List of birds of Metropolitan France

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This article is about the birds found in Metropolitan France; that is, the French mainland, adjacent islands, and Corsica. There is also a specific list for the birds of Corsica. For the birds in the French Overseas territories, see: List of birds of French Guiana, List of birds of French Polynesia, List of birds of Guadeloupe, List of birds of Martinique, List of birds of Réunion, and List of birds of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

This list of birds of Metropolitan France includes a total of 573 species according to[1] An additional 22 species have been recorded by Bird Checklists of the World by early 2018.[2] Of the 595 species listed here, 220 are accidental and 11 have been introduced by humans. One is endemic to France and one is extinct.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (English and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2018 edition.[3] French names, where present, are from

The following tags have been used to highlight some categories of occurrence; the tags are from Bird Checklists of the World.

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



Anatidae (ducks, geese, and waterfowl)[edit]

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, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.


Odontophoridae (New World quails)[edit]

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.

Phasianidae (pheasant, grouse, and allies)[edit]

These are terrestrial species of gamebirds, feeding and nesting on the ground. They are variable in size but generally plump, with broad and relatively short wings.


Phoenicopteridae (flamingoes)[edit]

Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet (91 to 152 cm) high, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume and, uniquely, are used upside-down.


Podicipedidae (grebes)[edit]

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


Columbidae (pigeons and doves)[edit]

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


Pteroclidae (sandgrouse)[edit]

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


Otididae (bustards)[edit]

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


Cuculidae (cuckoos)[edit]

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.


Caprimulgidae (nightjars and allies)[edit]

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 camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves.

Apodidae (swifts)[edit]

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.


Rallidae (rails, crakes, gallinules, and coots)[edit]

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, 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.

Gruidae (cranes)[edit]

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


Burhinidae (thick-knees)[edit]

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

Recurvirostridae (stilts and avocets)[edit]

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

Haematopodidae (oystercatchers)[edit]

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

Charadriidae (plovers and lapwings)[edit]

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

Scolopacidae (sandpipers and allies)[edit]

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

Glareolidae (pratincoles and coursers)[edit]

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

Stercorariidae (skuas and jaegers)[edit]

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

Alcidae (auks, murres, and puffins)[edit]

Alcidae are a family of seabirds which are superficially similar to penguins with their black-and-white colors, their upright posture, and some of their habits, but which are able to fly.

Laridae (gulls, terns, and skimmers)[edit]

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes gulls, terns, and skimmers. Gulls are typically gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish, bills and webbed feet. Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds typically with gray or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years.


Gaviidae (loons)[edit]

Divers are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and Northern Europe. They are the size of a large duck or small goose, which they somewhat resemble in shape when swimming, but to which they are completely unrelated. In particular, loons' legs are set very far back which assists swimming underwater but makes walking on land extremely difficult.


Diomedeidae (albatrosses)[edit]

The albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses of the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds.

Oceanitidae (southern storm-petrels)[edit]

The families Oceanitidae and Hydrobatidae are the storm-petrels, small pelagic petrels with a fluttering flight which often follow ships.

Hydrobatidae (northern storm-petrels)[edit]

Procellariidae (shearwaters and petrels)[edit]

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.


Ciconiidae (storks)[edit]

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


Fregatidae (frigatebirds)[edit]

Frigatebirds are large seabirds from the tropics with a very high aspect ratio. These birds do not swim and cannot walk well, and cannot take off from a flat surface.

Sulidae (gannets)[edit]

The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies. Both groups are medium to large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish.

Phalacrocoracidae (cormorants and shags)[edit]

Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage coloration varies, with the majority having mainly dark plumage.


Pelecanidae (pelicans)[edit]

Pelicans are very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. They have four webbed toes.

Ardeidae (herons, egrets, and bitterns)[edit]

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

Threskiornithidae (ibises and spoonbills)[edit]

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


Pandionidae (osprey)[edit]

The family Pandionidae contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium-large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Accipitridae (hawks, eagles, and kites)[edit]

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers, and Old World vultures. They have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight.


Tytonidae (barn-owls)[edit]

Barn-owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.

Strigidae (typical owls)[edit]

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 disc.


Upupidae (hoopoes)[edit]

Hoopoes have black, white, and orangey-pink coloring with a large erectile crest on their head.


Alcedinidae (kingfishers)[edit]

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails.

Meropidae (bee-eaters)[edit]

The bee-eaters are a group of near-passerine birds. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia, and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies, and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colorful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar.

Coraciidae (rollers)[edit]

Rollers resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colorful appearance of those groups with blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but the outer toe is not.


Picidae (woodpeckers)[edit]

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


Falconidae (falcons)[edit]

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


Psittaculidae (Old World parrots)[edit]

Characteristic features of parrots include a strong curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet. Many parrots are vividly colored, and some are multi-colored. In size they range from 8 cm (3.1 in) to 1 m (3.3 ft) in length. Old World parrots are found from Africa east across south and southeast Asia and Oceania to Australia and New Zealand.


Laniidae (shrikes)[edit]

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

Vireonidae (vireos)[edit]

The vireos are a group of small- to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World.

Oriolidae (Old World orioles)[edit]

The Old World orioles are colorful passerine birds that are not related to the New World orioles.

Corvidae (crows, jays, and magpies)[edit]

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

Panuridae (bearded reedling)[edit]

This species, the only one in its family, is found in reed beds throughout temperate Europe and Asia.

Alaudidae (larks)[edit]

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

Hirundinidae (swallows and martins)[edit]

The family Hirundinidae 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.

Paridae (tits)[edit]

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

Remizidae (penduline-tits)[edit]

The penduline-tits are a group of small insectivorous birds related to the true tits.

Aegithalidae (long-tailed tits)[edit]

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

Sittidae (nuthatches)[edit]

Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails, and powerful bills and feet. The Corsican nuthatch is France's sole endemic species.

Tichodromidae (wallcreeper)[edit]

The wallcreeper is a small bird related to the nuthatch family, which has stunning crimson, gray, and black plumage. It is the only species in its family.

Certhiidae (treecreepers)[edit]

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

Troglodytidae (wrens)[edit]

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

Cinclidae (dippers)[edit]

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

Regulidae (kinglets)[edit]

The kinglets and "crests" are a small family of birds which resemble some warblers. They are very small insectivorous birds in the single genus Regulus. The adults have colored crowns, giving rise to their name.

Scotocercidae (bush warblers and allies)[edit]

The members of this family are found mostly in Africa and Asia with a few species in Europe and Polynesia.

Phylloscopidae (leaf warblers)[edit]

Leaf warblers are a family of small insectivorous birds found mostly in Eurasia and ranging into Wallacea and Africa. The species are of various sizes, often green-plumaged above and yellow below, or more subdued with grayish-green to grayish-brown colors.

Acrocephalidae (reed warblers and allies)[edit]

The members of this family are usually rather large for "warblers". Most are rather plain olivaceous brown above with much yellow to beige below. They are usually found in open woodland, reedbeds, or tall grass. The family occurs mostly in southern to western Eurasia and surroundings, but it also ranges far into the Pacific, with some species in Africa.

Locustellidae (grassbirds and allies)[edit]

Locustellidae are a family of small insectivorous songbirds found mainly in Eurasia, Africa, and the Australian region. They are smallish birds with tails that are usually long and pointed, and tend to be drab brownish or buffy all over.

Cisticolidae (cisticolas)[edit]

The Cisticolidae are warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are generally very small birds of drab brown or gray appearance found in open country such as grassland or scrub.

Sylviidae (sylviid warblers)[edit]

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

Leiothrichidae (laughingthrushes)[edit]

The members of this family are diverse in size and coloration, though those of genus Turdoides tend to be brown or grayish. The family is found in Africa, India, and southeast Asia.

Muscicapidae (Old World flycatchers)[edit]

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

Turdidae (thrushes and allies)[edit]

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

Sturnidae (starlings)[edit]

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

Prunellidae (accentors)[edit]

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

Motacillidae (wagtails and pipits)[edit]

Motacillidae is a family of small birds with medium to long tails which includes the wagtails, longclaws, and pipits. They are slender ground-feeding insectivores of open country.

Bombycillidae (waxwings)[edit]

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.

Fringillidae (finches)[edit]

Finches are seed-eating 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.

Calcariidae (longspurs and snow buntings)[edit]

The Calcariidae are a family of birds that had been traditionally grouped with the New World sparrows, but differ in a number of respects and are usually found in open grassy areas.

Emberizidae (Old World buntings)[edit]

Emberizidae is a family of passerine birds containing a single genus. Until 2017, the New World sparrows (Passerellidae) were also considered part of this family.

Passerellidae (New World sparrows)[edit]

Until 2017, these species were considered part of the family Emberizidae. Most of the species are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many of these have distinctive head patterns.

Icteridae (icterids)[edit]

The icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful birds restricted to the New World. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange, or red.

Parulidae (New World warblers)[edit]

Parulidae are a group of small, often colorful birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal and insectivorous.

Cardinalidae (cardinals and allies)[edit]

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.

Passeridae (Old World sparrows)[edit]

In general, Old World sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or gray birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects.


  1. ^ The list has only "bean goose"


  1. ^ "List of birds of Metropolitan France". Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  2. ^ Lepage, Denis (18 February 2018). "Checklist of birds of France". Bird Checklists of the World. Avibase. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  3. ^ Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from Retrieved 14 August 2018

External links[edit]

Media related to Birds of France at Wikimedia Commons