Missouri backyard birds

Missouri Backyard Birds: 15 Common Species in the Show-Me State

If you live in the Show-Me State, you’re in for some exciting birdwatching. Between its brilliant location and its diversity of greenery, Missouri is quite the heaven for birdwatchers. It’s home to more than 435 bird species, a lot of which are backyard birds.

If you’re putting up a bird feeder and waiting for the feathery fellows to visit, you might as well know what to expect. You can get all kinds of birds there, starting from European Starlings and all the way to tiny chickadees. Here are the most common Missouri backyard birds.

The 15 Most Common Missouri Backyard Birds

Missouri hosts backyard birds of all kinds. You may run into a Northern cardinal, a tufted titmouse, or even a white-throated sparrow if you’re lucky enough. Here are the most common birds you may find and how to identify them.

1. Dark-Eyed Junco

perched dark eyed junco

In the winter, you may see a lot of dark-eyed juncos in your backyard. They stay in the state for the whole year, but their numbers get higher in the winter. Plus, they only come out of their mountain forests and natural habitats when the weather gets cold.

These birds are small with round, stocky bodies. Their necks are nearly invisible, and their heads are as round as their bellies. As for their tails, they’re taller than average for their size.

You can identify dark-eyed juncos because of their dusty gray color. Not a lot of backyard birds share the same coloration. On top of that, some of these fellas have black hoods surrounding their heads, making them even easier to identify.

Top Tip: If you want to attract juncos to your feeder, you may provide some seeds on a tray feeder or scatter them around.

2. Mourning Dove

mourning dove close up

Mourning doves are among the most common backyard birds in all of the states. They’re larger than blue jays and American robins, and they have tan bodies with black spots on their lower wings.

Mourning doves also have round, plump bodies that help you identify them at first glance. Their legs are short, but their tails are long.

These birds mostly stay around woods and farmlands, and they spend most of their time perching on telephone wires. They’re called ‘mourning’ doves because their song sounds like they’re mourning someone.

You can lay out some seeds in your feeder, and mourning doves will surely make an appearance. They especially love black oil sunflower seeds.

3. Black-Capped Chickadee

black capped chickadee flying

Black-capped chickadees are smaller than most birds on this list; they’re only a tad larger than hummingbirds. Their bodies are a blend of black, gray, and white. The bib and back of their heads are black, while their wings are gray. The rest of their bodies are tainted white.

These small birds mostly perch on trees, jumping from one twig to another in their insect-chasing ordeal. They commonly stay in large flocks consisting of a diversity of species, including woodpeckers and nuthatches.

Author Note: Black-capped chickadees come to backyard feeders looking for dried fruits, seeds, and insects. They’ll eat from all kinds of feeders, thanks to their small size.

4. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpeckers have tricky names because their bellies are actually white. The only red part in their bodies is their heads, but they gained the name because their bellies blush a deep red color.

These woodpeckers are larger than your average backyard bird, but they still like to visit occasionally, looking for some feeds. They’re larger than blue jays but slimmer than mourning doves. You’ll mostly find them clinging to trunks using their legs.

You can find red-bellied woodpeckers almost anywhere, all the way from oak woodlands to your own lawn. They feed on nuts, insects, and seeds, so it won’t be a hassle to attract them.

5. American Goldfinch

american goldfinch on tree

American goldfinches are bright yellow, so you’ll notice them in an instant when they hop on your backyard feeder. Their bodies are also relatively small, so you’ll probably only see balls of yellow feathers flying around. They’re only a tad larger than hummingbirds.

The females aren’t as bright as the males; their color is more olive than yellow. So don’t get alarmed if you notice a bird with a dull color; these birds’ colors may also vary between summer and winter. Their colors get a bit paler in the cold months.

American goldfinches mainly feed on thistle and weed seeds. They prefer tube feeders, but they’ll eat from any feeder you have in your backyard.

6. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

The northern cardinal isn’t only famous in Missouri, but its numbers are abundant all around the US. You probably already saw it at least once in your lifetime if you’ve been living in the US for a long time.

The red bird is pretty easy to identify because it’s, well, red! Other than its bright color, its size is small, and its body is a bit rounded, making it stand out in the crowd. You may identify it because of its crest and tall tail. Compared to the bird’s body, the tail is quite tall.

If the bird’s whole body is red, it’s a male. Northern cardinal females lean more towards grey, but they have specks of red all over their bodies. Generally, female birds are almost always paler than male ones.

If you’re wondering what food to offer northern cardinals, they will kill for seeds, especially sunflower seeds.

7. Blue Jay

Country scene of a Blue Jay sitting perched on a Halloween pumpkin

Like northern cardinals, blue jays are common in most of the states, especially in the eastern half. They’re also easily identifiable because of their blue bodies.

Blue jays have crests and long legs, and their tails are tall and adorned by black lines. They have white collars and bellies, and there’s a black line running across their necks and up to their crests. Some birds may also have white patches on their wings.

Blue jays aren’t the nicest in the crowd, so keep in mind that they may scare away smaller birds.

Other than that, they don’t do much harm, and they visit backyard feeders whenever they can. They’ll eat any seeds you leave for them.

8. Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse bird perched

Tufted titmice look exactly the same as chickadees, but you can identify them because of the crests that chickadees lack. They’re also a tad larger, but I doubt you’ll notice that from afar.

Titmouses have round bodies and long tails, and their bills are too short for their good. They’re supposedly blue, but the color leans more towards grey. You’ll only notice the blue hue if you get too close, and the females don’t have a hint of blue in their bodies, donning grey bodies instead.

Author Note: These tiny birds feed on seeds and insects, so it’s easy to attract them to your feeder by laying some suet or sunflower seeds.

9. Downy Woodpecker

downy woodpecker close up

Red-bellied woodpeckers aren’t the only common woodpeckers in Missouri. Downy woodpeckers are abundant in the state as well, and they may visit your feeder if you’re lucky.

These fellas have short tails and large heads, and their bodies can be described as stocky. They’re mostly black and white, but they don a red edge on their crests.

You can find downy woodpeckers near water streams and in deciduous forests. They’ll mostly be on tree trunks or twigs, poking holes through the wood.

If you want to attract downies to your feeder, you can provide some seeds, insects, and fruits.

10. Carolina Wren

Carolina Wrens are pretty common backyard birds in Missouri, and they stay in the state for the whole year. They’re fairly small, and their colors are a bit similar to American Robins, so you may find some hardship identifying them.

That said, robins are straight-out orange, while Carolina wrens are rusty brown and beige. They have round bodies, and their tails are flipped back and long.

Wrens are too loud for their own good; you won’t believe that call is coming out from this size. If you want them to visit your lawn, you can provide some insects and suet, and they’ll come along. You can also drop the seeds on the ground if you notice they’re shying away from the feeder.

11. American Robin

american robin perched

Robins are all-year residents in Missouri, so you can expect to see a lot of them on your feeder. They’re about the same size as blue jays, and they have plump round bodies. Their color is a deep orange, and their wings and heads are leaning more towards gray-brown.

These birds are primarily found in open woodlands and parks, but they also love visiting backyard feeders. They’ll land on any lawn looking for food, particularly worms and insects in the ground. Of course, I doubt you’ll be offering any worms in your feeder, so you can put some dried fruits and small berries instead.

12. Eastern Bluebird

eastern blue bird flying

Eastern bluebirds are best known for their unique coloration. Their bodies are a beautiful blend of white, peachy, and blue. They have blue heads and wings, white underbellies, and peachy chests. You’ll identify them in an instant, thanks to their distinct colors.

These birds look like house finches, but their bodies are larger. They have short tails and flat wings, and their bills are slim and straight. Their numbers are on the rise in Missouri, so attracting them to your feeder shouldn’t be much of a hassle.

The males have blue bodies, while the females are more on the grey side. They feed on insects and fruits, and they may feed on mealworms if you provide them in the feeder.

13. European Starling

three european starlings

The European starling is no doubt the prettiest backyard bird on this list, and probably in all Missouri. Its body dons iridescent feathers that may appear purple, black, or blue, depending on which angle you look at. Under the sunlight, European starlings are a sight to see with their glowy feathers and changing colors.

These birds are easy to identify up close, but from far away, they may look black and similar to American crows. You can identify them because of their large heads and sharp bills.

European starlings are known to bully smaller backyard birds, so you may need to keep an eye out for them. They primarily feed on insects, but they’ll do with seeds as well.

Top Tip: These fellas can’t climb on tube feeders because of their weak legs. If you want to attract them, you’ll need tray feeders.

14. White-Breasted Nuthatch

white breasted nuthatch on tree

The white-breasted nuthatch is the largest in its family in the US, although it’s still a pretty small bird. Its size is similar to a chickadee, and it’s almost neckless. You’ll easily identify it because of its large head and round belly. It also has a blue body with greyish hues. The blue only appears under the sunlight or during the spring.

You’ll mostly find white-breasted nuthatches crawling on tree trunks and foraging for insects. They visit backyard feeders for seeds, insects, and nuts.

15. White-Throated Sparrow

white throated sparrow

White-throated sparrows are on the center of the scale between finches and starlings. Their size is moderate, and they have round heads and invisible necks. Their tails are noticeably long for their bodies, and they have a distinct yellow patch on top of their bills.

Sparrows mostly stay in woodland edges and deciduous forests, and they rarely visit the West Coast. If you’re lucky enough to catch them, you’ll see them foraging on the ground in flocks, looking for food.

These birds feed on seeds in the winter, and they may be interested in some berries in the summer. If you don’t have a feeder, you can scatter the food on the ground, and they’ll find their way.

The Takeaway

As you probably already know by now, Missouri has all kinds of backyard birds. If you have a backyard feeder, you can expect to see a diversity of species all around the year. You’ll see eastern bluebirds in the summer, dark-eyed juncos in the winter, and northern cardinals all year long.

Remember to leave a variety of seeds and maybe some mealworms every now and then, and birds will surely pay a visit.

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