Types of Birds: Pictures and Bird Identification Tips

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Birding enthusiasts young and old anticipate the arrival of seasonal birds in their area in their never ending quest to add species after species to their life lists.

A discussion of the types of birds they look for in North America starts by acknowledging the world’s approximately ten thousand bird species organized into approximately thirty different orders. The American Ornithologists’ Union (OAU), the institutional standard setter for North American birds lists approximately 2,100 species in twenty eight orders.

Given the fact that the OAU coverage area extends to Mexico and Central America, their list of North American birds doubles the number of bird species associated with North America proper, the area north of the United States-Mexico border.

The American Birding Association (ABA) picks up where the OAU ends, further sorting the OAU list into 969 species with at least an occasional visit to North America proper.

Organizing all these birds into a simple presentation starts by noting that almost one-half of North American bird species fit into the Passeriformes order, the perching birds.

Many types of birds that don’t get categorized under the perching birds label. Their names are as familiar as the names on the buttons. Hawks, ducks, hummingbirds and shorebirds often share their days with us. Each section provides pictures, descriptions, video and additional information.

Types of Birds: Perching Birds

picture of a yellow warbler
The ABA lists 38 different Passerine families. A spring time favorite, the colorful Wood-Warblers (Parulidae), leads the diversity category, with 57 species making at least an occasional or stray visit.

Perching birds can also be divided between the insectivores and seed eaters, although in times of food stress many switch back and forth between food sources.

Passerines (sparrows, finches, cardinals, jays, crows, warblers and more), as they are collectively known, are the types of birds commonly called seed eaters, and consequently the most common birds seen in residential areas and backyard feeders.

All birders who set up back yard feeders soon come to learn of the natural pecking order produced by the feeder. Larger seed eating birds such as cardinals and jays often are at the top of the order. Sparrows and other medium sized birds feed second. Smaller birds such as chickadees hang around and pick one seed at a time whenever they have the opportunity.

Ten separate families tie for the title of least diverse, having only one North American representative. Another eight native North American bird families count two species each. Many birders consider these special birds because sighting one means adding an entire family of birds to their life list of North American birds.

The current guide covers twenty different types of birds. Two of the sections, garden birds and feeder birds cover species from multiple families.