List of birds of Korea

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This is a list of all birds recorded in the wild in the Korean Peninsula and its islands.


Order: Gaviiformes   Family: Gaviidae

The loons migrate to Korea during the winter months. They are carnivores and some species can dive more than 200 feet below the surface of the water to search for food.

The red-throated loon visits the southern coasts during winter


Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large in size, 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. They leave the water only to nest, walking very short distances upright like penguins. They can run for a short distance, but often fall over.

Horned grebe


Order: Procellariidae   Family: Diomedeidae Once common, it was brought to the edge of extinction by the trade in feathers, but with protection has recently made a recovery. Their main diet consists of squid, however they are known to follow fishing vessels for the left over morsels.

Phoebastria albatrus

Petrels and shearwaters[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae

The family Procellariidae is the main radiation of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary. It is dominant in the Southern Oceans, but not so in the Northern Hemisphere.

Fresh-footed shearwater

Storm petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariidae   Family: Hydrobatidae

It breeds on islands in the northwest Pacific off China, Japan and Korea. It nests in colonies close to the sea in rock crevices and lays a single white egg. It spends the rest of the year at sea, ranging into the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. It is essentially dark brown in all plumages, and has a fluttering flight, pattering on the water surface as it picks planktonic food items from the ocean surface.

Oceanodroma monorhis


Order: Suliformes   Family: Sulidae

This group comprises medium to large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish.

Brown booby


Order: Suliformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies, with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black-and-white and a few being colourful. There are 38 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Korea.

Red-faced cormorant


Order: Suliformes   Family: Fregatidae

Frigate birds are built for flying; they rarely swim and cannot walk but can manage to climb around the trees and bushes in which they nest. They have a very light skeleton and long narrow wings and are masters of the air.

Lesser frigatebird


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Pelecanidae

These large birds use their elastic pouches to catch fish—though different species use it in different ways. Many pelicans fish by swimming in cooperative groups. They may form a line or a "U" shape and drive fish into shallow water by beating their wings on the surface.

Pelecanus philippensis


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Ardeidae

Large wading birds found in most temperate regions but most numerous in tropical and subtropical areas. Most herons roost and nest in large colonies called heronries; others are gregarious only at breeding time; and some are entirely solitary.

Black-crowned night-heron

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Threskiornithidae

Ibises and spoonbills occur primarily in freshwater and estuarine habitats, including swamps, marshes, coastal mangroves, rice fields, rivers and ponds. Ibises and spoonbills are widely distributed in the warmer regions of the world and are especially abundant in the tropics of Africa, Asia and South America.

Eurasion spoonbill


Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae

The storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills. They occur in most of the warmer regions of the world. They tend to live in drier habitats than their relatives the herons, spoonbills and ibises, and lack the powder down that those groups use to clean off fish slime. Many species are migratory. Storks eat frogs, fish and small birds or mammals

Black stork

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 131 species worldwide.

Black scoter
Snow goose
Common shelduck
Eurasian wigeon


Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Pandionidae The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution. The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution. The osprey is particularly well adapted to its diet, with reversible outer toes, closable nostrils to keep out water during dives and backwards facing scales on the talons which act as barbs to help catch fish. It locates its prey from the air, often hovering prior to plunging feet-first into the water to seize a fish.


Hawks, kites and eagles[edit]

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Accipitridae

From the Accipitridae family, they range from small to large birds with strongly hooked bills and variable morphology based on diet. They feed on a range of prey items from insects to medium-sized mammals, with a number feeding on carrion

Golden eagle
Eurasion black vulture
Black-eared kite
Steppe eagle


Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae

Falcons have thin, pointed wings, which allow them to dive at extremely high speeds. (Peregrine falcons, the fastest animals on Earth, are said to have reached speeds of up to 200 mph.)

Falco amurensis

Pheasants and grouse[edit]

Order: Galliformes   Family: Phasianidae

Phasianidae consists of the pheasants and their allies; the grouse are sometimes considered to make up a separate family, the Tetraonidae. 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 180 species worldwide and 4 species in Korea.

Common pheasant


Order: Turniciformes   Family: Turnicidae

The buttonquails or hemipodes are a small family of birds which resemble, but are unrelated to, the true quails. This is an Old World group, which inhabits warm grasslands. Buttonquail are small drab running birds, which avoid flying. The female is the brighter of the sexes and initiates courtship. The male incubates the eggs and tends the young. There are 15 species worldwide, with 1 species in Korea.


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 are 15 species worldwide, 7 Korean species.

White-naped crane

Rails and crakes[edit]

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds, including 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 and thus 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 143 species worldwide and 9 Korean species.

Gallinula chloropus
Water rail


Order: Otidiformes   Family: Otididae

Bustards, including floricans and korhaans, are large terrestrial birds mainly associated with dry open country and steppes in the Old World. They make up the family Otididae (formerly known as Otidae). Bustards are all fairly large and two species, the kori bustard and the great bustards are frequently cited as the world's heaviest flying birds, since both may exceed 20 kg (44 lbs).

Otis tarda


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Jacanidae

Jacanas are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. The females are larger than the males, and some species are polyandrous. However, adults of both sexes look identical, as with most shorebirds. They feed on insects and other invertebrates picked from the floating vegetation or the water’s surface. Most species are sedentary, but the pheasant-tailed jacana migrates from the north of its range into peninsular India and southeast Asia. It is the only one of the world's 8 jacana species found in Korea.

Pheasant-tailed jacanas

Painted snipes[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Rostratulidae

Painted snipes are short-legged, long-billed birds similar in shape to the true snipes, but much more brightly coloured. The female is brighter than the male and takes the lead in courtship. The male incubates the eggs, usually four, in a nest on the ground or floating for about 20 days. All three species live in reedy swamps, and their diet consists of annelid worms and other invertebrates, which they find with their long bills. There are 3 species worldwide, of which only one is recorded from Korea.

Greater painted-snipe


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Haematopodidae

The oystercatchers are large, obvious and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs. There are 11 species worldwide and 1 Korean species.

Eurasian Oystercatcher

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 9 species worldwide and 2 Korean species.

Black-winged stilt

Coursers and pratincoles[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Glareolidae

Oriental pratincole

Plovers and lapwings[edit]

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 66 species worldwide and 12 Korean species, of which 3 breed in Korea.

Pacific golden plover


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. 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.

Jack snipe
Black-tailed godwit
Spotted redshank
Temminck's stint

Skuas, gulls, terns and skimmers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae

There are 91 species worldwide and 23 species in Korea.

Parasitic jaeger
Caspian gull
Black headed gull
Common tern


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Alcidae

An auk is a bird of the family Alcidae in the order Charadriiformes. Auks are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits. Nevertheless, they are not closely related to penguins, but rather are believed to be an example of moderate convergent evolution. There are 22 species worldwide, with 8 found in Korea.

Ancient murrelet
Least auklet


Order: Pteroclidiformes   Family: Pteroclididae

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. They are restricted to treeless open country in the Old World, such as plains and semi-deserts. Legs are feathered down to the toes, and genus Syrrhaptes has the toes feathered as well. There are 16 species worldwide, with one species in Korea.

Pallas's sandgrouse

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. There are 308 species worldwide and 7 Korean species.

Eurasian collared dove


Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

The cuckoos are generally medium-sized slender birds. The majority are arboreal, with a sizeable minority that are terrestrial. The family has a cosmopolitan distribution, with the majority of species being tropical. The temperate species are migratory. The cuckoos feed on insects, insect larvae and a variety of other animals, as well as fruit. Many species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species, but the majority of species raise their own young.

Common cuckoo
Oriental cuckoo


Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

Owls are 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. 11 Korean species have been recorded.

Eurasian scops owl
Eurasian eagle owl


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 coloured to resemble bark or leaves.

Grey nightjar

Swifts and needletails[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. There are 3 Korean species.

White-throated needletail


Order: Upupiformes   Family: Upupidae

There is only one species of hoopoe worldwide. Hoopoes are widespread in Europe, Asia and North Africa, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. They migrate from all but the southernmost part of their range to the tropics in winter. Their habitat is open cultivated ground with short grass or bare patches. They spend much time on the ground hunting insects and worms.

Eurasian hoopoe


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Coraciidae

Rollers are insect eaters, usually catching their prey in the air. They often perch prominently whilst hunting, like giant shrikes. They resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups, blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but not the outer one. There are twelve species worldwide, but only one is found in Korea.


River kingfishers[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae

The river kingfishers are one of the three families of bird in the kingfisher group.

Black-capped kingfisher

Water kingfishers[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Cerylidae

These are all specialist fish-eating species, unlike many representatives of the other two families, and it is likely that they are all descended from fish-eating kingfishers which founded populations in the New World. It was believed that the entire group evolved in the Americas, but this seems not to be true. The original ancestor possibly evolved in Africa - at any rate in the Old World - and the Chloroceryle species are the youngest ones.

Crested kingfisher


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 more than 200 species worldwide and 11 species in Korea.

Eurasian wryneck
Great spotted woodpecker




Common name

(Korean name)



Preferred habitat Range Status
Bull-headed shrike Lanius bucephalus
Brown shrike Lanius cristatus
Tiger shrike Lanius tigrinus
Northern shrike Lanius excubitor
Chinese grey shrike Lanius sphenocercus Winter migrant.[4]
Long-tailed shrike Lanius schach
Steppe grey shrike Lanius pallidirostris Winter migrant on west coast.
  • K: Accidental.[6]































See also[edit]


  1. ^ Not included in Lee et al. (2000), but listed as a vagrant in South Korea by the IUCN. [1]
  2. ^ Sometimes given as Otus bakkamoena ussuriensis.
  3. ^ The Korean population is referred to the subspecies D. javensis richardi.
  4. ^ Also occasionally a resident breeder, according to Moores & Moores (2004), p. 163.
  5. ^ Moores & Moores (2004), p. 163.
  6. ^ Only one tentative record. Moores & Moores (2004).

References and further reading[edit]

  • Collinson, Martin. Splitting headaches? Recent taxonomic changes affecting the British and Western Palaearctic lists British Birds vol 99 (June 2006), 306-323
  • Jo, Sam-rae (조삼래) (2002). 서산의 새 [Seosanui sae] [English title: Birds of Seosan, Korea]. Gongju, South Korea: Kongju National University Press. ISBN 89-88421-34-5. 
  • Lee, Woo-Shin; Koo, Tae-Hoe; Park, Jin-Young; Allen, Desmond (translator) (2000). A field guide to the birds of Korea. Seoul: LG Evergreen Foundation. ISBN 89-951415-0-6. 
  • Moores, Nial; Charlie Moores (2004). "A presumed Steppe Grey Shrike (Lanius pallidirostris) on Socheong Island, S Korea" (PDF). Biological Letters. 41 (2): 163–166. Retrieved 2006-12-25.