Discover All The Types Of Birds In The World

Written by Niccoy Walker
Published: December 19, 2022
© PatP66/
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There are 249 bird families containing over 11,000 species, totaling over 50 billion birds that inhabit our earth! Some of the most abundant species include land fowl like domestic chickens and turkeys, or perching birds, such as crows and doves. But there are numerous categories of birds, including waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, flightless birds, and those in their own classification. Discover some of the most common types of birds in the world and find out where they live and what they eat.


Passerines are known as “perching birds,” and they include more than half of all bird species. Here are a few examples of passerines.

Blue Jay

Blue jay perched on branch with back to camera
Blue jays live near human habitations like cities and towns.


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Habitat: They are abundant across North America, where they inhabit many different kinds of forests. But you can also find them in gardens, groves, and towns.

Appearance: Blue jays are relatively large birds with crests and long, rounded tails. Their plumage is various shades of blue, white, and black.

Diet: Acorns, seeds, berries, grains, fruits, insects, spiders, small rodents, baby birds, and carrion

Vocalizations: Harsh cries and soft, liquid notes

Fun Fact: They belong to the corvid family, meaning they are related to crows.

House Sparrow

house sparrow
House sparrows eat insects and seeds.

©Rob Christiaans/

Habitat: House sparrows have a global distribution and are notorious for living near human habitations. Look for them in cities, towns, and farms.

Appearance: These stout birds have full chests, rounded heads, and relatively short tails. These sparrows are light gray with reddish-brown necks and wings. They also have patches of white and black on their faces.

Diet: Insects and weed and grass seeds

Vocalizations: shrill chirping and single “cheeps”

Fun Fact: House sparrows will swim underwater to escape predators.

European Starling

European Starling perched on a cylindrical post. The bird is center frame facing left. It has a yellow beak and legs / feet. The bird itself has a speckled appearance. Out-of-focus green background.
European starlings have glossy, iridescent feathers.


Habitat: The European starling is native to Eurasia but was introduced to Australia, Africa, and North America. They are very common around humans, inhabiting cities, parks, farms, and fields. 

Appearance: These chunky birds have short tails, long beaks, and pointed wings. And their plumage is all-black with purple and green iridescence and yellow bills.

Diet: Insects, berries, and seeds

Vocalizations: Musical rasping notes and purr-like calls

Fun Fact: They are one of the most abundant birds in the United States, despite being an introduced species.


Raptors, also known as birds of prey, are carnivores with excellent hunting skills. This category encompasses many birds, like hawks, eagles, ospreys, owls, vultures, and more.

Red-tailed Hawk

red-tailed hawk
Red-tailed hawks mostly prey on live animals such as rodents and other small mammals.

©Richard G Smith/

Habitat: The red-tailed hawk lives across most of North America and is one of the continent’s most abundant hawk species. They live in open country, woodlands, prairies, mountains, and plains.

Appearance: These large hawks have broad, rounded wings and short, wide tails. They are rich medium-brown above and white below with a reddish-brown tail.

Diet: Small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and occasionally carrion

Vocalizations: Hoarse, high-pitched screams

Fun Fact: Their eyesight is eight times better than a human’s.

American Kestrel

Types of Falcon Birds
The American kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America.

©Megan M. Weber/

Habitat: American kestrels have a significant range across North and South America. They are birds of open country, but you can also find them near farms, cities, and forest edges.

Appearance: Their bodies are slender, and they feature narrow wings and long tails. Their plumage is a mixture of gray, rusty brown, and buff with black spots.

Diet: Large insects, small mammals, birds, and reptiles

Vocalizations: Shrill “killy” notes

Fun Fact: They are the smallest falcon in North America.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle flying over a lake.
Bald Eagles are one of the largest birds in North America.

©Jack Molan/

Habitat: Bald eagles are native to North America, where they inhabit most of the continent. You can find them along coasts, rivers, lakes, open country, and mountains.

Appearance: These eagles are enormous birds with broad wings and long, hooked bills. They feature dark brown bodies, snow-white heads, and yellow beaks.

Diet: Fish, birds, mammals, and carrion

Vocalizations: High-pitched whistling and squeaky cackling

Fun Fact: They can fly 100 mph!


The waterfowl order encompasses species highly adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. Most of the 180 species that make up this group are ducks, geese, and swans.


A Mallard duck swimming in the water
The mallard duck lives on lakes and ponds.

©Pascal Halder/

Habitat: The mallard has an extensive range across North America, Europe, and Asia. They live in marshes, wooded swamps, fields, ponds, lakes, and city parks.

Appearance: They are large ducks with round heads and flat bills. Adult males have brown bodies, iridescent green heads, yellow bills, and blue wing feathers.

Diet: Seeds, stems, roots, insects, crustaceans, and small fish

Vocalizations: Loud quacks and quiet rasping

Fun Fact: There are over 10 million mallards in North America.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck
The wood duck has elaborate and colorful plumage.

©Harry Collins Photography/

Habitat: The wood duck is native to North America and most abundant in the eastern United States. Look for them in wooded swamps, rivers, and ponds.

Appearance: These unusual-looking ducks feature boxy, crested heads, slender necks, and long tails. Their plumage has many different colors, including reddish-brown, tan, black, white, blue, green, red, and yellow.

Diet: Seeds, aquatic plants, insects, and crustaceans

Vocalizations: Thin whistles and loud “woo-eek” calls

Fun Fact: They produce two broods in one year.

Canada Goose

A canada goose, frame right, looking left, is standing with its wings folded on ice, a frozen pond/lake. The goose is mostly gray/taupe with a long dark neck and a white throat. Its feet are not visible.
Canada geese produce musical honking sounds.

©Rogney Piedra Arencibia/

Habitat: Canada geese have an extensive range across Canada and the United States, with some populations in Europe. They inhabit lakes, ponds, bays, marshes, and fields.

Appearance: This large waterbird has a long neck, flat bill, and webbed feet. Their bodies are brown, and their heads and necks are black and white.

Diet: Stems, grass shoots, aquatic plants, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans

Vocalizations: Musical honking

Fun Fact: They can travel up to 1,500 miles in one day.

Flightless Birds

Through the process of evolution, some birds lost their ability to fly. There are over 60 living birds in this category, which include emus, rheas, penguins, ostriches, and several more.


Types of Big Birds
Emus can travel great distances, and when necessary can sprint at 50 km/h (31 mph); they forage for a variety of plants and insects, but have been known to go for weeks without eating.


Habitat: Emus are endemic to Australia, and their range covers the entire mainland. They live inland and near the coast but most commonly inhabit savanna woodlands and dry forests.

Appearance: They are the second tallest bird in the world, reaching up to six feet high. They have heavy bodies, long legs, and long necks. And their plumage is medium-brown all-over, with dark areas near the tail and lighter patches near the head and neck.

Diet: Seeds, fruits, flowers, insects, and small vertebrates

Vocalizations: Pig-like grunts and booming notes

Fun Fact: They have two sets of eyelids. The second set is dedicated to keeping dust out.

Emperor Penguin

Emperor penguins live near ice bergs and ice cliffs.


Habitat: The emperor penguin is endemic to Antarctica, where they trek across and breed on the ice. You will typically find them near ice cliffs and icebergs. 

Appearance: They are the tallest and heaviest penguins on earth, weighing up to 100 pounds. These birds are white and pale yellow below and black above, with black heads and yellow necks.

Diet: Antarctic silverfish, krill, squid, and other fish

Vocalizations: Long, unique songs

Fun Fact: Some colonies are so huge they can be seen from space.


Types of Big Birds
The male ostrich is black and white, and females are grayish-brown.


Habitat: The common ostrich is native to Africa, where they live north and south of the equatorial forest zone. These huge flightless birds prefer to inhabit open lands, like semi-deserts and savannas.

Appearance: The ostrich has a heavy, oblong-shaped body with long, slender legs and long necks. They are the largest living bird species, weighing up to 320 pounds and reaching over six feet tall. Adult males are black and white, and females are grayish-brown and white. Their heads and necks have a thin layer of down, and their legs are unfeathered.

Diet: Roots, flowers, grasses, grains, fruits, insects, and small reptiles

Vocalizations: Trilling, honking, hissing, and whistling

Fun Fact: Ostriches can sprunt up to 43 mph. They are the fastest-running birds!

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The Featured Image

house sparrow
closeup of a House sparrow standing on a tree
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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer and content creator focusing on nature, wildlife, food, and travel. She graduated Kappa Beta Delta from Florida State College with a business degree before realizing writing was her true passion. She lives in the Triangle area and enjoys hiking, reading, and cooking!

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  1. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Available here:
  2. The Smithsonian Magazine, Available here: