List of birds of New York

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This list of birds of New York covers all 476 species of wild bird ever documented in New York, as approved by the New York State Avian Records Committee (NYSARC). These 476 species represent twenty-two orders and sixty-four families of birds. The following markings are used:

  • (B) Breeding - a species that currently breeds or has bred in New York
  • (†) Extinct - a species that used to live in what is now New York but has is now extinct
  • (E) Extirpated - a species that no longer occurs in New York, but populations exist elsewhere
  • (I) Introduced - a population established solely as result of direct or indirect human intervention; synonymous with non-native and non-indigenous

Other markings denote birds that NYSARC requests documentation of in certain conditions:

  • (N) - documentation of this bird should be submitted if seen in New York
  • (U) - documentation of this bird should be submitted if seen in upstate New York
  • (D) - documentation of this bird should be submitted if seen in downstate New York
  • (A) - documentation of this bird should be submitted if seen outside the Adirondacks
  • (S) - documentation of this bird should be submitted if seen in New York in spring

This list is presented in taxonomic order and follows the American Ornithologists' Union's Check-list of North American Birds (7th edition, 1998). The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account.

Table of contents

See also        References

Ducks, geese and swans[edit]

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae

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. There are 44 New York species.

Gadwall, Anas strepera
Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata
Harlequin duck, Histrionicus histrionicus

New World quail[edit]

Order: Galliformes   Family: Odontophoridae

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. There is 1 New York species.

Partridges, grouse, turkeys and Old World quail[edit]

Spruce grouse, Falcipennis canadensis

Order: Galliformes   Family: Phasianidae

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. There are 6 New York species.


Common loon, Gavia immer

Order: Gaviiformes   Family: Gaviidae

Loons are aquatic birds the size of large ducks, which they superficially resemble. Their plumage is largely gray or black, and they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well and fly adequately, but, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body, are not well adapted to locomotion on land. There are 4 New York species.


Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps

Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large diving birds that breed on fresh water. 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. There are 5 New York species.


Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Diomedeidae

The albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses from the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds. One species has appeared in New York.

Fulmars, petrels, shearwaters[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterized by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary. There are 9 New York species.

Storm petrels[edit]

White-faced storm petrel, Pelagodroma marina

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Hydrobatidae

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. There are 4 New York species.


Order: Phaethontiformes   Family: Phaethontidae

Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their long wings have black markings, as does the head. There are 2 New York species.


Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae

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. There is 1 New York species.


Order: Suliformes   Family: Fregatidae

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-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. There is 1 New York species.

Boobies and gannets[edit]

Northern gannet, Morus bassanus

Order: Suliformes   Family: Sulidae

The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies. Both groups are medium-large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish. There are 2 New York species.


Great cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo

Order: Suliformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae

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 of the Pelecaniformes order. There are 2 New York species.


Order: Suliformes   Family: Anhingidae

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. There is 1 New York species.

Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga (N)


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Pelecanidae

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. There are 2 New York species.

Bitterns, herons and night herons[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Ardeidae

Great blue heron, Egretta herodias
Green heron, Butorides virescens

The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets and bitterns. Herons and egrets are medium-sized 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. There are 13 New York species.

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Threskiornithidae

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. There are 4 New York species.

New World vultures[edit]

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Cathartidae

Black vulture, Coragyps atratus

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, but unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, some New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they find carcasses. There are 2 New York species.


Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Pandionidae

Pandionidae is a monotypic 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. There is one species worldwide, which occurs in North America and New York.

  • Osprey, Pandion haliaetus (B)

Kites, eagles, harriers and hawks[edit]

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Accipitridae

Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus

The family Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites and harriers. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight. There are 14 New York species.

Caracaras and falcons[edit]

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae

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. There are 4 New York species.

Rails, gallinules, moorhens and coots[edit]

Sora, Porzana carolina

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae

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. There are 11 New York species.


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Gruidae

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". There is 1 New York species.

Lapwings and plovers[edit]

American golden plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae

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. There are 9 New York species.


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Haematopodidae

American oystercatcher, Haematopus palliatus

The oystercatchers are large, obvious, noisy plover-like birds with strong bills used for smashing or prying open molluscs. There is 1 New York species.

Stilts and avocets[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae

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. There are 2 New York species.

Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes and phalaropes[edit]

Upland sandpiper, Bartamia longicauda
Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
American woodcock, Scolopax minor

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae

Scolopacidae is a large, diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds, including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. Most 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. There are 42 New York species.

Gulls, terns and skimmers[edit]

Herring gull, Larus argentatus
Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes jaegers, skuas, gulls, terns, kittiwakes and skimmers. They are typically gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 35 New York species.

Skuas and jaegers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae

Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus

Skuas and jaegers are long-distant migrants, breeding on the high arctic tundra but flying as far as Antarctica. During the breeding season, they hunt small mammals and birds, but at other times of the year, they will scavenge and steal food from other birds. There are 5 New York species.

Auks, murres and puffins[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Alcidae

Alcids are superficially similar to penguins in 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, deliberately coming ashore only to nest. There are 8 species which have occurred in New York.

Pigeons and doves[edit]

Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 6 New York species.

Lories and lorikeets, parakeets, macaws and parrots[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Psittacidae

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. There is one introduced New York species.

Cuckoos, roadrunners and anis[edit]

Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

Black-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalmus

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. There are 2 New York species.

Barn owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There is one New York species.

Typical owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus

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. There are 11 New York species.


Common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae

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, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically colored to resemble bark or leaves. There are 3 New York species.


Order: Apodiformes   Family: Apodidae

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. There is one New York species.


Order: Apodiformes   Family: Trochilidae

Ruby-throated hummingbird, Stellula calliope

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. There are 5 New York species.


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Cerylidae

Belted kingfisher, Ceryle alcyon

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails. There is one New York species.

Woodpeckers, sapsuckers and flickers[edit]

Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus

Order: Piciformes   Family: Picidae

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. There are 11 New York species.

Tyrant flycatchers[edit]

Eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Tyrannidae

Tyrant flycatchers are passerines which are found throughout the Americas. They bear a superficially resemblance to the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust and have stronger bills. They lack the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most are insectivoress. Twenty species of tyrant flycatcher have been found to live in New York:


Northern shrike, Lanius excubitor

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Laniidae

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. There are 2 New York species.


Yellow-throated vireo, Vireo flavifrons

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Vireonidae

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 wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. There are 8 New York species.

Jays, crows, magpies and ravens[edit]

Blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae

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. There are 6 New York species.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Alaudidae

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. There are 2 New York species.

Swallows and martins[edit]

Tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae

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. There are 7 New York species.

Chickadees and titmice[edit]

Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Paridae

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. There are 3 New York species.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sittidae

White-breasted nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis

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. There are 3 New York species.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Certhiidae

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. There is 1 New York species.


Marsh wren, Cistothorus palustris

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Troglodytidae

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. There are 7 New York species.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Polioptilidae


Ruby-crowned kinglet, Regulus calendula

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Regulidae

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 colored crowns, giving rise to their name. There are 2 New York species.

Old World flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Muscicapidae


Hermit thrush, Catharus guttatus

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Turdidae

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. There are 13 New York species.

Mockingbirds and thrashers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Mimidae

The Mimics are a family of passerine birds which includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalizations, 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. There are 4 New York species.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sturnidae

European starling, Sturnus vulgaris

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. There is one species that has been introduced to North America and New York.

Wagtails and pipits[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Motacillidae

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. There are 2 New York species.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Bombycillidae

Cedar waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum

The waxwings are a group of passerine 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. There are 2 New York species.

Longspurs and snow buntings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Calcariidae

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. They are usually found in open grassy areas. There are 4 New York species.

New World warblers[edit]

Black-throated green warbler, Setophaga virens
Cerulean warbler, Setophaga coronata
Blackburnian warbler, Setophaga fusca
Prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Parulidae

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. Most members of this family are insectivores. There are 41 New York species.

American sparrows, towhees and juncos[edit]

Eastern towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus
American tree sparrow, Spizella arborea
Dark-eyed junco, Junco hyemalis

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Emberizidae

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. There are 29 New York species.

Tanagers, cardinals, saltators and grosbeaks[edit]

Rose-breasted grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cardinalidae

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. There are 11 New York species.

Blackbirds, meadowlarks, cowbirds, grackles and New World orioles[edit]

Red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Icteridae

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. There are 14 New York species.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Fringillidae

Evening grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus

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. There are 12 New York species.

Old World sparrows[edit]

House sparrow, Passer domesticus

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passeridae

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. There is 1 New York species.

See also[edit]