10 Most Common Backyard Birds In South Dakota (+ Free HD Images)

South Dakota’s state bird is the Ring-Neck Pheasant. This bird, an imported species native to Asia, was chosen in 1943.

According to ebird, there are 352 bird species recorded in South Dakota. White Pelican, White-faced Ibis, American Avocet, Osprey, Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle, Long-billed Curlew, Mountain Bluebird, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Wild turkey, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, and Orioles are some of the state’s most notable birds.

The Bald Eagle is a giant bird in South Dakota, with females having a wingspan of up to 8 feet (2.5 m). A formidable bird of prey, the white-headed national bird emblem of the United States is a powerful white-headed national bird symbol of the United States.

Around 3 inches long, the Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in South Dakota, but it can travel large distances from Canada to southern Mexico.

The American Robin is the most common bird in South Dakota, appearing on 36 percent of ebird.org checklists throughout the year. Suppose you want to get out and see birds in their natural habitat. In that case, South Dakota has six national parks, two national forests, 3 National Grasslands, six national wildlife refuges, and 56 state parks.

Birding Hotspots in South Dakota

Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge

In the spring and fall, vast flocks of geese and ducks, sometimes numbering in the millions, travel through Sand Lake. The refuge is well renowned for this phenomenon and other waterbirds. Sand Lake was the first location in South Dakota where Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, and White-faced Ibis were found nesting.

Many duck species that migrate through the area, such as Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, Redhead, and Ruddy Duck, also nest here. Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, Clark’s Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, American White Pelican, American Bittern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-faced Ibis, American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, Franklin’s Gull, Black Tern, and Forster’s Tern are among the other birds that nest around and in the lakes and marshes. The birding, however, is dependent on the water level, and conditions might vary from year to year.

Nesting Willow Flycatchers, Least Flycatchers, Horned Larks, Sedge Wrens, Marsh Wrens, Yellow Warblers, Clay-colored Sparrows, Bobolinks, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds are all possible.

A 15-mile course circles open water and marsh sections, beginning at the refuge headquarters south of Highway 10. The drive is usually open from April 1 to mid-October, but this varies due to the weather.

Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge

Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge is located in the southern section of South Dakota, on the border of a 4,700-acre grassland lake, and is known for its waterbirds. Nearby meadows and forests augment its species count of well over 200.

One of the attractions is a natural route near the refuge headquarters that winds through the woods, past several ponds, and ends at Owens Bay’s open water. The lake and shoreline are accessible via local roads.

During the spring migration, flocks of geese and more than a dozen kinds of ducks stop here. Western Grebe, American White Pelican, American Bittern, Upland Sandpiper, Franklin’s Gull, Red-headed Woodpecker, Willow Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Horned Lark, Marsh Wren, Dickcissel, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Baltimore Oriole are some of the birds that can be seen in the summer.

Osprey and Sandhill Crane can be seen in the spring, and the Bald Eagle can be seen all year. Shorebirds can be expected in the spring and fall when the water levels are just perfect

Badlands National Park

Each year, a million people visit this national park to see the spectacular panorama of eroded spires and multicolored cliffs—a harsh and dramatic sight unlike any other. Those who can look away from the terrain will see good birds here.

Visit various Badlands environments, such as Cliff Shelf (where cottonwoods and junipers thrive), Conata Road (for grassland birds), prairie dog communities, and the woodlands near the Sage Creek campsite to see the most species.

Sharp-tailed Grouse, Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Burrowing Owl (in prairie dog settlements), Loggerhead Shrike, Horned Lark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Vesper Sparrow, and Dickcissel are among the grassland birds to look out for.

Watch for Wild Turkey, Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, White-throated Swift, Prairie Falcon, Say’s Phoebe, Black-billed Magpie, Rock Wren, Mountain Bluebird, Blue Grosbeak, and Orchard Oriole throughout the picturesque circle drive and walking trails.

Oahe Downstream Recreation Area

The dam that creates the massive Lake Oahe is located in the Missouri River, just north of Pierre, the state capital. Local birders habit searching the region directly below the dam for gulls and other species from fall through winter. The water does not freeze here, and the fish that flow over the dam provide ample food for a wide range of species.

The most common gulls are the Ring-billed, California, and Herring gulls. Still, birders have sighted several rarities throughout the years, including the Black-legged Kittiwake, Iceland Gull, and Glaucous Gull. Franklin’s Gull is a typical visitor. Hundreds of Bald Eagles may also roost and feed along the riverbank. In the spring and fall, the osprey is a common sight.

The dam area is a beautiful spot to search for waterfowl, loons, grebes, and terns during migration. Migratory songbirds can benefit from the cottonwoods along the Missouri River. The site’s species list, which includes over 200 species, demonstrates its year-round birding appeal.

2022 | Most Common Backyard Birds In South Dakota (+ Free HD Images)

1. American Robin

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American Robin

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American Robins are a common sight on lawns eating earthworms.  They have blackheads and back with red or orange breasts.  They tend to roost in trees in winter, so you are more likely to see them in your backyard from spring.

American Robins can be found in many habitats, from woodlands, forests, mountains to fields, parks, and lawns. They eat earthworms, insects, snails, and fruit.

You can attract more American Robins to your yard with sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, fruit, and mealworms.  Platform feeders are best or food scattered on the ground. Also, try planting some native plants that produce berries, such as juniper, sumac, hawthorn, and dogwood.

2. Mourning Dove

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Morning Dove

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Mourning Doves are small, graceful birds with plump bodies and long tails. The wings have light brown color with black markings.

In grasslands, pastures, and backyards, they can be observed perching on telephone wires and hunting for seeds on the ground. Mourning Doves can be found in open regions or along woodland edges.

Mourning Doves are found across the lower 48 states throughout the year, but they may migrate after reproducing in the far north.

By sprinkling millet on the ground or platform feeders, you can attract more Mourning Doves to your yard. In addition to black sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and peanut hearts, they will consume black sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and peanut hearts.

3. Red-winged Blackbird

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Red-winged Blackbirds

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The all-black plumage of red-winged blackbirds, save for the vivid red and yellow shoulder patches, makes them simple to distinguish. In comparison to the streaky brown coloring of the males, the females are pretty drab.

They are frequently seen sitting on telephone wires, and during the breeding season, the males will fiercely protect their territory, even attacking individuals who come too close to nests. They roost in enormous flocks during the winter, numbering in the millions.

Spread mixed grain and seeds on the ground to attract more Red-winged blackbirds to your yard. They’ll eat enormous tube feeders or platform feeders as well.

4. Common Grackle

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Common Grackle

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The Common Grackle is a blackbird with glossy iridescent bodies taller and longer-tailed than other blackbirds. They eat a variety of crops, but primarily maize, and congregate in noisy groups high in the trees. They will also devour trash, making them a nuisance.

Open forests, marshes, parks, and fields are their many habitats. They may congregate in the millions to forage and roost alongside other blackbird species in the winter.

All year, the eastern and southern states are home to Common Grackles, but they travel south after mating in the extreme north and west of their range. All year, the eastern and southern states are home to Common Grackles. Most mixed grain and seed, scattered on ground feeders or platform feeders, will attract more Common Grackles to your backyard.

5. Western Meadowlark

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Western Meadowlark

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Western Meadowlarks may brighten your day with their beautiful yellow bellies and delightful voice. This is most likely why they are so popular, to the point where they are the official bird of six states.

Western Meadowlarks are blackbirds with brown and white upper parts with a black V-shaped band across the brilliant yellow chest that fades gray in the winter.

They breed in the northern United States and Canada before migrating to the southern United States. Those in the west and middle of the country stay all year. Western Meadowlarks can be seen foraging for insects and seeds on the ground alone or in small flocks in grasslands, meadows, and fields.

Use hulled sunflower seeds and broken corn in ground feeders to attract more Western Meadowlarks to your yard.

6. Barn Swallow

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Barn Swallow

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Barn Swaltinyre little birds with a dark blue back, wings, and tail, as well as a reddish-brown underbelly and across the face. Long outer feathers form a deep fork bottom tail.

They breed acrosmostof North America before migrating to Central and South America to breed. They are commonly seen soaring over meadows, farms, and fields, searching for insects, and they build mud nests in artificial structures such as barns.

Put up nest boxes or cups to attract more Barn Swallows, and they may eat ground-up eggshells on a platform feeder.

7. Brown-headed Cowbird


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Brown-headed Cowbird males have short tails and thick heads and have a black body and brown head. Females are brown with faint striping all over.

They are frequently seen as a nuisance since they destroy the eggs of smaller songbirds to place their eggs in the nest and have the bird care for their offspring. They breed across much of North America’s north and west before moving south, although they spend the entire year in the Eastern and Southern states and the Pacific Coast.

8. Eastern Kingbird

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Eastern Kingbirds are medium-sized, large-headed flycatchers that are blackish on the back and white underneath. Their heads are darker black and have a white tip on the tail.

They get their name ‘king’ from the aggression they show each other and other birds when defending their nests. They have a concealed crown of yellow, orange, or red feathers, which they raise when defending themselves or their nest.

They breed in much of the US before heading south into Central and South America for winter.  They usually generate produced orchards along forest edges.  They can often be found nesting near water such as rivers or lakes.

Eastern Kingbirds catch insects in midair, including bees, wasps, ants, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, bugs, and flies. They will often perch up above fields waiting for insects to fly past. They will also eat fruit, including serviceberries, cherries, blackberries, and elderberries.

You can attract more Eastern Kingbirds to your yard with native berry bushes and having lots of native vegetation thaattractsed insects.

9. American Goldfinch

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American Goldfinch

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The males of American Goldfinches have a striking yellow and black plumage in the spring. In the winter, females and males are both a dull brown color.

American Goldfinches breed in the far north and Canada before moving to the south, where they spend the entire year. They forage sunflower, thistle, and aster plants in weedy fields and overgrown places. They’re also common in parks, backyards, and suburbs.

Plant thistles and milkweed in your yard to attract more American Goldfinches. Most bird feeders will attract them, and they like sunflower and nyjer seed.

10. Dark-eyed Junco

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Dark-Eyed Junco

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Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrows that come in various hues depending on where they are found. In the east, they are slate-colored, whereas, in the west, they are black, white, and brown.

They are abundant over the continent and can be found in open and slightly wooded areas, generally on the ground. In the west and the Appalachian Mountains, some remain year-round residents. Those who breed in Canada and Alaska move south to the United States in the winter.

Black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts can all be used to attract additional Dark-eyed Juncos to backyard feeders. The ideal feeders are platform feeders or those used on the ground.

11. Black-capped Chickadee


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The Black-capped Chickadee has a petite body and a large round head. These birds will happily eat from backyard feeders and inspect everything, including you!

They have gray backs, wings, tails, blackcaps and beaks, white cheeks, and gray backs, branches, and seats.

Forests, open woods, and parks are all excellent places to look for black-capped chickadees to eat seeds, berries, insects, spiders, and suetadees.

Suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or peanut butter are all good ways to attract additional Black-capped Chickadees to your yard. They’ll even eat from your hand, and they’re usually the first to notice new feeders. They’ll use nest also use nest boxes if they’re filled with wood shavings.

12. Downy Woodpecker

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Downy Woodpecker

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Downy Woodpeckers are tiny birds that use feeders in backyards. They’re frequently mistaken for other birds like chickadees and nuthatches.

They have a red patch on the back of their heads and are black and white in appearance. They resemble the Hairy Woodpecker but are smaller. Downy woodpeckers can be found in woodlots, along streams, municipal parks, and backyards, and they eat berries, acorns, and grains in addition to insects beetle larvae.

Suet feeders are an excellent way to attract more Downy Woodpeckers to your yard, but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts from platform feeders.

13. House Sparrow

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House Sparrow

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Another introduced species that has thrived and is now one of the most frequent birds is the House Sparrow. They’re ordinary near homes and buildings, and they’re incredibly tame, so they’ll eat right out of your hand.

They are pests since they are non-native, yet they will still be found in backyards if you do not feed them.

Most types of birdseed, such as millet, corn, and sunflower seeds, will attract more House Sparrows to your backyard feeders.

14. European Starling

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European Starling

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European starlings are not native to the United States, yet they have become common songbirds. They’re stocky black birds with purple, green, and blue iridescent tones.

Some consider these birds to be pests because of their aggressive demeanor. They can be found perched in groups on the tops of trees or flying over fields in flocks.

Beetles, flies, caterpillars, earthworms, and spiders are among the insects starlings eat. Fruit, such as cherries, holly berries, mulberries, Virginia Creeper, sumac, blackberries, grains, and seeds, are also consumed.

Black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts can all be used to attract more European Starlings to your backyard feeders.

15. Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

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Chipping Sparrows are slender, long-tailed birds with a rusty head, black eye-line, grayish belly, and brown and black-streaked back. The colors are more subdued in the winter.

They breed across much of North America and Canada before flying to Mexico and Florida or the further south, where they spend the entire year.

They can be seen in small flocks on open terrain, and they will visit backyards in search of various types of birdseed.

16. House Wren

House Wren
House Wren

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House Wrens are little brown birds with a lighter throat and darker barred wings and tail. They breed in most states before migrating to the far south and Mexico for winter.

Foraging for insects and spiders such as beetles, caterpillars, and earwigs in brush heaps, House Wrens can be found in backyards, parks, and open woodlands. They can often be found energetically hopping through tangles and low branches with their tails up, stopping to sing their cheerful song.

When it comes to getting the best nest holes, House Wrens are aggressive for their size, and they will often disturb larger birds, yanking eggs or nestlings out of a nest site they prefer.

By leaving brush piles or erecting a nest box in your backyard, you might attract more House Wrens.

17. Northern Flicker

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Northern Flickers are large woodpeckers with brownish coloring, black spots, bars, and crescents, and red on the neck, about the size of a robin or a crow. Eastern birds’ tails and wing feathers are bright yellows, while western birds’ are red.

They can be spotted in woods and forest margins on the ground, hunting for ants and beetles. Those that breed in Canada or Alaska move to the south, but they can be found throughout the lower 48 all year.

Suet and black oil sunflower seeds will attract more Northern Flickers to your garden feeders.

18. Song Sparrow

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Song Sparrow

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Song sparrows aren’t as noticeable as other backyard birds, but these primarily brown-streaked birds use their almost continual song to attract mates in the spring and summer.

They are commonly perched on a low shrub singing in open, shrubby, and damp settings. They’re frequently seen at backyard feeders.

Beetles, caterpillars, midges, spiders, and earthworms are among the insects and plants they eat. Buckwheat, sunflower, raspberries, wild cherries, blackberries, wheat, and rice are among the foods they will eat.

Put black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders to attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders.

19. Common Yellowthroat

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Yellowthroats are little songbirds with long brownish tails that are brilliant yellow underneath. The males wear a black mask that completely covers their faces. The color of the yellow varies depending on where you look, and some spots beneath the surface may appear more olive.

They can be found in marshy or wetland habitats, brushy fields, and thick, tangled vegetation across much of North America in the spring and summer. They mainly eat insects and live in huge, highly wooded backyards.

20. Western Kingbird

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Western Kingbird

Huge flycatchers with yellow bellies, whitish chests, gray heads, grayish-brown wings, and a darker tail, Western Kingbirds are large flycatchers with yellow bellies, whitish chests, gray heads, grayish-brown wings, and a darker bottom.

They reproduce throughout western North America and are a common sight during the summer before traveling to Mexico and Central America, where some may overwinter.

They prefer open areas and are frequently seen sitting on fences and utility wires, waiting for insects to fly by before grabbing them mid-flight. They are commonly seen near the edge of woodlands, where they can nest in the trees and forage openly. They will also build their nests in artificial structures.

Making your yard insect-friendly and planting elderberry or hawthorn, which they will eat the fruit from, will attract more Western Kingbirds.


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