List of European birds

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In this article, Europe refers to the geographical continent, not the somewhat larger Western Palearctic, which includes parts of the Middle East and north Africa.

There are about 700 species of bird in the area, and in general the avifauna is similar to Asia north of the Himalayas, which shares the same ecozone. There are also many groups shared with North America.

Conversely, many of the Southern Hemisphere groups, including the ancient flightless Struthioniformes (ostrich order), and their relatives the tinamous are not represented at all.

The order follows the Voous Order, with the revision of the Anseriformes and Galliformes brought to the start of the list, adopted by all European countries.

The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories. The commonly occurring, native, species do not fall into any of these categories.

  • (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Europe
  • (I) Introduced - a species introduced to Europe as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions

Anseriformes[edit]

The clade Anseriformes includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are adapted to aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.

Galliformes[edit]

Galliformes are an order of heavy-bodied ground-feeding birds, containing turkey, grouse, chicken, New and Old World quail, ptarmigan, partridge, pheasant, and the Cracidae.

Podicipedidae[edit]

Grebes are small to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land.

Phoenicopteridae[edit]

Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) high, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down.

Strisores[edit]

Strisores is a clade that includes the living families and orders Caprimulgidae (nightjars, nighthawks and allies), Nyctibiidae (potoos), Apodiformes (swifts and hummingbirds), as well as the Aegotheliformes (owlet-nightjars) whose distinctness was only recently realized.

Pteroclidae[edit]

Sandgrouse have small, pigeon like heads and necks, but sturdy compact bodies. They have long pointed wings and sometimes tails and a fast direct flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn and dusk. Their legs are feathered down to the toes.

Columbidae[edit]

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.

Cuculidae[edit]

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites.

Gruiformes[edit]

The Gruiformes are an order containing a considerable number of living and extinct bird families, with a widespread geographical diversity. These include 14 species of large cranes, about 145 species of smaller crakes and rails, as well as a variety of families comprising one to three species, such as the Heliornithidae, the limpkin, or the trumpeters.

Otididae[edit]

Bustards are large terrestrial birds mainly associated with dry open country and steppes in the Old World. They are omnivorous and nest on the ground. They walk steadily on strong legs and big toes, pecking for food as they go. They have long broad wings with "fingered" wingtips, and striking patterns in flight. Many have interesting mating displays.

Gruidae[edit]

Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances".

Rallidae[edit]

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and to be weak fliers.

Gaviidae[edit]

Loons, known as divers in Europe, are group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Europe. They are the size of a large duck or small goose, which they somewhat resemble when swimming, but to which they are completely unrelated.

Procellariiformes[edit]

Procellariiformes is an order of seabirds that comprises four families: the albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters, storm petrels, and diving petrels.

Pelecanidae[edit]

Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes.

Phalacrocoracidae[edit]

Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies, with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black-and-white, and a few being colourful.

Ardeidae[edit]

The Ardeidae family contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted.

Ciconiidae[edit]

Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory.

Threskiornithidae[edit]

Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers.

Charadriiformes[edit]

Charadriiformes is a diverse order of small to medium-large birds. It includes about 350 species and has members in all parts of the world. Most Charadriiformes live near water and eat invertebrates or other small animals; however, some are pelagic (sea birds), some occupy deserts and a few are found in thick forest.

Haematopodidae[edit]

The oystercatchers are large and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs.

Recurvirostridae[edit]

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills.

Burhinidae[edit]

The thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow-black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats.

Glareolidae[edit]

Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long, pointed bills which curve downwards.

Charadriidae[edit]

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions.

Scolopacidae[edit]

Scolopacidae is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enable multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.

Stercorariidae[edit]

The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants.

Laridae[edit]

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet.

Sternidae[edit]

Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years.

Alcidae[edit]

Alcids are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits, however they are not related to the penguins and differ in being able to fly. Auks live on the open sea, only deliberately coming ashore to nest.

Falconiformes[edit]

Falconiformes is a clade of birds of prey and includes the osprey, hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight.

Strigiformes[edit]

Owls are a group of birds that belong to the order Strigiformes, constituting 200 extant bird of prey species. Most are solitary and nocturnal, with some exceptions (e.g., the northern hawk-owl). Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish.

Coraciiformes[edit]

The Coraciiformes are a group of usually colorful near passerine birds including the kingfishers, the hoopoe, the bee-eaters, the rollers, and the hornbills. They generally have syndactyly, with three forward-pointing toes (and toes 3 & 4 fused at their base), though in many kingfishers one of these is missing.

Picidae[edit]

Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks.

Falconidae[edit]

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons.

Psittacidae[edit]

Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two to the back.

Passeriformes[edit]

Passeriformes is a clade that includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders; with over 5,000 identified species.

Oriolidae[edit]

The Old World orioles are colourful passerine birds. They are not related to the New World orioles.

Laniidae[edit]

Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey.

Corvidae[edit]

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence.

Regulidae[edit]

The kinglets or crests are a small group of birds often included in the Old World warblers, but frequently given family status because they also resemble the titmice.

Bombycillidae[edit]

The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter.

Troglodytidae[edit]

The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and thin down-turned bills. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous.

Sittidae[edit]

Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet.

Tichodromidae[edit]

The wallcreeper is a small bird with stunning crimson, grey and black plumage, related to the nuthatch family.

Certhiidae[edit]

Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees.

Muscicapidae[edit]

Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is highly varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls.

Turdidae[edit]

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs.

Cinclidae[edit]

Dippers are a group of perching birds whose habitat includes aquatic environments in the Americas, Europe and Asia. They are named for their bobbing or dipping movements.

Sturnidae[edit]

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen.

Paridae[edit]

The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects.

Remizidae[edit]

The penduline tits are a group of small passerine birds, related to the true tits. They are insectivores.

Alaudidae[edit]

Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds.

Hirundinidae[edit]

The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. These adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.

Aegithalidae[edit]

Long-tailed tits are a group of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They make woven bag nests in trees. Most eat a mixed diet which includes insects.

Paradoxornithidae[edit]

The parrotbills are a group of birds native to East and Southeast Asia, though feral populations exist elsewhere. They are generally small, long-tailed birds which inhabit reed beds and similar habitats.

Sylviidae[edit]

The Old World warblers is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. They mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs.

Prunellidae[edit]

The accentors are in the only bird family, Prunellidae, which is completely endemic to the Palearctic. They are small, fairly drab species superficially similar to sparrows.

Motacillidae[edit]

The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country.

Passeridae[edit]

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters and they also consume small insects.

Emberizidae[edit]

The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with distinctively shaped bills. In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns.

Fringillidae[edit]

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well.

See also[edit]

References[edit]