5 Most Common Birds in Northern Illinois and How To Feed Them

Relaxing in your co-op living room while watching birds feed out of your feeder can be a very rewarding experience. Many people question what species the birds are so they may be easily named as they arrive. Below, we have listed the top 5 birds you are likely to find feasting on your Cedarwood Co-op feeder and their favorite foods so you can provide, if you wish, exactly what they want.


These beautiful little rays of sunshine will brighten up any co-op backyard from late spring to early fall. After that, they typically migrate to the southern states. Fun to watch flying around, if you don't see them mid flight, look around for a thistle plant, as their favorite food source, you're sure to see one perched.

Feeding: Feeders with tiny holes, containing thistle seeds, cannot be enjoyed by birds much larger than the Goldfinch. Their tiny little beaks are perfect for the occasion. Fill up a feeder with thistle, then sit back and enjoy!


This strikingly beautiful bird is one of the most recognizable birds in all of Northern Illinois. Many children refer to them as "red birds" and will stop in awe as they see one fly past. For the most part, Cardinals will not migrate away from this area during the winter, therefore, they can make for excellent entertainment on a cold, white, winter day if food is provided.

Feeding: Cardinals love sunflower seeds but can make quite a mess. They crack open each seed, leaving the shell behind on your lawn. To reduce the mess, you can purchase shelled seeds, however, they are a bit more expensive.


Another iconic, easily-recognizable bird is the Blue Jay. Although a beauty to see anywhere, anytime, they are aggressive birds that will drive away other birds quickly. They prefer acorns and if none are found in the area, you probably won't find them near your housing cooperative, even if you leave food out for them.

Feeding: Blue Jays enjoy sunflower seeds, peanuts and cracked corn.


"A permanent resident across the northern U.S. and in parts of the Appalachian Mountains, Black-capped Chickadees are energetic little birds that prefer mixed, open woods and forest edges. Easy to identify by their white cheeks sandwiched between a black cap and chin, chickadees also live in suburban environments and are popular feeder visitors, where they can readily be identified by quick bursts of their namesake call: chick-a-dee-dee-dee." (source)

Feeding: Chickadees love sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet and will fight all day for their turn at the feeder. Favoring a strict pecking order, only one Chickadee is allowed to snatch up a seed at a time and if the alpha is present, all others must wait their turn. Chickadees can quickly empty your feeder as they will remove many seeds at once, stash them elsewhere, and come back for more until the supply is gone, but they sure are fun to watch!


Although more elusive than it's other feathered counterparts, the Downy Woodpecker can be seen throughout Illinois feasting on insect beds inside the cracks of trees. "The downy is the smallest and most abundant woodpecker we have, occurring across the U.S. year-round, save for the arid Southwest. Easy to attract to your yard with a suet feeder, Downy Woodpeckers can be found in a variety of habitats, from deep woods to urban parks and backyards." (source)

Feeding: Woodpeckers prefer a good chunk of suet, but will also nibble on peanut feeders as well.

Do you have a feeder/bird combination that you have found successful at Cedarwood Cooperative? Contact us to let us know and we'll happily add it to this list!


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Park Forest, IL 60466

T: 708-747-3833

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