List of birds of Connecticut
This list of birds of Connecticut is a comprehensive listing of all the bird species recorded from the U.S. state of Connecticut. This list is based on a checklist used by the Avian Records Committee of Connecticut, the list used by most birders to objectively evaluate species recorded in the state. This list is based on the committee's revision from 2007.
A total of 417 species of birds have been recorded in Connecticut. This number includes all bird species known to have occurred in the state, including birds that don't breed in Connecticut, such as migrants, winter visitors and vagrants, as well as breeding species and recently extinct and extirpated species. There are about 280 species regularly occurring in the state. The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Connecticut (1994) listed 173 bird species as confirmed breeders, based on a 1982–1986 survey. An assessment before 2004 estimated the total number of species breeding regularly in the state at about 150.
The taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, genera and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) used in the accompanying bird lists adhere to the conventions of the AOU's (1998) Check-list of North American Birds, the recognized scientific authority on the taxonomy and nomenclature of North American birds. The AOU's Committee on Classification and Nomenclature, the body responsible for maintaining and updating the Check-list, "strongly and unanimously continues to endorse the biological species concept (BSC), in which species are considered to be genetically cohesive groups of populations that are reproductively isolated from other such groups" (AOU 1998). See Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy for an alternative phylogenetic arrangement based on DNA-DNA hybridization.
The following codes are used to designate some species:
- (I) Introduced - a species introduced to North America as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions
- (X) Extinct - a species that no longer exists
- (E) Extirpated - a species that no longer occurs in Connecticut although populations exist elsewhere
- (S) - sight record only
Ducks, geese and swans
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, bills which are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils.
- Ross's goose, Chen rossii (R)
- Brant, Branta bernicla
- Barnacle goose, Branta leucopsis (R)
- Cackling goose, Branta hutchinsii
- Canada goose, Branta canadensis
- Mute swan, Cygnus olor (I)
- Wood duck, Aix sponsa
- Gadwall, Anas strepera
- Eurasian wigeon, Anas penelope
- American wigeon, Anas americana
- American black duck, Anas rubripes
- Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
- Blue-winged teal, Anas discors
- Cinnamon teal, Anas cyanoptera (R)
- Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Northern pintail, Anas acuta
- Green-winged teal, Anas crecca
- Canvasback, Aythya valisineria
- Redhead, Aythya americana
- Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris
- Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula (R)
- Greater scaup, Aythya marila
- Lesser scaup, Aythya affinis
- King eider, Somateria spectabilis
- Common eider, Somateria mollissima
- Harlequin duck, Histrionicus histrionicus
- Surf scoter, Melanitta perspicillata
- White-winged scoter, Melanitta fusca
- Black scoter, Melanitta americana
- Long-tailed duck, Clangula hyemalis
- Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
- Labrador duck, Camptorhynchus labradorius (X)
- Barrow's goldeneye, Bucephala islandica
- Common goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
- Hooded merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
- Common merganser, Mergus merganser
- Red-breasted merganser, Mergus serrator
- Ruddy duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
Pheasants, turkeys and grouse
Phasianidae consists of the pheasants and their allies. These are terrestrial species, variable in size but generally plump with broad relatively short wings. Many species are gamebirds or have been domesticated as a food source for humans. In Connecticut, one species has been introduced. Turkeys have a distinctive fleshy wattle that hangs from the underside of the beak and a fleshy protuberance that hangs from the top of its beak called a snood. As with many galliform species, the female (the hen) is smaller and much less colorful than the male (the tom). With wingspans of 1.5–1.8 meters (almost 6 feet), the turkeys are the largest birds in the open forests in which they live and are rarely mistaken for any other species. One species has been recorded in Connecticut. Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They are game and are sometimes hunted for food. In all Connecticut species, males are polygamous and have elaborate courtship displays. These heavily built birds have legs feathered to the toes. Most species are year-round residents and do not migrate. Two species have been recorded in Connecticut.
- Ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus (I)
- Wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo
- Ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus
- Greater prairie-chicken, Tympanuchus cupido (EX) (S)
New World quail
The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Northern bobwhite, Colinus virginianus
Loons are aquatic birds, the size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely gray or black, and they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well and fly adequately, but are almost hopeless on land, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body. In Connecticut, three species have been recorded.
- Red-throated loon, Gavia stellata — rather common, mostly along the coast and at the mouths of major rivers during spring and fall migration; uncommon in winter and at that time found mostly in eastern Long Island Sound; as many as 100 to 200 individuals gather together in November; many go south by early winter.
- Pacific loon, Gavia pacifica (R)
- Common loon, Gavia immer — historically, the bird rarely nests in Connecticut and no recent nesting was observed up to 2004 in the state; rather common in spring and fall during migration; found in coastal waters, large lakes and reservoirs; most likely to be seen in eastern Long Island Sound; pollution (particularly acidified lakes which cut back on food resources and mercury poisoning) has cut the population in the northeast, along with fluctuating reservoir levels and lakeshore residential development.
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. In Connecticut, five species have been recorded.
- Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps — a rare breeder found in freshwater marshes, marshy ponds and lakes in the western part of the state; an uncommon spring and fall migrant and then found on coastal and inland waters
- Horned grebe, Podiceps auritus — numerous spring and fall migrant, although not always; seen less in winter, usually along the coast and sometimes inland on large lakes and rivers
- Red-necked grebe, Podiceps grisegena — uncommon in spring and fall migration season, rare in winter; usually found along the coast, sometimes on inland bodies of water
- Eared grebe, Podiceps nigricollis (R)
- Western grebe, Aechmorphorus occidentalis (R)
Fulmars, petrels and shearwaters
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterized by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary. In Connecticut, seven species have been recorded.
- Northern fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis (R)
- Black-capped petrel, Pterodroma hasitata (R)
- Cory's shearwater, Calonectris diomedea (R)
- Great shearwater, Puffinus gravis (R)
- Sooty shearwater, Puffinus griseus (R)
- Manx shearwater, Puffinus puffinus (R)(S)
- Audubon's shearwater, Puffinus lherminieri (R)(S)
The storm-petrels are the smallest seabirds, relatives of the petrels, feeding on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. In Connecticut, three species have been recorded.
- Wilson's storm-petrel, Oceanites oceanicus — rarely found in the state, but seen rather regularly in eastern Long Island during the summer.
- White-faced storm-petrel, Pelagodroma marina (R)
- Leach's storm-petrel, Oceanodroma leucorhoa (R)
Boobies and gannets
- Northern gannet, Morus bassanus (formerly Sula bassana) — rarely found during spring and fall migration, and seldom seen in winter, although regularly present in December, mostly in eastern Long Island Sound.
Pelicans are very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes. In Connecticut, two species have been recorded.
Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of colored skin on the face. The bill is long, thin and sharply hooked. Their feet are four-toed and webbed, a distinguishing feature among the Pelecaniformes order. In Connecticut, two species have been recorded.
- Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus — now a common from spring to fall, this bird was a rare migrant around 1900; much less common in winter, but sightings are increasing; mostly found on some coastal islands, but also on major rivers and some inland lakes; by the late 1990s, there were at least 1,000 nesting pairs in the state; these birds compete with fishermen and with less robust species, so efforts have been made in New York and southern New England to cut down the population; in the years leading up to 2004, the birds were less seen in the summer than previously.
- Great cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo — rather common along the coast from fall through spring, but also found on the Connecticut river and other large bodies of water.
Darters are cormorant-like water birds with very long necks and long, straight beaks. They are fish eaters which often swim with only their neck above the water. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga (S) (R)
Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black or black-and-white, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have colored inflatable throat pouches. They do not swim or walk and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Magnificent frigatebird, Fregata magnificens (R)
Bitterns, herons and egrets
The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets and bitterns. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills.egrets, including the great egret, were decimated in the past by plume hunters, but numbers recovered when given protection in the 20th century. In Connecticut, 11 species have been recorded.
- American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus — uncommon but widespread and found at any time of the year; mostly found in large marshes in summer or winter, and migrants may use small marshes; numbers likely declined when the common reed displaced cattail marshes
- Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis — rarely seen; found in spring through fall in large marshes; prefers marshes roughly equally mixed between vegetation and open water
- Great blue heron, Ardea herodias — common in marshes and other bodies of water from spring through fall; numbers have been increasing in recent decades; increasingly seen in winter, but still uncommon then
- Great egret, Ardea alba — rather common along the coast from spring through fall and rarely in early winter; less commonly found inland; groups of about 100 pairs nest on Great Captain Island off Greenwich, Charles Island off Milford and Dyuck Island at Westbrook; numbers have been increasing
- Snowy egret, Egretta thula — rather common along the coast from spring through fall; can be found roosting at night with great egrets and cormorants; found in woody vegetation on coastal islands, including Great Captain Island off Greenwich, Charles Island off Milford and Dyuck Island at Westbrook; the population on Long Island Sound (including New York state) declined a bit from 1,650 pairs in 1977 to 1,390 in 1998.
- Little blue heron, Egretta caerulea — not common, seen from spring through early fall, but most often from mid- to late summer and early in the fall when young birds enter the state from the south; found nesting in woody areas of coastal islands, including Great Captain Island off Greenwich and Charles Island off Milford; the nesting range expanded to the north along the East Coast in the 20th century
- Tricolored heron, Egretta tricolor — seldom found in the state; seen in coastal waters in the spring and summer, occasionally nested in the woody areas of the Norwalk Islands; in the mid 20th century the species became more abundant in New York and southern New England
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis — rarely seen; found in coastal waters in spring and summer; has been seen regularly nesting in the woody areas of the Norwalk Islands; a native of the Old World, the egret showed up in the 1880s, first in South America and by the 1940s had spread north to Florida and then along the East Coast
- Green heron, Butorides virescens — rather common; found in marshes and swamps from spring through fall; loss of marshes and damage to them likely caused a decline in this population in the 20th century
- Black-crowned night-heron, Nycticorax nycticorax — rather common on the coast and on the Connecticut river from spring through fall; rarely found in winter; spreads inland along the Connecticut and Housatonic rivers in late summer; nests on coastal islands, including Great Captain Island off Greenwich, Charles Island off Milford and Dyuck Island at Westbrook; the population in the state was about 500 pairs as of 2004; numbers declined in the Northeast United States in the 20th century, probably because of human disturbances and pesticide use; the Long Island Sound population (including New York state) declined from 2,400 pairs in 1977 to 1,390 in 1998
- Yellow-crowned night-heron, Nyctanassa violacea— rarely seen; found in coastal marshes from spring through early fall, usually in the western part of the state
Ibises and spoonbills
The family Threskiornithidae includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings. Their bodies tend to be elongated, the neck more so, with rather long legs. The bill is also long, decurved in the case of the ibises, straight and distinctively flattened in the spoonbills. In Connecticut, three species have occurred.
- American white ibis, Eudocimus albus (R)
- Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus
- White-faced ibis, Plegadis chihi (R)
Storks are large, heavy, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills and wide wingspans. They lack the powder down that other wading birds such as herons, spoonbills and ibises use to clean off fish slime. Storks lack a pharynx and are mute. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Wood stork, Mycteria americana (R)
New World vultures
The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers. However, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carcasses. In Connecticut, two species have been recorded.
The osprey is a medium-large fish-eating bird of prey or raptor. It is widely distributed because it tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location which is near a body of water and provides an adequate food supply. It is the only member of its family.
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus — The distinctive black and white birds are common in the state from spring through fall; seen mostly on platforms on the east and central coastline; also called "fish hawks".
- migrations are heaviest in early to mid-spring (around St. Patrick's Day) and late summer through early fall (around Labor Day), with most juveniles migrating a bit later.
- feeds on medium-size fish, including flounders, which they catch by diving from the air, feet first; the birds are unique in Connecticut as the only species with a fish-only diet, and they are one of the few raptors that prey on live fish; they can be seen hovering over the water before splashing down, sometimes 2 or 3 feet in the water; the birds can catch up to 10 fish a day; adults feed their fledglings for up to 8 weeks; ospreys have been known to snatch goldfish from ornamental fish ponds.
- Formerly the bird was rare, in part due to pesticide contamination (including DDT), with just nine nests in the state as of 1974 and increasing to 162 (with 315 fledglings) by 1999; their range has expanded westward along the coast over time and up the Connecticut and Quinnipiac rivers; their nests stay intact through the winter, when the birds migrate as far as South America; in the 1990s, raccoon predation may have kept the population down at great Island on the Connecticut river before barriers were put on the poles supporting nests; when racoons were more scarce, ospreys successfully nested on the ground, but they typically build nests at the highest possible locations, including cell phone towers.
- In May 2008, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk set up a webcam of an osprey nest on Manressa Island, a peninsula on the west side of Norwalk Harbor, near a power plant. (A link to the webcam can be found at this Web page.) The tan color of the chicks makes them a bit difficult to see against the similarly colored nest on the black-and-white webcam feed. The aquarium monitors ospreys "because, as a predator, at the top of the food chain, osprey are an important indicator of the health of the entire ecosystem," according to the aquarium website.
Hawks, kites and eagles
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight. In Connecticut, 13 species have been recorded.
- Swallow-tailed kite, Elanoides forficatus
- Mississippi kite, Ictinia mississippiensis
- Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Northern harrier, Circus cyaneus
- Sharp-shinned hawk, Accipiter striatus
- Cooper's hawk, Accipiter cooperii
- Northern goshawk, Accipiter gentilis
- Red-shouldered hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Broad-winged hawk, Buteo platypterus
- Swainson's hawk, Buteo swainsoni (R)
- Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Rough-legged hawk, Buteo lagopus
- Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
Caracaras and falcons
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey, notably the falcons and caracaras. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons. In Connecticut, four species have been recorded.
- American kestrel, Falco sparverius
- Merlin, Falco columbarius
- Gyrfalcon, Falco rusticolus (R)
- Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus
Rails, gallinules and coots
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them 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. In Connecticut, nine species have been recorded.
- Yellow rail, Coturnicops noveboracensis (R)
- Black rail, Laterallus jamaicensis (R)
- Corn crake, Crex crex (R)
- Clapper rail, Rallus crepitans
- King rail, Rallus elegans
- Virginia rail, Rallus limicola
- Sora, Porzana carolina
- Purple gallinule, Porphyrio martinica (R)
- Common gallinule, Gallinula galeata
- American coot, Fulica americana
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". In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Sandhill crane, Grus canadensis
Lapwings and plovers
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. In Connecticut, seven species have been recorded.
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- American golden-plover, Pluvialis dominica
- Snowy plover, Charadrius nivosus (R)
- Wilson's plover, Charadrius wilsonia (R)
- Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus
- Piping plover, Charadrius melodus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus
- American oystercatcher, Haematopus palliatus
Stilts and avocets
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. In Connecticut, two species have been recorded.
Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes and phalaropes
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. Different lengths of legs and bills enable multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. In Connecticut, 38 species have been recorded.
- Spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularius
- Solitary sandpiper, Tringa solitaria
- Spotted redshank, Tringa erythropus (R)
- Greater yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- Lesser yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes
- Willet, Tringa semipalmata
- Upland sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda
- Eskimo curlew, Numenius borealis (X)
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Long-billed curlew, Numenius americanus(R)
- Black-tailed godwit, Limosa limosa (R)
- Hudsonian godwit, Limosa haemastica
- Bar-tailed godwit, Limosa lapponica (R)
- Marbled godwit, Limosa fedoa
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Red knot, Calidris canutus
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Semipalmated sandpiper, Calidris pusilla
- Western sandpiper, Calidris mauri
- Red-necked stint, Calidris ruficollis (R)
- Least sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
- White-rumped sandpiper, Calidris fuscicollis
- Baird's sandpiper, Calidris bairdii
- Pectoral sandpiper, Calidris melanotos
- Sharp-tailed sandpiper, Calidris acuminata(R)
- Purple sandpiper, Calidris maritima
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea(R)
- Stilt sandpiper, Calidris himantopus
- Buff-breasted sandpiper, Tryngites subruficollis
- Ruff, Philomachus pugnax (R)
- Short-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus
- Long-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
- Wilson's snipe, Gallinago delicata
- American woodcock, Scolopax minor
- Wilson's phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor
- Red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
- Red phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius (R)
Gulls, terns and skimmers
Gulls are typically medium to large birds, usually gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have longish bills and webbed feet. The large species take up to four years to attain full adult plumage, but two years is typical for small gulls. terns are in general medium to large birds, typically with gray or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. They have longish bills and webbed feet. They are lighter bodied and more streamlined than gulls, and look elegant in flight with long tails and long narrow wings. skimmers are tropical and subtropical species. They have an elongated lower mandible. They feed by flying low over the water surface with the lower mandible skimming the water for small fish.
- Laughing gull, Leucophaeus atricilla
- Franklin's gull, Leucophaeus pipixcan (R)
- Little gull, Hydrocoloeus minutus
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus
- Bonaparte's gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia
- Black-tailed gull, Larus crassirostris
- Mew gull, Larus canus (R, S)
- Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
- Herring gull, Larus argentatus
- Thayer's gull, Larus thayeri (R) (S)
- Iceland gull, Larus glaucoides
- Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus
- Glaucous gull, Larus hyperboreus
- Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus
- Sabine's gull, Xema sabini (R)
- Black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
- Ross's gull, Rhodostethia rosea (R)
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscata (R)
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus (R)
- Least tern, Sternula antillarum
- Gull-billed tern, Gelochelidon nilotica (R)(S)
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- White-winged tern, Sterna leucopterus
- Roseate tern, Sterna dougallii
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- Arctic tern, Sterna paradisaea (R)
- Forster's tern, Sterna forsteri
- Royal tern, Thalasseus maxima (R)
- Sandwich tern, Thalasseus sandvicensis
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- Black skimmer, Rynchops niger
They are in general medium to large birds, typically with gray or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They have longish bills with hooked tips and webbed feet with sharp claws. They look like large dark gulls, but have a fleshy cere above the upper mandible. They are strong, acrobatic fliers. three species have been recorded in Connecticut.
- Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus (R)(S)
- Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus
- Long-tailed jaeger, Stercorarius longicaudus(R)
Auks, murres and puffins
Alcids are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colors, their upright posture and some of their habits; however, they are only distantly related to the penguins and are able to fly. Auks live on the open sea, only deliberately coming ashore to nest. In Connecticut, five species have been recorded.
- Dovekie, Alle alle (R)
- Thick-billed murre, Uria lomvia (R)
- Razorbill, Alca torda (S)
- Black guillemot, Cepphus grylle (R)
- Atlantic puffin, Fratercula arctica (R)
Pigeons and doves
Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. In Connecticut, seven species have been recorded.
- Rock dove, Columba livia (R)(I)
- Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata (R)(S)
- Eurasian collared-dove, Streptopelia decaocto (R)
- White-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica (R)(S)
- Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura
- Passenger pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (E)
- Common ground-dove, Columbina passerina
Lories, parakeets, macaws and parrots
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. In Connecticut, one exotic species has been recorded.
- Monk parakeet, Myiopsitta monachus (I)
Cuckoos, roadrunners and anis
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. The Old World cuckoos are brood parasites. In Connecticut, two species have been recorded.
Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba
Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. In Connecticut, 11 species have been recorded.
- Eastern screech-owl, Megascops asio
- Great horned owl, Bubo virginianus
- Snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus
- Northern hawk owl, Surnia ulula (R)
- Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia (R)
- Barred owl, Strix varia
- Great gray owl, Strix nebulosa (R)
- Long-eared owl, Asio otus
- Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus
- Boreal owl, Aegolius funereus (R)
- Northern saw-whet owl, Aegolius acadicus
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet which are of little use for walking and long, pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically colored to resemble bark or leaves. In Connecticut, three species have been recorded.
- Common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor
- Chuck-will's-widow, Antrostomus carolinensis (R)
- Eastern whip-poor-will, Antrostomus vociferus
The swifts are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Chimney swift, Chaetura pelagica
Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. In Connecticut, three species have been recorded.
- Ruby-throated hummingbird, Archilochus colubris
- Calliope hummingbird, Selasphorus calliope (R)
- Rufous hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
Woodpeckers, sapsuckers and flickers
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. In Connecticut, eight species have been recorded.
- Red-headed woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus
- Red-bellied woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus
- Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius
- Downy woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
- Hairy woodpecker, Picoides villosus
- Black-backed woodpecker, Picoides arcticus (R)
- Northern flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus
Tyrant flycatchers are passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust and have stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, are rather plain. As the name implies, most are insectivorous. In Connecticut, 17 species have been recorded.
- Olive-sided flycatcher, Contopus cooperi
- Eastern wood-pewee, Contopus virens
- Yellow-bellied flycatcher, Empidonax flaviventris
- Acadian flycatcher, Empidonax virescens
- Alder flycatcher, Empidonax alnorum
- Willow flycatcher, Empidonax traillii
- Least flycatcher, Empidonax minimus
- Eastern phoebe, Sayornis phoebe
- Say's phoebe, Sayornis saya (R)
- Ash-throated flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens (R)
- Great crested flycatcher, Myiarchus crinitus
- Tropical kingbird, Tyrannus melancholicus (R)
- Western kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus
- Gray kingbird, Tyrannus dominicensis (R)
- Scissor-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus forficatus (R)
- Fork-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus savana (R)
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. In Connecticut, two species have been recorded.
The vireos are a group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in color and resemble the wood warblers except for their heavier bills. In Connecticut, seven species have been recorded.
- White-eyed vireo, Vireo griseus
- Bell's vireo, Vireo bellii (R)
- Yellow-throated vireo, Vireo flavifrons
- Blue-headed vireo, Vireo solitarius
- Warbling vireo, Vireo gilvus
- Philadelphia vireo, Vireo philadelphicus
- Red-eyed vireo, Vireo olivaceus
Jays, crows, magpies and ravens
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence. In Connecticut, four species have been recorded.
- Blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata
- American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Fish crow, Corvus ossifragus
- Common raven, Corvus corax
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. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Horned lark, Eremophila alpestris
Swallows and martins
The Hirundinidae family is adapted to aerial feeding. They have a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking and the front toes are partially joined at the base. In Connecticut, seven species have been recorded.
- Purple martin, Progne subis
- Tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Northern rough-winged swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
- Bank swallow, Riparia riparia
- Cliff swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
- Cave swallow, Petrochelidon fulva
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
Chickadees and titmice
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. In Connecticut, three species have been recorded.
- Boreal chickadee, Poecile hudsonicus (R)
- Black-capped chickadee, Poecile atricapilla
- Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor
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. In Connecticut, three species have been recorded.
- Red-breasted nuthatch, Sitta canadensis
- White-breasted nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- Brown-headed nuthatch, Sitta pusilla
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. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Brown creeper, Certhia americana
Wrens are small and inconspicuous birds, except for their loud songs. They have short wings and thin down-turned bills. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. In Connecticut, five species have been recorded.
- Carolina wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus
- House wren, Troglodytes aedon
- Winter wren, Troglodytes hiemalis
- Sedge wren, Cistothorus platensis
- Marsh wren, Cistothorus palustris
The kinglets are a family of birds which are very small insectivorous birds in the genus Regulus. The adults have colored crowns, giving rise to their name. In Connecticut, two species have been recorded.
These dainty birds resemble Old World warblers in their structure and habits, moving restlessly through foliage while seeking insects. The gnatcatchers are mainly a soft bluish gray in color and have the long sharp bill typical of an insectivore. Many species have distinctive black head patterns (especially males) and long, regularly cocked black-and-white tails. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- Blue-gray gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea
Old World flycatchers
- Northern wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe (R)
The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively 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. In Connecticut, 11 species have been recorded.
- Eastern bluebird, Sialia sialis
- Mountain bluebird, Sialia currucoides (R)
- Townsend's solitaire, Myadestes townsendi (R)
- Veery, Catharus fuscescens
- Gray-cheeked thrush, Catharus minimus
- Bicknell's thrush, Catharus bicknelli (R)
- Swainson's thrush, Catharus ustulatus
- Hermit thrush, Catharus guttatus
- Wood thrush, Hylocichla mustelina
- American robin, Turdus migratorius
- Varied thrush, Ixoreus naevius (R)
Mockingbirds and thrashers
The mimids are a family of passerine birds which includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance. In Connecticut, three species have been recorded.
- Gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis
- Northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Brown thrasher, Toxostoma rufum
Starlings are small to medium-sized Old World passerine birds with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct and most are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. The plumage of several species is dark with a metallic sheen. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- European starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I)
Wagtails and pipits
Motacillidae is 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. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- American pipit, Anthus rubescens
The waxwings are a group of birds with 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. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
Longspurs and snow buntings
- Lapland longspur, Calcarius lapponicus
- Smith's longspur, Calcarius pictus (R)
- Chestnut-collared longspur, Calcarius ornatus (R)
- Snow bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis
The wood warblers are a group of small, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some are more terrestrial, such as the Ovenbird. Most members of this family are insectivores. In Connecticut, 39 species have been recorded.
- Blue-winged warbler, Vermivora cyanoptera
- Golden-winged warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera
- Tennessee warbler, Oreothlypis peregrina
- Orange-crowned warbler, Oreothlypis celata
- Nashville warbler, Oreothlypis ruficapilla
- Northern parula, Setophaga americana
- Yellow warbler, Setophaga petechia
- Chestnut-sided warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica
- Magnolia warbler, Setophaga magnolia
- Cape May warbler, Setophaga tigrina
- Black-throated blue warbler, Setophaga caerulescens
- Yellow-rumped warbler, Setophaga coronata
- Black-throated gray warbler, Setophaga nigrescens (R)
- Black-throated green warbler, Setophaga virens
- Hermit warbler, Setophaga occidentalis (S)(R)
- Blackburnian warbler, Setophaga fusca
- Yellow-throated warbler, Setophaga dominica
- Pine warbler, Setophaga pinus
- Prairie warbler, Setophaga discolor
- Palm warbler, Setophaga palmarum
- Bay-breasted warbler, Setophaga castanea
- Blackpoll warbler, Setophaga striata
- Cerulean warbler, Setophaga cerulea
- Hooded warbler, Setophaga citrina
- American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla
- Black-and-white warbler, Mniotilta varia
- Prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea
- Worm-eating warbler, Helmitheros vermivorum
- Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla
- Northern waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis
- Louisiana waterthrush, Parkesia motacilla
- Connecticut warbler, Oporornis agilis
- Kentucky warbler, Geothlypis formosa
- Mourning warbler, Geothlypis philadelphia
- MacGillivray's warbler, Geothlypis tolmiei (R)
- Common yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
- Wilson's warbler, Cardellina pusilla
- Canada warbler, Cardellina canadensis
- Yellow-breasted chat, Icteria virens
American sparrows, towhees, juncos and longspurs
Emberizidae is 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. In Connecticut, have been recorded.
- Green-tailed towhee, Pipilo chlorurus (R)
- Spotted towhee, Pipilo maculatus (R)
- Eastern towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus
- American tree sparrow, Spizella arborea
- Chipping sparrow, Spizella passerina
- Clay-colored sparrow, Spizella pallida
- Field sparrow, Spizella pusilla
- Vesper sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus
- Lark sparrow, Chondestes grammacus
- Lark bunting, Calamospiza melanocorys (R)
- Savannah sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
- Grasshopper sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
- Henslow's sparrow, Ammodramus henslowii (R)
- Le Conte's sparrow, Ammodramus leconteii (R)
- Nelson's sparrow, Ammodramus nelsoni
- Saltmarsh sparrow, Ammodramus caudacutus
- Seaside sparrow, Ammodramus maritimus
- Fox sparrow, Passerella iliaca
- Song sparrow, Melospiza melodia
- Lincoln's sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii
- Swamp sparrow, Melospiza georgiana
- White-throated sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
- Harris's sparrow, Zonotrichia querula (R)
- White-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Golden-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla (R)
- Dark-eyed junco, Junco hyemalis
Cardinals, saltators and grosbeaks
The cardinals are a family of robust, seed-eating birds with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. In Connecticut, species have been recorded.
- Summer tanager, Piranga rubra
- Scarlet tanager, Piranga olivacea
- Western tanager, Piranga ludoviciana (R)
- Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
- Rose-breasted grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus
- Black-headed grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus (R)
- Blue grosbeak, Passerina caerulea
- Lazuli bunting, Passerina amoena (R)
- Indigo bunting, Passerina cyanea
- Painted bunting, Passerina ciris (R)
- Dickcissel, Spiza americana
Blackbirds, meadowlarks, cowbirds, grackles and orioles
The icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds and New World orioles. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. In Connecticut, 12 species have been recorded.
- Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
- Red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Eastern meadowlark, Sturnella magna
- Yellow-headed blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
- Rusty blackbird, Euphagus carolinus
- Brewer's blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus (R)(S)
- Common grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
- Boat-tailed grackle, Quiscalus major (S)
- Brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater
- Orchard oriole, Icterus spurius
- Bullock's oriole, Icterus bullockii (R)
- Baltimore oriole, Icterus galbula
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 twelve tail feathers and nine primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. In Connecticut, ten species have been recorded.
- Brambling, Fringilla montifringilla (R)
- Pine grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator
- Purple finch, Haemorhous purpureus
- House finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Red crossbill, Loxia curvirostra
- White-winged crossbill, Loxia leucoptera
- Common redpoll, Acanthis flammea
- Pine siskin, Spinus pinus
- American goldfinch, Spinus tristis
- Evening grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus
Old World sparrows
Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or grayish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects. In Connecticut, one species has been recorded.
- House sparrow, Passer domesticus (I)
- Fauna of Connecticut
- Flora of Connecticut
- List of birds
- List of mammals of Connecticut
- List of North American birds
- Lists of birds by region
- Long Island Sound for an extensive list of various species
- "The Checklist of the Birds of Connecticut". Connecticut Ornithological Association. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
- Hammerson, Geoffrey A., Connecticut Wildlife: Biodiversity, Natural History, and Conservation, University Press of New England: Hanover, New Hampshire, and London, 2004, ISBN 1-58465-369-8, Chapter 20 "Birds"
- McNamee, Patrick, special correspondent, "Ospreys star in their own reality show: Aquarium trains webcam on birds of prey's nest", The Advocate of Stamford, Connecticut, May 28, 2008, Stamford edition, page A9
- Web page titled "View an active osprey nest / News flash!" at the Maritime Aquarium website, accessed May 31, 2008
- "ABA Checklist". American birding Association. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
- "Check-list of North American Birds, Seventh Edition". American Ornithologists' Union. Archived from the original on 2008-02-24. Retrieved 2008-03-08. - A recognized source on the taxonomy of birds found in North and Middle America.
- Connecticut Birds (Zeranski and Baptist, 1990)
- The Atlas of Breeding birds of Connecticut (Bevier, 1994)
- The Connecticut Warbler, journal of the Connecticut Ornithological Association