25 Diverse Backyard Birds of Montana to spot

Last Updated on
Backyard Birds of Montana

If you’re a bird enthusiast, Montana is the place for you! This state has a diverse array of habitats that support an impressive variety of birds. From the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains to the open prairies of the Great Plains, Montana has something to offer every bird lover.

One of the reasons Montana is such a great place for birds is that it has such a variety of habitats. The Rocky Mountains provide a home for many species of birds, including Clark’s nutcracker, mountain Chickadee, and the Steller’s Jay.

The Great Plains offer a different habitat, with its grasslands and prairies. This region is home to the ferruginous hawk, lark bunting, and Black-billed Cuckoo.

Another factor that makes Montana ideal for birds is its weather. The state experiences all four seasons, which provides a comfortable climate for many different types of birds.

In the spring and summer, temperatures are warm but not too hot, making it a perfect time to spot birds like the Western Tanager and the Western Meadowlark.

Fall brings cooler temperatures and migrating birds, such as the Townsend’s Solitaire and the Common Redpoll. In Montana, winter can be cold, but that doesn’t stop hardy birds like the common raven and the Pine grosbeak from sticking around.

This blog post will look at 25 of Montana’s most common backyard birds by surveying residents and utilizing data from ebird and other citizen science databases. By reading this article, we hope you will identify some new species and find out which ones live near you at any time of the year.

There are always plenty of backyard birds to enjoy in Montana! So get out your binoculars and start exploring.

Backyard Birds Of Montana

According to the latest data from ebird, there are 432 observed species of Birds in Montana. This data comes from over 411,000 checklists from over 13,000 avid birdwatchers. Identifying and seeing all 432 may be an overwhelming challenge, so we have chosen to focus on the birds you are more likely to see in your home, backyard, or bird feeders.

Here are some things to know about Backyard Birds of Montana:

  • 432 observed species
  • The American Robin is the most common backyard bird in Montana
  • The Black-capped Chickadee is the most common feeder bird in Montana
  • The Red-breasted Nuthatch is the smallest most common feeder bird in Montana
  • The Black-billed Magpie is the largest backyard bird on this list
  • The Western Meadowlark is Montana’s state bird

What Are The Most Common Backyard Birds Of Montana?

  1. Black-capped Chickadee
  2. Dark-eyed Junco
  3. House Finch
  4. Downy Woodpecker
  5. Northern Flicker
  6. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  7. Black-billed Magpie
  8. Mountain Chickadee
  9. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  10. House Sparrow
  11. American Robin
  12. Hairy Woodpecker
  13. American Goldfinch
  14. European Starling
  15. Blue Jay
  16. Pine Siskin
  17. Red-winged Blackbird
  18. Steller’s Jay
  19. Cassin’s Finch
  20. Clark’s Nutcracker
  21. Mourning Dove
  22. White-breasted Nuthatch
  23. Evening Grosbeak
  24. Song Sparrow
  25. Brown Creeper

Top 5 Hotspots For Birdwatching In Montana

If you prefer to venture away from home to do some birding, then visit one of Montana’s best hotspots for birdwatching. These hotspots are determined by the total number of species observed by fellow birdwatchers in Montana.

  1. Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge
  2. Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge
  3. Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge
  4. Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area
  5. Giant Springs State Park

Top 25 Backyard Birds Of Montana

The list below is determined by the number of bird watchers in Montana who have seen a species at least once, divided by the total number of bird feeder sites.

1. Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-Capped Chickadee is a widespread species of bird found throughout the Northern half of North America. They are the most common backyard feeder bird of Montana and can be seen in the state all year round.

They have a black cap and black throat with white cheeks, and mostly gray-olive feathers on their back with a white chest and belly.

Black-capped Chickadees are tiny in size – with males and females only about 12-15cm (4.7-5.9 inches) long and weighing between 9-14g (0.3-0.5oz). They have a large head and short neck, and long narrow tails with short thick dark bills.

They can survive the harshest winter weather by eating high-calorie foods, fluffing their feathers for insulation, and roosting in tree cavities at night, often in small groups.

The Black-Capped Chickadee is an energetic species that prefers deciduous woods often found in forests or residential areas and parks where plenty of large trees are used for roosting and nesting.

Their diet consists of insects, spiders, small fruits, and seeds, but they are also familiar visitors to backyard bird feeders where they will readily eat sunflower seeds or suet. They will often make multiple trips to feeders to store extra food in tree crevices throughout the day.

The Black-capped Chickadee has been seen at 92% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeders
  • Large & Small Hoppers
  • Suet Cage
  • Platform feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seed
  • Hulled Sunflower Seed
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Suet
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

2. Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-Eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow found in the Northern Hemisphere from Alaska to Newfoundland. They can be seen in Montana all year round.

Males and Females are about 14-16cm (5.5-6.3 inches) long and weigh between 18-30g (0.6-1.1oz). They have a round head, short conical bill, and long tail.

The Dark-Eyed Junco varies in color depending on what region you are in but are mainly dark gray or brown with a light/pale pink bill and white outer tail feathers that are noticeable in flight.

The three most common sub-types and colors are:

  • Slate-colored Junco – Alaska, and East of the Rocky Mountains
  • Oregon Junco – Northern Rockies and Farther West
  • Gray-headed Junco – Southern Rockies

They live in coniferous forests, woodlands, scrubland, and tundra across the United States and Canada. You are more likely to find them in open areas like backyards, fields, and parks in winter.

They are ground foragers and eat insects, seeds, and berries. They eat mostly insects in the spring and summer and seeds and berries in the fall and winter.

They are also expected at backyard bird feeders in the winter, especially ones that offer sunflower seeds, millet, or cracked corn.

The Dark-eyed Junco has been seen at 81% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower seed
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet & Milo
  • Oats

3. House Finch

The House Finch is a small bird found in most of North America, including parts of the United States and Southern Canada.  They can be seen in central Montana (great plains) all year round.

House Finches are 12-15cm (5.1-5.5 inches) long and weigh between 16-27g (0.6-0.9oz).

They have short wings that allow for a quick flight, and their beaks are stubby and slightly curved on top with a long flat head. The males are known for their bright red heads and breast with brown wings, tails, and back.

Their preferred habitat is open, grassy areas with some trees – often near farmlands. They will also be found around towns and suburbs to find food quickly on the ground, such as birdseed spilled from backyard bird feeders (or even at pet food bowls left out for our furry friends).

They are ground forages whose preferred diet consists mainly of seeds, buds, and fruit. They are common at backyard bird feeders and will often feed in large numbers, especially when black oil sunflowers seeds are present in your feeders.

The House Finch has been seen at 77% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeder
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer

4. Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is a small woodpecker found throughout North America and is a year-round resident of Montana.

They are smaller than most woodpeckers at about 14-17cm (5.5-6.7 inches) long and weigh between 21-28g (0.7-1oz).

Downy Woodpeckers have a black back and white stripe down the middle. They are white below, and their wings have a checkered black and white detailing them. The males have a red patch at the back of the head, and females have a black head. They have a petite-looking bill compared to their other woodpecker relatives.

Their beaks are short, solid, and pointed at the end, which they use to chisel wood for excavation or peck at the bark to find food underneath.

Their preferred habitat is wooded areas with plenty of trees near rivers, ponds, or wetlands – even urban areas with a mix of grasslands, shrubs, and woodlands.

They are acrobatic foragers whose main diet consists of insects it can glean and probe from trees. They will also eat seeds, berries, or fruit when needed and are more common at bird feeders than their larger relatives. They prefer suet feeders and enjoy black oil sunflower seeds, peanut butter, seeds, and millet.

The Downy Woodpecker has been seen at 77% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

5. Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is one of the most common woodpecker species in Montana can be seen in the state all year round.

They are about 28-31cm (11-12.2 inches) long and weigh 110-160g (3.9-5.6oz). They are slim woodpeckers with rounded heads, long pointy tails, and a long, slightly downward curving bill

Northern Flickers are brownish-gray above and paler below. They have a crescent-looking black bar on their chest and black spots on their bellies.

Eastern males have black whiskers, a red nape, and bright yellow under their tails, while females lack the same black whiskers as males.

Western males have red whiskers and red under their tails, while females lack the same red whiskers as males.

Northern Flickers live in open areas such as fields, pastures, woods but can also be seen around towns and suburbs.

Northern Flickers are seen foraging for ants and other insects on the ground, but they also eat fruits, nuts, and seeds. They use their long curved bill to pry insects out of logs or trees.

They will often visit backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, suet, or peanut butter.

The Northern Flicker has been seen at 75% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seed
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Peanuts and Peanut Hearts
  • Cracker Corn
  • Millet

6. Red-breasted Nuthatch

The red-breasted nuthatch is a small songbird found across most of North America and much of Canada. They can be seen all year round along the rocky mountains in western Montana and the central and eastern great plains during the winter.

Both males and females are about 11-12cm (4.3 inches) long and weigh between 8-13g (0.3-0.5oz). They have a long, pointy bill, short, broad wings, and very short tails.

Both sexes are blueish-gray above and reddish-cinnamon below. Their heads are striped with a black cap, white eyebrows, a black line through the eye, and finally, white cheeks. Very similar looking to the white-breasted nuthatch.

Red-breasted nuthatches can be found in coniferous forests such as spruce and fir, where they like to forage on the trunks and branches. They are very energetic and acrobatic birds and can often be seen hanging upside down while searching for food.

Their diet is primarily insects and spiders they glean from trees and bark in the summer and eat seeds in the winter.

They are also familiar visitors to backyard bird feeders where they eat seeds and suet.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch has been seen at 73% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Tube Feeders
  • Large and Small Hoppers
  • Suet Cage
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanuts and Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

7. Black-billed Magpie

The Black-billed Magpie is a large bird found in the Northwestern and central part of North America. These large birds can be seen throughout Montana all year round.

Both males and females are 45-60cm (17.7-23.6 inches) long, weigh between 145-210g (5.1-7.4oz), and have a heavy black bill and a long diamond-shaped tail.

The Black Billed Magpie has black feathers on its head, back, and chest with a white belly. The wings are black with white “shoulders”, and glossy blueish-green highlights on their wings and tail.

Their preferred habitat is open grassland with some trees near bodies of water such as rivers or wetlands where they can find shelter from potential predators (or even human threats). They will also visit town parks where there might be a mix of lawns, shrubs, and brushy areas.

The Black Billed Magpie is an opportunistic scavenger that feeds on various items such as insects, carrion, seeds, fruit, and other birds’ eggs or young. They typically forage on the ground and often store food in various locations.

They are common at bird feeders in the west, where they will eat most anything that is put out for them (even if it’s not their preferred diet). Platform and Suet feeders are a favorite of the magpie.

The Black-billed Magpie has been seen at 69% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Suet Cage

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Cracked Corn
  • Peanuts & Peanuts Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Millet & Milo

8. Mountain Chickadee

The Mountain Chickadee is a small-sized songbird that is found in mountains of North America, including the Sierra Nevada Mountains located in California to the Rocky Mountains range that runs through Alberta, British Columbia, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and into South Dakota. They can be seen along the mountains of Montana all year round.

Males and females are about 11-14cm (4.3-5.5 inches) long and weigh around 11g (0.4oz). They have large heads, rounded wings, tiny bills, and long rounded wings.

Like other chickadee species, they are gray above and paler grayish-white below. They have a black cap and throat and a white stripe over the eye that resembles an eyebrow. The white line is what differentiates Mountain Chickadees from other species.

They live across mountainous coniferous forests but will also be seen in mixed woodlands, urban parks, and gardens with similar habitats at lower elevations.

Mountain Chickadees are insectivores and will feed on insects, spiders, caterpillars, beetles, and insect eggs. They mostly forage by gleaning from tree branches and trunks and hovering to catch their prey.

They can be found in backyards with bushes and trees and will often visit bird feeders that offer black oil sunflower seeds and suet cakes.

The Mountain Chickadee has been seen at 68% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Tube Feeders
  • Large and Small Hoppers
  • Platform Feeder
  • Suet Cage

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seed
  • Suet
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms
  • Nyjer

9. Eurasian Collared-Dove

The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a small dove that lives in the Northern Hemisphere. They are abundant throughout Europe, North America, and South Asia. These Doves can be found anywhere in the US besides the Northeast and Canada and are year round residents of Montana.

Males and Females are about 29-30cm (11.4-11.8 inches) long and weigh 140-180g (4.9-6.3oz). They are plump doves with long, squared-off tails and small heads. They have broad, round, black-tipped wings. Their plumage is a pale gray with darker flight feathers, and adults have a black hindneck collar.

Eurasian Collared Doves usually perch on tree branches, telephone wires, or other elevated structures. They are very social birds and can be seen in small to large flocks. They usually roost together at night in tall trees.

These Doves live in suburbs, towns, and agricultural areas and avoid heavily forested areas and city centers.

Eurasian Collared-Doves eat mainly seeds and some wasted grain, berries, and insects. They will visit backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, corn, and millet.

The Eurasian Collared-Dove has been seen at 60% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seed
  • Cracked Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet
  • Milo
  • Oats

10. House Sparrow

The House Sparrow is a common species of bird found throughout the world and can be seen throughout Montana all year round.

Males and Females are about 15-17cm (5.9-6.7 inches) long and generally weigh between 27-30g (0.9-1.1oz). They have gray color on their head and chest, black spots on the feathers around their eyes, and brownish tails; however, they also have distinctive white spots on their wings.

House Sparrows are prevalent backyard visitors that can be identified by the distinctive appearance of two white spots on each side of the wing. They typically live in cities and towns with large populations, although they will visit backyards if suet feeders or birdseed is available.

House Sparrows eat mainly weed seeds, grain, and insects during breeding time. They typically prefer sunflower hearts and suet, although they also eat thistle seed, safflower seeds, and fruit when available.

Sparrows are highly social birds living in large flocks outside of breeding season that can sometimes become aggressive towards other birds.

The House Sparrow has been seen at 57% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube Feeder
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet 
  • Milo

11. American Robin

The American Robin is a common species of bird found throughout North America and is a year-round resident of Montana.

American Robins are 20-28cm (7.9-11 inches) long and weigh 77-85g (2.7-3oz).

American Robins have a distinctive orange chest with black spots; however, their back feathers are brownish gray. Their beaks are tiny but comprehensive at the base, giving them a very distinct appearance.

They are common in most environments across North America, especially in gardens, parks, and wooded areas around towns and suburbs.

The American Robin is known to poke around in leaf litter, looking for insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and earthworms to eat in the summer months. They prefer berries or fruit during the autumn and winter months.

They are also known for being very friendly birds found at most bird feeders and prefer feeders that offer live mealworms.

The American Robin has been seen at 53% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms

12. Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker found throughout North America and Southern Canada. They can be seen in Montana all year round.

The hairy woodpecker has a long chisel-like bill and long stiff tail feathers. Males and Females are about 18-26cm (7.1-10.2 inches) long and weigh around 40-95g (1.4-3.4oz).

They have black-and-white feathers: black back checkered with a white, white stripe down the middle back, and white below. The male has a red patch on the back of its head, while the female does not. They get their name from the “hairy” quality of the white on their backs.

They live in various habitats, including woodlands, bottomland forests, wooded suburbs, and parks. They will actively probe and drill into wood to look for insects under the bark. They will also feed on fallen or rotting logs to chisel through dead wood to find insect larvae. They will also eat fruits and seeds when given a chance.

They are common at backyard bird feeders that offer suet, sunflower seeds, or peanut butter mixed with birdseed.

The Hairy Woodpecker has been seen at 52% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Peanuts and Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

13. American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a common species of bird found throughout North America. These tiny birds can be seen in western Montana all year round and in eastern Montana during the swarmer months. 

They are small songbirds 11-13cm (4.3-5.1 inches) long and weigh between 11-20g (0.4-0.70 oz), with males being slightly larger than females. 

Breeding adult males have a bright yellow color on their heads and rump with a black cap and black-tipped wings, making them easy to identify from other birds. Winter adult males are tan above and pale gray below with a yellow face and throat. 

Breeding adult females are olive-brown above and yellow below, and winter adult females are generally gray overall.

Their preferred habitat is overgrown, weedy fields, pastures, and well planted suburban areas and backyards.

They mainly eat seeds from wild sunflowers, composite flowers or thistles, and very few insects. 

American Goldfinches are frequent visitors of backyard bird feeders – making them easy to spot around the yard. They prefer hulled sunflower and nyjer seeds.

The American Goldfinch has been seen at 48% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube feeder
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer

14. European Starling

The European Starling, also known as the Common Starling or just simply Starling, is a loud, boisterous bird that can be found throughout most of North America, Europe, and parts of Asia to North Africa in wintertime. They are year-round residents of Montana.

European Starling is roughly the size of a Robin at about 20-23cm (7.9-9.1 inches) long and weighing around 60-96g (2.1-3.4oz). Their breeding plumage is a glossy purplish-green with yellow beaks, and winter plumage is brown with white spots and a black bill. They have short wings which allow for a quick flight and a short tail. They have a long, slender bill and legs that are pinkish.

European Starlings winter in large flocks – often roosting with other bird species such as Blackbirds or Fieldfares to keep warm at night.

Their preferred habitat is open, grassy areas with some trees, but they can also be found in towns, suburbs, or human settlements out in the countryside.

They are opportunistic feeders that mainly eat insects and feed on berries, seeds, and grains. They are known to visit bird feeders in backyards to eat almost any type of food available – including suet mixes or peanuts.

The European Starling has been seen at 47% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube feeder
  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Millet & Milo
  • Oats

15. Blue Jay

The Blue Jay is a common species of bird found throughout North America. These beautiful birds spend most of their time in Montana during the non-breeding winter months.

Blue Jays are about 25-30cm (9.8-11.8 inches) long and generally weigh between 70 – 100g (2.5-3.5oz). They have a very short neck and bill with a thick blue crest on their head. They have very distinctive bright blue feathers on the top with white spots and gray-white color below, making them easy to identify from other birds.

Blue Jays are loud, boisterous birds that will eat almost anything they can find – making them one of the most common backyard visitors.

They are widespread at backyard bird feeders and will typically dominate smaller birds that visit simultaneously. They love sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and whole peanuts.

The Blue Jay has been seen at 46% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube feeder
  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Hulled & Black oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms

16. Pine Siskin

The Pine Siskin is widespread throughout North America and some parts of Canada and Mexico. They can be seen in western Montana all year round and in eastern Montana during the winter months.

Both males and females are about 11-14cm (4.3-5.5 inches) long and weigh between 12-18g (0.4-0.6oz). Both males and females are brown, with dark streaking throughout their bodies. They are a small finch with a sharply pointed bill and a short notched tail.

They are slightly darker above and paler below with two whitish-yellow wing bars. A yellow wing stripe can be seen during flight but is more difficult to see when perched.

They prefer open coniferous forests where they can forage in trees, looking for seeds among needles of the branches. Pine siskins are social birds and often travel in a few hundred bird flocks. They are very active and can be seen hopping around on the ground or flying quickly from tree to tree.

Pine siskins eat seeds almost exclusively but will take insects or larvae when available if seeds are not readily accessible. They are also frequent visitors to backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, or nyjer seeds.

The Pine Siskin has been seen at 39% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large and Small Tube Feeder
  • Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer

17. Red-winged Blackbird

The Red-Winged Blackbird is a stocky blackbird with a red shoulder and short tail. They are found in abundance in North America and Central America. They can be seen in western Montana all year round and in eastern Montana during the warmer breeding months.

Males and Females are about 17-23cm (6.7-9.1 inches) long and weigh between 32-77g (1.1-2.7oz). Males are all black with red shoulder patches tipped with a golden yellow color. Females have mostly dark brown plumage above, are heavily streaked below, and have some orange coloration on their face and throat.

They live in open habitats such as wetlands, marshes, prairies, meadows, pastures, agricultural fields, and suburban parks. They nest in marshes, wet prairies, and hayfields across the Northern half of North America from Alaska to Newfoundland.

They eat insects, seeds, and berries primarily during nesting or feeding their young and grain in the winter. Red-winged blackbirds gather in large flocks during the winter. They will often visit bird feeders that offer mixed seeds and grains and prefer to feed on the ground.

The Red-winged Blackbird has been seen at 33% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Ground feeding
  • Large Tube Feeder
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Milo

18. Steller’s Jay

Steller’s Jay is a large songbird that lives in North America. They are most abundant in the western United States and Canada. They can be seen year-round in the mountains of Montana.

Males and Females are about 30-34cm (11.8-13.4 inches) long and weigh between 100-140g (3.5-4.9oz). These Jays have large heads, rounded wings, and long tails. They also have a prominent crest on their heads and a strong, long, straight bill.

They have blue feathers on most of their bodies, black feathers on their head, and grayish shoulders. Some will have blue or white lines on their crown, depending on the region.

They prefer coniferous and mixed coniferous-deciduous forests commonly found on the west coast of North America, which includes suburban areas such as backyards, picnic areas, and campgrounds.

They are bold, intelligent, curious omnivores that forage on the ground or among tree branches for insects, baby birds, bird eggs, fruit, nuts, acorns, and seeds.

They are common at backyard bird feeders that offer sunflowers seeds, peanuts, peanut butter mixed with birdseed, or bread. 

The Steller’s Jay has been seen at 31% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Tube Feeder
  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Cracked Corn
  • Peanuts and Peanut Hearts
  • Millet and Milo
  • Mealworms

19. Cassin’s Finch

The Cassin’s Finch is a small, sparrow-sized bird found in the western half of North America. These tiny birds are year-round residents of western Montana.

Males and females are about 16cm (6.3-6.5 inches) long and weigh around 24-34g (0.8-1.2oz). They are similar to the Purple Finch and House Finch but have longer and heavier pointed bills and longer wings. They have notched short to medium-length tails and a peaked head.

Males and females have streaked undertail coverts, wings, and backs. Males have a bright red cap, rosy pink face, breast, and rump. The females are brown and white with fine steaks on their chests and underparts.

Cassin’s Finches can be found in evergreen forests located in the mountains during the warmer months and tend to move to lower elevations during the colder months.

They eat mostly seeds, berries, and buds but also feed on insects when available. They forage mainly in the trees with other finches like Pine Siskins and crossbills.

Cassin’s Finches have been known to visit bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, millet, or thistle seeds in the winter months.

The Cassin’s Finch has been seen at 26% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Large and Small Hooper
  • Large and Small Tube feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Nyjer Seed
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Millet

20. Clark’s Nutcracker

The Clark’s Nutcracker is a medium-sized bird found in western North America and are year-round residents of western Montana.

Males and females are about 27-30cm (10-12 inches) long and weigh around 106-161g (3.7-5.7 oz). They have round heads, a short tail, and a long black bill that is sharp at the end. They are similar in size to a Steller’s Jay.

Clark’s Nutcrackers are pale gray with black wings and a white undertail.

Clark’s Nutcrackers can be found in mountainous areas such as spruce, larch, alder, pine, and willow forests during the breeding season. Some move to lower brushy areas such as weedy fields, shrubs, backyards, or agricultural fields of the great plains during the fall and winter months.

Clark’s Nutcrackers eat seeds from pine trees primarily. They use their strong feet and bill to pry open pine cones to get at the seeds inside. They can also store seeds in a pouch under their tongue, which they then bury or store in another location for the winter.

They have been known to visit bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, peanuts, or suet.

The Clark’s Nutcracker has been seen at 24% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Ground
  • Platform Feeder
  • Large Hopper

Feeder Food:

  • Peanuts
  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Suet
  • Mealworms

21. Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove is a common species of bird found throughout North America and can be seen in Montana during the warmer breeding months.

They are about the size of an American Robin, with adults between 23-34cm (9.1-13.4 inches) long and weighing between 86-170g (3-6oz). Mourning Doves have grayish-brown feathers, and their heads are pale gray; however, they lack crests or head adornments.

Mourning Doves prefer open habitats in rural and urban areas and weedy fields.

Mourning Doves are ground foragers meaning that they eat seeds, grains, and other vegetation found on the ground. They have a varied diet but prefer to eat weed seeds such as dandelions or grasses in open fields rather than forest floors. Mourning doves also drink water from puddles created by rain which they find near trees and shrubs.

They are frequent visitors to backyard bird feeders and typically eat seeds that have fallen on the ground or platform feeders.

The Mourning Dove has been seen at 23% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Cracker Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet & Milo
  • Oats

22. White-breasted Nuthatch

The White-breasted Nuthatch is an exciting species to observe and can be found from southern Canada down into Central America. These tiny birds are year-round residents of Montana.

White-breasted Nuthatches are small in size – only about 13-14cm (5.1-5.5 inches) in length and weighing between 18-30g (0.6-1.1oz). They have short tails with a thick dark bill. They have a distinctive appearance with blue-gray feathers on their back and a white face with a darker “hood” that runs from the top of their beak to the back, making them easily identifiable from other birds.

White-breasted Nuthatches prefer mature mixed forests and wooded areas in towns, suburbs and parks.

White-breasted Nuthatches are very energetic birds that spend most of their time climbing trees and searching for food in the bark. They mainly eat insects they can glean from bark and foliage but will also eat seeds in winter.

They are known to visit backyard bird feeders and prefer suet feeders, shelled peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

The White-breasted Nuthatch has been seen at 23% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Large & Small Tube Feeder
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Suet Cage
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Mealworms

23. Evening Grosbeak

The Evening Grosbeak is a large, stocky bird found throughout the northernmost part of North America. They can be seen in eastern Montana during the non-breeding season and in western Montana all year-round.

Males and females are about 16-18cm (6.3-7.1 inches) long and weigh around 53-74g (1.9-2.6oz). They have a large head, a thick pale bill slightly curved downwards, and a short tail.

Males are primarily black and yellow with a white patch on their wings. Males also have dark heads and a bright yellow stripe above the eye. Females are mostly gray with white and black wings and a greenish-yellow highlight around the neck area. The males have pale bills, and females have greenish-yellow bills.

Evening Grosbeaks can be found in open coniferous and deciduous forests, parks, or gardens.

They forage primarily in the treetops and eat seeds and insects in the warmer months and berries and tree seeds during the colder months.

Evening Grosbeaks have been known to visit bird feeders that offer black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer thistle, or millet.

The Evening Grosbeak has been seen at 22% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform feeder
  • Large Hooper
  • Large Tube feeder

Feeder Food:

  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer
  • Millet

24. Song Sparrow

The Song Sparrow is a medium-sized sparrow found throughout North America and can be seen in western Montana all year round. They spend their breeding months in eastern Montana.

Males and Females are about 12-17cm (4.7-6.7 inches) long and weigh between 12-53g (0.4-1.9oz). They have relatively long, rounded tails and broad wings.

Song Sparrows are generally brown above with brown streaking on white below. They have a reddish-brown crown, a pale gray eyebrow, and a brown streak through the eye.

They live in most open areas such as forests edges, scrublands, wetlands, marshes, farmlands, and grasslands year-round in North America.

They mainly eat insects in the spring and summer and seeds and berries the rest of the year.

Song Sparrows are common backyard birds that visit bird feeders if the feeder offers cracked corn or millet and over some good cover. They prefer seeds scattered on the ground or a platform feeder.

The Song Sparrow has been seen at 21% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer
  • Cracked Corn
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet and Milo

25. Brown Creeper

The Brown Creeper is a small brown bird with a spiked-tipped tail and a thin, curved bill. They are found throughout North America and parts of Central America and are year-round residents of Montana.

Males and Females are about 12-14cm (4.7-5.5 inches) long and weigh between 5-10g 0.2-0.3oz). They are a streaked brown above and white below (difficult to see when it is hidden against a tree). It uses its spiked-tipped tail to prop itself up against tree trunks as they climb.

They live year-round across most of Canada from British Columbia to Newfoundland, and in the United States from Alaska to California, east to Maine, and south through Mexico.

Brown Creepers can be found in various forest habitats, including coniferous forests, mixed hardwood-coniferous forests, deciduous forests, riparian corridors, and even suburban parks.

They are primarily insectivores and eat spiders, seeds, and berries. They forage by climbing up tree trunks looking out for food, or gleaning food from branches and leaves.

Brown creepers are common backyard birds that can often be seen at feeders that offer suet or peanut butter and prefer to feed on the ground.

The Brown Creeper has been seen at 21% of all feeder sites in Montana.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage

Feeder Food:

  • Suet
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Peanut Hearts

What Are The Most Common Backyard Birds All Year Round In Montana?

  • American Robin (39% Frequency)
  • Black-billed Magpie (39% Frequency)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (34% Frequency)
  • Northern Flicker (32% Frequency)
  • Common Raven (27% Frequency)
  • European Starling (27% Frequency)
  • Red-winged Blackbird (25% Frequency)
  • House Finch (22% Frequency)
  • House Sparrow (20% Frequency)
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove (18% Frequency)
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch (17% Frequency)
  • Song Sparrow (17% Frequency)

What Are The Most Common Winter Backyard Birds Of Montana?

  • Black-billed Magpie (51% Frequency)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (44% Frequency)
  • Northern Flicker (34% Frequency)
  • Common Raven (33% Frequency)
  • House Finch (28% Frequency)
  • House Sparrow (25% Frequency)
  • Eurasian-Collared Dove (20% Frequency)
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch (19% Frequency)
  • Downy Woodpecker (19% Frequency)
  • Mountain Chickadee (18% Frequency)
  • Dark-eyed Junco (18% Frequency)
  • European Starling (15% Frequency)

Birds To Spot Beyond The Backyard In Montana

When you decide to venture away from your home to do some birdwatching, these are some of the other birds to look out for:

  1. Western Meadowlark
  2. Snow Bunting
  3. Bank Swallow
  4. Tree Swallow
  5. Brewer’s Blackbird
  6. Common Grackle
  7. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
  8. Bohemian Waxwing
  9. Rock Pigeon
  10. Cliff Swallow
  11. Vaux’s Swift
  12. Common Redpoll
  13. Mountain Bluebird
  14. Barn Swallow
  15. Yellow-headed Blackbird
  16. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  17. Violet-green Swallow
  18. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  19. Golden Eagle
  20. Cedar Waxwing
  21. Common Nighthawk
  22. Killdeer
  23. Lark Bunting
  24. Brown-headed Cowbird
  25. California Quail
  26. Red Crossbill
  27. Vesper Sparrow
  28. Western Tanager
  29. White-winged Crossbill
  30. Red-tailed Hawk

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of birds are in montana?

Montana is home to many kinds of bird species like Song Birds, Water Birds, and Birds of Prey. The most common of which include the American Robin (39% frequency), Black-billed Magpie (39% frequency), Black-capped Chickadee (34% frequency), Mallard (30% frequency), Canada Goose (29% frequency), Red-tailed Hawk (18% frequency), Bald Eagle (9% frequency) and the Northern Harrier (8% frequency).

How many species of birds are in montana?

There are 432 documented species of birds that have been observed in Montana.

What birds of prey live in montana?

Montana is home to many raptor species such as Hawks, Falcons, Eagles, Owls and Vultures. Some of the most common include the Ferruginous Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Western Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl and the Snowy Owl.

What is the state bird of Montana?

The state bird of Montana is the Western Meadowlark.

What is the most common backyard bird seen in Montana?

The most common backyard feeder bird of Montana is the Black-capped Chickadee.

Keeping a watchful eye for the backyard birds of Montana

Montana is a great place to live for bird lovers. There are many different species of birds that can be found in Montana, and the state’s weather and habitats make it an ideal place for them to live.

If you are interested in birdwatching away from the backyard, visit any of Montana’s top five hotspots listed above. We would also love to hear from you about your favorite birdwatching spots or experiences in Montana.

If you have any questions about identifying more species or finding out which ones live near you, let us know! We would love to help identify new bird species for our readers.

So get out your binoculars and start exploring!

Photo of author
Author
I am an avid birdwatcher with a passion for learning all I can about these fantastic creatures. I love finding new species of birds in my backyard, neighborhood, or when I travel. I enjoy sharing everything I learn about how these creatures live their lives; feedback and experience is much appreciated!

Leave a Comment