List of birds of Vermont
This list of birds of Vermont is a comprehensive listing of all the bird species recorded in the U.S. state of Vermont. This list is published by the Vermont Bird Records Committee (VBRC). As of July 2018 there were 387 species on the list. Of them, 103 are classed as vagrants anywhere in the state and 14 others are rare in certain regions. Of the vagrants, six are additionally classed as hypothetical (see below). Seven species were introduced to North America or directly to Vermont, one is extinct, and two have been extirpated.
This list is presented in the taxonomic sequence of the Check-list of North and Middle American Birds, 7th edition through the 60th Supplement, published by the American Ornithological Society (AOS). Common and scientific names are also those of the Check-list.
Unless otherwise noted, all species listed below are considered to occur regularly in Vermont as permanent residents, summer or winter visitors, or migrants. These tags are used to annotate some species:
- (V) Vagrant - birds that if observed anywhere in Vermont require more comprehensive documentation than regularly seen species
- (B) - birds that if observed outside the Burlington area require documentation
- (C) - birds that if observed outside the Lake Champlain Basin require documentation
- (K) - birds that if observed outside the Northeast Highlands (Northeast Kingdom) require documentation
- (I) Introduced - a species introduced to North America by the actions of man
- (X) Extinct - a recent species that no longer exists
- (E) Extirpated - a species no longer found in Vermont but existing elsewhere
- (H) Hypothetical - "single records that lack photo documentation or second party confirmation" per the VBRC.
- 1 Ducks, geese, and waterfowl
- 2 New World quail
- 3 Pheasants, grouse, and allies
- 4 Grebes
- 5 Pigeons and doves
- 6 Cuckoos
- 7 Nightjars and allies
- 8 Swifts
- 9 Hummingbirds
- 10 Rails, gallinules, and coots
- 11 Cranes
- 12 Stilts and avocets
- 13 Lapwings and plovers
- 14 Sandpipers and allies
- 15 Jaegers
- 16 Auks, murres, and puffins
- 17 Gulls, terns, and skimmers
- 18 Tropicbirds
- 19 Loons
- 20 Southern storm-petrels
- 21 Northern storm-petrels
- 22 Shearwaters and petrels
- 23 Storks
- 24 Boobies and gannets
- 25 Cormorants
- 26 Anhingas
- 27 Pelicans
- 28 Bitterns, herons, and egrets
- 29 Ibises and spoonbills
- 30 New World vultures
- 31 Osprey
- 32 Hawks, kites, and eagles
- 33 Barn-owls
- 34 Typical owls
- 35 Kingfishers
- 36 Woodpeckers
- 37 Falcons
- 38 Tyrant flycatchers
- 39 Shrikes
- 40 Vireos
- 41 Jays, crows, magpies, and ravens
- 42 Larks
- 43 Swallows and martins
- 44 Chickadees and titmice
- 45 Nuthatches
- 46 Treecreepers
- 47 Wrens
- 48 Gnatcatchers
- 49 Kinglets
- 50 Old World flycatchers
- 51 Thrushes
- 52 Mockingbirds and thrashers
- 53 Starlings
- 54 Waxwings
- 55 Old World sparrows
- 56 Wagtails and pipits
- 57 Finches
- 58 Longspurs and snow buntings
- 59 New World sparrows
- 60 Yellow-breasted chat
- 61 Icterids
- 62 Wood-warblers
- 63 Cardinals and allies
- 64 References
- 65 See also
- 66 External links
Ducks, geese, and waterfowl
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. Forty-three species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Fulvous whistling-duck, Dendrocygna bicolor (V)
- Snow goose, Anser caerulescens
- Ross's goose, Anser rossii
- Greater white-fronted goose, Anser albifrons
- Pink-footed goose, Anser brachyrhynchus (V)
- Brant, Branta bernicla
- Barnacle goose, Branta leucopsis (V)
- Cackling goose, Branta hutchinsii
- Canada goose, Branta canadensis
- Mute swan, Cygnus olor (I)
- Trumpeter swan, Cygnus buccinator (V)
- Tundra swan, Cygnus columbianus
- Wood duck, Aix sponsa
- Garganey, Spatula querquedula (V)
- Blue-winged teal, Spatula discors
- Northern shoveler, Spatula clypeata
- Gadwall, Mareca strepera
- Eurasian wigeon, Mareca penelope
- American wigeon, Mareca americana
- Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
- American black duck, Anas rubripes
- Northern pintail, Anas acuta
- Green-winged teal, Anas crecca
- Canvasback, Aythya valisineria
- Redhead, Aythya americana
- Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris
- Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula (C)
- Greater scaup, Aythya marila
- Lesser scaup, Aythya affinis
- King eider, Somateria spectabilis (V)
- Common eider, Somateria mollissima
- Harlequin duck, Histrionicus histrionicus (C)
- Surf scoter, Melanitta perspicillata
- White-winged scoter, Melanitta deglandi
- 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
- Common merganser, Mergus merganser
- Red-breasted merganser, Mergus serrator
- Ruddy duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
New World quail
The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Northern bobwhite, Colinus virginianus (I)
Pheasants, grouse, and allies
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. Six species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Gray partridge, Perdix perdix (I) (V)
- Ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus (I)
- Ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus
- Spruce grouse, Falcipennis canadensis (K)
- Willow ptarmigan, Lagopus lagopus (V)
- Wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo
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. Four species and a species pair have been recorded in Vermont.
- Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Horned grebe, Podiceps auritus
- Red-necked grebe, Podiceps grisegena
- Eared grebe, Podiceps nigricollis (V)
- Western grebe/Clark's grebe, Aechmorphorus occidentalis/Aechmorphorus clarkii (V)
Pigeons and doves
Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. Six species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Rock pigeon, Columba livia (I)
- Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata (V)
- Eurasian collared-dove, Streptopelia decaocto (V)
- Passenger pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (X)
- White-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica (V)
- Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners, and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails, and strong legs. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
Nightjars and allies
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. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
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 very long, swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Chimney swift, Chaetura pelagica
Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
Rails, gallinules, and coots
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and tend to be weak fliers. Six species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Yellow rail, Coturnicops noveboracensis (V)
- Clapper rail, Rallus crepitans (V)
- Virginia rail, Rallus limicola
- Sora, Porzana carolina
- Common gallinule, Gallinula galeata
- American coot, Fulica americana
Cranes are large, long-legged, and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Sandhill crane, Antigone canadensis
Stilts and avocets
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- American avocet, Recurvirostra americana (V)
Lapwings and plovers
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short thick necks, and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water. Six species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- American golden-plover, Pluvialis dominica
- Pacific golden-plover, Pluvialis fulva (H) (V)
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus
- Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus
- Piping plover, Charadrius melodus (V)
Sandpipers and allies
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. Thirty-two species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Upland sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Black-tailed godwit, Limosa limosa (V)
- Hudsonian godwit, Limosa haemastica
- Marbled godwit, Limosa fedoa (V)
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Red knot, Calidris canutus (C)
- Ruff, Calidris pugnax (V)
- Stilt sandpiper, Calidris himantopus
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea (V)
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina
- Purple sandpiper, Calidris maritima
- Baird's sandpiper, Calidris bairdii
- Least sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
- White-rumped sandpiper, Calidris fuscicollis
- Buff-breasted sandpiper, Calidris subruficollis
- Pectoral sandpiper, Calidris melanotos
- Semipalmated sandpiper, Calidris pusilla
- Western sandpiper, Calidris mauri (V)
- Short-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus
- Long-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
- American woodcock, Scolopax minor
- Wilson's snipe, Gallinago delicata
- Spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularius
- Solitary sandpiper, Tringa solitaria
- Lesser yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes
- Willet, Tringa semipalmata
- Greater yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- Wilson's phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor (C)
- Red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
- Red phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius
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. Three species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus (C)
- Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus (C)
- Long-tailed jaeger, Stercorarius longicaudus (C)
Auks, murres, and puffins
The family Alcidae includes auks, murres, and puffins. These are short-winged birds that live on the open sea and normally only come ashore for breeding. Six species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Dovekie, Alle alle (V)
- Common murre, Uria aalge (V)
- Thick-billed murre, Uria lomvia (V)
- Black guillemot, Cepphus grylle (V)
- Ancient murrelet, Synthliboramphus antiquus (V)
- Atlantic puffin, Fratercula arctica (V)
Gulls, terns, and skimmers
Laridae is a family of medium to large 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. Twenty-three species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla (C)
- Ivory gull, Pagophila eburnea (V)
- Sabine's gull, Xema sabini (C)
- Bonaparte's gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus (C)
- Little gull, Hydrocoleus minutus
- Laughing gull, Leucophaeus atricilla (V)
- Franklin's gull, Leucophaeus pipixcan (V)
- Black-tailed gull, Larus crassirostris (V)
- Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
- Herring gull, Larus argentatus
- Iceland gull, Larus glaucoides
- Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus (C)
- Slaty-backed gull, Larus schistisagus (V)
- Glaucous gull, Larus hyperboreus
- Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscatus (V)
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- White-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus (V)
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- Arctic tern, Sterna paradisaea (V)
- Forster's tern, Sterna forsteri (V)
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their long wings have black markings, as does the head. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- White-tailed tropicbird, Phaethon lepturus (V)
Loons are aquatic birds the size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely grey 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. Four species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Red-throated loon, Gavia stellata
- Arctic loon, Gavia arctica (H) (V)
- Pacific loon, Gavia pacifica (V)
- Common loon, Gavia immer
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.
- Wilson's storm-petrel, Oceanites oceanicus (V)
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
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterized by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary. Three species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Northern fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis (V)
- Cory's shearwater, Calonectris diomedea (V)
- Great shearwater, Ardenna gravis (V)
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. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Wood stork, Mycteria americana (V)
Boobies and gannets
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. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
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. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga (H) (V)
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. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
Bitterns, herons, and egrets
The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets, and bitterns. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills. Eleven species have been recorded in Vermont.
- American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus
- Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis
- Great blue heron, Ardea herodias
- Great egret, Ardea alba
- Snowy egret, Egretta thula
- Little blue heron, Egretta caerulea
- Tricolored heron, Egretta tricolor (V)
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
- Green heron, Butorides virescens
- Black-crowned night-heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
- Yellow-crowned night-heron, Nyctanassa violacea (V)
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. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
New World vultures
The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers, however, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carcasses. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
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.
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
Hawks, kites, and eagles
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers, and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. Twelve species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Swallow-tailed kite, Elanoides forficatus (V)
- Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
- Northern harrier, Circus hudsonius
- Sharp-shinned hawk, Accipiter striatus
- Cooper's hawk, Accipiter cooperii
- Northern goshawk, Accipiter gentilis
- Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Red-shouldered hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Broad-winged hawk, Buteo platypterus
- Swainson's hawk, Buteo swainsoni (V)
- Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Rough-legged hawk, Buteo lagopus
Barn-owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba (V)
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. Ten species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Eastern screech-owl, Megascops asio
- Great horned owl, Bubo virginianus
- Snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus
- Northern hawk owl, Surnia ulula
- Barred owl, Strix varia
- Great gray owl, Strix nebulosa (V)
- Long-eared owl, Asio otus
- Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus
- Boreal owl, Aegolius funereus (V)
- Northern saw-whet owl, Aegolius acadicus
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
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. Ten species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Lewis's woodpecker, Melanerpes lewis (V)
- Red-headed woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus
- Red-bellied woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus
- Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius
- American three-toed woodpecker, Picoides dorsalis (V)
- Black-backed woodpecker, Picoides arcticus
- Downy woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens
- Hairy woodpecker, Dryobates villosus
- Northern flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus
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. Five species have been recorded in Vermont.
- American kestrel, Falco sparverius
- Merlin, Falco columbarius
- Gyrfalcon, Falco rusticolus (V)
- Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus
- Prairie falcon, Falco mexicanus (V)
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. Fourteen species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Great crested flycatcher, Myiarchus crinitus
- Western kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis (V)
- Eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus
- Scissor-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus forficatus (V)
- Fork-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus savana (V)
- Olive-sided flycatcher, Contopus cooperi
- Eastern wood-pewee, Contopus virens
- Yellow-bellied flycatcher, Empidonax flaviventris
- Acadian flycatcher, Empidonax virescens (V)
- Alder flycatcher, Empidonax alnorum
- Willow flycatcher, Empidonax traillii
- Least flycatcher, Empidonax minimus
- Eastern phoebe, Sayornis phoebe
- Say's phoebe, Sayornis saya (V)
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. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
The vireos are a group of small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are typically greenish in color and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. Seven species have been recorded in Vermont.
- White-eyed vireo, Vireo griseus
- Yellow-throated vireo, Vireo flavifrons
- Cassin's vireo, Vireo cassinii (V)
- Blue-headed vireo, Vireo solitarius
- Philadelphia vireo, Vireo philadelphicus
- Warbling vireo, Vireo gilvus
- Red-eyed vireo, Vireo olivaceus
Jays, crows, magpies, and ravens
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. Six species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Canada jay, Perisoreus canadensis
- Steller's jay, Cyanocitta stelleri (H) (V)
- Blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata
- American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Fish crow, Corvus ossifragus (B)
- Common raven, Corvus corax
Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Horned lark, Eremophila alpestris
Swallows and martins
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. Seven species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Bank swallow, Riparia riparia
- Tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Northern rough-winged swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
- Purple martin, Progne subis
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
- Cliff swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
- Cave swallow, Petrochelidon fulva (V)
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. Three species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Black-capped chickadee, Poecile atricapilla
- Boreal chickadee, Poecile hudsonica
- Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor
Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails, and powerful bills and feet. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
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. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Brown creeper, Certhia americana
Wrens are small and inconspicuous birds, except for their loud songs. They have short wings and thin down-turned bills. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are six Vermont species.
- House wren, Troglodytes aedon
- Winter wren, Troglodytes hiemalis
- Sedge wren, Cistothorus platensis
- Marsh wren, Cistothorus palustris
- Carolina wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus
- Bewick's wren, Thryomanes bewickii (V)
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. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Blue-gray gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea
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 names. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
Old World flycatchers
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. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- Northern wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe (V)
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. Eleven species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Eastern bluebird, Sialia sialis
- Mountain bluebird, Sialia currucoides (V)
- Townsend's solitaire, Myadestes townsendi (V)
- Veery, Catharus fuscescens
- Gray-cheeked thrush, Catharus minimus (V)
- Bicknell's thrush, Catharus bicknelli
- Swainson's thrush, Catharus ustulatus
- Hermit thrush, Catharus guttatus
- Wood thrush, Hylocichla mustelina
- American robin, Turdus migratorius
- Varied thrush, Ixoreus naevius (V)
Mockingbirds and thrashers
The mimids are a family of passerine birds which includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance. Three species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis
- Brown thrasher, Toxostoma rufum
- Northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- European starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I)
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. Two species have been recorded in Vermont.
Old World sparrows
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, but they also consume small insects. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- House sparrow, Passer domesticus (I)
Wagtails and pipits
Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws, and pipits. They are slender ground-feeding insectivores of open country. One species has been recorded in Vermont.
- American pipit, Anthus rubescens
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. Ten species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Evening grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus
- Pine grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator
- House finch, Haemorhous mexicanus (native to the southwestern U.S.; introduced in the east)
- Purple finch, Haemorhous purpureus
- Common redpoll, Acanthis flammea
- Hoary redpoll, Acanthis hornemanni
- Red crossbill, Loxia curvirostra
- White-winged crossbill, Loxia leucoptera
- Pine siskin, Spinus pinus
- American goldfinch, Spinus tristis
Longspurs and snow buntings
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. Three species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Lapland longspur, Calcarius lapponicus
- Smith's longspur, Calcarius pictus (H) (V)
- Snow bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis
New World sparrows
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. Twenty-four species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Grasshopper sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
- Lark sparrow, Chondestes grammacus (V)
- Lark bunting, Calamospiza melanocorys (V)
- Chipping sparrow, Spizella passerina
- Clay-colored sparrow, Spizella pallida
- Field sparrow, Spizella pusilla
- Fox sparrow, Passerella iliaca
- American tree sparrow, Spizelloides arborea
- Dark-eyed junco, Junco hyemalis
- White-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Golden-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla (V)
- Harris's sparrow, Zonotrichia querula (V)
- White-throated sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
- Vesper sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus
- LeConte's sparrow, Ammospiza leconteii (V)
- Nelson's sparrow, Ammospiza nelsoni
- Henslow's sparrow, Centronyx henslowii (E) (V)
- Savannah sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
- Song sparrow, Melospiza melodia
- Lincoln's sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii
- Swamp sparrow, Melospiza georgiana
- Green-tailed towhee, Pipilo chlorurus (V)
- Spotted towhee, Pipilo maculatus (V)
- Eastern towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus
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.
- Yellow-breasted chat, Icteria virens
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. Twelve species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Yellow-headed blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus (V)
- Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
- Eastern meadowlark, Sturnella magna
- Western meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta (V)
- Orchard oriole, Icterus spurius
- Bullock's oriole, Icterus bullockii (V)
- Baltimore oriole, Icterus galbula
- Red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater
- Rusty blackbird, Euphagus carolinus
- Brewer's blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus (V)
- Common grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
The wood-warblers are a group of small and often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some like the ovenbird and the two waterthrushes, are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. Thirty-five species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla
- Worm-eating warbler, Helmitheros vermivorum (V)
- Louisiana waterthrush, Parkesia motacilla
- Northern waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis
- Golden-winged warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera
- Blue-winged warbler, Vermivora cyanoptera
- Black-and-white warbler, Mniotilta varia
- Prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea (V)
- Tennessee warbler, Leiothlypis peregrina
- Orange-crowned warbler, Leiothlypis celata
- Nashville warbler, Leiothlypis ruficapilla
- Connecticut warbler, Oporornis agilis
- Mourning warbler, Geothlypis philadelphia
- Kentucky warbler, Geothlypis formosa (V)
- Common yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
- Hooded warbler, Setophaga citrina (V)
- American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla
- Cape May warbler, Setophaga tigrina
- Cerulean warbler, Setophaga cerulea
- Northern parula, Setophaga americana
- Magnolia warbler, Setophaga magnolia
- Bay-breasted warbler, Setophaga castanea
- Blackburnian warbler, Setophaga fusca
- Yellow warbler, Setophaga petechia
- Chestnut-sided warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica
- Blackpoll warbler, Setophaga striata
- Black-throated blue warbler, Setophaga caerulescens
- Palm warbler, Setophaga palmarum
- Pine warbler, Setophaga pinus
- Yellow-rumped warbler, Setophaga coronata
- Yellow-throated warbler, Setophaga dominica (V)
- Prairie warbler, Setophaga discolor
- Black-throated green warbler, Setophaga virens
- Canada warbler, Cardellina canadensis
- Wilson's warbler, Cardellina pusilla
Cardinals and allies
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. Ten species have been recorded in Vermont.
- Summer tanager, Piranga rubra (V)
- Scarlet tanager, Piranga olivacea
- Western tanager, Piranga ludoviciana (V)
- Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
- Rose-breasted grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus
- Black-headed grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus (V)
- Blue grosbeak, Passerina caerulea (V)
- Indigo bunting, Passerina cyanea
- Painted bunting, Passerina ciris (V)
- Dickcissel, Spiza americana