Discover 16 Amazing Birds That Start With P

peacock with feathers spread
© iStock.com/Anna_Brothankova

Written by Kathryn Dueck

Updated: July 5, 2023

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The world is full of amazing birds from the flamboyant to the massive to the mind-blowingly fast. Though they differ in many ways, a number of these birds have one thing in common: their initial letter. Read on to discover 16 amazing birds that start with the letter P!

1. Pacific Loon (Gavia pacific)

Pacific Loon or Pacific Diver with a young chick in arctic waters, near Arviat Nunavut, Canada

The Pacific loon utters a haunting, wailing cry.

©Sophia Granchinho/Shutterstock.com

Much like its relative the common loon, the Pacific loon is most famous for its haunting wail. Its call, most common during the breeding season, carries for miles. However, it also utters a number of other, sharper vocalizations. This specialized piscivore dives underwater to catch fish, often swimming beneath them to drive them to the surface.

  • Color: (Breeding plumage) black body with white markings, top of the head and back of neck grey, face lighter; (non-breeding plumage) dull black-brown with duller black on the back, dark brown on sides, white chin/throat/breast, dark necklace on the throat, back of head grey
  • Length: 23-29 inches
  • Wingspan: 3.6 to 4.2 feet
  • Location: Japan, North America, Russia
  • Habitat: Wetlands (inland), marine (neritic)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

2. Pacific Screech-Owl (Megascops cooperi)

Pacific Screech Owl near Tambor on The Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

The Pacific screech-owl has distinctive ear tufts and intense yellow eyes.

©Matt Elliott/Shutterstock.com

Another bird that starts with P is the Pacific screech-owl, notable for its prominent ear tufts and its intense yellow eyes. Its diminutive size restricts it to large insects, arthropods like scorpions, flying squirrels, and small birds. Its two subspecies utter distinctly different cries.

  • Color: Greyish body, off-white underparts, crown pale tawny grey with dusky or black markings, pale tawny grey upperparts
  • Length: 7.9 to 10.2 inches
  • Wingspan:
  • Location: Central America
  • Habitat: Forest
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

3. Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala)

The painted stork  is a large wader in the stork family. It is found in the wetlands of the plains of tropical Asia south and Indian subcontinent.

The painted stork is so named because of its lively coloration.

©birds friends/Shutterstock.com

Notable for its striking black-and-white body with tinges of color, this sizeable wader is a member of the stork family. When not wading in search of fish, it takes to the air to soar on thermals. Despite its size, its vocalizations are little more than a weak moan.

  • Color: Whitish body, orange or reddish bare head, black breast with scaly white markings, red or yellowish legs, bright pink-tipped tertials, greenish gloss on primaries and secondaries
  • Length: 36.5 to 40 inches
  • Wingspan: 4.8 to 5.3 feet
  • Location: Asia
  • Habitat: Wetlands (inland), marine (coastal)
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened

4. Parrot (order Psittaciformes)

Yellow-billed parrot

There are almost 400 species of parrots in the world.

©Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

Parrots range greatly in size from the tiny buff-faced pygmy parrot to the majestic hyacinth macaw. They also come in a dazzling array of patterns and colors including combinations of red, orange, yellow, blue, green, grey, white, brown, and black. Notable for their chatters and squawks, some species are also capable of mimicking human speech. Unfortunately, poaching and habitat loss have contributed to the decline of several species.

  • Color: Multicolored: red, orange, yellow, blue, green, grey, white, brown, and black
  • Length: 3.1 to 39.4 inches
  • Wingspan: Up to 5 feet
  • Location: Africa, Asia, North America (including Central America), Oceania (including Australia), South America
  • Habitat: Rainforest, highland forest, grassland, savanna, semi-arid regions
  • Conservation Status: Some species endangered

5. Partridge (family Phasianidae)

Gray partridge walking on sand

Partridges build their nests on the ground.

©Voodison328/Shutterstock.com

As ground-dwelling birds, partridges build their nests on the ground. This belies the popular Christmas song, which locates “a partridge in a pear tree.” These are popular game birds that occur on almost every continent. In fact, humans introduced them to North America for the purpose of supplying hunters with more fowl.

  • Color: Mostly greyish or brownish, various colorations
  • Length: 11-13 inches
  • Wingspan: 1.7 to 1.8 feet
  • Location: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America
  • Habitat: Forest, grassland, steppe, agricultural fields
  • Conservation Status: Some species endangered

6. Peacock (genera Pavo and Afropavo)

male vs female peacocks

The correct term for male and female peacocks collectively is “peafowl.” Females are called “peahens.”

©Anna Kucherova/Shutterstock.com

The proper name for peacocks collectively is “peafowl.” “Peacock” refers to male peafowl while “peahen” refers to females. Three species exist within two genera: the iconic Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus), the green peafowl (Pavo muticus), and the Congo peafowl (Afropavo congensis). These splendiferous birds are famous for their stunning coloration and the males’ iridescent trains.

  • Color: Blue, green, bronze, gold, and/or black
  • Length: 24-118 inches
  • Wingspan: 4.3 to 5.3 feet (Indian peafowl), 3.9 to 5.3 feet (green peafowl)
  • Location: Asia, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Habitat: Forest, shrubland, savanna, grassland
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern (Indian peafowl), Endangered (green peafowl), Near Threatened (Congo peafowl)

7. Penguin (family Spheniscidae)

Emperor penguins of South Georgia

Penguins range in size from the diminutive fairy penguin to the stately

emperor penguin

.

©Dennis Stogsdill/Shutterstock.com

Penguins are a family of flightless birds famous for their superb swimming ability, their winglike flippers, and their black-and-white countershading. Although most live in the Southern Hemisphere, one species (the Galápagos penguin) lives north of the Equator in the Galápagos Islands. Unlike the vast majority of birds, they are exquisitely designed for life in the water. The Gentoo penguin is the fastest diving bird in the world, swimming at speeds of up to 22 miles per hour.

  • Color: Black and white
  • Length: 12-47 inches
  • Wingspan: Up to 2.9 feet
  • Location: Antarctica, Oceania, Galápagos Islands
  • Habitat: Coast, marine
  • Conservation Status: Some species endangered

8. Pheasant (Phasianidae)

Ringneck Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Pheasants are popular game birds among hunters.

©Piotr Krzeslak/Shutterstock.com

Pheasants are popular game birds similar to the partridge. While the females are a rather drab brownish-black, the males are flamboyant and colorful. Although they are able to fly, they are ground-dwelling birds by nature and therefore more comfortable on the ground.

  • Color: Red, orange, yellow, green, tan, brown, black
  • Length: 21-33 inches
  • Wingspan: 2.3 to 2.8 feet
  • Location: Global except for Antarctica, native to Eurasia
  • Habitat: Forest, grassland, shrubland, wetlands (inland), desert
  • Conservation Status: Some species endangered

9. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

The pileated

woodpecker

has a long tongue adapted to lapping up ants.

©rhfletcher/Shutterstock.com

This visually striking woodpecker drills large, rectangular holes into trees in search of insects. Its long tongue is specially adapted to lap up insects, particularly ants. While drilling, it uses its talons to perch vertically on the tree trunk.

  • Color: Black, grey, red
  • Length: 16-19 inches
  • Wingspan: 2.2 to 2.5 feet
  • Location: North America
  • Habitat: Forest, wetlands (inland)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

10. Pink Pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri)

Pink Pigeon portrait photos Mauritius

The pink pigeon is endemic to the African island country of Mauritius.

©Daniel Danckwerts/Shutterstock.com

True to its name, the pink pigeon boasts lovely pinkish-grey plumage on its head, shoulders, and underside. A ring of red skin circles its eyes above a dark pink beak. Native to the African island country of Mauritius, this diminutive bird is vulnerable to extinction.

  • Color: Dark brown wings, pinkish-grey on head/shoulders/underside, rust-colored tail, a dark pink beak with white tip, dark brown eyes with a ring of red skin
  • Length: 14 to 15.8 inches
  • Wingspan:
  • Location: Mauritius
  • Habitat: Forests (upland evergreen and coastal)
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable

11. Puffbird (family Bucconidae)

A Beautiful Crescent-chested Puffbird is perching on a twig in the forest of Alto Castelinho, Vargem Alta - Espírito Santo, Brazil

The puffbird measures only 5-11 inches in length.

©Rob Jansen/Shutterstock.com

The puffbird gets its name from its habit of puffing out its head and neck plumage, making its head look larger than it is. It is one of the quietest birds in the Neotropics, though some species are more vocal than others. As a sit-and-wait hunter, it waits patiently on its perch for passing insects, arthropods, or lizards.

  • Color: Dull brownish/rufous/grey plumage, brightly colored bills/eyebrows/irises
  • Length: 5.1 to 11 inches
  • Wingspan:
  • Location: Mexico, South America
  • Habitat: Forest, savanna, shrubland
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern or Not Listed

12. Puffin (genus Fratercula)

The puffin has a wingspan of up to two feet.

©Ronnie Robertson / Flickr – Original

With its large bill, stocky body, and signature black-and-white coloration, the puffin is an iconic bird. It comes in three different species spread out across four continents. Because of its appearance, especially its colorful bill, it has earned the nicknames “clowns of the sea” and “sea parrots.”

  • Color: Black above, white below, black cap on head, white face, colorful bill, orange-red feet
  • Length: 13-16 inches
  • Wingspan: 1.5 to 2 feet
  • Location: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America
  • Habitat: Grassland, rocky areas, marine (neritic, intertidal, oceanic, coastal)
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable (Atlantic puffin), Least Concern (horned puffin, tufted puffin)

13. Purple Martin (Progne subis)

Birds that eat bees: Purple Martin

The purple martin gets its name from its blackish-blue feathers, which appear purple in certain lights.

©iStock.com/Jeff Huth

The so-called purple martin is actually blackish-blue in color, though its iridescence makes it appear deeply purple in some lights. These small insectivores practice hawking, which is the interception of insects midair. They have a long history of happy coexistence with humans that continues to the present day.

  • Color: Iridescent blackish-blue feathers (may appear deep blue, green, or purple in some lights), lighter underparts (females)
  • Length: 7.5 to 7.9 inches
  • Wingspan: 1.27 to 1.34 feet
  • Location: North America (including Central America), South America
  • Habitat: Forest, shrubland, wetlands (inland)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

14. Pygmy Falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus)

A pygmy falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus) perched on a branch, South Africa

The pygmy falcon is the smallest bird of prey in

Africa

with a maximum length of 7.9 inches.

©EcoPrint/Shutterstock.com

The pygmy falcon is notable for being the smallest bird of prey in Africa. Also known as the African pygmy falcon, this diminutive species preys on reptiles, small birds, rodents, and insects. Its undulating flight is atypical of a falcon.

  • Color: Greyback (males), chestnut back (females), white undersides, white “eye spots” on the nape
  • Length: 7.9 inches
  • Wingspan: 1.2 to 1.3 feet
  • Location: Africa
  • Habitat: Savanna, shrubland, grassland
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Largest Bird That Starts With P (#15)

Pelicans are distinguished from other birds because all 4 of their toes are webbed!

Pelicans have a wingspan of up to 11.5 feet.

©meunierd/Shutterstock.com

The largest bird that starts with P is the pelican (genus Pelecanus), specifically the Dalmatian pelican. Although the peafowl (especially the green peafowl) is often longer than the Dalmatian pelican due to its train, it is significantly lighter with a shorter wingspan. Pelicans are also famous for their long bills, which measure up to 1.6 feet in length, as well as for their massive gular pouches.

  • Color: Black, grey, white
  • Length: 42-72 inches
  • Wingspan: 6 to 11.5 feet
  • Location: Global except for Antarctica
  • Habitat: Wetlands (inland), marine (neritic, intertidal, oceanic, coastal)
  • Conservation Status: Some species endangered

The Fastest Bird That Starts With P (#16)

Peregrine falcon in flight

The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in the world.

©Harry Collins Photography/Shutterstock.com

The fastest bird – and animal – in the world is the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). When in a hunting stoop (steep dive), this species reaches astonishing speeds of up to 242 miles per hour. This makes it one of the deadliest avian predators in the world. It uses both the impact of its dive and its fierce talons to kill its prey.

  • Color: Bluish-black to slate grey back/wings/tail, black head and “mustache,” pale throat and sides of the neck, whitish underparts with dark barring, black-tipped tail with a white band
  • Length: 13-20 inches
  • Wingspan: 3.1 to 3.8 feet
  • Location: Global except for Antarctica
  • Habitat: Forest, savanna, shrubland, grassland, wetlands (inland), rocky areas, desert, marine (intertidal, coastal)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Summary Table of Birds That Start With P

Common NameScientific NameNumber of SpeciesLengthWingspanLocation
Pacific LoonGavia pacifica123-29 inches3.6 to 4.2 feetJapan, North America, Russia
Pacific Screech-OwlMegascops cooperi17.9 to 10.2 inchesCentral America
Painted StorkMycteria leucocephala136.5 to 40 inches4.8 to 5.3 feetAsia
ParrotPsittaciformesAlmost 4003.1 to 39.4 inchesUp to 5 feetAfrica, Asia, North America (including Central America), Oceania (including Australia), South America
PartridgePhasianidaeOver 4011-13 inches1.7 to 1.8 feetAfrica, Asia, Europe, North America, South America
PeacockPavo and Afropavo324-118 inches4.3 to 5.3 feet (Indian peafowl), 3.9 to 5.3 feet (green peafowl)Asia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo
PelicanPelecanus842-72 inches6 to 11.5 feetGlobal except for Antarctica
PenguinSpheniscidaeAbout 2012-47 inchesUp to 2.9 feetAntarctica, Oceania, Galápagos Islands
Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus113-20 inches3.1 to 3.8 feetGlobal except for Antarctica
PheasantPhasianidae4921-33 inches2.3 to 2.8 feetGlobal except for Antarctica, native to Eurasia
Pileated WoodpeckerDryocopus pileatus116-19 inches2.2 to 2.5 feetNorth America
Pink PigeonNesoenas mayeri114 to 15.8 inchesMauritius
PuffbirdBucconidaeAbout 355.1 to 11 inchesMexico, South America
PuffinFratercula313-16 inches1.5 to 2 feetAfrica, Asia, Europe, North America
Purple MartinProgne subis17.5 to 7.9 inches1.27 to 1.34 feetNorth America (including Central America), South America
Pygmy FalconPolihierax semitorquatus17.9 inches1.2 to 1.3 feetAfrica
A summary of the listed birds that start with P.


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About the Author

Kathryn Dueck is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, dogs, and geography. Kathryn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, which she earned in 2023. In addition to volunteering at an animal shelter, Kathryn has worked for several months as a trainee dog groomer. A resident of Manitoba, Canada, Kathryn loves playing with her dog, writing fiction, and hiking.

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