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Let’s talk about Ohio! The state is famous for many greats that have emerged from it, beginning with the Wright Brothers and at least six American Presidents. But beyond the people and the incredible landscape, Ohio, also known as the Buckeye State, host more than 400 species of birds.

That should give you an idea of what to do this spring if you’ll be heading there. Bird watching is a popular activity in Ohio, and there are forty-eight birding spots scattered across the city. Since you are up for it, we are set to get you started. Here are the ten most common birds in Ohio.

1. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

You only have to walk into the woods with deciduous trees and conifers to find these birds. These birds are concentrated at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, green lawn sand cemeteries. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks belong to the cardinal family. These birds are midsized and have distinct color divisions across their body.

Males have a characteristic red patch on their white breast, large triangular beaks, and black color on their head, wings, and back tail. Females have heavily streaked dark brown back feathers and a light brown chest. You can’t miss their distinct white eyebrows as well. Both sexes make sonorous sounds that people humorously liken to a drunken robin.

2. Swamp Sparrow

Are you going to the Magee Marsh MA or Maumee Bay SP? If yes, you can’t miss the Swamp Sparrows. Although you will find them all around the state in migratory periods, they primarily reside in the northern half of Ohio, in the wetlands. Their name is a giveaway of places they love to stay, in essence, near water.

Male features include roundness at the tail, grey face, and collar, with a yellow beak base. Females differ with a silver-colored breast and white throat. Generally, both sexes have extensive dark brown wings and tails.

If you hear a somewhat metallic tune in the swamp, know the swamp swallow is registering your presence. These birds do not go far away from their residence except when migrating. They also forage close to the waterside. Their food consists mainly of insects they find on the ground, and sometimes, they pick them out from water.

3. Indigo Bunting

The name already gives away the characteristic color of this bird, howbeit only the males appear so. Males also feature black touches on wings, faces, and tails. Female buntings and immature males are light-brown with a few dark tinges at wing edges.

Another notable thing about these birds is their love for prolonged and melodious whistling. They do not hide but love to stay in the open. So, you won’t find it difficult to locate one on telephone poles and orchards near you.

Nutrition-wise, these birds love insects, worms, and tiny seeds such as thistle and sunflower. So, if you have some of these seed-producing plants in your backyard, you can play host to some of them.

4. The Northern Cardinal

This midsized songbird is Ohio’s adopted state bird. The males are not hard to recognize. They have a characteristic vibrant red color with a black mask and throat. Meanwhile, the adult females generally have pale brown skins with bright red coatings at the wingtips, tail, and crest.

To spot these crested birds won’t be a problem. You can find them anywhere across the state and at all times of the season. Who knows? One of them could be nesting in your backyard at this moment. Some grains spread in the right place could set you up for an appointment with them.

5. Bobolinks

If you are going to Visit Ohio by May, you will catch the Bobolink dropping in from Argentina. Their arrival isn’t quiet as their bubbling tunes fill the air, perhaps telling tales of their journeys. Bobolinks like hayfields, especially those with lots of grains and legumes. That should give you an idea of where to find them.

Now that you know where to find this migratory bird, here is how they look. Males have characteristic black and white feather combination. The back of their head is pale yellow. In contrast, females take a straw coloration with black stripes on the head. Their wings and tail also feature some dark brown stripes.

6. Baltimore Oriole

The Baltimore Orioles are another common bird in Ohio. When you look around the open woods in May, these colorful birds are too conspicuous to miss. They love to sing and imitate each other’s calls. Their song is very melodious, comprising of intricate whistling. 

Again, you don’t even have to go into the woods looking for them. Baltimore Orioles love open places like community parks, riversides, backyards, and cemeteries. So, if you want to see some come close, keep some grains close by. The Magee Marsh WA also hosts lots of them during the generally warm period of May.

Adult males have a radiant orange color with a black color on the head, wings, and back. Some white stripes also appear on their wings. The color of the female body varies from orange to light yellow, with distorted black color at the head and wings.


7. American Goldfinch

Also known as wild canaries, the American goldfinch is quite a singer. They make their distinct melody by delicately combining whistles and trills. Their flight call is another way to be sure you have not mistaken them for other birds.

There isn’t a place where you cannot find them around the state. Matured males have golden yellow bodies. Meanwhile, they have black wings and foreheads. A touch of white is visible as stripes over their wings and bottom feathers. 

The female counterpart has an equally impressive appearance. They feature a duller yellow body beneath, olive above, black wings with white stripes, and black patches on the tail.

A sure place to find this bird will be forest edges, plains, backyards, and other open areas. They feed primarily on seeds and a few fruits. If you want them around your house, grow some plants like the native thistle and sunflower. They’ll come down to feed on the seeds from these plants. You can also spread out some seeds for them on the floor to forage.

8. Red-winged Blackbird

Here is a bird you can find in Ohio anywhere at any time. Red-winged Blackbirds are highly adaptable to diverse environments, be it in wet meadows, roadsides, or cattail marshes.

As you may have rightly guessed, the bird’s name is derived from the color of a mature male’s shoulder patch. The color is predominantly red and bordered by yellow. Otherwise, the bird is evenly black all around its body. Female red-winged blackbirds opt for dark brown color with black spots all over their bodies.

You can spot a flock of them as they forage for food. Some of the items on their menu include grains, seeds, insects, millipedes, and even berries. 

But you should mind your steps when you sight their nests. Be careful when you see one with wings spread out and shoulder patches puffed. Males are quite territorial and would put up a fight with an intruder. Yes, that includes you.

9. Eastern Towhee

Once known as the Rufous-sided Towhee, the Eastern Towhee is a larger sparrow species. They are omnivores and do forage on the ground, scratching the floor for seeds and insects. When they can, they feed on fish too. 

Without much ado, you would find these birds in brushy fields, woodland openings, and less dense vegetation. If you see one with a black upper body, brown mid-section, and white belly, you’ve made out the male. Females differ with a brown upper body and are similar in other areas. Meanwhile, both have dark eyes.

Like their distant sparrow relatives, Eastern Towhees are adept at forming melodious tunes with their whistles. Their calls are unimaginably loud in comparison with their size.

10. Scarlet Tanager

Whether visiting or living in Ohio, you mustn’t miss sighting the Scarlet Tanager. During the spring and summer, males have a stunning appearance of a scarlet body and black wings and tails. Rather than bright red, females feature olive yellows except for their wings and tail, which are some shades darker.

Meanwhile, these birds aren’t one to see on flood plains or in your backyard. They love to stay high in the trees, especially in deciduous-evergreen forests. You have to scan the top of the trees because they do not like the open. It would be worth your time searching for them. Their bright color and songs would point you to the tree to look.


Touching every bird available in Ohio would be quite a task. Nevertheless, we have presented ten of the most common birds that fly in this great state. You should know that every season is bird season in Ohio. 

While some birds could be just around your backyard like the Northern cardinal, some make themselves scarce, adding more to the birdwatching adventure.

Ohio’s skies ring with diverse melodies, and these winged creatures are the singers. So, take your time to listen and watch. Ohio’s birds are worth the time. 

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