10 MOST Common Birds Found in St. Louis, MO (2024)

What kinds of birds can you find in St. Louis, Missouri?

common birds in st. louis

Despite being a large city, I think you would be surprised at the number of species that you can find in downtown St. Louis and the surrounding areas. Many types of birds can adapt to the presence of humans, even building nests and raising their babies in close proximity.

In addition, there are other parks and other green spaces that offer hiding spaces for shyer birds.

Below, you will learn the TEN most common birds that are found around St. Louis!


#1. American Robin

  • Turdus migratorius

american robin - types of birds in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A beautiful thrush that features a rusty red breast and a dark head and back.
  • Look for a white throat and white splotches around the eyes.
  • Both sexes are similar, except that females appear paler.

American Robins are one of the most familiar birds in St. Louis!

They inhabit a wide variety of habitats and naturally are found everywhere from forests to the tundra. But these thrushes are comfortable around people and are common to see in backyards.

American Robin Range Map

american robin range map

Even though they are abundant, American Robins rarely visit bird feeders because they don’t eat seeds. Instead, their diet consists of invertebrates (worms, insects, snails) and fruit. For example, I see robins frequently in my backyard, pulling up earthworms in the grass!

american robin eggs and nest

These birds also commonly nest near people. Look for an open cup-shaped nest that has 3-5 beautiful, distinctive sky blue color eggs.

American Robins sing a string of clear whistles, which is a familiar sound in spring. (Listen below)

Many people describe the sound as sounding like the bird is saying “cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.”


#2. Mallard

  • Anas platyrhynchos

Common United States ducks

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males have a bright green head, thin white collar, dark reddish-brown chest, yellow bill, and a black butt with a white-tipped tail.
  • Females are mottled brown with orange and brown bills.
  • Both sexes have purple-blue secondary feathers on their wing, which is most visible when they are standing or flying.

My guess is that almost everyone is familiar with the Mallard. These ducks are definitely one of the most recognizable birds in St. Louis!

Mallard Range Map

mallard duck range map

Mallards are extremely comfortable around people, which is why these adaptable ducks are so widespread. They are found in virtually any wetland habitat, no matter where it’s located. We even find Mallards in our swimming pool every summer and have to chase them away, so they don’t make a mess on our deck! 🙂

Mallards readily accept artificial structures built for them by humans. If you have a nice pond or a marsh, feel free to put up a homemade nesting area to enjoy some adorable ducklings walking around your property!  Just make sure you put up predator guards so predators can’t get to the eggs.

When you think of a duck quacking, it is almost inevitably a female Mallard. If there is a better duck sound, we haven’t heard it! Interestingly, males do not quack like females but instead make a raspy call.


#3. Great Egret

  • Ardea alba

great egret

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Large, white bird with long, black legs.
  • S-curved neck and a daggerlike yellow bill. Look for a greenish area between their eyes and the base of the bill.
  • While they fly, their neck is tucked in, and their long legs trail behind.

Appearance-wise, Great Egrets are the most stunning bird in St. Louis. These birds especially put on a show during breeding season when they grow long feathery plumes, called aigrettes, which are held up during courtship displays.

Great Egret Range Map

great egret range map

In fact, these aigrettes are so beautiful, Great Egrets were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because these feathers made such nice decorations on ladies’ hats. The National Audubon Society was actually formed in response to help protect these birds from being slaughtered. To this day, the Great Egret serves as the symbol for the organization.

Slightly smaller than a Great Blue Heron, this species eats almost anything that may be in the water. The list includes reptiles, birds, amphibians, small mammals, and countless invertebrates.

Great Egrets don’t get any awards for their beautiful songs. Listen for a loud sound that is best described as a croak (“kraak).” When surprised, you may hear a fast “cuk-cuk-cuk” alarm call. LISTEN BELOW!


#4. Canada Goose

  • Branta canadensis

Common Geese and Swans in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Large goose with a long black neck and a distinctive white cheek patch.
  • Brown body with a pale white chest and underparts.
  • Black feet and legs.

Canada Geese are extremely common birds in St. Louis.

I’m sure you probably recognize these birds, as they are very comfortable living around people and development. Look for them wherever there are grasses or grains to eat, such as lawns, parks, farm fields, and golf courses. I know I have been guilty of stepping in their “droppings” at least a few times in my own backyard as they come to eat corn from my feeding station. 🙂

Canada Goose Range Map

canada goose range map

In fact, these geese are now so abundant, many people consider them pests for the amount of waste they produce! If you have a manicured lawn that is maintained all the way to the water’s edge, you have an open invitation for these birds to visit.

The Canada Goose is also easy to identify while flying overhead. If you see a flock of large birds in a V-formation, then it’s most likely them. Flying this way helps conserve energy, and different birds take turns leading the way.

Canada Geese are often heard in St. Louis.

Listen for a wide variety of loud honks and cackles. Listen above! I have even been hissed at by them for accidentally approaching a nest too closely.

Interestingly, these geese can live a long time! Their lifespan ranges from 10 to 24 years, but one individual banded in 1969 was found again in 2001, 32 years later!

If you’re interested, you may be able to see a Canada Goose at my bird feeding station right now! I have a LIVE high-definition camera watching my feeders 24/7. 🙂 Look for them on the ground eating corn.


#5. Northern Cardinal

  • Cardinalis cardinalis

northern cardinal

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males are a stunning red with a black mask and throat.
  • Females are pale orangish-brown with red on their crest, wings, and tail.
  • Both sexes have a crest on their head and a short, thick bill that is perfect for cracking seeds.

Northern Cardinal Range Map

northern cardinal range map

Without a doubt, the Northern Cardinal is one of the most popular birds at backyard feeding stations. They are not only beautifully colored, but they are incredibly common in St. Louis!

In this video, you can see both male and female cardinals. If you look closely you can even see a juvenile!

Here are my three favorite ways to attract cardinals to my backyard:

  • Supply their favorite foods, which include sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, corn, and peanuts.
  • Use bird feeders that are easy for them to use, such as trays and hoppers.
  • Keep a fresh supply of water available in a birdbath.

And with a little practice, it’s easy to identify Northern Cardinals by their songs and sounds. Interestingly, unlike most other songbirds in St. Louis, even females sing.

  • The most common song you will probably hear is a series of clear whistled melodies that sound like the bird is saying “birdie-birdie-birdie” or “cheer-cheer-cheer.” (Listen below!)


#6. White-throated Sparrow

  • Zonotrichia albicollis

white throated sparrow pic

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Both sexes’ colors can vary; some can be more grayish or tannish on their chunky body.
  • Head is typically black and white striped with a yellow spot between the eyes.
  • White throat patch, gray face, and small bill.

Look for these sparrows in the woods on the forest edge. They enjoy scratching at the ground under leaves or picking leaves up and moving them out of the way with their bill.

White-throated Sparrow Range Map

white throated sparrow range map

This species readily visits bird feeders, especially in winter. Feed them sunflower seeds or millet and make sure some of the food ends up on the ground, as they won’t fly up to feeders. Luckily, I see these birds often at my feeding station! And having a place for them to hide and find shelter will entice them to stay.

To attract them to your backyard, use black oil sunflower seeds and millet in the winter.

White-throated Sparrows sing a high-pitched whistle that is easy to learn. Just listen for “Oh-sweet-Canada-Canada.


#7. Red-tailed Hawk

  • Buteo jamaicensis

Common birds of prey in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 18-26 in (45-65 cm) tall with a wingspan of 43-55 in (110-140 cm).
  • They are dark brown over the back and wings, with white feathers underneath and a reddish tail.
  • Their beaks and legs are yellow.

 Red-tailed Hawks are one of the most common birds of prey in St. Louis!

These raptors are often seen on long drives in the countryside, soaring in the sky, or perched on a fence post. The color of a Red-tailed Hawk’s plumage can be anything from nearly white to virtually black, so coloration is not a reliable indicator. The best way to identify them is by looking for their characteristic red tail. 🙂 

Red-tailed Hawk Range Map

Red-tailed Hawk Range Map

These hawks are highly adaptable, and there is no real description of their preferred habitats because they seem to be comfortable everywhere. I have seen Red-tailed Hawks in numerous places, from the deep backcountry in Yellowstone National Park to urban cities to my own suburban backyard! Pick a habitat, such as pastures, parks, deserts, roadsides, rainforests, woodlands, fields, or scrublands, and you’ll find them thriving.

Red-tailed Hawks have impressive calls that are easily identified.

In fact, people are so enamored with their screams, it’s common for directors to use the sounds of a Red-tailed Hawk to replace Bald Eagles that appear in movies. In case you have never heard one, Bald Eagles don’t make sounds that live up to their appearance (putting it nicely!)


#8. Common Grackle

  • Quiscalus quiscula

common grackle

Identifying Characteristics:
  • Lanky, large blackbirds that have a long tail and long bill that curves slightly downward. They are loud birds that gather in big flocks high in trees.
  • Males are black overall but have an iridescent blue head and bronze body when seen in the right light.
  • Females look similar, except they are slightly less glossy than males.

Common Grackle Range Map

common grackle range map
Common Grackles are one of the most resourceful birds found in St. Louis.
Their favorite foods are grains, such as corn and rice, and they are known to gather in enormous flocks in farm fields growing these crops. In addition, they also eat a wide variety of seeds, acorns, fruits, insects, spiders, frogs, fish, mice, other birds, and even garbage!

Common Grackles are common visitors to bird feeders!

Watch my feeding station get taken over by Common Grackles!

These large, aggressive birds can become a bit of a nuisance when they arrive in large flocks as they scare away smaller songbirds. Unfortunately, due to their athletic ability and willingness to eat most foods, they are one of the harder creatures to prevent at backyard feeding stations.

To identify them by sound, listen for a song that is compared to a rusty gate (“readle-ree”), often accompanied by whistles, squeaks, and groans. (Press PLAY below to hear their common songs and calls!)


#9. Mourning Dove

  • Zenaida macroura


Identifying Characteristics:

  • A mostly grayish dove with large black spots on the wings and a long thin tail.
  • Look for pinkish legs, a black bill, and a distinctive blue eye-ring.
  • Males and females look the same.

The Mourning Dove is the most common dove in St. Louis.

Look for them perched high up in trees or on a telephone wire near your home. They are also commonly seen on the ground, which is where they do most of their feeding.

Mourning Dove Range Map
mourning dove range map

Mourning Doves are common visitors to bird feeding stations!

To attract them, try putting out their favorite foods, which include millet, shelled sunflower seeds, Nyjer seeds, cracked corn, and safflower. Mourning Doves need a flat place to feed, so the best feeders for them are trays or platforms. They are probably most comfortable feeding on the ground, so make sure to throw a bunch of food there too.

It’s common to hear Mourning Doves in St. Louis. Listen for a low “coo-ah, coo, coo, coo.” In fact, this mournful sound is how the dove got its name! Many people commonly mistake this sound for an owl. (Press PLAY below!)


#10. Red-winged Blackbird

  • Agelaius phoeniceus

red winged blackbird

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males are all black, except for a bright red and yellow patch on their shoulders.
  • Females are brown and heavily streaked. There is a bit of yellow around their bill.
  • Both sexes have a conical bill and are commonly seen sitting on cattails or perched high in a tree overlooking their territory.

Red-winged Blackbird Range Map

red winged blackbird range map

During the breeding season, these birds are almost exclusively found in marshes and other wet areas. Females build nests in between dense grass-like vegetation, such as cattails, sedges, and bulrushes. Males aggressively defend the nest against intruders, and I have even been attacked by Red-winged Blackbirds while walking near the swamp in my backyard!

When it’s the nonbreeding season, Red-winged Blackbirds spend much of their time in grasslands, farm fields, and pastures looking for weedy seeds to eat. It’s common for them to be found in large flocks that feature various other blackbird species, such as grackles, cowbirds, and starlings.  

Red-winged Blackbirds are easy to identify by their sounds! (Press PLAY below)

If you visit a wetland or marsh in spring, you are almost guaranteed to hear males singing and displaying, trying to attract a mate. Listen for a rich, musical song that lasts about one second and sounds like “conk-la-ree!


Which of these birds have you seen before in St. Louis?

Leave a comment below!


To learn more about other birds you may see in St. Louis, check out my other guides!

 

The range maps above were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I use their site OFTEN to learn new information about birds!

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