For centuries, the existence of birds has never failed to fascinate us humans. Not just with their unique ability to fly and their possession of powerful talons but also with their existence in so many different and beautiful plumages.
From selecting a mate,, to repelling an intruder, these fascinating colors also play a major role in a bird’s lifetime. And if you are one of those bird enthusiasts trying to know more about the birds with white plumages, then you are exactly where you need to be.
Here, in this article we have brought to a list of 23 fascinating birds of white color.
1. Whooper Swan
The first white colored bird on our list is the whooper swan. This bird is the biggest of all the swans in the northern hemisphere. Because of their weight of 7.4–14.0 kilograms (16 1⁄4–30 3⁄4 pounds), they can only live and grow in large water bodies.
Apart from migrating between North America, the United Kingdom to east-Asia and southern Europe every winter, the whopper swans spend a major part of their life-time swimming and looking for food (mostly plants) at the bottom of the water.
One of the unique abilities of this swan is its deep honking call. Not just that, it is also observed that these swans effectively communicate with each other by signaling and using unique movements especially when they flying as a flock.
2. White-tailed Kite
White-Tailed Kites are mostly found in the regions of western North America and parts of South America. The White-Tailed Kite is also famously known as Elanus leucurus. This name was first given by the ancient Greeks.
White-Tailed Kites are also famous for their behavior, commonly known as “grappling”. These birds are diurnal; meaning, they hunt by day patrolling over lowland and grassland looking for something to prey on. Once spotted this bird storms down putting its sharp talons to work. And when someone tries to threaten them, they produce a unique sound calling other birds to fight.
There are more than 2 million White-Tailed Kites found world-wide.
3. White Tern
Usually found around most of the tropical oceans, the White Terns are tiny seabirds. These species are closely related to noddies. Sometimes, these birds are also named Fairy Terns.
What’s the most notable ability of the White Tern? Well, they can lay eggs on very thin branches without a nest. This is something that isn’t very usual among other terns as many of them are known to lay their eggs in a much stable nest constructed on the ground.
White terns are also carnivores as they mainly feed on small fish and crustaceans. In many of the sub-tropical regions, these species are preyed on by cats and rats. As a result, a steady decline in the population of these species has been observed.
4. Red-billed Tropicbird
As the name suggests, the Red-billed Tropic bird is mostly found in the tropical regions. Although this bird is called red-billed, it has mostly white plumage. Thanks to those tail streamers which are almost double the body length, it is much easier for these birds to be identified in the tropical oceans.
These birds are mostly found in the Middle-east and the Indian Ocean. The Red-billed Tropic birds, irrespective of their size, predate and eat squids and fishes. They do it by diving from huge heights, and all the way into the water.
In fact, these birds spend a huge part of their life-time flying over the ocean waters. The Red-billed Tropic bird can likely be seen off the California coast.
5. Black-faced Spoonbill
Famous for having a beak that looks almost like a spoon, the Black Faced Spoonbill is a wading bird that can very rarely be seen in parts of eastern Asia.
During the breeding season i.e between March and September, they breed on the western coast of North and South Korea. And during the non-breeding season, however, they migrate to mainland China, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. The Black Faced Spoonbill feeds on shrimps.
But, just like the other species of the spoonbill family, the black-faced spoonbill is on the brink of extinction. In 2012 it was recorded that there are only around 2700 of these species and they were internationally classified as endangered species.
6. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
This bird is mostly found around south Asia and Australia. This relatively white cockatoo mainly lurks around in wooden habitats in huge numbers. When it comes to size and color, it is kind of similar to the corellas species of Australia.
Their raucous call can be very loud; this can be heard in most of the tropical and subtropical rainforests. In Australia, the existence of these birds in such numerous numbers locally is so much so that these birds are now considered pests. It is also known that these birds synchronize movements to musical beats.
In 2014, it was discovered that a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo had lived more than a hundred years which is an enormous number for a bird of its kind as most of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos live around 70 years when kept in captivity and only around 20-40 years flying in the wild.
7. Mute Swan
As the name suggests, the Mute Swan is one of the swan species and it belongs to the family of waterfowl. These can be found mostly around Siberia, far-north of Africa, and parts of North-America.
Weighing around 16-32 pounds, the Mute Swan is known to be spending most of its lifetime gracefully swimming in the oceans with its s-curved long neck and white plumage.
While the mute swans of North American are not known to move much out of the continent, the mute swans of Europe, however, migrate to the Middle-east during the winter.
These species have been around for multiple millenniums. Their sub-fossils that were found in the UK were estimated to be almost 6000 years old.
But if you find these huge birds, it is better if you enjoy them from a distance as the mute swans become aggressive very quickly.
8. Trumpeter Swan
Also aligned to the family of waterfowl, the Trumpeter Swan is the heaviest living bird in North America. This large white bird is also one of the waterfowl’s largest extinct species.
Just like the mute swans, the feathers of these birds are also completely white. In the first year of their birth, the Mute Swan is of light grey color and it also has pink legs, but slowly after a year, they turn to whitish plumage.
Trumpeter Swans feed only when they are swimming. Their diet consists mostly of aquatic plants.
Between the world wars, these birds were hunted heavily due to the lack of food. In the mid-20th century, it was believed that these birds were endangered, or extinct. But in the 1970s, these birds were rediscovered in Alaska.
Today, it is estimated that there are more than 5,000 Trumpeter Swans in parts of western Canada and the U.S.
9. Philippine Cockatoo
The Philippine Cockatoo, also known as the Red-vented Cockatoo is a very active and energetic social bird.
Just like all the other birds on this list, the Philippine Cockatoo have white plumage. They also have a red under tale and yellowish underwings. It is easy to distinguish between male and female cockatoos as the males have brownish eyes while the females have dark red eyes.
They are known to be feeding mainly on seeds. But occasionally, the Philippine Cockatoo also feeds on fruits, flowers, buds, and nectar. The Philippine Cockatoo is also regarded as a pest as it tends to forage on crops, rice, and corn.
Sadly, the Philippine cockatoo is listed under critically endangered species. The estimated population of the Philippine cockatoos way back in 1990 was less than 4000. And a study done in 2008 suggested that the number of these birds in Philippines might have slipped to less than a thousand.
10. White-tailed Ptarmigan
Mostly found in the western mountains of North America, the White-tailed Ptarmigan are small and tubby grouse birds. Unlike many other birds, the White-tailed Ptarmigan birds constantly change their plumage throughout the course of the year as they are known to be twig-brown in summer and as the name suggests, these birds tend to turn snow-white in winter.
The White-tailed Ptarmigan spend their entire life in their nest in mountains of alpine tundra. Their feet and feathers are so dense that they can easily walk on snowy terrains and roost in those cold snowbanks.
As they live in altitudes that are so high above the sea level, they don’t have access to the various kinds of food like many other birds, and they feed mainly on the plants.
These birds is also known as Snow Quail.
11. Ross’s Goose
Named after Bernard R. Ross, the Ross Goose is a part of three white geese found mainly in North America. The Ross goose is very similar to its relative “White-phase Goose”, but it’s very difficult for one to get confused between the two as the white phase goose is almost 40% bigger than the Ross Goose.
The Ross Goose is almost exclusively plant-eaters. They mostly eat grass, sedges, and grain during the summer; whereas in the winter, they tend to settle on seeds and grains.
Just like a lot of other birds, the Ross Goose fell prey to extensive shooting during the 1900s which resulted in a huge decline in the population of the Ross Goose.
12. Snow Goose
As the word “snow” in its name suggests, the Snow Goose is a bird with entirely white plumage. They mostly breed in parts of Canada, Greenland, and the United States and during the winters, they migrate 3000 miles south, all the way down to the warm places of South America.
Although the Snow Goose only used to breed on the coasts, the increase in their population has led to a shift inland to more of the agricultural areas.
Snow Goose follows an entirely vegetarian diet which mainly consists of grasses and grains. The excessive hunting of snow goose and almost extinction at one point led to the United States act of Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
13. Tundra Swan
Mostly dependent on the agricultural crops for their diet, Tundra Swans are usually divided into two separate species: Bewick’s swan named after Thomas Bewick and Whistling Swan.
Native to North America, these birds feed on aquatic vegetation. And the pollution of water has led to the destruction of their habitat and hence the decline of their population numbers.
The Tundra Swans fly around 3.7 thousand miles to various habitats in Europe and Middle-east twice every year. In 1990, the number of tundra swans in North America was estimated to be close to a whopping 200,000.
14. Cattle Egret
Hailing from the family of Ardeidae, the Cattle Egret is mostly found in the tropics and subtropic regions of Asia and Europe. The cattle egret is known for its ability to fly for long hours and its remarkable expansion.
The Cattle Egret depend on large insects, flies, and crickets for their food. And during the summers, when most of the earlier mentioned insects are not available, they tend to feed on crayfishes, snakes, and nesting birds.
The Cattle Egrets of North America migrate to spend their winter in warmer places starting from Jamaica, central America, to some of the northern countries of South America.
15. Whooping Crane
The Whopping Crane holds the title of being North America’s tallest bird. As the name suggests, this bird is known for its speed of flight. These white birds feed on both plants and animals.
As a young whooping crane gets more and more experienced, they start deterring their attacks from bigger sized predators especially when they are aware of their locations.
But despite the fact that they have a lifespan of around 24 years, the loss of the wetlands has led the whooping cranes to be listed as one of the most endangered species in the world. Constant efforts like captive breeding by NGOs and governments of North America are being made to conserve and stop these species from going extinct.
16. Great Egret
Also known as Common Egret, these white egrets are large herons that have entirely white plumages. They can be found in the temperate and tropical habitats of the world like South America, central Africa, northern India, and parts of the united states.
Just like many other birds of its kind, the Great Egret feeds mainly on fishes and frogs. The great egret has a large and always-expanding range. During the non-breeding seasons, the Great Egrets travel away from the northern hemisphere to the southern areas. The Great Egret is not known to be very vocal.
17. Red-footed Booby
Mostly found in islands and tropical oceans, the Red-footed Booby is known for its ability to fly with power and agility. As the name suggests, this bird has red feet. And unlike the other birds on this list, this bird has plumage with multiple colors rather than being totally white.
These species has several morphs, two of the most common ones being the white and black-tailed white morphs. As their names suggest, the white morphs are completely white while the black-tailed white morphs are very similar to white morphs with the black tail being the exception.
The Red-footed Booby birds spend most of their lifetime at sea, especially during the non-breeding seasons.
Although the Red-footed Booby is classified as the least-concerned species by the Union of conservation of nature, they fall prey to man-made threats.
18. American White Ibis
Hailing from the family of the ibis, the American white ibis can mostly be seen from the gulf coast of the United States, Mexico, and Central America during the breeding season as they gather in huge colonies near water bodies.
Although the ibis is known to be large birds, this one is particularly mid-sized one weighing around 900g at its peak. Compared to other birds, it is easier to distinguish male and female white ibis as the male ibis are known to be a lot heavier than the female ones.
But sadly, a change in the American white ibis’s behavior and reproduction rates have been observed due to the increase in the levels of methylmercury caused by pollution.
19. Red-tailed Tropicbird
Known for its silky white plumage, the red-tailed tropicbird is a seabird that can be easily be found on the Hawaiian Islands and parts of the Indian and Pacific oceans. The coral red bill and black legs and feet make it very easy to identify these birds. And as the name suggests the red-tailed tropicbirds have long tails with red central streamers.
Evidence of variation and body sizes show that the red-tailored tropic bird has as many as four subspecies. And just like any other tropic/ seabirds, the red-tailed tropicbirds are known to feed on flying fishes.
Interestingly, the red tail of this tropic bird is thought to have occurred about six million years ago, distinguishing it from other tropic birds. If you are lucky enough, then you might come across these birds in southern California.
20. Chinese Egret
As the name suggests, the Chinese egret is a native of east-Asia. They bread mainly around Russia, Korean Peninsular and mainland china. These species have these soft, white plumages throughout the course of their life.
The Chinese egret migrates multiple times in a year with the main one being from China to the Korean coast during mid-May.
The Chinese egrets are considered a “threatened species” which is mainly due to the loss of habitat caused by pollution of water. It is said that back in the 19th century, it was very easy to find these birds flying in china, but currently, there are around 2,600 to 3,400 of these Chinese egrets.
21. Snowy Owl
Belonging to the true owl family and native to the arctic regions, the snowy oil is said to be the one of the largest owl species.
Also known as polar owl, the snowy owl is also the only owl with a white plumage. These owls are said to hunt during something called a “theoretical nightfall
Unlike any other member of the owl family who tend to sleep during the day and stay active at night, this snowy owl however, hunts during the day. And it is observed that the male snowy owls have plumages that are a lot more pure white compared to the females.
As they stay and breed so far away from human inheritance and wild life, their population is over 200,000 in the artic regions.
22. Ivory Gull
The ivory gull is known to spend most of its life over and around the Arctic Ocean. With an average independent age of 5-7 weeks and a lifespan of between 10-20 years, the ivory gulls are monogamous.
The ivory gull eats fish and crustaceans, rodents, eggs, and small chicks. Sometimes, they cleverly follow polar bears of the arctic so that can feed on the remains of their kills. They are also famous for their feeding habits of often dropping off its preys after scavenging and eating them.
But unlike other gulls, the ivory gull doesn’t seem to like swimming a lot , unless it is desperate for food.
23. American White Pelican
And finally on our list, is the American white pelican. Weighing around 3.5 to 13.6 kilo grams, the American white pelican is one of the largest birds of North America.
Although they can be found in some parts of Mexico rarely, they are mostly native to the northern United States starting from Ontario to British Columbia and inland Canada. And during the winters, they move all the way south to central and south Americas.
The American white pelicans feed on common crap and Shriners. Sometimes, they also tend to feed on Cray fish and larval salamanders. Unlike other aggressive birds, the American white pelicans don’t dive into the waters for its prey, instead they predate while swimming.
Despite of the fact that these birds used to be shot for sport because their existence in huge numbers made fishing a lot more difficult for humans, a research done by the IUCN says that there are still around 180,000 of these birds.