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Birds of Minnesota. Laura Kienlen Andy Bushell. 21 Common Birds. Common Loon (Gavia immer) Food Sources: Fish and aquatic insects

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birds of minnesota

Birds of Minnesota

Laura Kienlen

Andy Bushell

21 common birds
21 Common Birds
  • Common Loon (Gavia immer)
  • Food Sources: Fish and aquatic insects
  • Interesting Fact: Name comes from the Swedish word lom, meaning “lame” because the bird’s legs are set so far back that they walk awkwardly on land. They are very sensitive during nesting and they will abandon their nest.
21 common birds1
21 Common Birds
  • Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
  • Food Sources: Small fish, frogs, insects, and snakes.
  • Interesting Fact: The Great Blue Heron flies holding its neck in an “S” shape and barks like a dog when it is startled.
21 common birds2
21 Common Birds
  • Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
  • Food Sources: Aquatic plants, insects, and seeds.
  • The Canada Goose was eliminated from Minnesota in the 1930s and early 1940s and had to be reintroduced and adapt to our environment.
21 common birds3
21 Common Birds
  • Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • Food Sources: Seeds, plants, aquatic insects, can be seen at feeders with corn.
  • The Mallard is the most abundant and widespread waterfowl, with its estimated world population now at 29,000,000 to 30,000,000.
21 common birds4
21 Common Birds
  • Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
  • Food Sources: Aquatic insects, plants, seeds.
  • The Wood Duck was nearly extinct around 1900 due to overhunting.
  • Young stay in nest for 24 hours after hatching, then jump from up to 30 feet to the ground or water to their mother.
21 common birds5
21 Common Birds
  • Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
  • Food Sources: Mice, birds, snakes, insects, mammals.
  • The Red-Tailed Hawk returns to the same nest every year, and obtains the red feather on their tail in their second year of life.
21 common birds6
21 Common Birds
  • Osprey (Pandion halietus)
  • Food Source: Fish
  • The Osprey is the only raptor that plunges feet first into the water to catch fish and carries its fish in a head-first position for better aerodynamics.
21 common birds7
21 Common Birds
  • Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
  • Food Source: Fish, carrion, birds (mainly ducks).
  • Sometimes Bald Eagles nests can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. Minnesota has one of the largest breeding populations in the lower 48 states.
21 common birds8
21 Common Birds
  • American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
  • Food Source: Fruit, insects, mammals, fish, carrion, seed/suet feeders.
  • American Crows collect and store bright , shiny objects in the nest. They are able to mimic other birds and human voices.
21 common birds9
21 Common Birds
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
  • Food Source: Insects, nuts, fruit, seed/suet feeders.
  • This Woodpecker uses dead and rotten trees to nest in as it is not as well adapted for drilling holes.
21 common birds10
21 Common Birds
  • Ring-Necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
  • Food Source: Insects, seeds, fruit.
  • This bird was originally introduced to the United States from China in the late 1800s.
21 common birds11
21 Common Birds
  • Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
  • Food Source: Insects, seeds, fruit.
  • Wild Turkeys are strong fliers that can reach speeds of 60 mph. Their eyesight is three times better than the eyesight of humans.
21 common birds12
21 Common Birds
  • American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
  • Food Source: Insects, fruit, berries, earthworms.
  • A group of this bird is commonly known as a “worm” and they have been seen in water up to their belly trying to catch small fish.
21 common birds13
21 Common Birds
  • Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
  • Food Source: Insects, fruit
  • The Eastern Bluebird’s numbers have declined because of competition from starlings and house sparrows.
21 common birds14
21 Common Birds
  • Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
  • Food Source: Seeds, insects, fruit, seed feeders
  • Male Cardinals that have a brighter red color feed at higher rated and have greater reproductive success.
21 common birds15
21 Common Birds
  • American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)
  • Food Source: Seeds, insects, seed feeders
  • The American Goldfinch changes from winter plumage to breeding plumage by a complete molt of its body feathers. It is the only member of its family to have this second molt in the spring; all the other species have just one molt each year in the fall.
21 common birds16
21 Common Birds
  • Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  • Food Source: Insects, prefers beetles, wasps and flies.
  • The Barn Swallow builds a mud nest that uses up to 1,000 beak loads of mud and drinks while it is in flight.
21 common birds17
21 Common Birds
  • Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
  • Food Source: Insects, seeds, fruit, carrion, nuts, ground feeders with corn.
  • Extremely intelligent bird that will mimic a hawk to scatter birds at a feeder. Their feathers don’t have blue pigment, the refracted sunlight casts blue light.
21 common birds18
21 Common Birds
  • Northern Oriole (Icterus galbula)
  • Food Source: Insects, fruit, nectar
  • The Baltimore Oriole hybridizes extensively with the Bullock's Oriole where their ranges overlap in the Great Plains. The two species were considered the same for a while and called the Northern Oriole, but recently, they were separated again.
21 common birds19
21 Common Birds
  • Ruby Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
  • Food Source: Nectar, insects
  • The only bird that is able to fly backward. The wings flap 50-60 times each second, their heart pumps 1,260 beats per minute, and it breathes 250 times per minute.
21 common birds20
21 Common Birds
  • Common Raven (Corvus corax)
  • Food Source: Insects, fruit, small animals, carrion.
  • Common Ravens have been seen flying upside down for nearly one kilometer and are considered to be the most intelligent of all birds.

Male (left) Female (right)

Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia)

Found in the summer in all biomes

Eats insects and is about 5 inches long

Likes shrubby gardens near water.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)

Found in the summer in the Northern Coniferous Forest and can be seen in migration through all of Minnesota.

They are 5-6” long and their diet consists of insects and berries.

Male Female ->

aquatic wading birds
Aquatic Wading Birds

Black-crowned night heron (Nyctiorax nycticorax)

About 22-27” with a 3 ½ foot wingspan. They eat fish and aquatic insects and are most active during dawn/dusk. Can be found in parts of the Prairie Grassland and Eastern Deciduous Forest biomes.

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

About 38” with a 4 ½ foot wingspan. They eat fish, aquatic insects, frogs, and crayfish. They spear fish with their sharp bill and can be found in parts of the Prairie Grassland and Eastern Deciduous Forest biomes.

<- Male


ground nesting birds
Ground Nesting Birds
  • Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus)

Eats seeds, insects, fruit, and leaf buds and can be found in

the Northern Coniferous Forest biome. About 16-19”.

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Eats insects, seeds, and fruit. The male is about 30-36” in length and the female about 20-25”, both including the tail. They can be found in Prairie Grassland and Eastern Deciduous Forest Biomes.

Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)

Found in the Prairie Grassland biome of the state. This bird is about 17” and eats insects and seeds. It is well known for its incredible mating dance.

Male Female 

Male 

 Female

 Female Male 


Male 

Female 

  • Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)

This bird resides in the Prairie Grassland biome and is about 17-20” long with a wingspan of about 3 ½ feet. Prairie falcons eat other birds. They chase them in the air, then capture them on the ground. They also eat small mammals and the young eat insects. They make a “kree-kree-kree” call.

  • Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Being the rarest bird of prey in Minnesota, Peregrines live near cliffs, bluffs, and city skyscrapers and bridges during the nesting season. They are found in a small part of the Coniferous Forest, but mostly in the Eastern Deciduous Forest. They are about 16-20 inches long and make a “cuck cuck cuck” sound. Peregrines mainly prey on ducks, pigeons, and other birds. They sometimes eat small mammals or insects such as beetles, dragonflies, or butterflies.

Female Male


Eastern Screech Owl

Barred Owl

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

About 20-24” with a 3 ½ foot wingspan. Diet consists of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. This owl hunts during the day and has no horns or ear tufts. Found mostly in the Northern Coniferous Forest and sounds like a dog barking before it hoots “who-cooks-for-you”.

Eastern-Screech Owl (Megascops asio)

About 9” with a 20” wingspan. Can be either gray and white or a rusty color depending on the color of its surrounding habitat. Found in the Eastern Deciduous Forest or Prairie Grassland biomes and eats large insects, small mammals, birds, and snakes. The only small owl with ear tufts and is active at dusk making a noise like a screeching call.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

About 20-25” with a 3 ½ foot wingspan.

They eat mammals, birds, snakes, and insects.

Has ear tufts and is know as the “Flying Tiger”.

Can be found in every biome in the state and makes

the common “Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo” call.

Male (left) Female (right) Great Horned Owl


Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Can be found in every biome in the state and eats insects, fruit, seeds, and can actually be hand fed. About 5” long and has the very common summer calls of “Chika-dee-dee-dee” and “Fee-bee”.

Boreal chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus)

These birds are mostly found in the Northern Coniferous Forest and are about 12.5 to 14.5 centimeters in length. Their call sounds husky, and is often referred to as “tsik-a-dee-dee” and they mainly eat insects and seeds.


Female Male


Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Can be found year round in the southeastern part of the state, and mostly found in the Eastern Deciduous Forest biome, but can be found across the whole state during the summer. About 8 ½ inches in length and eats seeds and insects and also enjoys living by shallow water.

Yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

About 9-11” in length and eats seeds and insects. Larger than the Red-winged blackbird and summer in the Prairie Grassland and Eastern Deciduous Forest biomes. They have a low hoarse call and like deep water marshes as opposed to the shallow preferred by the Red-winged blackbird.

 Male Female


 Female Male


Red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)

About 4 ½ inches in length, smaller than the White-breasted nuthatch. Found in the Northern Coniferous Forest and eats insects, seeds, and from feeders. Will often wedge a seed in a crack of a tree in order to get the seed open.

White-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

About 5-6 inches in length and feeds on insects, seeds, and at feeders. The bill is slightly upturned and the bird will crawl down the tree in search of food. The common summer call “Whi-whi” can be heard. Can be found year-round in all biomes, but mostly the Eastern Deciduous Forest and Prairie Grassland.

 Male Female 

our minnesota state bird the common loon
Our Minnesota State Bird: The Common Loon
  • There is a previous page on the loon. So here are some fun facts:
  • The bones of most birds are hollow and light, but loons have solid bones.
  • The extra weight helps them dive as deep as 250 feet to search for food. They can stay underwater for up to five minutes.
  • Because their bodies are heavy relative to their wing size, loons need a 100- to 600-foot "runway" in order to take off from a lake.
  • Loons can fly more than 75 miles per hour.
  • The red in the loon's eye helps it to see under water.
  • Scientists think loons can live for 30 years or more
works cited
Works Cited
  • picture 2/27/09
  • picture 2/27/09
  •'sHawkdiving_lrg.jpg picture 2/27/09
  • bird songs 3/3/09
  • Birds of Minnesota field guide by Stan Tekiela. Bird information 3/3/09
  • Bird songs 3/3/09
  • bird calls 3/3/09
  • bird calls 3/3/09