- List of birds of North Carolina
In the state of North Carolina, 469 species of birds have been recorded. This number includes the bird species that have been sighted in North Carolina and are believed to be of wild origin. The North Carolina Bird Records Committee maintains the records for bird sightings in North Carolina and produce the list used by most birders to objectively evaluate species recorded in the state. The committee votes on the validity of new records of bird species in the state. The committee last met in 2009, On October 15, 2010 a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was located at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, while on April 20, 2011, a Cassin's Sparrow was observed in Scotland County. If either record is accepted, it will be the first recorded appearance of the species in the state.
Official bird lists are sorted by taxonomic sequence. The taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, genera and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) used by the North Carolina Bird Records Committee follows the conventions of the American Ornithologists' Union's (1998) Check-list of North American birds, the recognized scientific authority on the taxonomy and nomenclature of North American birds. The American Ornithologists' Union's Committee on Classification and Nomenclature, the body responsible for maintaining and updating the Check-list, "strongly and unanimously continues to endorse the biological species concept (BSC), in which species are considered to be genetically cohesive groups of populations that are reproductively isolated from other such groups". Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy provides an alternative phylogenetic arrangement based on DNA-DNA hybridization.
Unless otherwise noted, all species listed below are considered to occur regularly in North Carolina as permanent residents, summer or winter visitors, or migrants. The following codes are used to denote certain categories of species:
- (I) - Introduced: Birds that have been introduced to North America by the actions of man, either directly or indirectly.
- (E) - Extinct
- (P) - Provisional list: Birds that have been approved by the committee but are only known from one or two sight records are listed as provisional; there is no physical evidence, i.e. specimen, photograph, or video recording, of the species in the state. By their very nature, these birds are considered irregular or of rare occurrence in North Carolina.
- (R) - Rare: These birds have been seen less than ten times in North Carolina but do not meet the requirements for the Provisional list.
Note: Birds marked with asterisk (*) not identified to species, but distinct enough to be considered as a separate entry
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for 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. In North Carolina, 44 species have been recorded.
- Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna autumnalis (R)
- Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna bicolor
- Greater White-fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
- Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens
- Ross's Goose, Chen rossii
- Brant, Branta bernicla
- Barnacle Goose, Branta leucopsis (R)
- Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii (R)
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Mute Swan, Cygnus olor
- Trumpeter Swan, Cygnus buccinator (R)
- Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus
- Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
- Gadwall, Anas strepera
- Eurasian Wigeon, Anas penelope
- American Wigeon, Anas americana
- American Black Duck, Anas rubripes
- Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mottled Duck, Anas fulvigula (R)
- Blue-winged Teal, Anas discors
- Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera
- Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Northern Pintail, Anas acuta
- Garganey, Anas querquedula (P)
- Green-winged Teal, Anas crecca
- Canvasback, Aythya valisineria
- Redhead, Aythya americana
- Ring-necked Duck, Aythya collaris
- Tufted Duck, Aythya fuligula (R)
- Greater Scaup, Aythya marila
- Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis
- King Eider, Somateria spectabilis
- Common Eider, Somateria mollissima
- Harlequin Duck, Histrionicus histrionicus
- Surf Scoter, Melanitta perspicillata
- White-winged Scoter, Melanitta fusca
- Black Scoter, Melanitta nigra
- Long-tailed Duck, Clangula hyemalis
- Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
- Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
- Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
- Common Merganser, Mergus merganser
- Red-breasted Merganser, Mergus serrator
- Masked Duck, Nomonyx dominicus (R)
- Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
Order: Galliformes. Family: Meleagrididae
Turkeys have a distinctive fleshy wattle that hangs from the underside of the beak, and a fleshy protuberance that hangs from the top of its beak called a snood. As with many galliform species, the female (the hen) is smaller and much less colorful than the male (the tom). With wingspans of 1.5–1.8 meters (almost 6 feet), the turkeys are the largest birds in the open forests in which they live and are rarely mistaken for any other species. One species has been recorded in North Carolina.
- Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo
Order: Galliformes. Family: Tetraonidae
Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere. They are game and are sometimes hunted for food. In all North Carolinian species, males are polygamous and have elaborate courtship displays. These heavily built birds have legs feathered to the toes. Most species are year-round residents, and do not migrate. One species has been recorded in North Carolina.
- Ruffed Grouse, Bonasa umbellus
The Phasianidae is a family of birds which 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. In North Carolina, one species has been introduced.
- Ring-necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus (I)
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. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Northern Bobwhite, Colinus virginianus
Order: Gaviiformes. Family: Gaviidae
Loons are aquatic birds size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely grey or black, they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well, and fly adequately, but, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body, are almost hopeless on land. In North Carolina, three species have been recorded.
Order: Podicipediformes. Family: Podicipedidae
Grebes are small to medium-large sized 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. In North Carolina, six species have been recorded.
- Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
- Horned Grebe, Podiceps auritus
- Red-necked Grebe, Podiceps grisegena
- Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis
- Western Grebe, Aechmorphorus occidentalis
- Clark's Grebe, Aechmorphorus clarkii (P)
Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Diomedeidae
The albatrosses are amongst the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses from the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds. In North Carolina, two species have been recorded.
- Yellow-nosed Albatross, Thalassarche chlororhynchos (R)
- Black-browed Albatross, Thalassarche melanophris (P)
Fulmars, petrels and shearwaters
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized 'true petrels', characterized by united nostrils with medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. In North Carolina, twelve species have been recorded.
- Northern Fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis
- Herald Petrel, Pterodroma arminjoniana
- Fea's Petrel, Pterodroma feae NOTE: Official in North Carolina, but not on AOU checklist
- Bermuda Petrel, Pterodroma cahow
- Black-capped Petrel, Pterodroma hasitata
- Bulwer's Petrel, Bulweria bulwerii (R)
- Cory's Shearwater, Calonectris diomedea
- Cape Verde Shearwater, Calonectris edwardsii (R)
- Greater Shearwater, Puffinus gravis
- Sooty Shearwater, Puffinus griseus
- Manx Shearwater, Puffinus puffinus
- Audubon's Shearwater, Puffinus lherminieri
Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Hydrobatidae
The storm-petrels are the smallest of 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. In North Carolina, seven species have been recorded.
- Wilson's Storm-petrel, Oceanites oceanicus
- White-faced Storm-petrel, Pelagodroma marina
- European Storm-petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus (R)
- Black-bellied Storm-petrel, Fregetta tropica (R)
- Leach's Storm-petrel, Oceanodroma leucorhoa
- Swinhoe's Storm-Petrel, Oceanodroma monorhis (R)
- Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Oceanodroma castro
Order: Pelecaniformes. 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. In North Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Pelecanidae
Pelicans are very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes. In North Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Phalacrocoracidae
Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of colored skin on the face. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet are four-toed and webbed, a distinguishing feature among the Pelecaniformes order. In North Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Anhingidae
Darters are cormorant-like water birds with very long necks and long, straight beaks. They often swim with only the neck above water, and are fish-eaters. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga
Order: Pelecaniformes. 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 inflatable colored 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. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Magnificent Frigatebird, Fregata magnificens
Order: Ciconiiformes. Family: Ardeidae
The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets, and bitterns. Herons and Egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Unlike other long necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. In North Carolina, 12 species have been recorded.
- 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
- Reddish Egret, Egretta rufescens
- Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis
- Green Heron, Butorides virescens
- Black-crowned Night-Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
- Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Nyctanassa violacea
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. In North Carolina, four species have occurred.
- American White Ibis, Eudocimus albus
- Glossy Ibis, Plegadis falcinellus
- White-faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi (R)
- Roseate Spoonbill, Platalea ajaja
Order: Ciconiiformes. Family: Ciconiidae
Storks are large, heavy, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills and wide wingspans. They lack the powder down that other wading birds such as herons, spoonbills and ibises use to clean off fish slime. Storks lack a pharynx and are mute. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Wood Stork, Mycteria americana
Order: Ciconiiformes. 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. In North Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Order: Falconiformes. Family: Pandionidae
The Osprey is a medium-large fish-eating bird of prey or raptor. It is widely distributed because it tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location which is near a body of water and provides an adequate food supply. It is the only member of its family.
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
The family Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include 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. In North Carolina, 14 species have been recorded.
- Swallow-tailed Kite, Elanoides forficatus
- White-tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus (R)
- Snail Kite, Rostrhamus sociabilis (R)
- Mississippi Kite, Ictinia mississippiensis
- Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Northern Harrier, Circus cyaneus
- Sharp-shinned Hawk, Accipiter striatus
- Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii
- Northern Goshawk, Accipiter gentilis
- Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
- Broad-winged Hawk, Buteo platypterus
- Swainson's Hawk, Buteo swainsoni (R)
- Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Rough-legged Hawk, Buteo lagopus
- Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
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 feet. In North Carolina, four species have been recorded.
- American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
- Merlin, Falco columbarius
- Gyrfalcon, Falco rusticolus (P)
- Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus
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, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. In North Carolina, nine species have been recorded.
- Yellow Rail, Coturnicops noveboracensis
- Black Rail, Laterallus jamaicensis
- Clapper Rail, Rallus longirostris
- King Rail, Rallus elegans
- Virginia Rail, Rallus limicola
- Sora, Porzana carolina
- Purple Gallinule, Porphyrio martinica
- Common Gallinule, Gallinula galeata
- American Coot, Fulica americana
Order: Gruiformes. Family: Aramidae
The Limpkin is a large bird in a monotypic family. It is similar in appearance to the rails, but skeletally it is closer to the cranes. It is found in marshes and gets its common name from its appearance of limping as it walks. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Limpkin, Aramus guarauna (R)
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". In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis
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, although there are some exceptions. In North Carolina, eight species have been recorded.
- Northern Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus (R)
- Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- American Golden-Plover, Pluvialis dominica
- Snowy Plover, Charadrius nivosus (R)
- Wilson's Plover, Charadrius wilsonia
- Semipalmated Plover, Charadrius semipalmatus
- Piping Plover, Charadrius melodus
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus
Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Haematopodidae
The oystercatchers are large, obvious and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prying open molluscs. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- American Oystercatcher, Haematopus palliatus
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. In North Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes, and phalaropes
The Scolopacidae are 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 species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. In North Carolina, 36 species have been recorded.
- Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularius
- Solitary Sandpiper, Tringa solitaria
- Spotted Redshank, Tringa erythropus (R)
- Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- Willet, Tringa semipalmata
- Lesser Yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes
- Upland Sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Long-billed Curlew, Numenius americanus
- Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa (R)
- Hudsonian Godwit, Limosa haemastica
- Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica (R)
- Marbled Godwit, Limosa fedoa
- Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Red Knot, Calidris canutus
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Semipalmated Sandpiper, Calidris pusilla
- Western Sandpiper, Calidris mauri
- Little Stint, Calidris minuta (R)
- Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
- White-rumped Sandpiper, Calidris fuscicollis
- Baird's Sandpiper, Calidris bairdii
- Pectoral Sandpiper, Calidris melanotos
- Purple Sandpiper, Calidris maritima
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina
- Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
- Stilt Sandpiper, Calidris himantopus
- Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Tryngites subruficollis
- Ruff, Philomachus pugnax
- Short-billed Dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus
- Long-billed Dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
- Wilson's Snipe, Gallinago delicata
- American Woodcock, Scolopax minor
- Wilson's Phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor
- Red-necked Phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
- Red Phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius
Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Laridae
Gulls are typically medium to large birds, usually grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills, and webbed feet. The large species take up to four years to attain full adult plumage, but two years is typical for small gulls. In North Carolina, 19 species have been recorded.
- Laughing Gull, Larus atricilla
- Franklin's Gull, Larus pipixcan
- Little Gull, Larus minutus
- Black-headed Gull, Larus ridibundus
- Bonaparte's Gull, Larus philadelphia
- Black-tailed Gull, Larus crassirostris (P)
- Mew Gull, Larus canus (R)
- Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis
- California Gull, Larus californicus
- Herring Gull, Larus argentatus
- Yellow-legged Gull, Larus cachinnans (R)
- Thayer's Gull, Larus thayeri
- Iceland Gull, Larus glaucoides
- Lesser Black-backed Gull, Larus fuscus
- Slaty-backed Gull, Larus schistisagus (P)
- Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus
- Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus
- Sabine's Gull, Xema sabini
- Black-legged Kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Sternidae
Terns are in general medium to large birds, typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. They have longish bills and webbed feet. They are lighter bodied and more streamlined than gulls, and look elegant in flight with long tails and long narrow wings. In North Carolina, 14 species have been recorded.
- Brown Noddy, Anous stolidus
- Sooty Tern, Onychoprion fuscata
- Bridled Tern, Onychoprion anaethetus
- Least Tern, Sternula antillarum
- Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica
- Caspian Tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Black Tern, Chlidonias niger
- White-winged Tern, Sterna leucopterus (P)
- Roseate Tern, Sterna dougallii
- Common Tern, Sterna hirundo
- Arctic Tern, Sterna paradisaea
- Forster's Tern, Sterna forsteri
- Royal Tern, Sterna maxima
- Sandwich Tern, Sterna sandvicensis
Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Rhynchopidae
Skimmers are tropical and subtropical species. They have an elongated lower mandible. They feed by flying low over the water surface with the lower mandible skimming the water for small fish. One species has been recorded in North Carolina.
- Black Skimmer, Rynchops niger
Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Stercorariidae
They are in general medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They have longish bills with a hooked tip, 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. Five species have been recorded in North Carolina.
- Great Skua, Stercorarius skua
- South Polar Skua, Stercorarius maccormicki
- Pomarine Jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus
- Parasitic Jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus
- Long-tailed Jaeger, Stercorarius longicaudus
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 not related to the penguins at all, being able to fly. Auks live on the open sea, only deliberately coming ashore to nest. In North Carolina, seven species have been recorded.
- Dovekie, Alle alle
- Common Murre, Uria aalge (R)
- Thick-billed Murre, Uria lomvia (R)
- Razorbill, Alca torda
- Black Guillemot, Cepphus grylle (P)
- Long-billed Murrelet, Brachyramphus perdix (P)
- Atlantic Puffin, Fratercula arctica (R)
Pigeons and doves
Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. In North Carolina, seven species have been recorded.
- Rock Pigeon, Columba livia (I)
- Band-tailed Pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata (R)
- Eurasian Collared-Dove, Streptopelia decaocto (I)
- White-winged Dove, Zenaida asiatica
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (E)
- Common Ground-Dove, Columbina passerina
Order: Psittaciformes. Family: Psittacidae
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and the have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. In North Carolina, one extinct species has been recorded.
- Carolina Parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis (E)
Cuckoos, roadrunners, and anis
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. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. In North Carolina, four species have been recorded.
- Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus
- Black-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalmus
- Smooth-billed Ani, Crotophaga ani (R)
- Groove-billed Ani, Crotophaga sulcirostris (P)
Order: Strigiformes. Family: Tytonidae
Barn owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Barn Owl, Tyto alba
Order: Strigiformes. Family: Strigidae
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. In North Carolina, eight species have been recorded.
- Eastern Screech-Owl, Megascops asio
- Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
- Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus
- Burrowing Owl, Athene cunicularia (R)
- Barred Owl, Strix varia
- Long-eared Owl, Asio otus
- Short-eared Owl, Asio flammeus
- Northern Saw-whet Owl, Aegolius acadicus
Order: Caprimulgiformes. Family: Caprimulgidae
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet which are of little use for walking and long, pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically colored to resemble bark or leaves. In North Carolina, five species have been recorded.
- Lesser Nighthawk, Chordeiles acutipennis (R)
- Common Nighthawk, Chordeiles minor
- Antillean Nighthawk, Chordeiles gundlachii (R)
- Chuck-will's-widow, Caprimulgus carolinensis
- Whip-poor-will, Caprimulgus vociferus
Order: Apodiformes. Family: Apodidae
The swifts are small aerial birds, spending 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 that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Chimney Swift, Chaetura pelagica
Order: Apodiformes. Family: Trochilidae
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. In North Carolina, eleven species have been recorded.
- Green Violet-ear, Colibri thalassinus (R)
- Green-breasted Mango, Anthracothorax prevostii (R)
- Broad-billed Hummingbird, Cynanthus latirostris (R)
- Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Amazilia yucatanensis (R)
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris
- Black-chinned Hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri
- Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna (R)
- Calliope Hummingbird, Stellula calliope (R)
- Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Selasphorus platycercus (R)
- Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus
- Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin (R)
Kingfishers are medium sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
Woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and flickers
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. In North Carolina, nine species have been recorded.
- Red-headed Woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus
- Red-bellied Woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius
- Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
- Hairy Woodpecker, Picoides villosus
- Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis
- Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Pileated Woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus
- Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis (E?) (R)
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Tyrannidae
Tyrant flycatchers are passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with 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. In North Carolina, 20 species have been recorded.
- Olive-sided Flycatcher, Contopus cooperi
- Eastern Wood-Pewee, Contopus virens
- Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Empidonax flaviventris
- Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens
- Alder Flycatcher, Empidonax alnorum
- Willow Flycatcher, Empidonax traillii
- Least Flycatcher, Empidonax minimus
- Gray Flycatcher, Empidonax wrightii (R)
- Pacific-slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher, Empidonax difficilis/occidentalis* (R)
- Eastern Phoebe, Sayornis phoebe
- Say's Phoebe, Sayornis saya (R)
- Vermilion Flycatcher, Pyrocephalus rubinus (R)
- Ash-throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens (R)
- Great Crested Flycatcher, Myiarchus crinitus
- Tropical Kingbird, Tyrannus melancholicus (R)
- Western Kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
- Eastern Kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus
- Gray Kingbird, Tyrannus dominicensis
- Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Tyrannus forficatus
- Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Tyrannus savana (R)
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Laniidae
Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. In North Carolina, two species have been recorded.
- Loggerhead Shrike, Lanius ludovicianus
- Northern Shrike, Lanius excubitor (R)
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Vireonidae
The vireos are a group of small to medium sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in color and resemble the wood warblers except for their heavier bills. In North Carolina, eight species have been recorded.
- White-eyed Vireo, Vireo griseus
- Bell's Vireo, Vireo bellii (R)
- Yellow-throated Vireo, Vireo flavifrons
- Blue-headed Vireo, Vireo solitarius
- Warbling Vireo, Vireo gilvus
- Philadelphia Vireo, Vireo philadelphicus
- Red-eyed Vireo, Vireo olivaceus
- Black-whiskered Vireo, Vireo altiloquus (R)
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Corvidae
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show levels of learned behavior of a high degree. In North Carolina, four species have been recorded.
- Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata
- American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Fish Crow, Corvus ossifragus
- Common Raven, Corvus corax
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. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Horned Lark, Eremophila alpestris
Swallows and martins
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Hirundinidae
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings, and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking and the front toes are partially joined at the base. In North Carolina, seven species have been recorded.
- Purple Martin, Progne subis
- Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
- Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
- Bank Swallow, Riparia riparia
- Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
- Cave Swallow, Petrochelidon fulva
- Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica
Chickadees and titmice
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. In North Carolina, three species have been recorded.
- Carolina Chickadee, Poecile carolinensis
- Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapilla
- Tufted Titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Sittidae
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. In North Carolina, three species have been recorded.
- Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sitta canadensis
- White-breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
- Brown-headed Nuthatch, Sitta pusilla
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. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Brown Creeper, Certhia americana
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Troglodytidae
Wrens are small and inconspicuous birds, except for their loud songs. They have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. In North Carolina, six species have been recorded.
- Carolina Wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus
- Bewick's Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
- House Wren, Troglodytes aedon
- Winter Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes
- Sedge Wren, Cistothorus platensis
- Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Regulidae
The kinglets are a family of birds which are very small insectivorous birds in the genus Regulus. The adults have colored crowns, giving rise to their name. In North Carolina, two species have been recorded.
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Polioptilidae
These dainty birds resemble Old World warblers in their structure and habits, moving restlessly through foliage while seeking insects. The gnatcatchers are mainly a soft bluish grey in color and have the long sharp bill typical of an insectivore. Many species have distinctive black head patterns (esp. males) and long, regularly cocked black-and-white tails. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Turdidae
The Thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. In North Carolina, 11 species have been recorded.
- Northern Wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe (R)
- Eastern Bluebird, Sialia sialis
- Mountain Bluebird, Sialia currucoides (P)
- Veery, Catharus fuscescens
- Gray-cheeked Thrush, Catharus minimus
- Bicknell's Thrush, Catharus bicknelli (R)
- Swainson's Thrush, Catharus ustulatus
- Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus
- Wood Thrush, Hylocichla mustelina
- American Robin, Turdus migratorius
- Varied Thrush, Ixoreus naevius (P)
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Mimidae
The Mimids are a family of passerine birds that 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. In North Carolina, four species have been recorded.
- Gray Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Sage Thrasher, Oreoscoptes montanus (R)
- Brown Thrasher, Toxostoma rufum
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Sturnidae
Starlings are small to medium-sized Old World passerine birds with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct, and most are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. The plumage of several species is dark with a metallic sheen. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I)
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Motacillidae
The Motacillidae are 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. In North Carolina, three species have been recorded.
- White Wagtail, Motacilla alba (R)
- American Pipit, Anthus rubescens
- Sprague's Pipit, Anthus spragueii (R)
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Bombycillidae
The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by 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. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Parulidae
The Wood Warblers are a group of small, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some are more terrestrial, such as the Ovenbird. Most members of this family are insectivores. In North Carolina, 42 species have been recorded.
- Bachman's Warbler, Vermivora bachmanii (E?) (R)
- Blue-winged Warbler, Vermivora pinus
- Golden-winged Warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera
- Tennessee Warbler, Vermivora peregrina
- Orange-crowned Warbler, Vermivora celata
- Nashville Warbler, Vermivora ruficapilla
- Northern Parula, Parula americana
- Yellow Warbler, Dendroica petechia
- Chestnut-sided Warbler, Dendroica pensylvanica
- Magnolia Warbler, Dendroica magnolia
- Cape May Warbler, Dendroica tigrina
- Black-throated Blue Warbler, Dendroica caerulescens
- Yellow-rumped Warbler, Dendroica coronata
- Black-throated Gray Warbler, Dendroica nigrescens (R)
- Black-throated Green Warbler, Dendroica virens
- Townsend's Warbler, Dendroica townsendi (R)
- Blackburnian Warbler, Dendroica fusca
- Yellow-throated Warbler, Dendroica dominica
- Pine Warbler, Dendroica pinus
- Kirtland's Warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii (R)
- Prairie Warbler, Dendroica discolor
- Palm Warbler, Dendroica palmarum
- Bay-breasted Warbler, Dendroica castanea
- Blackpoll Warbler, Dendroica striata
- Cerulean Warbler, Dendroica cerulea
- Black-and-white Warbler, Mniotilta varia
- American Redstart, Setophaga ruticilla
- Prothonotary Warbler, Protonotaria citrea
- Worm-eating Warbler, Helmitheros vermivorum
- Swainson's Warbler, Limnothlypis swainsonii
- Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla
- Northern Waterthrush, Seiurus noveboracensis
- Louisiana Waterthrush, Seiurus motacilla
- Kentucky Warbler, Oporornis formosus
- Connecticut Warbler, Oporornis agilis
- Mourning Warbler, Oporornis philadelphia
- MacGillivray's Warbler, Oporornis tolmiei (R)
- Common Yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
- Hooded Warbler, Wilsonia citrina
- Wilson's Warbler, Wilsonia pusilla
- Canada Warbler, Wilsonia canadensis
- Yellow-breasted Chat, Icteria virens
American sparrows, towhees, juncos, and longspurs
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Emberizidae
The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. In North Carolina, 30 species have been recorded.
- Green-tailed Towhee, Pipilo chlorurus (R)
- Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus (R)
- Eastern Towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus
- Bachman's Sparrow, Spizella aestivalis
- American Tree Sparrow, Spizella arborea
- Chipping Sparrow, Spizella passerina
- Clay-colored Sparrow, Spizella pallida
- Field Sparrow, Spizella pusilla
- Vesper Sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus
- Lark Sparrow, Chondestes grammacus
- Lark Bunting, Calamospiza melanocorys (R)
- Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
- Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
- Henslow's Sparrow, Ammodramus henslowii
- Le Conte's Sparrow, Ammodramus leconteii
- Nelson's Sparrow, Ammodramus nelsoni
- Saltmarsh Sparrow, Ammodramus caudacutus
- Seaside Sparrow, Ammodramus maritimus
- Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca
- Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
- Lincoln's Sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii
- Swamp Sparrow, Melospiza georgiana
- White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
- Harris's Sparrow, Zonotrichia querula (R)
- White-crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
- Lapland Longspur, Calcarius lapponicus
- Smith's Longspur, Calcarius pictus (R)
- Chestnut-collared Longspur, Calcarius ornatus (R)
- Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Cardinalidae
The Cardinals are a family of passerine birds that are robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. In North Carolina, eleven species have been recorded.
- Summer Tanager, Piranga rubra
- Scarlet Tanager, Piranga olivacea
- Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana
- Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
- Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus
- Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus
- Blue Grosbeak, Passerina caerulea
- Lazuli Bunting, Passerina amoena (R)
- Indigo Bunting, Passerina cyanea
- Painted Bunting, Passerina ciris
- Dickcissel, Spiza americana
Blackbirds, meadowlarks, cowbirds, grackles, and orioles
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Icteridae
The Icterids are a group of small to medium, 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. In North Carolina, 15 species have been recorded.
- Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
- Red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Eastern Meadowlark, Sturnella magna
- Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta (P)
- Yellow-headed Blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
- Rusty Blackbird, Euphagus carolinus
- Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Common Grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
- Boat-tailed Grackle, Quiscalus major
- Shiny Cowbird, Molothrus bonariensis
- Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
- Orchard Oriole, Icterus spurius
- Bullock's Oriole, Icterus bullockii
- Baltimore Oriole, Icterus galbula
- Scott's Oriole, Icterus parisorum (R)
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Fringillidae
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 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. In North Carolina, 11 species have been recorded.
- Brambling, Fringilla montifringilla (R)
- Pine Grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator (R)
- Purple Finch, Carpodacus purpureus
- House Finch, Carpodacus mexicanus
- Red Crossbill, Loxia curvirostra
- White-winged Crossbill, Loxia leucoptera
- Common Redpoll, Carduelis flammea
- Pine Siskin, Carduelis pinus
- Lesser Goldfinch, Carduelis psaltria (P)
- American Goldfinch, Carduelis tristis
- Evening Grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus
Order: Passeriformes. Family: Passeridae
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, and they also consume small insects. In North Carolina, one species has been recorded.
- House Sparrow, Passer domesticus (I)
- ^ "Official list of the birds of North Carolina". The Carolina Bird Club. http://www.carolinabirdclub.org/brc/checklist_of_North_Carolina_birds.html. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
- ^ "Check-list of North American Birds, Seventh Edition". American Ornithologists' Union. Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20071211170240/http://www.aou.org/checklist/index.php3. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
- "ABA Checklist". American Birding Association. http://www.americanbirding.org/checklist/index.html. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
- "Check-list of North American Birds, Seventh Edition". American Ornithologists' Union. Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20071211170240/http://www.aou.org/checklist/index.php3. Retrieved 2007-12-15. - The official source on the taxonomy of birds found in North and Middle America.
- "Official list of the birds of North Carolina". The Carolina Bird Club. http://www.carolinabirdclub.org. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- Brooks, Marshall; Mark Johns (2005). Birding North Carolina. Helena, MT: Globe Pequot Press. ISBN 0-7627-3134-6.
- Porter, Eloise F.; James F. Parnell, Robert P. Teulings, Ricky Davis (2006). Birds of the Carolinas Second Edition. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-5671-0.
Bird lists of North America (north of Mexico) by region Canada United StatesStates: Alabama · Alaska · Arizona (Yuma County) · Arkansas · California (Santa Cruz County) · Colorado · Connecticut · Delaware · Florida · Georgia · Idaho · Illinois · Indiana · Iowa · Kansas · Kentucky · Louisiana · Maine · Maryland · Massachusetts · Michigan · Minnesota · Mississippi · Missouri · Montana · Nebraska · Nevada · New Hampshire · New Jersey · New Mexico · New York · North Carolina · North Dakota · Ohio · Oklahoma · Oregon · Pennsylvania · Rhode Island · South Carolina · South Dakota · Tennessee · Texas · Utah · Vermont · Virginia · Washington · West Virginia · Wisconsin · Wyoming
Other: Washington, D.C.
DependenciesSaint Pierre and Miquelon See also
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