List of birds of Pennsylvania

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The ruffed grouse is the official state bird of Pennsylvania.

This list of birds of Pennsylvania includes species documented in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and accepted by the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee (PORC). As of July 2012, there were 420 species on the official list.[1] Of them, 90 are classified as accidental, 36 are classed as casual, six have been introduced to North America, two are known to be extinct and another might be, and two have been extirpated. An additional nine species are classed as provisional; eight of them are also classed as accidental. Between when the official list was published in 2012 and June 2018, 11 more species have been accepted by the PORC, yielding a state list of 440 including the provisional species.[2][3] Another five species have been documented in the state and are also included in this list, though their reports are pending with the PORC.[3][4]

This list is presented in the taxonomic sequence of the Check-list of North American Birds, 7th edition through the 59th Supplement, published by the American Ornithological Society (AOS).[5][6] Common and scientific names are also those of the Check-list.

Unless otherwise noted, all species listed below are considered to occur regularly in Pennsylvania as permanent residents, summer or winter visitors, or migrants. These tags are used to annotate some species:

  • (A) Accidental – Species with three or fewer records in the past ten years per the PORC
  • (C) Casual – Species with four to seven records in the last ten years per the PORC
  • (P) Provisional – Species accepted by the PORC with only sight records
  • (I) Introduced – Species established in North America as a result of human action
  • (X) Extinct – Recent species that no longer exist
  • (Ex) Extirpated – Species which no longer occur in Pennsylvania but are found elsewhere



Ducks, geese, and waterfowl[edit]

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae

Canada goose
American wigeon
Mallard

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.

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.

Pheasants, grouse, and allies[edit]

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.

Grebes[edit]

Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

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.

Pigeons and doves[edit]

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae

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

Cuckoos[edit]

Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

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

Nightjars and allies[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae

A speckled brown and black bird on the ground
Common nighthawk

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.

Swifts[edit]

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.

Hummingbirds[edit]

Order: Apodiformes   Family: Trochilidae

Ruby-throated hummingbird

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.

Rails, gallinules, and coots[edit]

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae

Sora

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.

Cranes[edit]

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".

Stilts and avocets[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae

Black-necked stilt

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.

Oystercatchers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Haematopodidae

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

Lapwings and plovers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae

Snowy plover

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.

Sandpipers and allies[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae

Greater yellowlegs
Long-billed curlew

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.

Jaegers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae

Skuas and jaegers 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.

Auks, murres, and puffins[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Alcidae

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.

Gulls, terns, and skimmers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae

Black-headed gull
Black skimmer

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 grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years. Skimmers are a small family of tropical tern-like birds. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use to feed by flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish.

Tropicbirds[edit]

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.

Loons[edit]

Order: Gaviiformes   Family: Gaviidae

Common loon

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.

Southern storm-petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Oceanitidae

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. Until 2018, this family's three species were included with the other storm-petrels in family Hydrobatidae.

Northern storm-petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Hydrobatidae

Leach's storm-petrel

Though the members of this family are similar in many respects to the southern storm-petrels, including their general appearance and habits, there are enough genetic differences to warrant their placement in a separate family.

Shearwaters and petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae

Black-capped petrel

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

Storks[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae

Wood stork

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.

Frigatebirds[edit]

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-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week.

Boobies and gannets[edit]

Order: Suliformes   Family: Sulidae

Northern gannet

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

Cormorants[edit]

Order: Suliformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Double-crested cormorant

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.

Anhingas[edit]

Order: Suliformes   Family: Anhingidae

Anhingas 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.

Pelicans[edit]

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.

Bitterns, herons, and egrets[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Ardeidae

Great blue heron

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.

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.

New World vultures[edit]

Order: Cathartiformes   Family: Cathartidae

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.

Osprey[edit]

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Pandionidae

Pandionidae is a monotypic family of fish-eating birds of prey. Its single species possesses a very large and powerful hooked beak, strong legs, strong talons, and keen eyesight.

Hawks, kites, and eagles[edit]

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Accipitridae

A red-tailed hawk perched in a tree eating a rabbit

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.

Barn-owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

Owls in the family Tytonidae are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces.

Typical owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

Barred owl

Typical or "true" 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.

Kingfishers[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae

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

Woodpeckers[edit]

Order: Piciformes   Family: Picidae

Red-headed woodpecker

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.

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.

New World and African parrots[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Psittacidae

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. Most of the more than 150 species in this family are found in the New World.

Tyrant flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Tyrannidae

Eastern phoebe

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.

Shrikes[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Laniidae

Loggerhead shrike

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.

Vireos[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Vireonidae

The vireos are a group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World, though a few other species in the family are found in Asia. They are typically greenish in color and resemble wood-warblers apart from their heavier bills.

Jays, crows, magpies, and ravens[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae

American crow

The family Corvidae 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.

Larks[edit]

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.

Swallows and martins[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae

Barn swallow

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.

Chickadees and titmice[edit]

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.

Nuthatches[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sittidae

White-breasted nuthatch

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.

Treecreepers[edit]

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.

Wrens[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Troglodytidae

Marsh wren

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.

Gnatcatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Polioptilidae

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 gray in color and have the typical insectivore's long sharp bill. Many species have distinctive black head patterns (especially males) and long, regularly cocked, black-and-white tails.

Kinglets[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Regulidae

Golden-crowned kinglet

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.

Old World flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Muscicapidae

The Old World flycatchers form a large family of small passerine birds. These are mainly small arboreal insectivores, many of which, as the name implies, take their prey on the wing.

Thrushes[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Turdidae

American robin

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.

Mockingbirds and thrashers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Mimidae

Northern mockingbird

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.

Starlings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sturnidae

Starlings and mynas 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.

Waxwings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Bombycillidae

Bohemian waxwing

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.

Old World sparrows[edit]

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.

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.

Finches[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Fringillidae

American goldfinch

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.

Longspurs and snow buntings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Calcariidae

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

New world sparrows[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passerellidae

Chipping sparrow

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.

Yellow-breasted chat[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Icteriidae

This species was historically placed in the wood-warblers (Parulidae) but nonetheless most authorities were unsure if it belonged there. It was placed in its own family in 2017.

Icterids[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Icteridae

Red-winged blackbird

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 which is often enlivened by yellow, orange, or red.

Wood-warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Parulidae

Yellow warbler
Prothonotary warbler

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.

Cardinals and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cardinalidae

Northern cardinal

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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pennsylvania Bird List". Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2017. 
  2. ^ a b McGann, Andrew; Fialkovich, Mike (October 2017). "Twenty-First Report of the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee - Covering 2012-2013". Pennsylvania Birds. 31 (2): 68–77. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Most recent additions to the state list". Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee. June 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018. 
  4. ^ a b "Pennsylvania eBird Bar Chart". Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 13 May 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  5. ^ American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American Birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
  6. ^ R. Terry Chesser, Kevin J. Burns, Carla Cicero, Jon L. Dunn, Andrew W. Kratter, Irby J. Lovette, Pamela C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen, Jr., Douglas F. Stotz, Benjamin M. Winger, and Kevin Winker. "Fifty-ninth supplement to the American Ornithological Society’s Check-list of North American Birds". The Auk 2018, vol. 135:798-813 retrieved 16 July 2018

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]