25 Delightful Backyard Birds of South Dakota to watch

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Backyard Birds of South Dakota

If you’re lucky enough to live in the great state of South Dakota, you’re probably familiar with some of its many backyard birds. From songbirds to raptors, a wide variety of birds can be found in backyards across the state.

Thanks to its diverse habitats, South Dakota is an excellent place for backyard birding. The eastern part of the state is covered by the grass prairies, while the western part is home to the Black Hills and the Badlands. These different habitats attract a wide variety of birds, from songbirds and raptors to waterfowl.

This blog post will look at 25 of the most common backyard birds of South Dakota 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.

No matter where you live in South Dakota, there are sure to be some backyard birds you can enjoy.

Backyard Birds Of South Dakota

According to the latest data from ebird, there are 411 observed species of Birds in South Dakota. This data comes from over 120,000 checklists from over 7,780 avid birdwatchers. Identifying and seeing all 411 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 in South Dakota:

  • 411 observed species
  • The American Robin is the most common bird species in South Dakota.
  • The American Goldfinch is the most common feeder bird of South Dakota.
  • The Red-breasted Nuthatch is the smallest most common feeder bird in South Dakota.
  • The American Crow is the largest backyard bird on this list.
  • The Ring-necked Pheasant is South Dakota’s state bird.

What Are The Most Common Backyard Birds Of South Dakota?

  1. American Goldfinch
  2. House Sparrow
  3. Dark-eyed Junco
  4. House Finch
  5. Downy Woodpecker
  6. Black-capped Chickadee
  7. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  8. Blue Jay
  9. European Starling
  10. White-breasted Nuthatch
  11. Pine Siskin
  12. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  13. Hairy Woodpecker
  14. American Robin
  15. Northern Flicker
  16. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  17. Northern Cardinal
  18. Red-winged Blackbird
  19. Common Grackle
  20. Purple Finch
  21. American Crow
  22. Cooper’s Hawk
  23. American Tree Sparrow
  24. Brown Creeper
  25. Sharp-shinned Hawk

Top 5 Hotspots For Birdwatching In South Dakota

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

  1. Farm Island
  2. Oahe Downstream Recreation Area
  3. Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  4. Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge
  5. Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge

Top 25 Backyard Birds Of South Dakota

The list below is determined by the number of bird watchers in South Dakota who have seen a species visiting their feeder at least once, divided by the number of bird feeder sites in the state.

1. American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a common species of bird found throughout North America and can be seen in South Dakota backyards during the summer and spring breeding season.

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 97% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

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

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer

2. House Sparrow

The House Sparrow is a common species of bird found throughout the world and is a year-round resident of South Dakota.

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 90% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

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

3. Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-Eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow found in the Northern Hemisphere from Alaska to Newfoundland and can be seen in South Dakota during the colder non-breeding months.

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 90% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

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

4. House Finch

The House Finch is a small bird found in most of North America, including parts of the United States and Southern Canada. These tiny birds can be found all year round in the southeastern and southwestern corners of South Dakota.

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 90% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

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

Feeder Food:

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

5. Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is the most common woodpecker observed in South Dakota and can be seen in the state all year round.

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 90% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage
  • Large & Small Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

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

6. Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-Capped Chickadee is a widespread species of bird found throughout the Northern half of North America and can be seen in South Dakota backyards 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 83% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

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

7. Red-breasted Nuthatch

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is a small songbird found across most of North America and much of Canada. These tiny birds can be seen in South Dakota during the colder non-breeding months.

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 80% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

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

8. Blue Jay

The Blue Jay is a common species of bird found throughout North America and is a year-round resident of South Dakota.

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 77% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

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 

9. 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 resident of South Dakota.

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 73% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

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

10. White-breasted Nuthatch

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

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 73% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

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

11. Pine Siskin

The Pine Siskin is widespread throughout North America and some parts of Canada and Mexico, and can be seen in South Dakota during the colder 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 70% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

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

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer

12. 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 can be seen in South Dakota all year round.

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 63% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

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

13. Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker found throughout North America and Southern Canada, and are a year-round resident bird of South Dakota.

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 63% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage
  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder

Feeder Food:

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

14. American Robin

The American Robin is a common species of bird found throughout North America and can be seen in South Dakota backyards all year round.

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 60% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

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

15. Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is one of the most common woodpecker species in North America and can be seen in South Dakota 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 53% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

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

16. Red-bellied Woodpecker

The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker with a long, chisel-like bill. They are found in the eastern half of the United States and can be seen all year round in the southeastern corner of South Dakota.

Males and Females are about 24cm (9.4 inches) long and weigh around 56-91g (2-3.2oz). Red-bellied Woodpeckers have black-and-white stripes above and a paler below. The male has red from its bill to its nape, while the female only has a red nape. Red bellies can be seen during flight but are more challenging to see when perched.

They live in various habitats, including woodlands, bottomland forests, swamps, riversides, and parks. They are most commonly found near water to find insects to eat. 

They will seldom peck at the wood of trees to find food but instead will forage for insects whenever the opportunity presents itself. They also feed on nuts, fruits, and seeds and store their food in bark crevices.

Red-bellied woodpeckers also visit backyard bird feeders that offer suet, sunflowers seeds, or peanut butter mixed with birdseed. While at backyard feeders, they are bullish birds and will often dominate other smaller birds and their cousins (Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers).

The Red-bellied Woodpecker has been seen at 53% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Types:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Nectar Feeder
  • Suet Cage

Feeder food:

  • Black Oil & Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Cracker corn
  • Peanuts & Peanut Hearts
  • Sugar Water
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms

17. Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is a common species of bird found in the United States. These beautiful birds can be seen in southeastern South Dakota all year round.

Northern Cardinals are small songbirds, with males and females generally weighing less between 42 – 48g (1.5 – 1.7 oz), and are 21-23cm (8.3-9.1 inches) long.

Northern cardinals have a distinctive crest on their head that can be raised when they feel threatened or aggressive; however, this behavior is not often observed in wild populations and has been lost to captive ones.

The Northern Cardinal’s feathers range from bright red in males to brownish orange in females, and their bills are short but wide at the base – giving them an upturned appearance, making them easy to identify.

Northern Cardinals have a varied diet that consists of fruits, seeds, berries, and insects and are very common at most bird feeders but prefer to eat seeds such as sunflower, safflower, and cracked corn from the ground.

The Northern Cardinal has been seen at 50% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

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

Feeder Food:

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

18. 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, and are year-round residents of South Dakota.

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 47% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

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

19. Common Grackle

The Common Grackle is a large blackbird found in abundance throughout the Eastern and Mid-Eastern parts of North America. These large birds can be seen in South Dakota during the summer and spring breeding months.

They are about the size of a Mourning Dove and are around 28-34cm (11-13.4 Inches) long and weigh between 74-142g (2.6-5oz). Males are slightly larger than females. They have a flat head with yellow eyes and a stout beak to eat insects, seeds, fruits, small invertebrates, and snails. 

They have a long tail and shiny black plumage. The male has a greenish iridescence to their feathers, while the female is less glossy with brown feathers on her head.

The Common Grackle is usually found in large flocks in open habitats that include farmlands or grassland areas. Still, it will also be seen around residential areas where food scraps are available, like compost piles or bird feeders. They can sometimes be found near wetlands too.

Common Grackles are opportunistic omnivores that eat mainly insects and some grain but supplement with food items like seeds, fruits, small invertebrates, and snails. They usually feed or forage on the ground but will also scavenge in the garbage around residential areas if given the opportunity.

The common grackle will often visit backyard bird feeders and don’t seem to be too picky when it comes to the type of feed present.

The Common Grackle has been seen at 47% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • Large Hopper
  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

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

20. Purple Finch

The Purple Finch is a small finch found mainly in the eastern half of the North American continent. They can also be seen on the west coast of the United States and southern Canada. They can be seen in South Dakota during the colder non-breeding months.

Males and Females are about 12-16cm (4.7-6.3 inches) long and weigh between 18-32g (0.6-1.1oz). They are about the same size as a house finch but with a chunkier appearance. They have short notched tails and a robust conical bill, perfect for cracking seeds.

Contrary to the name, Purple Finches are not really purple. The males have a raspberry-colored head, breast, and rump, with their wings and back having a pinky tinge. The females have no red and a patterned head and are more brown and white above and streaked below.

They live in coniferous forests, woodlands, gardens, and parks. They primarily forage on the ground or in trees for seeds, buds, fruit, and some insects and spiders

They are also common at backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds, thistle, or nyjer seed during the winter.

The Purple Finch has been seen at 40% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

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

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer
  • Millet

21. American Crow

The American Crow is a large bird found throughout most of North America, except in some areas in the southern United States along the border with Mexico. They are year-round residents in southern South Dakota and can be seen in northern South Dakota during the summer breeding months.

American Crows are large at about 40-53cm (115.8-21 inches) long and weigh between 316-620g (11.2-22oz). They are black all over, including their legs, feet, bill, and eyes.

They have a very distinct, short tail with broad wings that allow for a quick flight. They are known to be brilliant birds – able to use tools to obtain the food they otherwise couldn’t reach.

Their preferred habitat is open areas such as pastures with some trees – either deciduous or coniferous to roost at night when they sleep. They will often be found in urban areas where food is plentiful – for example, at dumpsters behind supermarkets or garbage bins.

They are omnivores and very opportunistic and will eat small mammals, insects, and amphibians but may also be found eating fruits or grain in the wintertime when other food sources are scarce. We have even personally seen crows stealing chicks from other nests and flying away to eat them.

Not your typical visitor to backyard bird feeders but may hang around yards that offer a compost heap, easy access to garbage, or pet food lying around.

The American Crow has been seen at 40% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • Platform Feeder
  • Ground

Feeder Food:

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

22. Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized hawk found throughout North America and is a resident of South Dakota during the summer and spring breeding months.

Males are about 37-39cm (14.6-15.3 inches) long and weigh 220-410g (7.8-14.5oz). Females are about 42-45cm (16.5-17.7 inches) long and weigh 330-680g (11.6-24oz).

They have broad rounded wings, a long, rounded tail, and a large head. Adults are bluish-gray above, with rusty colored bars below and thick darker bands on their tails. Juveniles are brown above, with orange-colored highlights on the head and dark streaks below.

Cooper’s hawks are often found in riparian woodlands, suburbs, and parks where they can find plenty of prey.

The Cooper’s Hawk is a versatile predator that preys on small mammals such as squirrels and rats and small birds up to the size of a Blue Jay. They often hunt by perching on a branch and waiting for prey to pass by. When prey is spotted, they will swoop down, grasp it with their feet and kill using a sharp blow of the bill.

In suburban areas, they sometimes hunt birds at bird feeders or squirrels in backyards and small rodents such as mice and rats.

The Cooper’s Hawk has been seen at 33% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • N/A

Feeder Food:

  • Unsuspecting Doves, Jays and Robin-sized birds

23. American Tree Sparrow

The American Tree Sparrow is a small sparrow found throughout North America and can be seen in South Dakota during the colder non-breeding months.

Males and females are about 13-14cm (5.5 inches) long and weigh around 13-28g (0.5-1.0oz). They have a long, thin tail, a small bill, and a small head.

Their bill is bicolored, which is dark above and yellow below. They have a rusty-colored cap, a rusty eye line, and a rusty-colored striped back. Their wings have two white wing bars, and their underparts are primarily gray with some pale brown coloration on their sides and breast.

American Tree Sparrows can be found in open areas near woods, gardens, or parks during the warmer months and move to more dense areas such as weedy fields, shrubs, and forest edges during the colder months. They breed in the far north of Canada and spend their winter migration below the Canadian border.

They eat mostly seeds in winter and insects during the summer months. They forage mainly on the ground but can also be seen in bushes or trees.

American Tree Sparrows frequently visit bird feeders in the winter that offer black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer thistle, or millet.

The American Tree Sparrow has been seen at 30% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • Ground
  • Platform Feeder
  • Large hopper

Feeder Food:

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Nyjer
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Millet

24. Brown Creeper

The Brown Creeper is a small brown bird found throughout North America and parts of Central America. They can be seen in South Dakota during the colder winter months.

Males and Females are about 12-14cm (4.7-5.5 inches) long and weigh between 5-10g 0.2-0.3oz). They have a spiked-tipped tail and a thin, curved bill.

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 30% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • Suet Cage

Feeder Food:

  • Suet
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Peanut Hearts

25. Sharp-shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned hawk is a small raptor with short, rounded wings and a long tail. They are found throughout North and Central America, and can be seen in northeastern South Dakota during the summer and spring breeding months.

Males and Females are about 24-34cm (9.4-13.4 inches) long and weigh between 87-218g (3.1-7.7oz). They are just a bit larger than a Jay and the females are noticeably larger than the males. They are bluish-gray above and reddish-orange below with a darker cap.

They live in various habitats, including woodland edges, suburban areas, parks, open fields, and agricultural land from Canada to Southern Mexico.

Sharp-shinned hawks eat mostly songbirds and consume small mammals such as mice, rats, and squirrels. They ambush their prey by hiding in trees and pouncing on their unsuspecting victim.

They are common backyard birds that can often be seen perched on a tree branch or flying overhead. Sharp-shinned hawks prefer to feed on live prey and visit bird feeders that have attracted small mammals or songbirds.

The Sharp-shinned Hawk has been seen at 23% of all feeder sites in South Dakota.

Feeder Type:

  • N/A

Feeder Food:

  • Unsuspecting Songbirds
  • Unsuspecting Squirrels

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

  • American Robin (38% frequency)
  • Red-winged Blackbird (31% frequency)
  • Mourning Dove (27% frequency)
  • Common Grackle (25% frequency)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (23% frequency)
  • Western Meadowlark (22% frequency)
  • American Goldfinch (22% frequency)
  • House Sparrow (20% frequency)
  • European Starling (20% frequency)
  • Blue Jay (18% frequency)

What Are The Most Common Winter Backyard Birds Of South Dakota?

  • Dark-eyed Junco (32% frequency)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (26% frequency)
  • Downy Woodpecker (24% frequency)
  • House Sparrow (24% frequency)
  • European Starling (21% frequency)
  • American Robin (20% frequency)
  • Blue Jay (19% frequency)
  • American Goldfinch (19% frequency)
  • White-breasted Nuthatch (18% frequency)
  • American Crow (17% frequency)

Birds To Spot Beyond The Backyard In South Dakota

If you decide to birdwatch away from your home, these are some of the other birds to look out for:

  1. Ring-necked Pheasant
  2. Bank Swallow
  3. Sandhill Crane
  4. Brewer’s Blackbird
  5. Yellow-headed Blackbird
  6. Tree Swallow
  7. Clay-colored Sparrow
  8. Cliff Swallow
  9. Snow Bunting
  10. Violet-green Swallow
  11. Cedar Waxwing
  12. Common Redpoll
  13. Common Nighthawk
  14. Lark Sparrow
  15. Sharp-tailed Grouse
  16. Killdeer
  17. Purple Martin
  18. Vesper Sparrow
  19. Western Meadowlark
  20. Rusty Blackbird
  21. Lark Bunting
  22. Bobolink
  23. Red-tailed Hawk
  24. Bald Eagle
  25. Bohemian Waxwing
  26. Red Crossbill
  27. Great Blue Heron
  28. Eastern Kingbird
  29. Marsh Wren
  30. Evening Grosbeak

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of birds are in South Dakota?

South Dakota is home to many species of birds that range in size from small Song Birds to larger Water Birds and Birds of Prey. The most common of which include the American Robin (38% frequency), Red-winged Blackbird (31% frequency), Mourning Dove (27% frequency), Canada Goose (27% frequency), Mallard (27% frequency), Red-tailed Hawk (14% frequency), Turkey Vulture (13% frequency) and the Bald Eagle (9% frequency).

How many species of birds are there in South Dakota?

There are 411 documented species of birds in South Dakota.

What birds of prey live in South Dakota?

South Dakota is home to many raptor species such as Falcons, Hawks, Eagles, Owls and Vultures. Some of the most common include the American Kestrel, Prairie Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Snowy Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl and the Turkey Vulture.

What Is The State Bird Of South Dakota?

The Ring-necked Pheasant is the state bird of South Dakota.

What Is The Most Common Backyard Bird In South Dakota?

The most common backyard bird of South Dakota is the American Robin.

What Is The Most Common Backyard Feeder Bird In South Dakota?

The most common feeder bird in South Dakota is the American Goldfinch.

Keep an eye out for the backyard birds of South dakota

A wide variety of birds can be found in backyards across South Dakota. 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.

No matter where you live in South Dakota, there are sure to be some backyard birds you can enjoy. Be sure to keep an eye out for the most common backyard birds of South Dakota all year round!

If you’re looking to venture out and do some birding, then visit one of South Dakota’s best hotspots for birdwatching. We would also love to hear about your favorite birdwatching spots or experiences in South Dakota.

If you have 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.

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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!

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