When you think of a white bird, what comes to mind? A heron, a crane, or an owl?
Well, these are just a few white birds that are the most easily recognizable. Of course, completely white birds aren’t something you will see at your bird feeder, but there are many white birds in the wild! We’ve compiled a list of the most common white birds, their descriptions, frequently asked questions, and more!
So, sit back and enjoy!
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#10 – Whooping Crane
Whooping Cranes are very tall, large birds. They have long legs and long necks. In fact, they’re the largest bird in North America. The bill is straight and strong, and the overall slender body widens at the tail. In-flight Whooping Cranes fully extend their necks, and their wings are wide. Male and female whooping cranes look incredibly similar. They both are primarily bright white and have red on their heads. The wingtips, bill, and legs are black.
There’s not a large population of Whooping Cranes left. The remaining population in the North spends their winters on the Gulf Coast and breeds in Canada’s Northwestern territories. Whooping Cranes in this territory nest in potholes that contain mostly bulrushes and other aquatic plants. On their wintering grounds, which are located in Texas, Whooping Cranes inhabit shallow bays, tidal flats, and estuarine marshes. They sometimes venture into nearby farmland as well.
#9 – Great Egret
Great Egrets are long-legged, tall-wading birds. They have long bills, short tails, and S-curved necks. When flying, their long necks are tucked in, and their legs extend far past the end of their tails. Both male and female Great Egrets are white. They have black legs and yellowish-orange bills.
Great Egrets live in marine, brackish, and freshwater wetlands. During their breeding season, they live in colonies in shrubs or trees with other wading birds. Said colonies are located on ponds, lakes, estuaries, marshes, islands, and impoundments. Great Egrets use similar habitats on their wintering grounds and when migrating. They hunt for prey in swamps, marshes, streams, ponds, lagoons, lakes, impoundments, rivers, tidal flats, ditches, and canals.
#8 – Snowy Egret
The Snowy Egret is a medium-sized heron. They have slender, long bills, thin, long legs, small heads, and thin, long necks. Both male and female Snowy Egrets are bright white, have yellow feet, and black legs and bills. They also have a patch of yellow skin at the base of their bills.
Snowy Egrets nest in isolated places, thick vegetation, and colonies. They can be found in dredge-spoil islands, barrier islands, salt marsh islands, marshes, and swamps. Snowy Egrets will change their locations often, and during their breeding season, these birds will feed in salt marshes, estuaries, shallow bays, mangroves, and tidal channels. Snowy Egrets winter in saltwater lagoons, mangroves, freshwater swamps, temporary pools, and grassy ponds. They’ll forage on shallow reefs, wet fields, and beaches.
#7 – American White Pelican
American White Pelicans are very large waterbirds. They have long necks, huge bills, wide wings, and uniquely shaped heads. They have short legs, square, short tails, and thick bodies. During their breeding season, adults grow a noticeable bump near the tip of their bill, also known as a horn. Male and females look very similar. They’re snowy white, have yellow-orange legs and bills, and black flight feathers.
American White Pelicans inhibit isolated islands in freshwater lakes during their breeding season. They’ll forage 30 miles or more from their nesting sites in shallow water locations. Some examples of places they’ll feed are river edges, island marshes, lake edges, and wetlands. During migration, they’ll stop in similar habitats to rest and forage. They favor inlets, coastal bays, sloughs, and estuaries in the winter.
#6 – Rock Ptarmigan
Rock Ptarmigans are chickenlike birds. They’re plump, have short necks, small heads, large, feathered feet, and small bills. During the winter, Rock Ptarmigans are white and have dark bills, eyes, and tail feathers. Male Rock Ptarmigans have scarlet red patches above their eyes.
They’ll remain white into the middle of the summer and then molt into brown plumage. The legs and wings will remain mostly white even after this molt. Female Rock Ptarmigans are camouflaged well due to their intricate pale and dark brown mottling.
Rock Ptarmigan nest in the alpine and arctic tundra. They prefer drier and higher parts of the tundra with abundant mosses, rocks, and lichen. There are records of this species south of its breeding range. However, it’s very few. These birds can be found in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland.
#5 – Snowy Plover
Snowy Plovers are plump, small shorebirds. They have slender, short bills, large heads, and short tails. Male and Female Snowy Plovers look very similar. They’re a pale sandy brown on their upper parts and white on their underparts. During the summer, males and females will have a black behind their eyes, on the tops of their heads, and across their breasts. Nonbreeding adults are a sandy gray color, don’t have the black behind their eyes, and have a partially brown collar. Their legs are gray, and the bills are black.
Snowy Plovers are usually found in sandy, open areas next to water. This could be barrier islands, barren shores of saline lakes inland, and ocean beaches. They can also be found utilizing reservoir margins, wastewater ponds, dredge spoils, sand bars in rivers, parking lots, and salt evaporation ponds.
#4 – White Hawk
The White Hawk is eagle-like. They’re big, have broad, long wings, and long legs. When resting, their wings extend past their tails. Both males and females are steel gray on top and have a brick-red color on the shoulders. They are snowy white on their underparts and have a black band on their white tails.
White Hawks can be found in Texas, Mexico, Central America, and South America. They live in southern Texas year-round, where they inhabit prairies, grasslands, pastures, and savannas. These locations have some vegetation, like shrubs and trees. When prairie fires happen, White Hawks will gather together to hunt vertebrates like rodents that are running away from the flames. These hawks are seldom unless there is a prairie fire.
#3 – American White Ibis
The American White Ibis are large wading birds. They have football-shaped bodies, long necks, long legs, and long, curved bills. These birds, both males and females, are mainly white. They have reddish-pink bills and legs and black-tipped wings. Their eyes are a brilliant light blue.
White Ibises inhabit wetlands like mangroves, swamps, flooded pastures, shallow ponds, and freshwater marshes. They forage in areas that have less than 8 inches of water and short vegetation. However, they can be seen feeding in parks and lawns in places like Florida. They nest in shrubs or trees in colonies. These colonies are located near salt, brackish, or fresh water.
#2 – Snowy Owl
Snowy Owls are large owls. They have smooth, round heads, rarely showing their ear tufts, bulky bodies, and legs with dense feathers. These birds are primarily white and have various brown or black markings on their wings and bodies. Males tend to be whiter than females and turn whiter as they age. Females usually have a salt-and-pepper look. Both males and females have yellow eyes.
Snowy Owls are most often seen in wide-open spaces and areas without trees. This could be the Great Plains, beach dunes, an airport field, or the tundra. They prefer treeless, open spaces because they sit on the ground while hunting. Snowy Owls will find a vantage point that will allow them to survey the entire surrounding area. When they reach their wintering grounds, they’ll perch on top of hay bales, fence posts, telephone poles, and buildings because they offer a good view.
#1 – White Tern
White Terns are medium-sized birds. They have slightly forked tails and dark eyes. In fact, their eyes look bigger than they are because of black eye rings. Their bills are mostly black but have dark blue at the base.
White terns can be seen both in small groups and by themselves. They breed in subtropical and tropical Pacific, Indian, and south Atlantic Oceans. These islands have some vegetation. In this vegetation, they’ll build nests during the breeding season.
People Also Ask
What does it mean when you see a white bird?
White birds are said to represent fresh starts and good fortune. In some cultures, they also represent purity and hope. If you see white birds often, the universe may be trying to tell you something!
Are white birds rare?
No, white birds in the wild are not rare. However, seeing a white bird at your bird feeders could be a rare occurrence. These birds could be albino or leucistic.