13 Different Types Of White Birds (With Photos) In 2024

Last updated on March 28th, 2024 at 01:20 pm

White birds, with their immaculate plumage, exude a sense of elegance and grace that captivates bird enthusiasts and casual observers alike. While not all white birds are entirely white, their pristine, snowy plumage sets them apart and makes them truly stand out in their avian community. Let’s look at 13 different types of white birds, each with unique characteristics and interesting facts.

13 Types Of White Birds

White Birds
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

Many birds sport patches of white in their plumage, but those with predominantly white feathers are less common. These avian creatures tend to inhabit regions close to bodies of fresh or saltwater and areas frequently blanketed in snow. Their white plumage serves as an adaptation, aiding in their camouflage and allowing them to blend into their surroundings seamlessly.

1. Snow Goose (Anser Caerulescens)

White Birds
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

The Snow Goose is white with distinctive black wingtips, pink legs, and beaks. However, there’s also a variation known as the “blue morph,” which features partly or entirely dark plumage. During winter, observers most commonly sight these magnificent birds near bodies of water and open fields throughout the United States. Like many other white bird species, they migrate to the Arctic during breeding season.

Did you know that the oldest recorded Snow Goose, a blue morph, was harvested in Idaho in 2020? Remarkably, it was 30 years and 8 months old, having been banded in Arizona back in 1990.

2. White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)

White-tailed Kite
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

Observers often spot White-tailed Kites in grasslands and savannas. They exhibit a unique behavior called “kiting,” hovering above the ground with their wings gently flapping. They scan for small mammals below, distinguished by their white underparts, gleaming whitetails, and black shoulder patches.

While their range in the U.S. is limited, they can be found throughout the Americas, breeding as far south as Chile and Argentina.

A closely related species, the Black-shouldered Kite, inhabits Europe, Africa, and Asia, sharing many similarities with the White-tailed Kite.

Do you know: The oldest White-tailed Kite was discovered in California at a minimum age of 6 years.

READ ALSO: Black Birds With White Stripes On Wings

3. White Cockatoo (Cacatua Alba)

White Birds
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

The White Cockatoo (Cacatua alba), commonly known as the Umbrella Cockatoo, exclusively inhabits the islands of Indonesia, particularly in lowland tropical rainforests. Unfortunately, its habitat’s limited range has resulted in an endangered status according to the IUCN. The White Cockatoo shares kinship with other cockatoos, such as the Yellow-crested, Sulfur-crested, and Salmon-crested Cockatoos.

Did you know, Like all birds, cockatoos rely on body language to communicate? Using facial feathers to cover their beaks, they signal a welcoming and non-aggressive message.

READ ALSO: Small Birds With Long Beaks

4. Northern Gannet (Morus Bassanus)

White Birds
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

The Northern Gannet, nearly as large as an albatross, boasts a sharp appearance with a heavy bill, pointed tail, and long, slender wings. Adults exhibit snowy white plumage with black wingtips and a golden-washed crown. Witnessing gannets hunt fish is a breathtaking wildlife spectacle in North America: thousands descend upon the ocean in blizzard-like flocks, showcasing their excellent vision and vocal prowess to catch fish and avoid collisions.

While most plunge dives are shallow, Northern Gannets can dive as deep as 72 feet, using their wings and feet to swim deeper in pursuit of prey. In North America, six established Canadian colonies host their breeding grounds, primarily in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off Newfoundland’s coast In Europe, they inhabit 32 colonies stretching from France to Norway.

Do you know: The oldest known Northern Gannet was discovered in Quebec at a minimum age of 26 and 1 month.

Related Article: 9 Types Of White Birds In Florida 

5. White Tern (Gygis Alba)

White Birds
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

The White Tern, with its all-white plumage and slightly forked tail, belongs to the medium-sized tern category. It features a black bill with a blue base, adding to its elegant appearance. With small eyes rimmed by black circles, this seabird exudes beauty and grace.

Adult White Terns maintain a uniform appearance, while juveniles display a brownish-gray back and gray neck, accentuated by a black dot between the nose.

This species is found in regions spanning Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, and Asia and has a conservation status of least concern.

Do you know: A White Tern frequently lays its egg directly onto a bare branch, without constructing a nest to support it.

6. Great Egret (Ardea alba )

Great Egret is flying upwards from the water
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

In North America, the Great Egret primarily inhabits Florida and the warmer coastal areas of the United States despite being native to much of South America. It spends summers in the Midwest and some parts of the Pacific Northwest.

This water-loving bird is mostly white with a bright yellow beak and dark black legs. It hunts by foraging in standing water, stabbing its head down to catch prey.

You can spot a Great Egret as it flies between wetland areas. While flying, it doesn’t retract its legs but tucks in its long, slender neck.

Do you know: The oldest documented Great Egret was 22 and 10 months old and had been banded in Ohio.

Read Also: 9 Yellow Birds In Florida

7. Snowy Owl (Bubo Scandiacus)

White Birds
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

Snowy owls, beloved for their white plumage and yellow eyes, have been iconic birds long before their appearance in the Harry Potter series. This coloration is perfect camouflage in their Arctic tundra habitat where they nest. Males are typically all white or may have a few brown spots, while females exhibit dark barring across their bodies except for their faces.

Snowy owls reside in the Arctic during summer but migrate southward to winter in Alaska, Canada, and some states along the northern U.S. border. Occasionally, they experience “irruptive” years, venturing further south into the U.S., delighting bird watchers as far south as Tennessee and Oklahoma with rare sightings.

Did you know that their heart rate can reach 300 beats per minute while hunting, dropping to 200 beats per minute during sleep?

8. American White Pelican (Pelecanus Erythorhynchos)

White Birds
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

The American White Pelican is a familiar sight along the coasts of the United States. The clacking of its beak adds a distinctive element to any ocean visit. During winter, they are primarily found along the southern coasts, including Florida, the Gulf Coast, Texas, and Southern California. In summer, they migrate to the Northern Rockies and the plains of central Canada.

One of the pelican’s unique features is its expandable pouch on the lower half of its beak, which it uses to collect prey, typically swallowing it whole. These birds often swim together in groups, cooperatively hunting for fish, their preferred food source.

Do you know: The oldest recorded American White Pelican was 23 and 6 months old, having been banded in North Dakota in 1983.

Read Also: 9 Types Of Black Birds In Florida

9. Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)

White Birds
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

The Trumpeter Swan, known from childhood books, has vocal trumpet-like calls. Larger than the Tundra Swan, it has a straight upper bill and a rounded back. They live in northern and central west U.S. pockets, including the Great Lakes, and along the Pacific coast from northern California to Alaska.

Trumpeter Swans are the largest native waterfowl in the U.S., reaching 6 feet long and over 25 pounds. They require a lumbering 100-yard runway for takeoff.

Do you know: The oldest documented Trumpeter Swan was a female, identified at least 26 years and 2 months old when she was recognized in Wisconsin in 2015. One captive individual lived to be 32 years old.

10. Gyrfalcon (Falco Rusticulus)

White Birds
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

The Gyrfalcon, the world’s largest falcon, is a fierce predator in the High Arctic. It chases ptarmigans in flight or plummets from the sky to strike prey. Nesting on remote cliffs in Canada and Alaska, it faces challenges from climate change but is safe from human disturbance. It is a rare winter visitor to the northern United States.

During breeding, a Gyrfalcon family needs 2–3 pounds of food daily, roughly 2-3 ptarmigans daily, totaling about 150-200 consumed between courtship and fledging.

Do you know: The oldest recorded Gyrfalcon was a male, identified at least 15 years and 9 months old when his band was recognized in 2016 in Wisconsin. He had been banded in the same state in 2003.

Read Also: Top 9 Small Birds with Long Legs

11. Ivory Gull (Pagophila Eburnea)

Ivory Gull has spread its wings
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

The Ivory gull stands out among seagulls with its pristine white plumage. Adults are white, sporting black legs and a pale blueish-gray bill tipped in yellow. While observers rarely see them outside the high Arctic, occasional sightings occur in the United States.

Remarkably, areas so far north have recorded their presence just 130 miles away from the North Pole!

Do you know: The oldest documented Ivory Gull was a minimum of 23 years and 11 months old when it was shot in Greenland in 2005. It had been banded in Nunavut in 1982.

12. Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax Nivalis)

Snow Bunting is sitting on the snow
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

Snow buntings breed in the Arctic, nesting deep in rock crevices and cavities. Breeding males display a snowy white body and head with black wings, while females show more brown streaks.

During the non-breeding season, they migrate south to regions of Canada and the northern United States. Their appearance during this time is less white, with rusty brown feathers on their head, shoulders, chest, and back. This coloring aids in blending with the ground as they forage among cut crop fields and beaches or lakeshores.

Did you know that the oldest recorded Snow Bunting was a male, at least 8 years and 9 months old, who was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Alaska, the same state where he had been initially banded?

Read Also: 11 Black Birds With White Stripes On Wings

13. Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans)

Elegant Tern is sitting on the wall
Image source Flickr by Ahmad Hassan

The Elegant tern closely resembles its cousin, the Royal tern, but a few distinctions set it apart. Firstly, Elegant terns exclusively inhabit the Pacific coast of Mexico, California, and Oregon.

Secondly, these waterbirds are predominantly white and gray, with a distinctive black crest on their heads that droops more at the back of the neck than the Royal terns. Lastly, the Elegant tern’s beak is thinner, more delicate, and angled slightly downward.

They prefer sandbars and calm lagoons for foraging and nesting. While numerous tern species in North America generally share similar coloring, careful observation is required to differentiate them.

Do you know: The oldest documented Elegant Tern was at least 20 years and 11 months old when it was discovered in California in 2010, the same state where it had been banned in 1989.

Conclusion

white birds encompass a diverse and captivating avian species found across various continents and habitats. From the majestic snowy landscapes of the Arctic Tundra to the lush coastal regions and tropical rainforests, these birds have adapted to thrive in various environments.

Beyond their ecological significance, white birds hold cultural and symbolic importance in human history. Revered as symbols of purity, peace, and spirituality, they have inspired myths, superstitions, and artistic expressions across cultures.

FAQs

1. Are all white birds completely white in color?

No, not all white birds are completely white. Many white bird species have contrasting markings, patterns, or colored beaks, legs, or wings. These variations add to their unique and striking appearances.

2. Are there any cultural or symbolic associations with white birds?

White birds have held cultural and symbolic significance in various societies throughout history. In many cultures, they symbolize purity, peace, and spirituality. Some people view white birds as messengers of good fortune or even symbols of divinity.

3. Are there any superstitions or myths related to white birds?

Various superstitions and myths across cultures have often associated white birds. Some beliefs consider seeing a white bird as a sign of good luck or a message from the spiritual realm. On the other hand, in other folklore, people may perceive white birds as omens or messengers of impending events.

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