List of birds of Massachusetts
This list of Massachusetts birds is a comprehensive listing of all the bird species recorded from the U.S. state of Massachusetts. This list is based on a checklist used by the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee, the list used by most birders to objectively evaluate species recorded in the state. This list is based on the Committee's revision in 2013.
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.
Unless otherwise noted, all species listed below are considered to occur regularly in Massachusetts as permanent residents, summer or winter visitors, or migrants. The following codes are used to denote certain categories of species:
- n - Nesting: Confirmed nesting records within the state of Massachusetts.
- xn - Extralimital nester: Previous record of nesting, but recorded only once or twice.
- (I) - Introduced: Birds that have been introduced to North America by the actions of man, either directly or indirectly.
- (E) - Extinct
- (Ex) - Extirpated: A bird that, while it is not extinct, is no longer found in Massachusetts.
- (R) - Review list: Birds that if seen require more comprehensive documentation than regularly seen species. By their very nature, these birds are considered irregular or of rare occurrence in Massachusetts.
Note: Birds marked with * is not identified to species, but distinct enough to be considered as a separate entry
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for 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.
- Black-bellied whistling duck, Dendrocygna autumnalis (R)
- Fulvous whistling-duck, Dendrocygna bicolor (R)
- Pink-footed goose, Anser brachyrhynchus (R)
- Greater white-fronted goose, Anser albifrons
- Snow goose, Chen caerulescens
- Ross's goose, Chen rossii (R)
- Cackling goose, Branta hutchinsii (R)
- Canada goose, Branta canadensis (n)
- Brant, Branta bernicla
- Barnacle goose, Branta leucopsis (R)
- Mute swan, Cygnus olor (I) (n)
- Tundra swan, Cygnus columbianus
- Wood duck, Aix sponsa (n)
- Gadwall, Anas strepera (n)
- Eurasian wigeon, Anas penelope
- American wigeon, Anas americana (n)
- Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos (n)
- American black duck, Anas rubripes (n)
- Blue-winged teal, Anas discors (n)
- Cinnamon teal, Anas cyanoptera (R)
- Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata (n)
- Northern pintail, Anas acuta (n)
- Garganey, Anas querquedula
- Green-winged teal, Anas crecca (n)
- Canvasback, Aythya valisineria
- Redhead, Aythya americana
- Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris (n)
- Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula (R-female and imm only)
- Greater scaup, Aythya marila
- Lesser scaup, Aythya affinis
- Steller's eider, Polysticta stelleri (R)
- King eider, Somateria spectabilis
- Common eider, Somateria mollissima (n)
- Harlequin duck, Histrionicus histrionicus
- Labrador duck, Camptorhynchus labradorius (E)
- Surf scoter, Melanitta perspicillata
- White-winged scoter, Melanitta fusca
- Black scoter, Melanitta americana
- Long-tailed duck, Clangula hyemalis
- Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
- Common goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
- Barrow's goldeneye, Bucephala islandica
- Hooded merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus (n)
- Common merganser, Mergus merganser (n)
- Red-breasted merganser, Mergus serrator (n)
- Masked duck, Nomonyx dominicus (R)
- Ruddy duck, Oxyura jamaicensis (n)
The Phasianidae is a family of birds which 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. 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 than the male (the tom), and much less colorful. 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. Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere. They are game and are sometimes hunted for food. In all Massachusetts 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.
- Ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus (I) (n)
- Wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo (n)
- Ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus (n)
- Heath hen/Greater prairie-chicken, Tympanuchus cupido cupido (ex)
- Willow ptarmigan, Lagopus lagopus (R)
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 Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- Northern bobwhite, Colinus virginianus (n)
Loons are aquatic birds size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely grey or black, they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well, and fly adequately, but, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body, are almost hopeless on land. In Massachusetts, three species have been recorded.
Grebes are small to medium-large sized 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 Massachusetts, five species have been recorded.
- Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps (n)
- Horned grebe, Podiceps auritus
- Red-necked grebe, Podiceps grisegena
- Eared grebe, Podiceps nigricollis (R)
- Western grebe, Aechmorphorus occidentalis (R)
The albatrosses are amongst the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses from the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds. In Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
- Yellow-nosed albatross, Thalassarche chlororhynchos (R)
- Black-browed albatross, Thalassarche melanophris (R)
Fulmars, petrels and shearwaters
The Procellariids are the main group of medium-sized 'true petrels', characterised by united nostrils with medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. In Massachusetts, seven species have been recorded.
- Northern fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis
- Black-capped petrel, Pterodroma hasitata (R)
- Bermuda petrel, Pterodroma cahow (R)
- Cory's shearwater, Calonectris diomedea
- Great shearwater, Puffinus gravis
- Sooty shearwater, Puffinus griseus
- Manx shearwater, Puffinus puffinus (xn)
- Audubon's shearwater, Puffinus lherminieri (R)
- Barolo shearwater, Puffinus baroli (R)
The storm-petrels are the smallest of 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 Massachusetts, four species have been recorded.
- Wilson’s storm-petrel, Oceanites oceanicus
- White-faced storm petrel, Pelagodroma marina (R)
- Leach’s storm-petrel, Oceanodroma leucorhoa (n)
- Band-rumped storm petrel, Oceanodroma castro (R)
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their long wings have black markings, as does the head. In Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
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 Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- Wood stork, Mycteria americana (R)
Frigatebirds are large sea-birds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black or black-and-white, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have inflatable coloured 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 Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- Magnificent frigatebird, Fregata magnificens (R)
Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of coloured 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 Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
Darters are cormorant-like water birds with very long necks and long, straight beaks. They often swim with only the neck above water, and are fish-eaters. In Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga (R)
Pelicans are very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes. In Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets, and bitterns. Herons and egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Unlike other long necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. In Massachusetts, 14 species have been recorded.
- American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus (n)
- Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis (n)
- Great blue heron, Ardea herodias (n)
- Great egret, Ardea alba (n)
- Little egret, Egretta garzetta (R)
- Western reef-heron, Egretta gularis (R)
- Snowy egret, Egretta thula (n)
- Little blue heron, Egretta caerulea (n)
- Tricolored heron, Egretta tricolor (n)
- Reddish egret, Egretta rufescens (R)
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis (n)
- Green heron, Butorides virescens (n)
- Black-crowned night-heron, Nycticorax nycticorax (n)
- Yellow-crowned night-heron, Nyctanassa violacea (n)
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. 3 species occur in Massachusetts.
- American white ibis, Eudocimus albus (R)
- Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus (n)
- White-faced ibis, Plegadis chihi (R)
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 Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
The family Pandionidae is a family of fish-eating birds of prey, possessing a very large, powerful hooked beak for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. The family is monotypic; its sole member, the osprey, is found in Massachusetts.
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus (n)
The family Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include the osprey, 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.
- Swallow-tailed kite, Elanoides forficatus (R)
- White-tailed kite, Elanus leucurus (R)
- Mississippi kite, Ictinia mississippiensis (R)
- Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus (n)
- Northern harrier, Circus cyaneus (n)
- Sharp-shinned hawk, Accipiter striatus (n)
- Cooper's hawk, Accipiter cooperii (n)
- Northern goshawk, Accipiter gentilis (n)
- Red-shouldered hawk, Buteo lineatus (n)
- Broad-winged hawk, Buteo platypterus' (n)
- Swainson's hawk, Buteo swainsoni' (R)
- Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis (n)
- Rough-legged hawk, Buteo lagopus
- Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
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 feet. In Massachusetts, seven species have been recorded.
- Crested caracara, Caracara cheriway (R)
- Eurasian kestrel, Falco tinnunculus (R)
- American kestrel, Falco sparverius (n)
- Merlin, Falco columbarius
- Red-footed falcon, Falco vespertinus (R)
- Eurasian hobby, Falco subbuteo (R)
- Gyrfalcon, Falco rusticolus
- Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus (n)
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, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. In Massachusetts, nine species have been recorded.
- Yellow rail, Coturnicops noveboracensis (R)
- Black rail, Laterallus jamaicensis (R)
- Clapper rail, Rallus crepitans (n)
- King rail, Rallus elegans (n)
- Virginia rail, Rallus limicola (n)
- Sora, Porzana carolina (n)
- Purple gallinule, Porphyrio martinica
- Common gallinule, Gallinula galeata (n)
- American coot, Fulica americana (n)
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 Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- Sandhill crane, Grus canadensis (xn)
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. In Massachusetts, 11 species have been recorded.
- Northern lapwing, Vanellus vanellus (R)
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- American golden-plover, Pluvialis dominica
- Pacific golden-plover, Pluvialis fulva (R)
- Snowy plover, Charadrius nivosus (R)
- Wilson's plover, Charadrius wilsonia (R)
- Common ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula (R)
- Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus
- Piping plover, Charadrius melodus (n)
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus (n)
- Mountain plover, Charadrius montanus (R)
- American oystercatcher, Haematopus palliatus (n)
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. In Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes, and phalaropes
The Scolopacidae are 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 species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. In Massachusetts, 43 species have been recorded.
- Greater yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- Lesser yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes
- Spotted redshank, Tringa erythropus (R)
- Solitary sandpiper, Tringa solitaria
- Willet, Tringa semipalmata (n)
- Wandering tattler, Tringa incana (R)
- Gray-tailed tattler, Tringa brevipes (R)
- Spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularia (n)
- Terek sandpiper, Xenus cinereus (R)
- Upland sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda (n)
- Eskimo curlew, Numenius borealis (E?)
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Eurasian curlew, Numenius arquata (R)
- 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)
- Little stint, Calidris minuta (R)
- Least sandpiper, Calidris minutilla (xn)
- 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 (non-alternate plumage only)
- Stilt sandpiper, Calidris himantopus
- Broad-billed sandpiper, Calidris falcinellus (R)
- Buff-breasted sandpiper, Calidris subruficollis
- Ruff, Calidris pugnax
- Short-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus
- Long-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
- Wilson's snipe, Gallinago delicata (n)
- American woodcock, Scolopax minor (n)
- Wilson's phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor (n)
- Red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
- Red phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius
Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls, terns, kittiwakes and skimmers. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet.
- Black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
- Ivory gull, Pagophila eburnea (R)
- Sabine's gull, Xema sabini
- Bonaparte's gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus (xn)
- Little gull, Hydrocoleus minutus
- Ross's gull, Rhodostethia rosea (R
- Laughing gull, Leucophaeus atricilla (n)
- Franklin's gull, Leucophaeus pipixcan (R)
- Black-tailed gull, Larus crassirostris (R)
- Mew gull, Larus canus (R)
- Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis (n)
- California gull, Larus californicus (R)
- Herring gull, Larus argentatus (n)
- Yellow-legged gull, Larus cachinnans (R)
- Thayer's gull, Larus thayeri (R)
- Iceland gull, Larus glaucoides
- Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus
- Slaty-backed gull, Larus schistisagus (R)
- Glaucous gull, Larus hyperboreus
- Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus (n)
- Gull-billed tern, Gelochelidon nilotica (R)
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Royal tern, Thalasseus maxima
- Elegant tern, Thalasseus elegans (R)
- Sandwich tern, Thalasseus sandvicensis (R)
- Roseate tern, Sterna dougallii (n)
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo (n)
- Arctic tern, Sterna paradisaea(n)
- Forster's tern, Sterna forsteri (n)
- Least tern, Sternula antillarum (n)
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus (R)
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscata (R)
- White-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus (R)
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- Brown noddy, Anous stolidus (R)
- Black skimmer, Rynchops niger (n)
They are in general medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They have longish bills with a hooked tip, 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. 5 species have been recorded in Massachusetts.
- Great skua, Stercorarius skua (R)
- South polar skua, Stercorarius maccormicki (R)
- Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus
- Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus
- Long-tailed jaeger, Stercorarius longicaudus (R)
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 at all, being able to fly. Auks live on the open sea, only deliberately coming ashore to nest. In Massachusetts, nine species have been recorded.
- Dovekie, Alle alle
- Common murre, Uria aalge
- Thick-billed murre, Uria lomvia
- Razorbill, Alca torda
- Great auk, Pinguinus impennis (E)
- Black guillemot, Cepphus grylle
- Long-billed murrelet, Brachyramphus perdix (R)
- Ancient murrelet, Synthliboramphus antiquus (R)
- Atlantic puffin, Fratercula arctica
Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.
- Rock pigeon, Columba livia (I) (n)
- Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata (R)
- European turtle-dove, Streptopelia turtur (R)
- Eurasian collared dove, Streptopelia decaocto (I)(R)
- White-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica (R)
- Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura (n)
- Passenger pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (E)
- Common ground-dove, Columbina passerina (R)
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. 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 back. In Massachusetts, one 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. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. In Massachusetts, three species have been recorded.
- Common cuckoo, Cuculus canorus (R)
- Black-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalmus (n)
- Yellow-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus (n)
Barn owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. In Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba (n)
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 Massachusetts, 11 species have been recorded.
- Eastern screech owl, Megascops asio (n)
- Great horned owl, Bubo virginianus (n)
- Snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus
- Northern hawk-owl, Surnia ulula (R)
- Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia (R)
- Barred owl, Strix varia (n)
- Great gray owl, Strix nebulosa (R)
- Long-eared owl, Asio otus (n)
- Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus (n)
- Boreal owl, Aegolius funereus (R)
- Northern saw-whet owl, Aegolius acadicus (n)
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is crypically coloured to resemble bark or leaves. In Massachusetts, three species have been recorded.
- Common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor (n)
- Chuck-will's-widow, Antrostomus carolinensis
- Eastern whip-poor-will, Antrostomus vociferus (n)
The swifts are small aerial birds, spending 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 that resemble a crescent or a boomerang.
- Chimney swift, Chaetura pelagica (n)
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 Massachusetts, six species have been recorded.
- Broad-billed hummingbird, Cynanthus latirostris (R)
- Ruby-throated hummingbird, Archilochus colubris (n)
- Black-chinned hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri (R)
- Calliope hummingbird, Selasphorus calliope (R)
- Rufous hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus (R)
- Allen's hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin (R)
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. In Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- Belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon (n)
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 Massachusetts, nine species have been recorded.
- Lewis's woodpecker, Melanerpes lewis (R)
- Red-headed woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus (n)
- Red-bellied woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus (n)
- Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius (n)
- Downy woodpecker, Picoides pubescens (n)
- Hairy woodpecker, Picoides villosus (n)
- American three-toed woodpecker, Picoides dorsalis (R)
- Black-backed woodpecker, Picoides arcticus (R)
- Northern flicker, Colaptes auratus (n)
- Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus (n)
Tyrant flycatchers are Passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with 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 Massachusetts, 23 species have been recorded.
- Olive-sided flycatcher, Contopus cooperi (n)
- Eastern wood-pewee, Contopus virens (n)
- Yellow-bellied flycatcher, Empidonax flaviventris
- Acadian flycatcher, Empidonax virescens (n)
- Alder flycatcher, Empidonax alnorum (n)
- Willow flycatcher, Empidonax traillii (n)
- Least flycatcher, Empidonax minimus (n)
- Hammond's flycatcher, Empidonax hammondii (R)
- Gray flycatcher, Empidonax wrightii (R)
- Pacific-slope/Cordilleran flycatcher* (R)
- Eastern phoebe, Sayornis phoebe (n)
- Say's phoebe, Sayornis saya (R)
- Vermilion flycatcher, Pyrocephalus rubinus (R)
- Ash-throated flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens (R)
- Sulphur-bellied/Streaked flycatcher* (R)
- Great crested flycatcher, Myiarchus crinitus (n)
- Tropical kingbird, Tyrannus melancholicus (R)
- Couch's kingbird, Tyrannus couchii (R)
- Cassin's kingbird, Tyrannus vociferans (R)
- Western kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus (n)
- Gray kingbird, Tyrannus dominicensis (R)
- Scissor-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus forficatus
- 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 Massachusetts, 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 colour and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. In Massachusetts, seven species have been recorded.
- White-eyed vireo, Vireo griseus (n)
- Bell's vireo, Vireo bellii (R)
- Yellow-throated vireo, Vireo flavifrons (n)
- Blue-headed vireo, Vireo solitarius (n)
- Warbling vireo, Vireo gilvus (n)
- Philadelphia vireo, Vireo philadelphicus
- Red-eyed vireo, Vireo olivaceus (n)
- Yellow-green vireo, Vireo flavoviridis (R)
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show levels of learned behavior of a high degree. In Massachusetts, six species have been recorded.
- Gray jay, Perisoreus canadensis (R)
- Blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata (n)
- Eurasian jackdaw, Corvus monedula (R)
- American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos (n)
- Fish crow, Corvus ossifragus (n)
- Common raven, Corvus corax (n)
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 Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- Horned lark, Eremophila alpestris (n)
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. In Massachusetts, nine species have been recorded.
- Purple martin, Progne subis (n)
- Brown-chested martin, Progne tapera (R)
- Tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor (n)
- Violet-green swallow, Tachycineta thalassina (R)
- Northern rough-winged swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis (n)
- Bank swallow, Riparia riparia (n)
- Cliff swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota (n)
- Cave swallow, Petrochelidon fulva (R)
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica (n)
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 Massachusetts, three species have been recorded.
- Black-capped chickadee, Poecile atricapilla (n)
- Boreal chickadee, Poecile hudsonica
- Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor (n)
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 Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
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 Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- Brown creeper, Certhia americana (n)
Wrens are small and inconspicuous birds, except for their loud songs. They have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. In Massachusetts, seven species have been recorded.
- Rock wren, Salpinctes obsoletus (R)
- Carolina wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus (n)
- Bewick's wren, Thryomanes bewickii (R)
- House wren, Troglodytes aedon (n)
- Winter wren, Troglodytes hiemalis (n)
- Sedge wren, Cistothorus platensis (n)
- Marsh wren, Cistothorus palustris (n)
The kinglets are a small family of birds which resemble the titmice. They are very small insectivorous birds in the genus Regulus. The adults have coloured crowns, giving rise to their name. In Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
These dainty birds resemble Old World warblers in their structure and habits, moving restlessly through the foliage seeking insects. The gnatcatchers are mainly soft bluish grey in colour, and have the typical insectivore's long sharp bill. Many species have distinctive black head patterns (esp. males) and long, regularly cocked, black-and-white tails.
- Blue-gray gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea (n)
The Old World flycatchers are a large family of small passerine birds mostly restricted to the Old World. These are mainly small arboreal insectivores, many of which, as the name implies, take their prey on the wing.
- 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 Massachusetts, 13 species have been recorded.
- Eastern bluebird, Sialia sialis (n)
- Mountain bluebird, Sialia currucoides (R)
- Townsend's solitaire, Myadestes townsendi (R)
- Veery, Catharus fuscescens (n)
- Gray-cheeked thrush, Catharus minimus
- Bicknell's thrush, Catharus bicknelli (n)
- Swainson's thrush, Catharus ustulatus (n)
- Hermit thrush, Catharus guttatus (n)
- Wood thrush, Hylocichla mustelina (n)
- Fieldfare, Turdus pilaris (R)
- American robin, Turdus migratorius (n)
- Varied thrush, Ixoreus naevius
Mockingbirds and thrashers
The Mimids are a family of passerine birds that 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 Massachusetts, four species have been recorded.
- Gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis (n)
- Northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos (n)
- Sage thrasher, Oreoscoptes montanus (R)
- Brown thrasher, Toxostoma rufum (n)
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 Massachusetts, one species has been recorded.
- European starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I) (n)
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. In Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterised 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. In Massachusetts, two species have been recorded.
- Phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens (R)
The Calcariidae are a group of passerine birds that have been traditionally grouped with the Emberizeridae (New World sparrows), but differ in a number of respects, and are usually found in open grassy areas.
- McCown's longspur, Rhyncophanes mccownii (R)
- 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 colourful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some like are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. In Massachusetts, 43 species have been recorded. In August 2011, the North American Committee of the AOU changed their classification of many of the wood warblers. Since this list is based on the AOU classification, changes to scientific names are updated here.
- Blue-winged warbler, Vermivora cyanoptera (n)
- Golden-winged warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera (n)
- Tennessee warbler, Oreothlypis peregrina
- Orange-crowned warbler, Oreothlypis celata
- Nashville warbler, Oreothlypis ruficapilla(n)
- Lucy's warbler, 'Oreothlypis' luciae (R)
- Hooded warbler, Setophaga citrina (n)
- Northern parula, Setophaga americana (n)
- Yellow warbler, Setophaga petechia (n)
- Chestnut-sided warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica (n)
- Magnolia warbler, Setophaga magnolia (n)
- Cape May warbler, Setophaga tigrina
- Black-throated blue warbler, Setophaga caerulescens (n)
- Yellow-rumped warbler, Setophaga coronata (n)
- Kirtland's warbler, Setophaga kirtlandii (R)
- Black-throated gray warbler, Setophaga nigrescens (R)
- Black-throated green warbler, Setophaga virens (n)
- Townsend's warbler, Setophaga townsendi (R)
- Hermit warbler, Setophaga occidentalis (R)
- Blackburnian warbler, Setophaga fusca (n)
- Yellow-throated warbler, Setophaga dominica
- Pine warbler, Setophaga pinus (n)
- Prairie warbler, Setophaga discolor (n)
- Palm warbler, Setophaga palmarum
- Bay-breasted warbler, Setophaga castanea
- Blackpoll warbler, Setophaga striata (n)
- Cerulean warbler, Setophaga cerulea (n)
- American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla (n)
- Black-and-white warbler, Mniotilta varia (n)
- Prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea (n)
- Worm-eating warbler, Helmitheros vermivorus (n)
- Swainson's warbler, Limnothlypis swainsonii (R)
- Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla (n)
- Northern waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis (n)
- Louisiana waterthrush, Parkesia motacilla (n)
- Connecticut warbler, Oporornis agilis
- Mourning warbler, Geothlypis philadelphia (n)
- MacGillivray's warbler, Geothlypis tolmiei (R)
- Kentucky warbler, Geothlypis formosa
- Common yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas (n)
- Wilson's warbler, Cardellina pusilla
- Canada warbler, Cardellina canadensis (n)
- Painted redstart, Myioborus pictus (R)
- Yellow-breasted chat, Icteria virens (n)
American sparrows, towhees, and juncos
The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as 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 Massachusetts, 32 species have been recorded.
- Green-tailed towhee, Pipilo chlorurus (R)
- Spotted towhee, Pipilo maculatus (R)
- Eastern towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus (n)
- American tree sparrow, Spizella arborea
- Chipping sparrow, Spizella passerina (n)
- Clay-colored sparrow, Spizella pallida
- Brewer's sparrow, Spizella breweri (R)
- Field sparrow, Spizella pusilla (n)
- Vesper sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus (n)
- Lark sparrow, Chondestes grammacus
- Lark bunting, Calamospiza melanocorys (R)
- Savannah sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis (n)
- Grasshopper sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum (n)
- Henslow's sparrow, Ammodramus henslowii (n)(R)
- Le Conte's sparrow, Ammodramus leconteii (R)
- Nelson's sparrow, Ammodramus nelsoni
- Saltmarsh sparrow, Ammodramus caudacutus (n)
- Seaside sparrow, Ammodramus maritimus (n)
- Fox sparrow, Passerella iliaca
- Song sparrow, Melospiza melodia (n)
- Lincoln's sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii (n)
- Swamp sparrow, Melospiza georgiana (n)
- Cassin's sparrow, Melospiza cassinii (R)
- Black-throated sparrow, Amphispiza bilineata (R)
- White-throated sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis (n)
- Harris's sparrow, Zonotrichia querula (R)
- White-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Golden-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla (R)
- Dark-eyed junco, Junco hyemalis (n)
The cardinals are a family of passerine birds that are robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. In Massachusetts, eight species have been recorded.
- Summer tanager, Piranga rubra
- Scarlet tanager, Piranga olivacea (n)
- Western tanager, Piranga ludoviciana (R)
- Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis (n)
- Rose-breasted grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus (n)
- Black-headed grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus (R)
- Blue grosbeak, Passerina caerulea (n)
- Lazuli bunting, Passerina amoena (R)
- Indigo bunting, Passerina cyanea (n)
- Painted bunting, Passerina ciris (R)
- Dickcissel, Spiza americana (n)
Blackbirds, meadowlarks, cowbirds, grackles, and orioles
The Icterids are a group of small to medium, often colourful 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 colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. In Massachusetts, 12 species have been recorded.
- Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus (n)
- Red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus (n)
- Eastern meadowlark, Sturnella magna (n)
- Western meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta (R)
- Yellow-headed blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
- Rusty blackbird, Euphagus carolinus (n)
- Brewer's blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus (R)
- Boat-tailed/Great-tailed grackle* (R)
- Common grackle, Quiscalus quiscula (n)
- Shiny cowbird, Molothrus bonariensis (R)
- Brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater (n)
- Orchard oriole, Icterus spurius (n)
- Bullock's oriole, Icterus bullockii (R)
- Baltimore oriole, Icterus galbula (n)
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. In Massachusetts, 12 species have been recorded.
- Common chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs (R)
- Brambling, Fringilla montifringilla (R)
- Pine grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator
- Purple finch, Haemorhous purpureus (n)
- House finch, Haemorhous mexicanus (n)
- Red crossbill, Loxia curvirostra (n)
- White-winged crossbill, Loxia leucoptera (n)
- Common redpoll, Acanthis flammea
- Hoary redpoll, Acanthis hornemanni (R)
- Pine siskin, Spinus pinus (n)
- American goldfinch, Spinus tristis (n)
- Evening grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus (n)
Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or greyish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects.
- House sparrow, Passer domesticus (I)(n)
The MARC believes individual birds of the following species could have occurred as wild representatives, but captive origin could not be ruled out:
- Trumpeter swan, Cygnus buccinator
- American flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber
- White-tailed hawk, Buteo albicaudatus
- Black-billed magpie, Pica pica
- Eurasian siskin, Carduelis spinus
- European goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis
- "ABA Checklist". American Birding Association. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
- "Check-list of North American Birds, Seventh Edition". American Ornithologists' Union. Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2007-12-15. - The official source on the taxonomy of birds found in North and Middle America.
- "Massachusetts Avian Records Committee Official State Checklist". Massachusetts Avian Records Committee. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
- Petersen, Wayne R.; Meservey, W. Roger (2003). Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas. Massachusetts Audubon Society. ISBN 1-55849-420-0.
- Veit, Richard R.; Petersen, Wayne R. (1993). Birds of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Audubon Society. ISBN 0-932691-11-0.
- Massachusetts Avian Records Committee web site
- Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas
- Massachusetts daily bird listings