Birds: Different Types, Definition, Photos, and More

Updated: April 17, 2022
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Birds Facts

Birds, members of the class Aves, include more than 10,400 living bird species – more than half being passerine, or “perching” birds. Their feathers distinguish them from all other classes of animal; no other animals on earth have them.

Beautiful to behold and charming to watch, there are many different types of birds that are often kept as pets by humans, and are the subject of many a story or photograph. Birdwatchers number in the millions while bird feeding is a multi-million dollar industry made possible by human beings’ love of our feathered friends.

If you see an animal with feathers, it’s undoubtedly a bird. Like mammals, birds are warm-blooded vertebrates with four-chambered hearts. However, birds are more closely related to reptiles and are believed to have evolved from dinosaurs. Their closest living relatives are the crocodilians.

Their forelimbs have been modified into wings over many millions of years of evolution, they lay hard-shelled eggs and they have exceptional vision – the most acute of their senses. Most types of bird species are diurnal, meaning they sleep at night.

Different types of birds may display different behaviors, though in general, birds are social creatures, communicating with songs, calls, chirps and movements. Some birds participate in cooperative hunting and travel in flocks. Many birds are monogamous – mostly for a breeding season but sometimes for life.

Most birds can fly, but flightless bird species exist.

Five Top Bird Characteristics

Certain identifying characteristics distinguish different types of birds from other classes of animals. Five especially important distinguishing characteristics of birds include:


All birds species have feathers, which are actually highly evolved scales. In fact, birds have scales on their feet – the clearest reminder of their close relation to reptiles. As noted above, feathers are not found on any other class of animal. Like nails and hair on humans, feathers are made out of keratin. They serve a number of purposes, from providing warmth to assisting in the ability to fly. Most species of birds shed, or molt, their feathers one or two times per year. Contour feathers help birds to fly effectively and create a streamlined body shape. Soft, fluffy feathers provide warmth. Flight feathers, found on the wings and tail, provide loft. Male birds also often use their feathers to attract mates.


Wings are a primary characteristic of birds, but they are found on other types of animals too. For example, bats are flying mammals with wings, and many types of insects have wings. Strong muscles in the chest help to propel wings, allowing for flight. Bird bodies are curved specifically to give lift to the wings. Different wing shapes provide different advantages, depending on species. For example, wings that have sharp, narrow tips allow for greater speed. Wings that are longer than they are wide make it easier for birds to soar for extended periods of time. Elliptical, evenly shaped wings, which are most notably found on songbirds, allow for small, quick movement. Different types of birds are capable of swimming, like penguins and puffins, having wings that are shaped like flippers.


All bird species have beaks, or bills – bony concentrations that are surrounded by layers of keratin. The shape of a bird’s beak provides strong clues about its dietary habits. Although some species of birds have tumia, sharp ridges along the edges of their beaks, none possess true teeth. Therefore, the beak plays a crucial role in feeding. Birds that primarily subsist off of seeds, for example, tend to have strong, cone-shaped beaks. Ducks, geese and other types of waterfowl have broad, flat beaks that are designed to help them strain food from water. Meat-eating birds like owls and hawks have sharp, hooked beaks that they use to grind, tear and rip their prey to shreds.


Egg laying is another characteristic that is common to all birds, or members of the Aves class. However, it is not unique to this class of animals, as reptiles, fish, amphibians and insects also all lay eggs. Birds’ eggs have hard shells that are mostly made out of calcium; a layer of hardened mucus helps to keep them intact. Within an egg, the embryo gets its nutrition from the yolk and the egg white, which is known as albumin. The vast majority of bird species build nests for their eggs and proceed to care for the hatchlings until they are capable of fending for themselves. In most species, both males and females play important roles in caring for the young.

Nearly all species of birds incubate their eggs. Exceptions include megapodes, or mound builders, which rely on external heat sources like decaying vegetation, and brood parasites. The latter, including cuckoos and cowbirds, prefer to lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. Some birds, like murres and certain penguin species, don’t use nests at all, choosing instead to rest eggs on the tops of their feet during incubation. Incubation periods range from 11 to 80 days depending on species.

A set of eggs that is laid at one time is called a clutch. Anywhere from one to 20 eggs or so may be found in a single clutch. Some birds engage in determinate laying, meaning that they lay the same number of eggs per clutch every time. Most birds engage in indeterminate laying, meaning that the number per clutch varies.


Flightless species of birds have heavy bones that are filled with marrow. Birds that are capable of flight – in other words, most birds – have lightweight skeletons made up of hollow bones. Their skeletons have many fused bones, including collarbones, which help them to brace their wings effectively during flight. Birds have large breastbones, or sternums, that provide sturdy points of attachment for muscles of the wings.

Notable Types of Birds

Today, there are more than 10,400 extant different types of bird species in the world. Across North America and South America, there are more than 4,400 species of the Aves class. Approximately 2,700 different species are found in Asia, and another 2,300 or so are found in Africa. More than 500 species are found in Europe west of the Ural Mountains, and more than 700 species are found in Russia. Costa Rica has one of the highest concentrations of bird species – roughly 800.

Some of the most notable types of birds include:

  • Birds of Prey – This group is made up of more than 300 species of birds, including eagles, hawks, ospreys, falcons and vultures.
  • Cranes – This group, which includes coots and rails, boasts more than 200 species.
  • Game Birds – Perhaps the best-known type of bird, game birds include chickens, turkeys, quails and megapodes. There are approximately 250 species of game birds in the world.
  • Herons and Storks – More than 100 species are found in this group, which includes egrets, spoonbills and ibises.
  • Hummingbirds and Swifts – The smallest category of birds, this group includes more than 400 different species.
  • Ostriches – The ostrich, the most famous flightless bird, is also the only species in its genus. It also holds the distinction of being among the largest birds.
  • Owls – Another important type of bird is the owl. There are more than 200 species of owls across the world.
  • Parrots and Cockatoos – This colorful group, which includes macaws, cockatiels and budgerigars, consists of more than 350 species. They are popularly kept as pets.
  • Penguins – There are roughly 20 species of this flightless bird in the world.
  • Perching Birds – Also known as passerines, this group includes more than 5,000 species, making it the largest and most diverse. Common types of perching birds include crows, swallows, jays, finches, sparrows, wrens, starlings and larks.
  • Pigeons and Doves – This group includes more than 300 bird species. Pigeons are famous for ferrying messages for humans, and have been used in such a way since Roman times. They were also used during World War I and II and the Korean War.
  • Shorebirds – More than 350 species are found in this group, including sandpipers, terns, oystercatchers and gulls.
  • Waterfowl – Ducks, geese, swans and many other birds belong to this group, which includes more than 150 species.
  • Woodpeckers and Toucans – Known for their distinctive beaks, this group is made up of more than 400 species.

Evolution of Different Types of Birds

The evolution of birds has been a topic of much debate for many centuries. Today, the most commonly accepted theory, the theropod ancestor hypothesis, posits that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period, which happened between 165 million and 150 million years ago.

Theropod dinosaurs were two-legged dinosaurs, and the T. Rex is included among their ranks.

The earliest known bird on the fossil record, archaeopteryx, was a hybrid between a bird and a dinosaur. It had feathered wings like a bird but also had sharp teeth and a long, bony tail like a dinosaur. This and other types of early birds diversified rapidly throughout the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. They quickly became capable fliers and exhibited extremely rapid growth rapids.

However, their populations were decimated by the major extinction event that eliminated dinosaurs entirely. After that point, modern birds diversified at an explosive rate, and there are now more than 10,000 different species all across the world.

Types of Birds

A Adélie Penguin
Adélie Penguin

Eats up to 2kg of food per day!

A African Fish Eagle
African Fish Eagle

African fish eagles belong to the genus of sea eagles

A African Grey Parrot
African Grey Parrot

When a grey parrot named Yosuke got lost, it was reunited with its owner after giving the owner's name and address.

A African Jacana
African Jacana

The males raise the young

A African Penguin
African Penguin

The only penguin species in Africa!

A Albatross

The largest wingspan of any bird in the world!

A Amazon Parrot
Amazon Parrot

These parrots can be trained to be "talking birds" that mimic human speech

A Amazonian Royal Flycatcher
Amazonian Royal Flycatcher

They use their bright royal-looking crests during mating season

A American Robin
American Robin

The color “Robin egg blue” is named after the hue of their eggs.

A Anhinga

Their name means snake bird

A Anna’s Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird wings beat 40-50 times per second during normal flight

A Australian Firehawk
Australian Firehawk

Australian firehawks are the arsonists of the avian world!

A Avocet

Has a curved, upturned beak!

A Ayam Cemani
Ayam Cemani

They were used for sacrificial purposes

A Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Bald eagles have 20/5 vision, which is much sharper than a human's

A Barn Owl
Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

A Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

A Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Like other owls, the barred owl swallows its prey whole.

A Baya

The baya constructs a massive nest out of plant fibers

A Bearded Vulture
Bearded Vulture

These birds eat a diet of bones

A Bee-Eater

They roll around in dirt to prevent external parasites

A Belgian Canary
Belgian Canary

The Belgian canary is one of the oldest and most influential in its genus.

A Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

A Bird Of Paradise
Bird Of Paradise

There are around 50 different species!

A Black-Bellied Whistling Duck
Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

They have bright pink bills.

A Black-Capped Chickadee
Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-capped chickadees weigh less than half an ounce!

A Blackburnian Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler

They are the only songbird in North America with an orange throat!

A Blackpoll Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler

They migrate for the longest distance of any warbler.

A Blue Gray Gnatcatcher
Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

Joy and happiness are the spiritual meaning of this bird.

A Blue grosbeak
Blue grosbeak

Blue grosbeak parents take off the head, legs and wings of an insect before feeding it to their baby.

A Blue Jay
Blue Jay

Blue jays rub ants on their feather to remove harmful acids

A Blue Tit
Blue Tit

The blue tit can hang upside down from branches

A Bobolink

In spring, the male bobolink is the only North American bird who is dark below and light colored above. This makes identification easy.

A Booby

Seabirds found across the South Pacific!

A Bronze-winged Jacana
Bronze-winged Jacana

Fathers pick up their young and carry them under their wings

A Brown Headed Cowbird
Brown Headed Cowbird

Males are generally monogamous during mating season and will protect the female from other males. However, females tend to venture from their partners and mate with other males.

A Budgerigar

Natively found in Australia!

A Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl lives in underground burrows

A Cactus Wren
Cactus Wren

It is the largest wren in the United States

A Canada Warbler
Canada Warbler

These birds travel more than 3,000 miles during migration!

A Cardinal

There are 14 genera and 53 species in the cardinal family

A Carolina Parakeet
Carolina Parakeet

The Carolina parakeet is one of the few parrots that lived as far north as the United States

A Cassowary

Can reach speeds of 30 mph!

A Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

Their feathers have red, waxy tips that can be hard to identify unless you’re up close.

A Chestnut-Sided Warbler
Chestnut-Sided Warbler

They inhabit regrowing forests

A Chickadee

Chickadees are named for the sound they make: Chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee!

A Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

A Chinese Geese
Chinese Geese

They are excellent “guard geese”

A Chinstrap Penguin
Chinstrap Penguin

There are 7 million breeding pairs!

A Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow

Gets its nickname "hair bird" due to the fact that it lines its nest with animal hair

A Cinereous Vulture
Cinereous Vulture

This vulture can fly at great heights. At least one was found a few thousand feet from the top of Mount Everest.

A Clark’s Grebe
Clark’s Grebe

Clark's grebes use their bills to spear prey

A Cockatiel

They have crests that rise or fall depending on their emotions

A Cockatoo

Highly social, smart, and chatty bird.

A Comb-crested Jacana
Comb-crested Jacana

They are busy foragers, always on the move

A Common Buzzard
Common Buzzard

The most common raptor in the UK!

A Common Grackle
Common Grackle

Common grackles are a pest species that damage crops and spread disease.

A Common Green Magpie
Common Green Magpie

Magpies are aggressive when threatened, often “dive-bombing” at intruders

A Common Loon
Common Loon

Also known as the Great Northern Diver

A Common Raven
Common Raven

A group of ravens is called an unkindness or a conspiracy.

A Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat stays close to the ground and uses stealth to survive!

A Conure

They are intelligent and noisy, often mimicking sounds and learning vocabulary.

A Cooper’s Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk

Eyes change color as they age

A Cormorant

They can fly 35 mph and dive 150 feet below water.

A Costa’s Hummingbird
Costa’s Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird males have iridescent purple feathers on their heads and necks.

A Crane

Many are critically endangered species!

A Crested Penguin
Crested Penguin

Has long yellow eyebrows!

A Crow

A group of these birds is called a Murder.

A Dark-Eyed Junco
Dark-Eyed Junco

They are called snowbirds because many subspecies reappear in the winter.

A Dodo

Native to the island of Mauritius!

A Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

A Dunnock

Both male and female dunnocks can have multiple mates every breeding season

A Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

A Eared Grebe
Eared Grebe

The most populous grebe in the world

A Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird

Bluebirds drop straight down on their prey from their perch, much like leopards.

A Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird

The eastern kingbird is a fierce fighter once known as the butcher king!

A Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark

They can live up to 9 years.

A Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe

This passerine bird can sing its song without ever hearing another bird vocalize first.

A Eastern Turkey (Wild Turkey)
Eastern Turkey (Wild Turkey)

You can hear their gobbles up to a mile away!

A Eclectus Parrot
Eclectus Parrot

Does not squawk like other parrot species.

A Egyptian Goose
Egyptian Goose

A duck species that resembles a goose when flying

A Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian Vulture

They steal large ostrich eggs and use rocks and pebbles to crack the shells.

A Eider

Eiders are sexually dimorphic, with males being larger and more colorful.

A Elegant Tern
Elegant Tern

Have a lifespan of 20 years or more

A Elephant Bird
Elephant Bird

Vorombe titan, a type of elephant bird, is the largest bird that ever lived

A Elf Owl
Elf Owl

The elf owl is the smallest and lightest owl in the world

A Emerald Toucanet
Emerald Toucanet

Emerald Toucanets spend their lives high in the canopy of tall forests, almost never coming to the ground!

A Emperor Penguin
Emperor Penguin

The world's largest species of penguin!

A Emu

The largest bird in Australia!

A Eurasian Bullfinch
Eurasian Bullfinch

The shy eurasian bullfinch prefers to forage very close to cover.

A Eurasian Collared Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove

The Eurasian collared dove has been extensively studied due to its amazing ability to rapidly colonize new territories.

A Eurasian Eagle-owl
Eurasian Eagle-owl

The Eurasian Eagle-owl is the second largest owl in the world with a wingspan up to six feet!

A Eurasian Jay
Eurasian Jay

The Eurasian jay has the ability to mimic other sounds

A Eurasian Nuthatch
Eurasian Nuthatch

Its song has been compared to a toy horn.

A Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Females are typically 25% larger than males.

A European Bee-Eater
European Bee-Eater

They can eat up to 250 bees per day!

A European Goldfinch
European Goldfinch

They are frequent visitors to backyard feeders, especially those containing niger seeds.

A European Robin
European Robin

Male robins are so aggressive and territorial that they will attack their own reflections.

A European Starling
European Starling

European starlings are accomplished mimics, often copying songs or sounds of other birds and animals (frog calls, goats, cats), or even mechanical sounds and human speech!

A Evening Grosbeak
Evening Grosbeak

They are friendly and non-aggressive to those in their species.

A Fairy-Wren

They forage in groups

A Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

A Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

The ferruginous hawk comes in both light and dark morphs

A Finch

Finches have strong, conical bills that help them break open tough seeds that many other birds cannot.

A Flamingo

Sleeps on just one leg!

A Frigatebird

Found inhabiting tropical islands and coasts!

A Galapagos Penguin
Galapagos Penguin

Found around the Equator!

A Gentoo Penguin
Gentoo Penguin

Found throughout the sub-Antarctic!

A Goldcrest

The goldcrest never starts moving and needs to consume for most of the day to survive. Therefore, in the colder months, it's best that eat 90% a day.

A Golden Masked Owl
Golden Masked Owl

While flying high above this owl can hear a mouse moving in the tall grass of field!

A Golden Oriole
Golden Oriole

Migrates between Europe and Asia!

A Golden-Crowned Kinglet
Golden-Crowned Kinglet

They huddle together for warmth

A Goose

There are 29 different species!

A Goshawk

The goshawk is a popular choice among European falconers

A Gouldian Finch
Gouldian Finch

The male Gouldian finch bobs its head and fluffs its feathers to court a female.

A Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird

Their songs have cat-like qualities and can mimic other birds and animals, like tree frogs.

A Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Their wingspan is larger than an eagle’s; both males and females help hatch the eggs; rich in symbolism

A Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher

This species makes use of some truly unusual nesting material, including snakeskin and garbage

A Great Egret
Great Egret

The male egret performs an elaborate courtship display to attract a mate

A Great Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee

The great kiskadee is a highly adaptable predator that can live in almost any habitat within its range and can hunt in the air, on the ground and in the water.

A Great Potoo Bird
Great Potoo Bird

At night, they make a terrifying low call that sounds like a distressed moan or growl.

A Grebe

They swim like frogs

A Green Bee-Eater
Green Bee-Eater

Mainly eats honeybees!

A Green Heron
Green Heron

Uses bait to catch prey

A Grey Heron
Grey Heron

Male grey herons are picky about their mates. They'll reject a female that they don't fancy.

A Griffon Vulture
Griffon Vulture

Can spot a dead animal from thousands of feet away

A Grouse

Feathered legs and toes!

A Guinea Fowl
Guinea Fowl

Found in a vairety of African habitats!

A Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker

They are natural pest controls

A Harpy Eagle
Harpy Eagle

Talon's the size of a grizzly bear's claws!

A Harris’s Hawk
Harris’s Hawk

Their vision is eight times better than a human's

A Hawaiian Crow
Hawaiian Crow

Once believed to be a family guardian spirit in Hawaii

A Hawaiian Goose (Nene)
Hawaiian Goose (Nene)

They have the longest breeding season of any goose.

A Hawk

While the Ferruginous hawk is the largest specie in the USA, Asia’s Upland buzzard is the biggest overall.

A Hepatic Tanager (Red Tanager)
Hepatic Tanager (Red Tanager)

Parents and their young sing sweetly to each other

A Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

A Herring Gull
Herring Gull

They are loud, spirited birds with raucous cries that sound like bursts of laughter.

A Honey Buzzard
Honey Buzzard

Honey buzzards are medium-sized raptors that earned their names by raiding the nests of bees and wasps.

A Hooded Oriole
Hooded Oriole

Hooded orioles have a strong sweet tooth that makes nectar and jelly among its favorite foods.

A Hoopoe

Stunning bird with a stinky way to deter predators!

A Hornbill

The bird has a massive horn on its bill!

A House Finch
House Finch

The house finch can become redder depending on what it eats

A House Sparrow (English Sparrow)
House Sparrow (English Sparrow)

The house sparrow has been introduced all over the world

A House wren
House wren

The wren’s epithet, aedon, comes from a Greek queen who accidentally killed her only son. She was actually aiming for her nephew, and Zeus took pity on her and turned her into a nightingale.

A Humboldt Penguin
Humboldt Penguin

Found on the South American coast!

A Hummingbird

Beat their wings up to 80 times per second!

A Hyacinth Macaw
Hyacinth Macaw

The Hyacinth Macaw is the largest flying parrot in the world!

A Ibis

Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!

A Ivory-billed woodpecker
Ivory-billed woodpecker

The ivory-billed woodpecker can drill into wood with its sharp beak

A Jabiru

They form lifelong pair bonds and live in groups near water sources.

A Jacana

The jacana has the ability to swim underwater

A Jackdaw

The jackdaw tends to mate for life with a single partner

A Junglefowl

The term "pecking order" comes from junglefowls' hierarchies among both sexes

A Kagu

The endangered kagu is the only bird in the world with nasal corns!

A Kakapo

The heaviest species of parrot in the world!

A Kaua’i ‘Ō‘ō
Kaua’i ‘Ō‘ō

Calls could be heard up to a quarter mile away

A Keel-Billed Toucan
Keel-Billed Toucan

It's beak can reach nearly 20 cm long!

A Kentucky Warbler
Kentucky Warbler

The Kentucky Warbler appears to wear bright yellow cat-eye glasses!

A Kestrel

Can hang suspended on wind currents

A Killdeer

The killdeer feigns injury to draw a predator away from its nest.

A King Penguin
King Penguin

More than 2 million breeding pairs!

A King Quail
King Quail

Females look similar to males but don’t come in shades of blue

A King Vulture
King Vulture

The king vulture is the second largest New World vulture species

A Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

A Kiwi

Only found in the forests of New Zealand!

A Kori Bustard
Kori Bustard

It's easily identified by its crest, large size, and wingspan

A Lappet-faced Vulture
Lappet-faced Vulture

Lappet-faced vultures are tidy and wash their heads in a body of water after they’ve eaten

A Laughing Kookaburra
Laughing Kookaburra

The laughing kookaburra is one of four kookaburra species.

A Least Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher

They can travel up to 72 miles in a single day.

A Lesser Jacana
Lesser Jacana

The lesser jacana is nomadic, often moving in search of temporary wetland habitats.

A Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup

Young lesser scaups learn to dive as soon as their down dries.

A Linnet

While linnets are monogamous during mating season, they do not mate for life. While breeding pairs are together, the males are highly territorial and will defend the nesting site and the surrounding area.

A Little Penguin
Little Penguin

The smallest species of penguin!

A Long-Eared Owl
Long-Eared Owl

Ear tufts make it look bigger!

A Long-Tailed Tit
Long-Tailed Tit

Often hangs upside down while feeding!

A Lorikeet

The lorikeet has a long brush-like tongue with fine hairs on it

A Lyrebird

Lyrebirds mimic birds of prey to deter predators such as birds of prey.

A Macaroni Penguin
Macaroni Penguin

Gather in colonies of up to 100,000 members!

A Macaw

The largest species of parrot in the world!

A MacGillivray’s Warbler
MacGillivray’s Warbler

The complicated story of how MacGillivray’s Warblers got their name involves three ornithologists, a physician and a compromise.

A Madagascar Jacana
Madagascar Jacana

The Madagascar jacana is endangered due to habitat loss and illegal hunting.

A Magellanic Penguin
Magellanic Penguin

Threatened by oil spills!

A Magnolia Warbler
Magnolia Warbler

They line their nests with fungi strands

A Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

A Mallard

With an appropriate tail wind, the mallard can travel hundreds of miles a day

A Marabou Stork
Marabou Stork

The marabou stork does not have a voice box.

A Mexican Eagle (Northern crested caracara)
Mexican Eagle (Northern crested caracara)

The northern crested caracara mates for life with its partner

A Mississippi Kite
Mississippi Kite

The Mississippi kite tends to form a monogamous pair bond for life

A Mockingbird

Mockingbirds are incredible mimics that can learn hundreds of songs!

A Mountain Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird

Depending on the time of the year, the mountain bird can live as far north as Alaska.

A Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

It is almost always the male who makes the famous sad sound, which is a wooing call

A Mourning Warbler
Mourning Warbler

The Mourning Warbler was named for its gray head, which resembles a mourning veil!

A Muscovy Duck
Muscovy Duck

Unlike most duck species, the Muscovy is silent and only makes noise when excited or threatened.

A Myna Bird
Myna Bird

Many people believe the hill myna bird is better at mimicking humans than a parrot!

A Nicobar pigeon
Nicobar pigeon

Unlike other pigeons, Nicobar pigeons don't fly in haphazard flocks but in columns or single file.

A Night Heron
Night Heron

When they feel threatened juvenile night herons vomit their stomach contents.

A Nightingale

Named more than 1,000 years ago!

A Nightjar

There are 97 nightjar species across 20 genera!

A Northern Bobwhite
Northern Bobwhite

The northern bobwhite is named for its distinctive whistling call that sounds like ‘bob-white’.

A Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Males are a bright red color, also called "cardinal red"

A Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers often make their homes in dead trees.

A Northern Jacana
Northern Jacana

The northern jacana is one of two species found in the Americas, from the United States to Panama.

A Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail

Northern pintails migrate at night with speeds reaching 48 miles per hour!

A Northern Potoo
Northern Potoo

You can find them near golf courses in urban areas

A Northern Screamer
Northern Screamer

They are closely related to magpie geese

A Nuthatch

Nuthatches spend a lot of their time upside down.

A Orange-Crowned Warbler
Orange-Crowned Warbler

Often mistaken for the Tennessee Warblers, which are equally dull.

A Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole

They use rapid wingbeats to hover over foliage as they search for food.

A Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

They are one of the smallest kingfishers!

A Ortolan Bunting
Ortolan Bunting

The tradition of hiding your face with a napkin or towel while eating this bird was begun by a priest who was a friend of the great French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

A Osprey

They reuse nesting sites for 70 years!

A Ostrich

The largest bird in the world!

A Ovenbird

The ovenbird is named for its unusual nest, which is shaped like an oven!

A Owl

The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

A Oxpecker

The oxpecker, known as the rhino’s guard, alerts its host to danger with a loud commotion

A Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting

They are one of the most colorful species of birds.

A Parakeet

Monk parakeets are the only parakeets that actually build nests. They’re also the only parakeets to nest in great colonies.

A Parrot

Can live for up to 100 years!

A Parrotlet

Parrotlets aren't the world's tiniest parrot — that would be the pygmy parrot of Australasia.

A Partridge

Long-lost civilizations have immortalized male partridges in art, depicting them as a symbol of fertility.

A Peacock

Most commonly found on the Indian mainland!

A Pelican

Can have a wingspan of up to 3 meters!

A Penguin

Spends 75% of it's time hunting for food!

A Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth

A Pesquet’s Parrot (Dracula Parrot)
Pesquet’s Parrot (Dracula Parrot)

It’s one of only three parrots with naked faces.

A Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Pheasant-tailed Jacana

The pheasant-tailed jacana is the only species in its family that migrates long distances.

A Phoenix Chicken
Phoenix Chicken

These small chickens have tails that can be up to five feet long!

A Pied-Billed Grebe
Pied-Billed Grebe

Chicks stay on the parents' backs until they learn to swim

A Pigeon

They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.

A Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker

Pairs establish territories and remain all year

A Pine Siskin
Pine Siskin

When foraging, pine siskins hang upside down to pick through the leaves and bark, collecting seeds from coniferous trees.

A Pink-Necked Green Pigeon
Pink-Necked Green Pigeon

They make whistling and quacking noises

A Potoo

The potoo’s eyelids have slits that let them see even when their eyes are closed.

A Prairie Chicken
Prairie Chicken

They inflate their orange neck patches during their mating displays

A Puffin

Can remain in the water for up to 2 minutes!

A Purple Finch
Purple Finch

The intensity of the plumage can change based on what the bird eats

A Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

They build their nests on the water, anchoring it to nearby aquatic vegetation.

A Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

A Quetzal

The tail feathers of the male can be 1m long!

A Red Finch
Red Finch

Red finches can form flocks of over 100 birds.

A Red Kite
Red Kite

This bird moves its tail to steer its body like a rudder on a boat.

A Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers will often steal the nests of other birds.

A Red-Billed Quelea Bird
Red-Billed Quelea Bird

Is the most populous bird in the world

A Red-Shouldered Hawk
Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawks reuse the same nesting area each year.

A Red-winged blackbird
Red-winged blackbird

The male red-winged blackbird can sing to attract mates

A Redstart

They build their nests off the ground in tree holes, cavities, stone walls, and roofs

A Rhea

Male rheas mate with up to a dozen females and single-handedly raise up to 80 chicks at once!

A Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull

The ring-billed gull feeds on vast quantities of human waste and garbage.

A Ringed Kingfisher
Ringed Kingfisher

Dives from perches to capture its prey!

A Robin

There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!

A Rockhopper Penguin
Rockhopper Penguin

There are 3 different species!

A Rooster

Will mate with the entire flock!

A Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

This bird is also called cut-throat because the male looks like his throat has been cut and has bled over his breast.

A Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill

The only Spoonbill in the western hemisphere!

A Royal Penguin
Royal Penguin

Can reach speeds of 20mph!

A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated hummingbirds can beat their wings more than 50 times per second.

A Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Duck

Ruddy duck breeding males have bright blue bills!

A Ruddy Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone

They flip over stones to find prey

A Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird

The males have a glowing iridescent orange patch on their chests.

A Sandpiper

Some sandpipers can migrate more than 8,000 miles without stopping!

A Sarus Crane
Sarus Crane

Parents use low calls to tell their chicks to freeze and lie still when danger lurks.

A Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow

The Savannah sparrow gets its name because one of the first of this type of bird was found in the city of Savannah, Georgia.

A Scale-Crested Pygmy Tyrant
Scale-Crested Pygmy Tyrant

They raise their crests to ward off predators

A Scarlet Macaw
Scarlet Macaw

Like many parrots, the scarlet macaw is capable of vocal mimicry.

A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed flycatchers are known for their dramatically long tails!

A Sea Eagle
Sea Eagle

The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner

A Seagull

Some gulls are capable of using tools

A Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler

Males never sing the same song twice

A Senegal Parrot
Senegal Parrot

As a pet, the Senegal parrot is capable of "talking" to its owner

A Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Sharp-Shinned Hawk

In captivity, sharp-shinned hawks can live up to 13 years. However, in the wild, this number is significantly reduced to 3 years!

A Shoebill Stork
Shoebill Stork

Adults greet each other by clattering their bills together.

A Short-Eared Owl
Short-Eared Owl

The short-eared owl is one of the most widespread owl species in the world, covering five continents.

A Silkie Chicken
Silkie Chicken

Silkie hens are excellent mothers and will raise any bird as their own, even being known to patiently sit on a clutch of duck or geese eggs until they hatch.

A Skua

Skuas will chase other birds until they give up their catch

A Snow Goose
Snow Goose

The snow goose has a dark line along their beaks known as a ‘grinning patch’!

A Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

One of the largest owl species in the world!

A Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow

Pumps its tail when it flies!

A Song Thrush
Song Thrush

A male song thrush can have over 100 phrases in his repertoire of songs and can imitate pet birds, telephones and other man-made objects.

A Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

A Sparrowhawk

The sparrowhawk is named after the fact that it hunts down and consumes sparrows

A Spixs Macaw
Spixs Macaw

One of earth's rarest animals!

A Stork

They can’t sing like other birds.

A Summer Tanager
Summer Tanager

They remove bee stingers by rubbing them against a tree

A Swainson’s Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk

Their wings form a “V” shape when flying.

A Swallow

swallows have aerodynamic bodies for hunting in flight

A Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

A Tawny Frogmouth
Tawny Frogmouth

The tawny frogmouth is a master of camouflage that can hide in plain sight!

A Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl

The most widespread owl in Europe!

A Thrush

The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.

A Toucan

There are more than 40 different species!

A Towhee

Most towhee species are non-migratory. However, some are partial migrators depending on their location.

A Tree swallow
Tree swallow

The tree swallow can make more than a dozen distinct vocalizations

A Treecreeper

Their tailfeathers help them maintain their balance on a tree trunk

A Tropicbird

Nests on tropical islands and cliffs!

A Tufted Coquette
Tufted Coquette

They are tame and easy to approach

A Tundra Swan
Tundra Swan

“The tundra swan is entirely white except for a yellow marking at the base of their bill!”

A Turaco

Their name means “banana-eater,” but they rarely ever eat bananas.

A Turkey

Closely related to pheasants and chickens!

A Uguisu

Their guano is used in face creams!

A Umbrellabird

Migrates up and down the mountains!

A Ural owl
Ural owl

The Ural owl can rotate its head up to 270 degrees

A Veery

The veery is named for its sharp "veer" call.

A Vermilion Flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatcher

They have a fast song that lasts up to 10 syllables at max.

A Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

A Wandering Albatross
Wandering Albatross

Featured in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

A Warbler

Warblers are so called because of the trills of their song.

A Wattled Jacana
Wattled Jacana

They are typically noisy birds but take on a soft tone with their young.

A Weaver Bird
Weaver Bird

The weaver constructs an elaborate nest for the breeding season

A Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird

Western kingbirds have hidden red crown feathers that they can raise when threatened!

A Western Tanager
Western Tanager

They migrate farther north than any other tanager.

A Whimbrel

The fastidious whimbrel sometimes washes off its prey before it eats it.

A Whinchat

The whinchat can imitate the songs of at least a dozen other tpes of birds!

A White-Crowned Sparrow
White-Crowned Sparrow

Males learn distinct songs from the community they grew up in and continue to sing in the same dialect as adults.

A White-Tailed Eagle
White-Tailed Eagle

It is one of the biggest birds of prey.

A Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane

This species is named after the loud whooping sound it makes

A Willow Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher

These birds live in the understory and are named for their propensity for flitting between willows and shrubs.

A Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler

This bird molts twice a year.

A Wood Duck
Wood Duck

Adult male wood ducks sport a striking red eye and bill year-round!

A Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

A Wryneck

They feign death by making their bodies limp and closing their eyes.

A Xeme (Sabine’s Gull)
Xeme (Sabine’s Gull)

They follow after seals and whales to eat their scraps.

A Yellow Bellied Sapsucker
Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

The males are responsible for choosing the nesting tree most of the time. Luckily, cavity nests are often reused for multiple breeding seasons (up to 7 years.)

A Yellow-Eyed Penguin
Yellow-Eyed Penguin

The rarest species of penguin!

A Yellowhammer

It interbreeds with the pine bunting

A Yokohama Chicken
Yokohama Chicken

Yokohama chickens have snow white feathers with tails reaching up to 4 feet in length.

A Zebra Finch
Zebra Finch

The male zebra finch creates a unique song by drawing inspiration from its parent or tutor

List of Birds

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are the four types of birds?

There are far more than only four types, or categories, of birds in the world. If “type” refers to “species,” then the figure is closer to around 10,400. Birds can be classified into different categories in a number of ways, including flightless birds versus birds that are capable of flight and birds that live mostly on land or near water.

How are birds identified?

Birdwatching, a popular pastime, involves identifying birds in the wild. Four things are looked to when identifying birds: their size and shape, their behavior, their habitat and their color patterns. By learning the basics of each of these categories, birdwatchers can identify birds in the wild more quickly – an important aspect of the sport.

Why do birds bathe?

Bathing is a vital part of feather maintenance. Water helps to loosen up dirt and other debris that has worked its way into the feathers. Once freed of dirt, the feathers are easier to preen. During preening, birds rearrange their feathers and dispense oil from the preen gland, ensuring that their feathers remain waterproof. This also traps an insulating layer of air beneath, helping to keep the bird warm.

Which birds cannot fly?

Some of the best-known examples of flightless birds include penguins, ostriches, emus, cassowaries and kiwis.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.