Ohio is a Midwestern state with some of the most exciting birding in the country! There are more than 445 birds in Ohio in nearly 45 thousand square miles of woodlands, meadows, wetlands, and farmlands.
To put it mildly, the Buckeye State is a fantastic haven for birds but especially during migration on the Lake Erie shore.
On a good day, hundreds, even thousands of warblers, thrushes, gulls, raptors, and other birds can be seen near Toledo and other key sites!
While the Greater Prairie Chicken and a couple other bird species no longer live in Ohio, there is still plenty to see in the state’s many wildlife areas, reserves, gardens, and backyards.
Other birds have increased in number including Bald Eagles and Northern Mockingbirds! Have you seen a Bald Eagle in Ohio? How about other birds?
Learn how to identify the most commonly seen birds of Ohio below!
On this page
- Most Common Birds of Ohio
- Northern Cardinal
- Blue Jay
- American Robin
- American Goldfinch
- Mourning Dove
- Song Sparrow
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Downy Woodpecker
- American Crow
- Canada Goose
- Red-winged Blackbird
- European Starling
- Tufted Titmouse
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- House Sparrow
- House Finch
- Carolina Wren
- Turkey Vulture
- Carolina Chickadee
- Great Blue Heron
- Common Grackle
- Northern Flicker
- White-eyed Vireo
- Gray Catbird
- Ring-billed Gull
- Black-capped Chickadee
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Eastern Bluebird
- White-throated Sparrow
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Brown-headed Cowbird
- House Wren
- Bald Eagle
- Tree Swallow
- Frequently Asked Questions about Birds of Ohio
Most Common Birds of Ohio
Which are the most expected bird species in Ohio? See the following list of common backyard and wild birds of Ohio! To get the most up to date, accurate list, we based it on the latest data from eBird.
We ordered the birds by abundance, putting the most common ones first and the least common birds last. Even so, all are frequently seen species, even the ones at the bottom of the list.
To help recognize them, we included key information about identification, behavior, and where they live.
Which of these common species have you seen in Ohio? Tell us about those beautiful birds in the comments!
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. It is also a state bird of Ohio since 1933. 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.
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.
Northern Cardinals are one of the most beautiful common birds in much of their range. It’s no wonder seven different states chose it to be their official bird. 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: 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.
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.
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: 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 Ohio also shows white corners in its outer tail feathers.
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.
- 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”.
The American Robin is a common, handsome thrush with dark gray upperparts and brick red and white underparts. It forages for worms and bugs on lawns and other open, grassy spots, and also eats berries. Populations of the American Robin have been estimated at 370,000,000; a number that gives this bird the distinction of being the most numerous landbird in North America.
Scientific name: Spinus tristis
Length: 4.3 to 5.1 inches
Weight: 0.4 to 0.7 ounces
Wingspan: 7.5 to 8.7 inches
Adult male Eastern Goldfinches have black foreheads, black wings with white markings, white patches both above and below the tail, and are bright yellow overall in the spring and early summer. Adult female Eastern Goldfinches are paler yellow underneath and olive above. In the winter, both males and females are unstreaked brown, drab, and have blackish wings with two faint wing bars.
Eastern Goldfinches primarily consume seeds; it’s rare to see them consume anything else. The main types of seeds they eat include thistle, sunflower, grass seeds, and asters.
- Male birds have black foreheads, black wings with white markings, white patches both above and below the tail, and are bright yellow overall in the spring and early summer.
- These birds are smaller than Tufted Titmice.
- The Eastern Goldfinch is a small species of finch. They have short, notched tails, short, conical bills, long wings, and a small head.
Eastern Goldfinches are very acrobatic and active birds. You can commonly see them balancing on thistle seedheads, dandelions, and other plants to pick seeds. Eastern Goldfinches are known to visit bird feeders as long as you offer the right seeds. To encourage these finches to visit your yard, it’s highly recommended that you plant native composite plants like thistles and milkweed.
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.
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.
- 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: Melospiza melodia
Length: 4.7 to 6.7 inches
Weight: 0.4 to 1.9 ounces
Wingspan: 7.1 to 9.4 inches
Song: 2 to 6 phrases that usually start with well-spaced, abrupt notes and finishes with a trill or buzz.
Song Sparrows are streaky brown overall and have thick streaks on their flanks and white chest. When taking a closer look at these birds, we can see that their heads are an attractive mix of slaty gray and warm red-brown. It’s important to note that these shades, as well as the amount of streaking, can vary significantly across their range in North America.
Song Sparrows are found in a wide range of open habitats, including suburbs, tidal marshes, forest edges, arctic grasslands, lake edges, desert scrub, chaparral, and aspen parklands.
- Song Sparrows are streaky brown overall and have thick streaks on their flanks and white chest.
- Their color and amount of streaking can vary significantly in Ohio and across their range in North America.
- These birds are slightly larger than a Chipping Sparrow.
Song Sparrows are one the most familiar sparrows in North America. However, there are 24 recognized subspecies of Song Sparrows. Northern and coastal birds are streakier and darker, while desert and southern birds have duller plumages. These birds regularly visit bird feeders as long as cracked corn, sunflower seeds, or safflower is offered.
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.
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.
- 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: 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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
- 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: Branta canadensis
Length: 29.9 to 43.3 inches
Weight: 105.8 to 317.5 ounces
Wingspan: 50 to 66.9 inches
Song: Canada Geese don’t have a song, but they do produce a variety of calls, including loud honks, hisses, cackles, and barks.
Canada Geese have white cheeks, black heads, white chinstraps, black necks, brown backs, and tan breasts.
Canada Geese live in many different habitats near grain fields, grassy fields, and water. These waterbirds are particularly drawn to lawns because when they’re caring for their young, manicured lawns give them an unobstructed, broad view of any approaching predators, and they can digest grass.
- Look for their white cheeks, white chinstraps, black heads, black necks, brown backs, and tan breasts.
- Male and Female Canadian Geese look identical. The best ways to differentiate the two is by looking at size and behavior.
- Canada Geese are larger than a Mallard.
Thousands of Canada Geese migrate south and north every year. They’re easily recognizable with their long V-shaped formations. However, more and more of these birds are staying put in suburban and urban areas year-round, due to lawn maintenance.
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 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.
- 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: 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.
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.
- 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: Baeolophus bicolor
Length: 6.5 inches
Weight: .75 ounces
Wingspan: 9.75 inches
Song: “peter peter peter”
The Tufted Titmouse is a small, crested, blue-gray bird with a white face. Males and females look the same and have a small black mark above their stubby black beak. They also have pale underparts with peach-orange flanks.
These cute little birds occur in small groups that forage for insects and seeds in parks and woodlands. They move through the trees and use their bills to pick food from leaves, bark, and branches. Tufted Titmouse are also regular visitors to bird feeders.
These small birds nest in woodpecker holes and other cavities in dead trees, and can also use nest boxes.
The Tufted Titmouse occurs in the eastern USA and some parts of southeastern Canada.
- Small, crested blue-gray bird with pale underparts and a white face.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- The Tufted Titmouse is a very vocal bird. It gives constant whistled calls over and over, “peter peter peter“.
The Tufted Titmouse is an easily recognized bird that lives in parks, gardens, and woodlands. It occurs in small flocks, often visits feeders, and needs dead trees or nest boxes to breed. This species lines its nest with mammal hair including fur from Raccoons, Opossums, and other animals.
Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
Length: 5.1 to 5.5 inches
Weight: 0.6 to 1.1 ounces
Wingspan: 7.9 to 10.6 inches
White-breasted Nuthatches have frosty white underparts and faces as well as gray-blue backs. Additionally, under the tail and the lower belly are chestnut brown, and the cap and neck are either black or gray.
White-breasted Nuthatches inhabit mature woods and are most commonly found in coniferous and deciduous forests. You can also find them in open areas with large trees and at woodland edges.
- White-breasted Nuthatches are smaller than a Tufted Titmouse.
- White-breasted Nuthatches have frosty white underparts and faces and gray-blue backs.
- White-breasted Nuthatches can be easily identified by their habit of sneaking up and down tree trunks.
White-breasted Nuthatches are widespread, agile little birds. They visit bird feeders and will readily consume mealworms and meaty, large seeds. White-breasted Nuthatches are known as the “upside down” bird. This is because it’s not uncommon to see them creeping headfirst down the trunk of a tree in search of insects.
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.
House Sparrows usually live near people and occur in most of North America, including Ohio.
- 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.
- 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: 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 Ohio but also forage on the ground, and in bushes and trees.
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.
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: 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.
- Large and familiar duck, male has dark green head, white ring around the neck, and a chestnut breast. Female is mottled buff and brown, and has a dark gray and orange beak.
- 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 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). This 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: Thryothorus ludovicianus
Length: 5.5 inches
Weight: .74 ounces
Wingspan: 7.5 inches
Song: “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle”
The Carolina Wren is a small, reddish-brown and buff bird with a long, sharp, slightly decurved beak. It has a long, narrow, white eyebrow, a white throat, and some white mottling on its face. Males and females are similar and have black barring on their short wings, long tail, and under the tail.
Juveniles are similar but have paler underparts. This animated and vocal little bird forages for bugs in vine tangles and other dense vegetation. It usually occurs in pairs that can easily hide in the dense vegetation they prefer.
The Carolina Wren lives in vegetated gardens, second growth, parks and similar habitats in much of the eastern USA, parts of southern Ontario, and parts of eastern Mexico.
- Small reddish-brown and buff bird with a long beak and long white eyebrow.
- Feeds on arthropods in dense, tangled vegetation.
- Makes a domed cup nest with a side entrance in crevices, tree cavities, and human-made structures.
The Carolina Wren is a vocal species of gardens and second growth. Pairs use their long beaks to catch bugs and insects and aren’t shy about nesting near people. Many of these friendly birds have nested in such places as old shoes, potted plants, and abandoned cars.
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.
- Big, dark raptor with a small red head that soars with long wings held in a “V”.
- Feeds on dead animals.
- 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.
Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis
Length: 4.75 inches
Weight: .37 ounces
Wingspan: 7.5 inches
Song: “see-dee, see-dew”
The Carolina Chickadee is a small, cute, grayish and buff bird with a black cap, black throat, and white face. Males and females look the same and have stubby black beaks, strong, blue-gray legs and feet, and some pale edging on the feathers in their wings and tails.
This small bird mostly feeds on insects and seeds. It finds food by foraging with flocks of other small birds and picking small bugs and other items from bark, foliage, and twigs. Carolina Chickadees often hang upside down from twigs while foraging and are regular visitors to bird feeders.
- The Carolina Chickadee is a small gray and buff bird with a smart black cap, black throat, and white face.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- Carolina Chickadees are vocal birds that make nasal “chick a dee dee dee” calls, and a high-pitched, “see-dee, see-dew”.
The Carolina Chickadee is a small grayish bird with a black cap and throat. They usually occur in small flocks that forage for insects and seeds as they chatter and move through woodlands and park-like habitats. This species uses its excellent memory to recall where it keeps hidden bits of food.
Great Blue Heron
Scientific name: Ardea herodias
Length: 46 inches
Weight: 5.3 pounds
Wingspan: 72 inches
Song: “Grunk! Grunk!”
The Great Blue Heron is a large, gray and pale brown heron with a long neck and legs. It has a strong, yellowish beak, black and white head with a wispy black crest, and rufous thighs.
Both sexes are alike and have pale bellies and black flanks. Juveniles have streaked underparts.
In flight, they make slow, deep flaps with long, broad gray and black wings. In Southern Florida and the Caribbean, Great Blue Herons are all white and sometimes considered a separate species, the “Great White Heron”.
These powerful herons feed on fish and small animals such as rats, snakes, and birds. They wade in and near water, wait, and then quickly catch prey with their sharp beaks.
- Huge gray and pale brown wading bird with a thick, yellowish beak and a wispy crest. In southern Florida, it is all white but still has a crest and a strong yellowish beak.
- Stalks and preys on fish and small animals.
- Builds messy stick nests and breeds in colonies.
The Great Blue Heron occurs on rivers, lakes, and many other wetlands. It stands still for long periods of time while waiting for prey to come within range of its sharp beak but is also, often seen in flight. In some parts of Florida, Great Blue Herons have a gray and brown body and a white neck and head. These birds are known as, “Wurdemann’s Heron”.
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.
- 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..
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: 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.
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.
Northern Flickers are fairly big, tan woodpeckers with gray highlights, a white rump, and black markings. They mostly forage for ants on the ground in open and wooded areas. The red-shafted Northern Flickers in the west used to be considered a separate species from the yellow-shafted flickers of the east. At present, they are considered to be one species because they frequently hybridize with each other.
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.
The Killdeer lives in large parts of Canada, the USA, Mexico and also Ohio.
- 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, also 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: Vireo griseus
Length: 5 inches
Weight: .4 ounces
Wingspan: 7.5 inches
Song: “chick, perk-or-REEoCHICK!”
The White-eyed Vireo is a small, olive and gray bird with yellow spectacles and flanks. Males and females look alike, have a small dark mark in front of their white eyes, and two white wing bars.
Young birds resemble adults but have more gray on the head and can have white spectacles and dark eyes. Like adults and other vireo species, they also have thick, gray beaks with small hooked tips.
This common bird in Ohio feeds on caterpillars and other insects. It finds food by carefully moving through dense vegetation and picking items from foliage and twigs.
White-eyed Vireos breed in scrubby second growth in the eastern USA north to Ohio, and winter in similar habitats from the southeastern USA to northern Central America.
- Small olive and gray bird with yellow spectacles, white eyes, and pale underparts with yellow flanks.
- Forages for insects in scrubby second growth.
- Often sings an excited, “chick, perk-or-REEoCHICK!”.
The White-eyed Vireo is a small, pale bird with white eyes and yellow spectacles. In summer, its song is often heard from scrubby second growth in much of the eastern USA. Both sexes of the White-eyed Vireo sing on wintering grounds, but only males sing on their breeding grounds.
Scientific name: Dumatella carolinensis
Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 1.3 ounces
Wingspan: 11 inches
The Gray Catbird is a slender, gray songbird with a black cap, and chestnut under its tail. Both sexes look alike and have beady, black eyes on a gray face, a longish tail, and a smallish, black beak.
This reclusive bird feeds on insects and berries in thickets and second growth. It forages by moving through dense vegetation and picking food items from leaves and twigs.
The Gray Catbird is often heard before it is seen, and loves to skulk in low thick vegetation. This migrant species spends summers in southern Canada, and in much of the eastern and northern USA. In fall, it migrates to coastal areas in the eastern and southern USA, and Florida south to northern South America.
- Small to medium-sized, slender gray bird with a black cap and chestnut under the tail.
- Feeds on insects and berries in low, dense vegetation.
- The Gray Catbird is quite vocal and often makes a cat-like mewing call, “rheah!”. It also has a melodious, complex song made of jumbled, chattering sounds and phrases.
Gray Catbirds are slender gray songbirds with a black cap and chestnut under the tail. Pairs forage for bugs and berries in dense second growth. Although they don’t mimic as many bird species as their mockingbird relatives, Gray Catbird songs include the sounds of some birds, frogs, and other noises.
Scientific name: Larus delawarensis
Length: 17.5 inches
Weight: 1.1 pound
Wingspan: 48 inches
The Ring-billed Gull is a medium-sized pale gray and white gull with a black ring around its yellowish beak. Males and females look the same and have yellowish legs and feet, pale eyes, and black wing tips with a few white spots.
These gulls have direct, fairly quick flight with leisurely wing beats. Young birds have pink and black bills, a white tail with a black tip, and mottled black and gray wings.
Ring-billed Gulls are scavengers and opportunists that feed on carrion, fish, worms, small animals, grain, and other food items. They usually occur in flocks that roam lakes, rivers, urban areas, and other habitats in search of feeding opportunities.
These gulls also gather in farm fields to feed on grain and worms.
This gull species occurs in many parts of Canada and the USA south to Central America.
- Forages for fish, carrion, and many other food items in wetlands and open habitats.
- Nests on the ground, in colonies.
- Ring-billed Gulls often call. In flight, they often make a high-pitched “kleea” sound. On the ground, displaying birds make a loud, laughing, “KLEE..KLEEE..kleeya,kleeya,kleeya”.
Ring-billed Gulls are pale gray and white, medium-sized gulls with a black ring around their beaks and yellow legs and feet. They are well adapted to living with people and occur around lakes, rivers, and other wetlands, parking lots, garbage dumps, and other places. This gull species is a bold bird that can snatch bits of food from unguarded picnic tables.
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.
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.
- 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. 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: 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.
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.
- 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: Sialia sialis
Length: 6.3 to 8.3 inches
Weight: 1.0 to 1.1 ounces
Wingspan: 9.8 to 12.6 inches
Male Eastern Bluebirds are brick-red or rusty on their breast and throat and are a deep, vivid blue above. How blue these birds look fully depends on the lighting at the time. From a distance, males often look like a dull gray-brown. Female Eastern Bluebirds are a subdued orange-brown on the breast, grayish above, and have bluish wings and tails.
Eastern Bluebirds inhabit open country around trees. However, these locations have sparse ground cover and little understory. These birds primarily consume insects on the ground; some of the prey they consume include beetles, caterpillars, crickets, spiders, and grasshoppers.
- These birds are deep blue above and brick-red or rusty on their breast and throat.
- When Bluebirds are perched, the tips of their wings reach the base of their tail.
- They have short necks, rounded heads, and short, thin bills.
Eastern Bluebirds are common birds that can be found in all parts of North America. They’re usually year-round residents of the southern portions of the country. They’re commonly seen in nesting boxes and old woodpecker holes, up to 50 feet off the ground. You can attract these birds to your yard by offering a smaller birdhouse because they prefer to nest in snug, tight spaces.
Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: .91 ounces
Wingspan: 9 inches
Song: “Ohhh Canada Canada Canada”
The White-throated Sparrow is a chunky, gray and brown sparrow with a white throat, and black and white stripes on its head. It has dark streaks on its back, a gray rump, and a bit of yellow in front of its eyes.
Males and females look the same and have reddish-brown wings with two white wing bars. Young White-throated Sparrows and some adults are duller brown with tan stripes on their heads and a dingy white throat.
White-throated Sparrows forage for seeds and insects on the ground, and also eat fruits in short trees and bushes. They reveal hidden food items by using their feet to scratch and kick away leaves.
These sparrows usually occur in flocks and winter in the eastern and southwestern USA and parts of California.
- Large sparrow with a white throat and bold black and white or tan stripes on its head.
- Scratches leaves on the ground to find seeds and insects. They also eat berries.
- Flocks of White-throated Sparrows often make sharp “tink” calls. They also sing a clear, whistled song, “Ohhh Canada Canada Canada” or, “Ohhh, Cana, Cana, Cana”.
White-throated Sparrows are hefty gray and brown sparrow species with white throats, and black and white or tan stripes on their head. They breed in northern forests and flock together during the winter in various woodland habitats. The yellow pigment in the patches in front of their eyes comes from eating colorful berries during fall and winter.
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.
This raptor lives from Alaska and Canada south to Central America.
- Large, bulky hawk with a broad, reddish tail. Nests in large, bulky nests made of sticks.
- Catches squirrels, rats, pigeons, and many other small animals on the ground.
- 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.
Read next: Hawks in Ohio
Scientific name: Momothrus ater
Length: 7.5 inches
Weight: 1.5 ounces
Wingspan: 12 inches
Song: “qwuipuh see!”
The Brown-headed Cowbird is a smallish blackbird with a short beak and fairly long wings. Males are glossy black with a dark brown head. Female Brown-headed Cowbirds are dark grayish birds with a dark beak, black eyes, and a white throat.
Brown-headed Cowbirds do not build a nest. Instead, females lay eggs in nests of other birds. Host species can be Northern Cardinals, various warblers, vireos, and many other small birds.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is dependent on cattle, horses, and other large grazing mammals but occurs in a wide variety of habitats. It prefers fields, pasture and other open areas, and lives in southern and western Canada, the USA, and much of Mexico.
- Lays eggs in nests of other birds.
- Smallish blackbird with a brown head (males) and rather short beak. Females are dark gray with a white throat.
- Flocks forage for seeds and insects on the ground.
- This species is fairly vocal and often makes a rattling call. Males sing a brief song with bubbly and high-pitched notes, “qwuipuh see!”.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is a smallish blackbird with a short beak and brown head (male), or is gray with a white throat (female). This species flocks together and is very common in pastures and farming areas. Brown-headed Cowbirds have laid their eggs in nests of more than 220 species.
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.
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.
- 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 forage on and near the ground, and frequently call and sing. House Wrens sometimes add spider egg sacs to their nests. When the spiders hatch, they help control mites and other small insects inside the nest.
Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Length: 31 inches
Weight: 9.5 pounds
Wingspan: 80 inches
Song: “pip pipipipip!”
The Bald Eagle is a huge, dark brown raptor with a white head, white tail, and a big yellow beak. Males and females look the same except that females are bigger.
Young birds are dark brown with mottled white and have a mostly dark beak.
The Bald Eagle snatches fish from the surface of lakes, rivers, and other shallow wetlands. It also feeds on carrion and occasionally catches small mammals and birds as big as a Canada Goose.
This big raptor builds a big, bulky stick nest high in a tree in or near wetlands. They often use the same nest year after year.
Bald Eagles occur in a variety of wetland habitats in Alaska, Canada, most of the USA, and in some parts of northern Mexico.
- Although adult Bald Eagles are unmistakable, young birds can be confused with the Golden Eagle. They are best recognized by their mottled plumage, huge beak, and flat, soaring wings.
- Preys on fish, small mammals, ducks and geese, and also eats carrion.
- Bald Eagles make brief, whistled piping calls, “pip pipipipip!”.
The Bald Eagle is a huge raptor with a white head and tail, young birds are dark brown with white mottling. This bird of prey catches fish and aquatic animals and feeds on carrion in many wetland habitats. Persecution and DDT poisoning eliminated Bald Eagles from most of the lower 48 states in the first half of the 20th century. Since then, thanks to legal protection and reintroduction programs, this majestic bird has come back and thrives in most parts of its range.
Scientific name: Tachycineta bicolor
Length: 5.75 inches
Weight: .7 ounces
Wingspan: 14.5 inches
Song: “ree ree reh chipeledup”
The Tree Swallow is a small swallow with metallic green-blue upperparts and white underparts. Males and females look alike and have blackish plumage in front of their eyes, long dark wings, and a dark, slightly forked tail.
Juveniles are grayish-brown above and pale below with a gray wash on their breast.
This swallow species feeds on small insects and often forage in loose flocks. They eat insects by catching them with their open mouth while flying over wetlands and other open habitats.
In winter, they can also eat seeds and bayberries.
This species occurs around ponds, lakes, rivers, and other wetlands. They are summer residents in Alaska, Canada, and most of the northern half of the USA (including Ohio). In fall, they migrate to parts of the southern USA, the Caribbean, and Mexico.
- Small swallow that is dark green-blue above, white below, and has a shallow forked tail.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- A vocal bird, the Tree Swallow makes bubbling sounds in flight and while perched, “ree ree reh chipeledup”.
Tree Swallows are dark green-blue above and white below. They often occur in groups that perch and fly above ponds, lakes, and other wetland habitats. In migration, thousands of Tree Swallows gather in the evening to form huge, swirling flocks before roosting in marsh vegetation.
Frequently Asked Questions about Birds of Ohio
How many bird species are native to Ohio?
447 bird species are native to Ohio.
What is the most common bird in Ohio?
The most common bird in Ohio is the Northern Cardinal. According to eBird, the Northern Cardinal is seen more than any other bird species in Ohio.
What is the largest bird in Ohio?
The Trumpeter Swan is the largest bird in Ohio. It is 60 inches long, has a wingspan of 80 inches, and weighs 23 pounds. Other big birds in Ohio include the similar Mute Swan, and American White Pelican (it has a nine foot wingspan!). The tallest species is the Whooping Crane, a bird with a height of four to five feet.
What is the smallest bird in Ohio?
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the smallest bird in Ohio. This little bird has a length of 3.75 inches.
What is the fastest bird in Ohio?
The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird in Ohio. This falcon is also the fastest bird on the planet and reaches speeds of 200 miles per hour!