17 Birds You Can See in WINTER in Saskatchewan (2024)

What kinds of birds can you find in winter in Saskatchewan?

Types of winter birds in Saskatchewan

As you head outside this winter, keep your eyes open for which birds are around. As you will see, some species migrate here just during winter, while others can be observed during any season.

17 Winter birds in Saskatchewan:


#1. American Tree Sparrow

  • Spizelloides arborea

Types of winter birds in Saskatchewan

  • Both sexes are rusty colored on their round head. Their face is gray with a brown streak by their eyes.
  • The body is gray with reddish-brown, white, and black streaks.

You will often see American Tree Sparrows in small flocks, hopping on the ground, looking for seeds in the grass or weeds. They are common winter birds in Saskatchewan.

In the winter, this species likes to visit backyard feeders searching for small seeds, like millet, that have fallen to the ground. Millet comes in most birdseed mixes, and many birds don’t eat it. So American Tree Sparrows are nice to have around because they’ll help clean up your feeding area.

American Tree Sparrow Range Map

american tree sparrow range map

American Tree Sparrows eat a lot! In fact, they have to take in 30% of their body weight in food and water each day. Unfortunately, that means going a day without eating is usually a death sentence for them.

Their song is a series of clear opening notes followed by a variably trilled melody.

YouTube video

#2. White-breasted Nuthatch

  • Sitta carolinensis

Types of winter birds in Saskatchewan

  • Both sexes look almost the same.
  • Males have a black cap on the top of their heads.
  • Females display a lighter, more gray crown.

Look for White-breasted Nuthatches in Saskatchewan in deciduous forests year-round. They adapt well to the presence of humans and are often seen in parks, cemeteries, and wooded backyards.

These birds are especially common to see in winter visiting bird feeders. To attract nuthatches, use sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, safflower seeds, and mealworms.

White-breasted Nuthatch Range Map

White-breasted Nuthatches are incredibly vocal AND make distinctive noises that are relatively easy to identify! You are most likely to hear a “yank” call, which is given at any time of year. This loud and distinctive noise is often repeated several times in a row.


#3. Black-capped Chickadee

  • Poecile atricapillus

Types of winter birds in Saskatchewan

  • Look for a black cap and bib, white cheeks, buffy underparts, and gray back and wings.
  • Round body with a short neck and large head.
  • Short, thin bill.

These little winter birds are one of the most beloved species in Saskatchewan, and it’s easy to see why! Black-capped Chickadees are often described as “cute,” They are tiny, with an oversized head that features a black cap and bib.

Naturally, look for them in open deciduous forests, thickets, and cottonwood groves. They also adapt easily to the presence of people and are common to see in backyards and parks throughout the winter.

Black-capped Chickadee Range Map

black capped chickadee range map

In fact, once you set up a new bird feeder, chickadees will likely be the first birds to visit, as they are curious about anything new in their territory. The best foods to use are sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet. Their small size and athletic ability mean these birds can use just about any type of feeder!

These feeders can be especially helpful to Chickadees in the winter. To survive cold nights, Chickadees gain about 10% in body weight each day.


#4. European Starling

  • Sturnus vulgaris

Types of winter birds in Saskatchewan

  • Their plumage is black and appears to be shiny.
  • Breeding adults are darker black and have a green-purple tint.
  • In winter, starlings lose their glossiness, their beaks become darker, and they develop white spots over their bodies.

European Starlings are incredibly common winter birds in Saskatchewan.

But did you know these birds are an invasive species? Back in 1890, one hundred starlings were brought over from Europe and released in New York City’s Central Park. The man responsible (Eugene Schieffelin) had a mission to introduce all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays in North America.

European Starling Range Map

starling range map

The rest is history as starlings easily conquered the continent, along the way out-competing many of our beautiful native birds. Their ability to adapt to human development, eat almost anything, and survive winter weather is uncanny to virtually no other species.


#5. Downy Woodpecker

  • Dryobates pubescens
  • White below, white back, and black wings with white markings.
  • Black and white striped heads that feature a red nape in males.
  • Small woodpeckers with short bills.

Downy Woodpeckers are common winter birds in Saskatchewan!

You probably recognize them, as they are seen in many yards visiting bird feeders.

This woodpecker species is easy to attract. The best foods to use are suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts (including peanut butter).

Downy Woodpecker Range Map

Once you know what to listen for, my guess is that you will start hearing Downy Woodpeckers everywhere you go. Their calls resemble a high-pitched whinnying sound that descends in pitch towards the end.

YouTube video

#6. Pine Siskin

  • Spinus pinus

  • Brown bodies with heavy streaking and yellow edging on wings and tail.
  • Narrow, sharp-pointed bill.

Pine Siskins are winter birds typically found in mixed evergreen or deciduous forests, but they will move to a new place in search of food, like weedy fields, backyards, or gardens.

These energetic birds can be seen visiting bird feeders during the winter. They prefer to eat smaller seeds without tough shells, such as sunflower or Nyjer seeds.

Pine Siskin Range Map

pine siskin range key

These small birds are very social and search for food in flocks while chirping nonstop to each other. They don’t even stop chattering when flying!


#7. Dark-eyed Junco

  • Junco hyemalis

  • Smooth greyish-black feathers.
  • White outer tail feathers that flash open, especially in flight.
  • Rounded head and pink bill.

Dark-eyed Juncos are one of the most common winter birds in Saskatchewan. To easily identify Dark-eyed Juncos, look for a white flash from their tail feathers as they fly away.

Dark-eyed Juncos have earned the nickname “Snowbirds” or “Winter birds” because they only appear in winter in many parts of their range.

Dark-eyed Junco Range Map

dark eyed junco range map

Males sing a two-second loud, trilling song that can carry hundreds of feet away. In addition, both sexes also sing softer songs that are a mixture of warbles, trills, and whistles.


#8. House Sparrow

  • Passer domesticus

  • Chunky birds with round heads and stout bills.
  • Males have gray crowns, black bibs, white cheeks, chestnut necks, and chestnut backs with black strips.
  • Females are plain buffy brown with noticeable black, brown, and buff strips on their backs.

House Sparrows are an invasive species that originated from the Middle East. But now, they are one of the most widespread winter birds in Saskatchewan (and the world)!

Range Map – House Sparrow

house sparrow range map

House Sparrows owe their year-round success to their ability to adapt and live near humans. Because of this, they are almost always found in urban and suburban areas.

House Sparrows can be heard across the entire planet. Pay attention the next time you’re watching the news in another country. Listen for a simple song that includes lots of “cheep” notes.

YouTube video

#9. Red-breasted Nuthatch

  • Sitta canadensisRed-breasted Nuthatch Male and Female
  • Compact birds with very short tails, almost no necks, and sharp bills.
  • Males are blue-gray above and rusty below with black caps, white eyebrows, and black eyelines.
  • Females have grayer caps and pale, rusty underparts.

Red-breasted Nuthatches are active winter songbirds in Saskatchewan that have beautiful coloring. Look for compact birds with almost no neck and a short tail.

These small birds breed in northern North America, the western mountains, and the upper northeast. But during winter, they can truly show up almost anywhere.

These birds travel where needed to make sure they have enough food. In some years, they have been seen as far south as the Gulf of Mexico and Northern Mexico!

Red-breasted Nuthatch Range Map

Red-breasted Nuthatches are mostly found in coniferous forests. Their preferred habitat contrasts sharply with White-breasted Nuthatches, who prefer living in deciduous forests.


#10. Blue Jay

  • Cyanocitta cristata

  • Backs are covered in beautiful blue feathers with black bars throughout.
  • Their head is surrounded by a black necklace that has a blue crest on top.
  • Males and females look the same.

Blue Jays are known for their high intelligence.

Some people dislike Blue Jays, but I love their bold personalities. They’re interesting to observe, not to mention their plumage is stunning.

Blue Jay Range Map

blue jay range map

These birds are also excellent mimics and frequently imitate hawks. They are so good it’s hard to tell the difference between which bird is present. It’s thought that jays do this to deceive other birds into believing a hawk is present. Not a bad plan if you want to get a bird feeder all to yourself!

Blue Jays are one of the noisier birds you will hear in winter in Saskatchewan.

The most common vocalization that I hear is their alarm call, which sounds like it’s saying “jeer.”


#11. Evening Grosbeak

  • Coccothraustes vespertinus

Evening Grosbeak male and female

  • Both sexes have a large, thick, conical beak and are the size of an American Robin.
  • Males are yellow and black with a prominent white patch in the wings and a bright yellow stripe over the eye.
  • Females are mostly gray with white and black wings and a greenish-yellow tinge on the neck and their sides.

Evening Grosbeaks are a colorful winter bird you can find in Saskatchewan.

During summer, they are found in the northern coniferous forests. But in winter, they can be found pretty much anywhere as they search for food.

Evening Grosbeaks are known for their large and strong bill. They use these bills to crack open large seeds that other birds are unable to open.

Evening Grosbeak Range Map

evening grosbeak range map

In fact, these finches will show up at feeders far south of their normal winter range, which provides a treat for backyard birders. You can attract them with sunflower seeds placed onto a large platform feeder, which gives these birds ample room to land and eat.


#12. Common Redpoll

  • Acanthis flammea

Common Redpoll male and female

  • Both sexes are small, white, and brown. Look for streaks on their sides and a small red patch on their forehead.
  • Males differ from females and have a pale red vest on the chest and upper flanks.

Redpolls are only seen in Saskatchewan during winter. During the breeding season, they are found in the boreal forests of northern North America.

Redpolls travel in flocks of up to several hundred birds. They move very fast, gathering seeds in weedy fields or small trees one minute and swirling away in a mass of chattering birds the next.

Common Redpoll Range Map

common redpoll range map

Listen below to the Redpoll song, which is a combination of single or repeated calls (“chit-chit-chit-chit”). Their call notes are a whistle that sounds like “swee-ee-eet.”


#13. Tundra Swan

  • Cygnus columbianus

tundra swan

  • White bodies and very long necks.
  • Black legs and bill.
  • Small yellow spots in front of the eyes.

During summer, you will not see Tundra Swans near people, as they spend the breeding season in the remote Arctic.

Look for them in Saskatchewan in winter and during migration, where they are visitors to large bodies of water. They also visit farm fields in large flocks, looking for food.

Tundra Swan Range Map

Tundra Swan Range Map
Cephas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tundra Swans form long-term, dedicated relationships. Typically, by the time they are 2 or 3, they have found a partner. Once that happens, these two birds will breed, feed, roost, and travel together year-round.


#14. Snowy Owl

  • Bubo scandiacus

Snowy Owl Male and Female

  • Adult males range from pure white to white with a few dark spots.
  • Adult females are white with darker barring except on their faces.
  • Bright yellow eyes.

Snowy Owls are arguably the most impressive winter birds you will see in Saskatchewan.

Their white plumage stops almost everyone in their tracks, both birders and non-birders alike! Although they are mostly white, females have horizontal dark lines over most of their bodies. Interestingly, similar to humans, male Snowy Owls seem to get whiter with age. 🙂

Snowy Owl Range Map

snowy owl range map

Snowy Owls migrate with the changing seasons. During summer, they mate and breed in northern North America on the tundra. But when winter arrives, these birds come south.

You never know how far south Snowy Owls will travel. Most years, Snowy Owls only appear as far down as the northern USA. But some years, there is an “irruption” of Snowy Owls, and many more birds than normal migrate south.


#15. Black-billed Magpie

  • Pica hudsonia

  • Jay-like with long tails and heavy bills.
  • Appears black with white wingtips, shoulders, and belly.
  • Black feathers flash iridescent blue-green in the right light.

It’s hard to miss these shiny birds in winter!

Black-billed Magpies demand your attention. They are very social, noisy, and comfortable living amongst people and are commonly seen in smaller towns. Naturally, they live in open grasslands and plains and tend to avoid dense forests.

And in the right light, you can see beautiful blue iridescent feathers on the wings and tail.

Black-billed Magpie Range Map

These colorful winter birds are incredibly vocal. They often give harsh calls or a raspy, chattering song that sounds a bit like “wock, wock wock-a-wock, wock, pjur, weer, weer.” See one chattering below.

YouTube video

#16. Pine Grosbeak

  • Pinicola enucleator

Pine Grosbeak male and female

  • Large, plump finches. Look for dark gray wings with two white lines across the middle.
  • Males are reddish pink and gray in color.
  • Females and young males are grayish with tints of reddish-orange or yellow on the head and rump.

Count yourself lucky if you see a Pine Grosbeak! These birds are not typically seen around people.

Pine Grosbeaks will visit bird feeders, especially during the winter. If you want to attract them, try using a hopper or platform feeder because of the bird’s larger size. Fill the feeders with sunflower seeds.

If one lands on your feeders, they are typically easy to identify since they will be bigger than almost all the other birds.

Pine Grossbeak Range Map

pine grosbeak range map

Pine Grosbeaks are relatively easy to find and see due to their slow-moving (some people call sluggish) behavior. In addition, they are relatively tame and not scared away easily.


#17. Hoary Redpoll

  • Acanthis hornemanni

Hoary Redpoll male and female

  • Look for small red patches on the forehead.
  • Males have a reddish-pink chest.
  • Females lack the reddish-pink chest.

The Hoary Redpoll breeds in the arctic tundra and can live and survive in freezing winter weather. Most people never see these finches because not much civilization exists in the places they live.

Hoary Redpoll Range Map

hoary redpoll range map

These finches are rare visitors to bird feeders since they spend summers up north. However, Hoary Redpolls come south when the weather turns cold, and food availability is scarce. If you’re extremely lucky, you may spot one visiting your yard eating Nyjer seeds or black-oil sunflower seeds.


Check out these other guides to animals in Saskatchewan!


Which of these winter birds have you seen before in Saskatchewan?

Leave a comment below!

Some range maps below were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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