. They often hold their tails cocked up.
The House Wren nests in tree cavities and nest boxes. Inside the cavity, it makes a platform out of sticks and constructs a small cup nest on top.
House Wrens occur alone or in pairs in gardens, forest edge, and open, wooded areas in much of Canada, the USA, and Central and South America.
- Small, plain grayish-brown bird with a sharp, slightly decurved beak and a pale throat.
- Forages for insects and other small creatures on and near the ground.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- The House Wren is a vocal bird that often makes short raspy calls. They also frequently sing a bright and bubbly song, “sipsipsip twee tereesupsupsup”.
The House Wren is a small, plain gray and brown bird often seen in gardens, parks, and around houses. Pairs
Scientific name: Cathartes aura
Length: 26 inches
Weight: 4 pounds
Wingspan: 67 inches
The Turkey Vulture is a big, dark brownish-black raptor with a small red head and long, broad wings. Males and females look alike and also have a longish tail.
In flight, the way Turkey Vultures soar is one of the best ways to recognize them. They fly with their wings held in a “V” shape and, when gliding, often rock back and forth.
Their flight feathers are also paler than the rest of their wings but they lack the Black Vulture’s white wing patch.
Turkey Vultures are scavengers and most of their diet is carrion. They eat road kill and a wide variety of dead animals. This species forages over every type of habitat and can also fly over urban areas.
It lays two eggs on the ground in caves and hollow logs.
The Turkey Vulture lives in southern Canada and in most of the USA south to southern Argentina.
- Big, dark raptor with a small red head that soars with long wings held in a “V”.
- Feeds on dead animals.
- Nests on the ground in caves and hollow logs in secluded areas.
- Turkey Vultures rarely call and mostly make hissing sounds at their nest.
The Turkey Vulture is commonly seen flying over every type of habitat. They are often seen on their own but can occur in flocks, especially during migration. Unlike most other birds, this species uses its amazing sense of smell to find dead animals.
Birds of Nebraska – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most common bird in Nebraska?
The most common bird in Nebraska is the American Robin. According to the eBird platform and breeding bird data, this familiar species is encountered more than any other bird species in the state.
What bird is Nebraska known for?
The bird that Nebraska is known for is the Sandhill Crane. Each spring, 500,000 of these majestic birds gather on the Platte River!
What kind of bird is in Nebraska with black and white stripes?
The kind of bird in Nebraska with black and white stripes could be a Downy Woodpecker, a male Lark Bunting, or even a Western Meadowlark (That is Nebraska State Bird!). All of these species are common birds of Nebraska and have black and white in their plumage.
What birds stay in Nebraska in winter?
Many birds stay in Nebraska in winter. Some winter Nebraska birds include the Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Flicker, and the Northern Cardinal.
Do Robins stay in Nebraska in winter?
Yes, Robins stay in Nebraska in winter. However, instead of foraging on suburban lawns, they flock together in fields and woodlands.
What is the big white bird in Nebraska?
The big white bird in Nebraska could be an American White Pelican. This huge bird with a nine-foot wingspan is frequently seen in wetland habitats of Nebraska.
What bird is black with red wings in Nebraska?
The black bird with red wings in Nebraska is the Red-winged Blackbird. This species is common in open and wetland habitats.
What bird is bright red in Nebraska?
The bright red bird in Nebraska is a Northern Cardinal. This red bird is a common species in many parts of the state.
What is a blue bird in Nebraska?
A blue bird in Nebraska could be a Blue Jay, Eastern Bluebird, or Mountain Bluebird. All of these species live in Nebraska and have blue plumage.