List of birds of Wisconsin
Only birds that are considered to have established, self-sustaining, wild populations in Wisconsin are included on this list. This means that birds that are considered probable escapees, although they may have been sighted flying free in Wisconsin, are not included on this list.
This list is presented in taxonomic order and follows The Check-list of North American Birds (7th ed., 1998), published by the American Ornithologists' Union. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family accounts.
The following codes are used to denote certain categories of species:
- (A) = Accidental; recorded less often than once every 5 years and unlikely to occur regularly.
- (E) = Extinct; a recent member of the avifauna that no longer exists.
- (I) = Introduced; population established solely as result of direct or indirect human intervention; synonymous with non-native and non-indigenous.
Ducks, geese, and swans
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swan. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, bills which are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils. There are 43 Wisconsin species.
- Black-bellied whistling-duck, Dendrocygna autumnalis (A)
- Fulvous whistling-duck, Dendrocygna bicolor (A)
- Greater white-fronted goose, Anser albifrons
- Snow goose, Chen caerulescens
- Ross's goose, Chen rossii
- Brant, Branta bernicla
- Cackling goose, Branta hutchinsii
- Canada goose, Branta canadensis
- Mute swan, Cygnus olor (I)
- Trumpeter swan, Cygnus buccinator
- Tundra swan, Cygnus columbianus
- Wood duck, Aix sponsa
- Gadwall, Anas strepera
- Eurasian wigeon, Anas penelope
- American wigeon, Anas americana
- American black duck, Anas rubripes
- Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
- Blue-winged teal, Anas discors
- Cinnamon teal, Anas cyanoptera
- Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Northern pintail, Anas acuta
- Green-winged teal, Anas crecca
- Canvasback, Aythya valisineria
- Redhead, Aythya americana
- Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris
- Greater scaup, Aythya marila
- Lesser scaup, Aythya affinis
- King eider, Somateria spectabilis
- Common eider, Somateria mollissima
- Harlequin duck, Histrionicus histrionicus
- Surf scoter, Melanitta perspicillata
- White-winged scoter, Melanitta fusca
- Black scoter, Melanitta americana
- Long-tailed duck, Clangula hyemalis
- Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
- Common goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
- Barrow's goldeneye, Bucephala islandica
- Smew, Mergellus albellus
- Hooded merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
- Common merganser, Mergus merganser
- Red-breasted merganser, Mergus serrator
- Masked duck, Nomonyx dominicus (A)
- Ruddy duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
Partridges, grouse, turkeys, and Old World quail
The Phasianidae is a family of birds which consists of the pheasants and their allies. These are terrestrial species, variable in size but generally plump, with broad relatively short wings. Many species are gamebirds, or have been domesticated as a food source for humans. There are 8 Wisconsin species.
- Grey partridge, Perdix perdix (I)
- Ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus (I)
- Ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus
- Willow ptarmigan, Lagopus lagopus (A)
- Spruce grouse, Falcipennis canadensis
- Sharp-tailed grouse, Tympanuchus phasianellus
- Greater prairie-chicken, Tympanuchus cupido
- Wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo
New World quail
The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Northern bobwhite, Colinus virginianus
Loons are aquatic birds the size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely gray or black, and they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well, and fly adequately, but, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body, are almost hopeless on land. There are 3 Wisconsin species.
Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 5 Wisconsin species.
- Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Horned grebe, Podiceps auritus
- Red-necked grebe, Podiceps grisegena
- Eared grebe, Podiceps nigricollis
- Western grebe, Aechmorphorus occidentalis
Pelicans are very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes. There are 2 Wisconsin species.
Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of colored skin on the face. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet are four-toed and webbed, a distinguishing feature among the Pelecaniformes order. There are 2 Wisconsin species.
Darters are cormorant-like water birds with very long necks and long, straight beaks. They often swim with only the neck above water, and are fish-eaters. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga
Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black or black-and-white, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have inflatable colored throat pouches. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. There is 1 species which has been sighted two or three times in Wisconsin as an accidental.
- Magnificent frigatebird, Fregata magnificens (A)
Bitterns, herons, and egrets
The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets, and bitterns. Herons and egrets are medium to large-sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 11 Wisconsin species.
- American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus
- Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis
- Great blue heron, Ardea herodias
- Great egret, Ardea alba
- Snowy egret, Egretta thula
- Little blue heron, Egretta caerulea
- Tricolored heron, Egretta tricolor
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
- Green heron, Butorides virescens
- Black-crowned night-heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
- Yellow-crowned night-heron, Nyctanassa violacea
Ibises and spoonbills
The family Threskiornithidae includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings. Their bodies tend to be elongated, the neck more so, with rather long legs. The bill is also long, decurved in the case of the ibises, straight and distinctively flattened in the spoonbills. There are 4 Wisconsin species.
- American white ibis, Eudocimus albus
- Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus
- White-faced ibis, Plegadis chihi (A)
- Roseate spoonbill, Platalea ajaja (A)
Storks are large, heavy, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills and wide wingspans. They lack the powder down that other wading birds such as herons, spoonbills and ibises use to clean off fish slime. Storks lack a pharynx and are mute. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Wood stork, Mycteria americana (A)
New World vultures
The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers, however, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carcasses. There are 2 Wisconsin species
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
Hawks, kites, and eagles
The family Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 16 Wisconsin species.
- Swallow-tailed kite, Elanoides forficatus (A)
- White-tailed kite, Elanus leucurus (A)
- Mississippi kite, Ictinia mississippiensis
- Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Northern harrier, Circus cyaneus
- Sharp-shinned hawk, Accipiter striatus
- Cooper's hawk, Accipiter cooperii
- Northern goshawk, Accipiter gentilis
- Harris's hawk, Parabuteo unicinctus (A)
- Red-shouldered hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Broad-winged hawk, Buteo platypterus
- Swainson's hawk, Buteo swainsoni
- Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Ferruginous hawk, Buteo regalis
- Rough-legged hawk, Buteo lagopus
- Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
Caracaras and falcons
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey, notably the falcons and caracaras. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. There are 4 Wisconsin species.
- American kestrel, Falco sparverius
- Merlin, Falco columbarius
- Gyrfalcon, Falco rusticolus
- Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus
Rails, gallinules, and coots
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and tend to be weak fliers. There are 8 Wisconsin species.
- Yellow rail, Coturnicops noveboracensis
- Black rail, Laterallus jamaicensis
- King rail, Rallus elegans
- Virginia rail, Rallus limicola
- Sora, Porzana carolina
- Purple gallinule, Porphyrio martinica
- Common gallinule, Gallinula galeata
- American coot, Fulica americana
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". There are 2 Wisconsin species.
Lapwings and plovers
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 7 Wisconsin species.
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- American golden-plover, Pluvialis dominica
- Snowy plover, Charadrius nivosus
- Wilson's plover, Charadrius wilsonia
- Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus
- Piping plover, Charadrius melodus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus
Stilts and avocets
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 2 Wisconsin species.
Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes, and phalaropes
The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 34 Wisconsin species.
- Spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularia
- Solitary sandpiper, Tringa solitaria
- Greater yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- Willet, Tringa semipalmata
- Lesser yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes
- Upland sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda
- Eskimo curlew, Numenius borealis (E)
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Long-billed curlew, Numenius americanus
- Hudsonian godwit, Limosa haemastica
- Marbled godwit, Limosa fedoa
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Black turnstone, Arenaria melanocephala (A)
- Red knot, Calidris canutus
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Semipalmated sandpiper, Calidris pusilla
- Western sandpiper, Calidris mauri
- Least sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
- White-rumped sandpiper, Calidris fuscicollis
- Baird's sandpiper, Calidris bairdii
- Pectoral sandpiper, Calidris melanotos
- Purple sandpiper, Calidris maritima
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
- Stilt sandpiper, Calidris himantopus
- Buff-breasted sandpiper, Tryngites subruficollis
- Ruff, Philomachus pugnax
- Short-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus
- Long-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
- Wilson's snipe, Gallinago delicata
- American woodcock, Scolopax minor
- Wilson's phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor
- Red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
- Red phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius
Gulls, terns, and skimmers
Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes gulls, terns, kittiwakes and skimmers. They are typically gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 30 Wisconsin species.
- Black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
- Ivory gull, Pagophila eburnea (A)
- Sabine's gull, Xema sabini
- Bonaparte's gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus
- Little gull, Hydrocoleus minutus
- Laughing gull, Leucophaeus atricilla
- Franklin's gull, Leucophaeus pipixcan
- Black-tailed gull, Larus crassirostris
- Mew gull, Larus canus
- Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
- California gull, Larus californicus
- Herring gull, Larus argentatus
- Thayer's gull, Larus thayeri
- Iceland gull, Larus glaucoides
- Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus
- Glaucous-winged gull, Larus glaucescens (A)
- Glaucous gull, Larus hyperboreus
- Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus
- Least tern, Sternula antillarum
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- Arctic tern, Sterna paradisaea
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- Forster's tern, Sterna forsteri
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscata (A)
- White-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus (A)
- Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus
- Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus
- Long-tailed jaeger, Stercorarius longicaudus
Auks, murres and puffins
The family Alcidae includes auks, murres and puffins. These are short winged birds that live on the open sea and normally only come ashore for breeding. There are 3 Wisconsin species.
- Dovekie, Alle alle (A)
- Thick-billed murre, Uria lomvia [A]
- Ancient murrelet, Synthliboarmphus antiquus (A)
Pigeons and doves
Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 8 Wisconsin species.
- Rock pigeon, Columba livia (I)
- Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata (A)
- Eurasian collared-dove, Streptopelia decaocto (I)
- White-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica
- Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura
- Passenger pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (E)
- Common ground-dove, Columbina passerina (A)
- Inca dove Columbina inca (A)
Lories, parakeets, macaws, and parrots
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Carolina parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis (E)
Cuckoos, roadrunners, and anis
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 3 Wisconsin species.
- Black-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalmus
- Yellow-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus
- Groove-billed ani, Crotophaga sulcirostris
Barn owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba
Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 11 Wisconsin species.
- Eastern screech-owl, Megascops asio
- Great horned owl, Bubo virginianus
- Snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus
- Northern hawk owl, Surnia ulula
- Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia
- Barred owl, Strix varia
- Great gray owl, Strix nebulosa
- Long-eared owl, Asio otus
- Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus
- Boreal owl, Aegolius funereus
- Northern saw-whet owl, Aegolius acadicus
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically colored to resemble bark or leaves. There are 3 Wisconsin species.
- Common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor
- Chuck-will's-widow, Antrostmus carolinensis
- Eastern whip-poor-will, Antrostomus vociferus
The swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have very long, swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Chimney swift, Chaetura pelagica
Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. There are 6 Wisconsin species.
- Green violetear, Colibri thalassinus (A)
- Broad-billed hummingbird, Cynanthus latirostris (A)
- Ruby-throated hummingbird, Archilochus colubris
- Anna's hummingbird, Calypte anna (A)
- Rufous hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus
- Green-breasted mango, Anthracothorax prevostii (A)
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
Woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and flickers
Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 10 Wisconsin species.
- Lewis's woodpecker, Melanerpes lewis (A)
- Red-headed woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus
- Red-bellied woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus
- Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius
- Downy woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
- Hairy woodpecker, Picoides villosus
- American three-toed woodpecker, Picoides dorsalis
- Black-backed woodpecker, Picoides arcticus
- Northern flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus
Tyrant flycatchers are Passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, are rather plain. As the name implies, most are insectivorous. There are 17 Wisconsin species.
- Olive-sided flycatcher, Contopus cooperi
- Western wood-pewee, Contopus sordidulus (A)
- Eastern wood-pewee, Contopus virens
- Yellow-bellied flycatcher, Empidonax flaviventris
- Acadian flycatcher, Empidonax virescens
- Alder flycatcher, Empidonax alnorum
- Willow flycatcher, Empidonax traillii
- Least flycatcher, Empidonax minimus
- American dusky flycatcher, Empidonax oberholseri (A)
- Eastern phoebe, Sayornis phoebe
- Say's phoebe, Sayornis saya (A)
- Vermilion flycatcher, Pyrocephalus rubinus
- Great crested flycatcher, Myiarchus crinitus
- Western kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus
- Scissor-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus forficatus
- Fork-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus savana (A)
Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 2 Wisconsin species.
The vireos are a group of small to medium sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in color and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. There are 8 Wisconsin species.
- White-eyed vireo, Vireo griseus
- Bell's vireo, Vireo bellii
- Gray vireo, Vireo vicinior (A)
- Yellow-throated vireo, Vireo flavifrons
- Blue-headed vireo, Vireo solitarius
- Warbling vireo, Vireo gilvus
- Philadelphia vireo, Vireo philadelphicus
- Red-eyed vireo, Vireo olivaceus
Jays, crows, magpies, and ravens
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show levels of learned behavior of a high degree. There are 6 Wisconsin species.
- Gray jay, Perisoreus canadensis
- Blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata
- Clark's nutcracker, Nucifraga columbiana
- Black-billed magpie, Pica hudsonia
- American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Common raven, Corvus corax
Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Horned lark, Eremophila alpestris
Swallows and martins
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with a wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 7 Wisconsin species.
- Purple martin, Progne subis
- Tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Northern rough-winged swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
- Bank swallow, Riparia riparia
- Cliff swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
- Cave swallow, Petrochelidon fulva
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
Chickadees and titmice
The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. There are 3 Wisconsin species.
- Black-capped chickadee, Poecile atricapilla
- Boreal chickadee, Poecile hudsonica
- Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor
Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet. There are 3 Wisconsin species.
- Red-breasted nuthatch, Sitta canadensis
- White-breasted nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- Brown-headed nuthatch, Sitta pusilla (A)
Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Brown creeper, Certhia americana
Wrens are small and inconspicuous birds, except for their loud songs. They have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 6 Wisconsin species.
- Carolina wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus
- Bewick's wren, Thryomanes bewickii
- House wren, Troglodytes aedon
- Winter wren, Troglodytes hiemalis
- Sedge wren, Cistothorus platensis
- Marsh wren, Cistothorus palustris
The kinglets are a small family of birds which resemble the titmice. They are very small insectivorous birds in the genus Regulus. The adults have colored crowns, giving rise to their names. There are 2 Wisconsin species.
- Blue-gray gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea
The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 10 Wisconsin species.
- Eastern bluebird, Sialia sialis
- Mountain bluebird, Sialia currucoides
- Townsend's solitaire, Myadestes townsendi
- Veery, Catharus fuscescens
- Gray-cheeked thrush, Catharus minimus
- Swainson's thrush, Catharus ustulatus
- Hermit thrush, Catharus guttatus
- Wood thrush, Hylocichla mustelina
- American robin, Turdus migratorius
- Varied thrush, Ixoreus naevius
Mockingbirds and thrashers
The mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance. There are 5 Wisconsin species.
- Gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis
- Northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Sage thrasher, Oreoscoptes montanus (A)
- Brown thrasher, Toxostoma rufum
- Curve-billed thrasher, Toxostoma curvirostre (A)
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are medium-sized passerines with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- European starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I)
Wagtails and pipits
The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- American pipit, Anthus rubescens
The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter. There are 2 Wisconsin species.
The silky-flycatchers are a small family of passerine birds which occur mainly in Central America, although the range of one species extends to central California. They are related to waxwings, and like that group have a soft silky plumage, usually gray or pale yellow in color. They have small crests. There is 1 Wisconsin species.
- Phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens (A)
Longspurs and snow buntings
- Lapland longspur, Calcarius lapponicus
- Smith's longspur, Calcarius pictus
- Chestnut-collared longspur, Calcarius ornatus
- Snow bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis
The wood warblers are a group of small often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some like the ovenbird and the two waterthrushes, are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. There are 42 Wisconsin species.
- Blue-winged warbler, Vermivora cyanoptera
- Golden-winged warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera
- Tennessee warbler, Oreothlypis peregrina
- Orange-crowned warbler, Oreothlypis celata
- Nashville warbler, Oreothlypis ruficapilla
- Northern parula, Setophaga americana
- Yellow warbler, Setophaga petechia
- Chestnut-sided warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica
- Magnolia warbler, Setophaga magnolia
- Cape May warbler, Setophaga tigrina
- Black-throated blue warbler, Setophaga caerulescens
- Yellow-rumped warbler, Setophaga coronata
- Black-throated gray warbler, Setophaga nigrescens (A)
- Black-throated green warbler, Setophaga virens
- Townsend's warbler, Setophaga townsendi (A)
- Hermit warbler, Setophaga occidentalis (A)
- Blackburnian warbler, Setophaga fusca
- Yellow-throated warbler, Setophaga dominica
- Pine warbler, Setophaga pinus
- Kirtland's warbler, Setophaga kirtlandii
- Prairie warbler, Setophaga discolor
- Palm warbler, Setophaga palmarum
- Bay-breasted warbler, Setophaga castanea
- Blackpoll warbler, Setophaga striata
- Cerulean warbler, Dendroica cerulea
- Hooded warbler, Setophaga citrina
- American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla
- Black-and-white warbler, Mniotilta varia
- Prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea
- Worm-eating warbler, Helmitheros vermivorus
- Swainson's warbler, Limnothlypis swainsonii (A)
- Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla
- Northern waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis
- Louisiana waterthrush, Parkesia motacilla
- Connecticut warbler, Oporornis agilis
- Kentucky warbler, Geothlypis formosa
- Mourning warbler, Geothlypis philadelphia
- MacGillivray's warbler, Geothlypis tolmiei
- Common yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
- Wilson's warbler, Cardellina pusilla
- Canada warbler, Cardellina canadensis
- Yellow-breasted chat, Icteria virens
American sparrows, towhees, and juncos
The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are 27 Wisconsin species.
- Green-tailed towhee, Pipilo chlorurus
- Spotted towhee, Pipilo maculatus
- Eastern towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus
- Rufous-crowned sparrow, Aimophila ruficeps
- American tree sparrow, Spizella arborea
- Chipping sparrow, Spizella passerina
- Clay-colored sparrow, Spizella pallida
- Field sparrow, Spizella pusilla
- Vesper sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus
- Lark sparrow, Chondestes grammacus
- Black-throated sparrow, Amphispiza bilineata
- Lark bunting, Calamospiza melanocorys
- Savannah sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
- Grasshopper sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
- Baird's sparrow, Ammodramus bairdii
- Henslow's sparrow, Ammodramus henslowii
- Le Conte's sparrow, Ammodramus leconteii
- Nelson's sparrow, Ammodramus nelsoni
- Fox sparrow, Passerella iliaca
- Song sparrow, Melospiza melodia
- Lincoln's sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii
- Swamp sparrow, Melospiza georgiana
- White-throated sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
- Harris's sparrow, Zonotrichia querula
- White-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Golden-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
- Dark-eyed junco, Junco hyemalis
Cardinals, saltators, and grosbeaks
The cardinals are a family of passerine birds that are robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. There are 11 Wisconsin species.
- Summer tanager, Piranga rubra
- Scarlet tanager, Piranga olivacea
- Western tanager, Piranga ludoviciana
- Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
- Rose-breasted grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus
- Black-headed grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus
- Blue grosbeak, Passerina caerulea
- Lazuli bunting, Passerina amoena (A)
- Indigo bunting, Passerina cyanea
- Painted bunting, Passerina ciris (A)
- Dickcissel, Spiza americana
The icterids are a group of small to medium, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. There are 14 Wisconsin species.
- Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
- Red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Eastern meadowlark, Sturnella magna
- Western meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
- Yellow-headed blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
- Rusty blackbird, Euphagus carolinus
- Brewer's blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Common grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
- Brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater
- Orchard oriole, Icterus spurius
- Hooded oriole, Icterus cucullatus
- Bullock's oriole, Icterus bullockii
- Baltimore oriole, Icterus galbula
- Scott's oriole, Icterus parisorum (A)
Fringilline finches, cardueline finches, and allies
Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 12 Wisconsin species.
- Brambling, Fringilla montifringilla (A)
- Gray-crowned rosy-finch, Leucosticte tephrocotis (A)
- Pine grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator
- Purple finch, Haemorhous purpureus
- House finch, Haemorhous mexicanus (I)
- Red crossbill, Loxia curvirostra
- White-winged crossbill, Loxia leucoptera
- Common redpoll, Acanthis flammea
- Hoary redpoll, Acanthis hornemanni
- Pine siskin, Spinus pinus
- American goldfinch, Spinus tristis
- Evening grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus
Old World sparrows
Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or grayish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. There are 2 Wisconsin species.
- Wisconsin Checklist, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.
- The A.O.U. Check-list of North American birds, American Ornithologists' Union, 7th edition (the official source on the taxonomy of birds found in North and Middle America).