28 Types of White Birds [images + IDs]

Types of White Birds
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When we think about birds, we often imagine colorful ones with beautiful patterns on their feathers. But there’s another kind of bird that’s just as fascinating: white birds. These birds are special because they’re mostly white in color, which gives them a unique look. You might not see them in your backyard often, but they live in places like lakes, oceans, and snowy areas all across North America.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at these white birds. We’ll learn about where they live, how they behave, and what makes them different from other birds. Join us as we discover 28 types of white birds found in North America, each with its own story to tell in the big world of nature.

List of 28 Types of White Birds

Snowy Egret

white birds in florida

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  • Scientific name: Egretta thula
  • Lifespan: 16 years
  • Size: 20-27 inches
  • Native to: United States and southern Canada, south through Central America, the West Indies, South America, and Argentina

The Snowy Egret is a magnificent wading bird known for its striking appearance and graceful demeanor. With its pure white plumage, slender black legs, and contrasting yellow feet, this medium-sized egret stands out in wetland habitats across the Americas.

Measuring about 24 inches (61 centimeters) in height, the Snowy Egret possesses a slender, curved neck and a distinctive black bill. During the breeding season, the adult birds develop long, delicate plumes on their heads, necks, and backs, adding an extra touch of elegance to their already beautiful appearance.

Snowy Egrets primarily inhabit marshes, swamps, estuaries, and shallow coastal areas, where they can be seen wading through the water or patiently waiting for fish, frogs, crustaceans, and other small aquatic creatures to come within striking distance. They employ a distinctive hunting technique, known as “foot-stirring,” where they rhythmically shuffle their feet to disturb prey and then swiftly capture it with their sharp bill.

These birds are highly social and can often be spotted in large colonies, alongside other egret and heron species. Their graceful movements and synchronized foraging make for a captivating sight, particularly during the breeding season when they engage in elaborate courtship displays, including aerial acrobatics and elegant plume displays.

Cattle Egret

white birds in florida

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  • Scientific name: Bubulcus ibis
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Size: 19-21 inches
  • Native to: Africa to humid Asian tropics, from India to Japan and northern Australia

The Cattle Egret is relatively new to the New World and was first seen in Europe and Africa.
Nobody is sure how these birds crossed the Atlantic, although they were originally seen nesting in Brazil before making their first appearance in Florida in late 1955.
Cattle Egrets are widespread breeding birds in the state and have done a great job of populating the Americas.
They often graze in dry environments, including high-altitude regions, in contrast to other egrets and herons.
Except during the mating season, when adults gain orange plumage on their backs, chests, and heads, this little egret is totally white.
The beak and legs of these birds are yellow, but at the height of the breeding season, they develop a reddish color.
It lives in a variety of wetland environments, including freshwater lakes, ponds, and swamps as well as shallow saltwater areas.
The Cattle Egret spends a large portion of its time feeding in dry places, such as pastures, in addition to wetlands. Here, it prefers to accompany cattle and eat the insects the animals disrupt.

Great Egret

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  • Scientific name: Ardea alba
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Size: 3 feet
  • Native to: Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe

The Great Egret inhabits practically every continent and has a range almost completely encircles the globe.
This large, all-white heron has long, black legs and feet and a broad, yellow beak. It is a heron.
The Great Egret develops a plume on its back that reaches all the way to the tip of its tail during the spring and summer mating seasons.
It may be found in freshwater and saltwater settings, and it often builds enormous colonies of eggs along the edges of marshes, lakes, and rivers.
In addition to rice fields and other flooded regions, Great Egrets graze in many types of shallow water, including ponds, lakes, rivers, and estuaries.

White Ibis

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  • Scientific name: Eudocimus albus
  • Lifespan: 25 to 27 years
  • Size: 21 to 28 inches
  • Native to: Virginia via the Gulf Coast of the United States

Due to its totally white plumage and long, intensely colorful, downward-curving beak, this species is simple to identify.
When it takes to the air, the black wing tips become more visible.
Immature White Ibises have a pale orange beak and a chocolate brown body with light streaks throughout the first two years of their existence.
The White Ibis likes to graze in freshwater settings even though it is more often seen in coastal regions.
Fish, insects, crayfish, and other crustaceans are all food sources for this bird. In regions where they are prevalent, crayfish make up a significant portion of its diet.
They build their nests in large colonies in woods adjacent to wetlands. Due to their high levels of social interaction, these birds prefer to graze in flocks of 20 or more. In actuality, seeing a single White Ibis is uncommon.

Wood Stork

  • Scientific name: Mycteria americana
  • Lifespan: at least 22 years
  • Size: over 3 feet tall
  • Native to: Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas
  • Beak length on average is 6.6 inches (17 cm).

A Wood Stork is easily recognized if you can get a close-up look at it because of its totally white body and bald, black head.
The Wood Stork has a bill that slopes slightly downward, like the White Ibis. The Wood Stork, in contrast to the White Ibis, has a black bill.
Even though the Wood Stork’s tail and wing tips are black, you generally only notice them when you see them in flight.
Large and resembling a Great Egret in size, the Wood Stork is readily distinguished from that species by its bent beak.
Sadly, the number of wood storks has been declining over the last several decades, a tendency that many other wading species have also experienced.
It consumes fish, aquatic invertebrates, and amphibians like frogs. It likes to build big colonies of nests in mature trees around food sources.

Whooping Crane

white birds in florida

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  • Scientific name: Grus americana
  • Lifespan: 22 to 30 years
  • Size: 5 feet tall
  • Native to: Canada and America

The body of an adult Whooping Crane is entirely white, and its crimson crown is made up entirely of exposed skin. Juvenile birds have a reddish brown tint as opposed to adults.
When it gets chilly out, Whooping Cranes winter in Florida. These birds move south during the winter after reproducing in Alberta, Canada.
Marshes, estuaries, and salt flats are where Whooping Cranes like to live during the non-breeding season.
These birds eat mostly mollusks and crustaceans, with blue crabs being the majority of their diet.
The whooping crane population has miraculously recovered from the brink of extinction, but it is still a critically endangered species that requires ongoing conservation efforts.

American White Pelican

birds with long beaks

  • Scientific name: Pelecanus
  • Lifespan: 15 – 25 years
  • Size: 48 inches
  • Native to: all continents except Antarctica
  • Beak length is typically 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm)

During the summer mating season, a flat plate protrudes from the top portion of its enormous orange beak.
The bill turns from orange to a light yellowish tone when not in the breeding season.
Estuaries, shallow bays, and coastal inlets, as well as freshwater lakes further inland, are its favored habitats.
Unlike other pelican species, this one nearly solely eats fish and does not dive to get them. Instead, it dips its head all the way down into the water to catch fish.
The most frequent groupings of American White Pelicans are those that forage for fish together.

Whooper Swan

  • Scientific Name: Cygnus cygnus
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 – 30 years
  • Size: Length of about 140 – 165 cm (55 – 65 inches), with a wingspan of approximately 205 – 235 cm (81 – 93 inches)
  • Weight: Approximately 7 – 15 kg
  • Origin: Northern parts of Europe and Asia

The title of the largest waterfowl belongs to the whooper swan. With an impressive wingspan of up to 3.1 meters (10 feet) and a weight that can reach 15 kilograms (33 pounds), these swans exhibit both grace and might. Their powerful wings propel them to altitudes as high as 27,000 feet, cementing their status as high-flying icons.

The whooper swan’s allure lies in its elegance, featuring an elongated neck and legs that epitomize gracefulness. This regal avian species is protected across multiple countries, their populations gradually regaining strength.

The calls of the whooper swan are a symphony of loud, musical trumpeting honks. Living up to two to three decades in the wild, these creatures impart their enchanting presence through both sight and sound.

As these birds gracefully conquer the heights, they embody the mysteries and marvels of the avian realm, revealing a world of flight that captivates our imagination and sparks our sense of wonder.

Snow Goose

white birds in florida

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  • Scientific name: Anser caerulescens
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Size: 29 to 31 inches
  • Native to: Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern tip of Siberia, and spend winters in warm parts of North America

There are two color variations of the Snow Goose: one is totally white, while the other is bluish-grey with a pale cream head.
The number of Snow Geese in the Arctic has increased dramatically over the last several decades, and as a consequence, they are now much more widespread in their wintering areas.
Snow Geese like to consume leftover grains on farmland that has been harvested, such as wheat fields. These birds may feed on rice fields as well.

Laughing Gull

white birds in florida

  • Scientific name: Leucophaeus atricilla
  • Lifespan: 22 years old
  • Size: 14–16 in
  • Native to: North and South America

The Laughing Gull is widespread is recognized by its black head and loud, human-sounding cry.
With a black head and a grey upperside, adult Laughing Gulls are mostly white in the summer. The legs and beak are also a dark crimson color. Adult birds are dark grey-brown, and immature birds are light grey.
Laughing Gulls are most often seen around mud flats and sandy beaches, although they may also be seen foraging over open sea far from shore.
Rarely seen farther inland, in lakes and reservoirs, Laughing Gulls may also be seen during the non-breeding season.

Mute Swan:

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  • Scientific name: Cygnus olor
  • Lifespan: 10-20 years
  • Size: 125-170 centimeters (49-67 inches)
  • Origin: Europe and Asia

The Mute Swan is a large water bird known for its elegant appearance and graceful movements. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia and has been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America. Mute Swans have pure white plumage, a long S-shaped neck, and a distinctive orange bill with a black knob at the base. They inhabit lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers, where they feed on aquatic plants, algae, and small invertebrates. Mute Swans are known for their strong pair bonds, with males and females forming lifelong partnerships. They build large nests made of reeds and grasses near the water’s edge. Mute Swans are often associated with a regal and serene presence, and their beauty makes them a popular subject in literature, art, and folklore.

Ring-billed Gull

white birds in florida

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  • Scientific name: Larus delawarensis
  • Lifespan: 3 to 10 years.
  • Size: 50 cm
  • Native to: Canada and the northern United States

Except for their light grey upper parts and black wing tips, adults are nearly totally white. Bright yellow may be seen on the legs and beak. The appearance of juvenile birds is more mottled, with a blend of brown and grey.
Although this species and the Herring Gull may be mistaken for one other, the Ring-billed Gull is more frequent on major lakes and reservoirs in Florida.
This gull forages on parks, landfills, and golf courses, although its preferred habitat is near inland bodies of water. It is the gull species that is most often found around large reservoirs.
It enjoys visiting waste dumps as a scavenger, when groups of hundreds of birds sometimes may be spotted.

Forster’s Tern

white birds in florida

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  • Scientific name: Sterna forsteri
  • Lifespan: 10 Years
  • Size: 13–14 in
  • Native to: North America

Almost all adult birds are white, with the exception of their grey mantle and black head. Their beak is orange with a black tip.
It loses much of its black cap in its non-breeding plumage but is still easily recognized by a distinctive comma-shaped black eye patch.
This tern prefers shallow coastal waterways, such as bays, inlets, and tidal flats, as its primary nesting habitat.
Additionally, Forster’s Terns may be found nesting in a variety of freshwater habitats, however, they are most usually seen around lakes and reservoirs.

Caspian Tern

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  • Scientific name: Hydroprogne caspia
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Size: 19–24 in
  • Native to:  North America (including the Great Lakes), and locally in Europe (mainly around the Baltic Sea and Black Sea), Asia, Africa, and Australasia (Australia and New Zealand).

Although it has some superficial similarities with the Forster’s Tern, it is somewhat bigger, has a thicker beak, wider wings, and a less forked tail.
Additionally, the Caspian Tern preserves a dark, striped crown throughout the winter rather of totally losing it.
On the other hand, Forster’s Terns fully lose their cap throughout the winter, which becomes completely white.
In addition to being a competent predator, the Caspian Tern also scavenges food from gulls and other terns. It dives into the water and captures fish with amazing accuracy.
The Caspian Tern spends the winters in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and breeds in freshwater areas in Canada and the northern United States.

White-tailed Kite

white birds in florida

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  • Scientific name: Elanus leucurus
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Size: 14.5 inches
  • Native to: The Americas, breeding as far south as Chile and Argentina. A closely related and very similar species, the Black-shouldered Kite, occurs across Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Both the Black-shouldered Kite and the White-tailed Kite are appropriate names for the White-tailed Kite.
The head, tail, and underside of adult White-tailed Kites are all white. Their shoulder patches are dark grey, while their upper side is light grey. Deep red eyes are present.
On the other hand, young birds have lighter stripes and a more brownish tint.
In open grassland, White-tailed Kites forage for small rodents, insects, and reptiles from perches or while flying.
These birds like hovering in the air over a particular area while they wait for a mouse to emerge from its tunnel, much like kestrels.


birds with blue eyes

  • Scientific name: Morus bassanus
  • Lifespan: about 35 years
  • Size: 40 inches
  • Native to: Canadian colonies: three in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, and three in the North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland

Gannets are large seabirds that belong to the booby family. They have a streamlined body, long pointed wings, and a dagger-like beak. Gannets are renowned for their spectacular plunge diving behavior, where they fold their wings and dive headfirst into the water to catch fish. They have excellent eyesight, allowing them to spot fish from high above the surface. Gannets are highly adapted for diving, with air sacs in their face and chest that cushion the impact when they enter the water. They are predominantly white with black wingtips and yellow or blue-colored heads, depending on the species. Gannets breed in large colonies on coastal cliffs and islands, where they build nests out of seaweed, grass, and feathers.

Swallow-tailed Kite 

white birds in florida

  • Scientific name: Elanoides forficatus
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Size: 2 feet
  • Native to: Southeastern United States to eastern Peru and northern Argentina

Due to the contrast of its brilliant white underparts and its widely forked tail, this graceful Florida raptor is simple to see in flight.
Black lines border the backs of the wings and tail. Its white head and breast stand out against the dark greyish-black upperside when perched on a tree.
This bird is a competent hunter and able to capture insects in flight, much like other kites. Small reptiles, rodents, and insects are its favored dietary sources.
The Swallow-tailed Kite spends the summer in Florida before migrating south to spend the winter in Central and South America.
In North America, Florida is home to the majority of breeding Swallow-tailed Kites.

Little Blue Heron

white birds in florida

  • Scientific name: Ardea alba
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Size: 3 feet
  • Native to: Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe

Little Blue Herons are slate blue in color as adults, but during their first year, young birds are totally white.
The brown beak and green legs of juvenile birds set them apart from other white herons.
In Florida, it’s typical to witness these little herons reproducing all year round.
Due to an inflow of birds from farther north that spend the winter in Florida, their numbers increase throughout the winter.
These birds eat crayfish in great quantities along with tiny fish, mollusks, and crabs.
These birds love an aquatic environment and are seldom ever observed apart from water. They hunt in the shallows.

Ross’s Goose

  • Scientific name: Anser rossii
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Size: 22-24 inches
  • Native to:  Canada

With the exception of size, Ross’s geese resemble the snow goose extremely closely. Its body is bulky, with a short neck and a triangular-shaped beak that is likewise fairly short and stubby. Its tail feathers have black tips, and its legs and beak are also orange. These birds also love to migrate in huge groups, and you may often see them doing so with herds of snow geese.

Masked booby

  • Scientific name: Sula dactylatra
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Size: 30 to 33 in
  • Native to: United States

The Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) is a seabird species in the booby family, Sulidae. They are named for their distinctive “mask-like” black markings around their eyes. Masked Boobies are large birds, with a wingspan of up to 6 feet and a body length of up to 2 feet. They have a white body and wings, with a long, pointed tail and a hooked beak that they use to catch fish and squid.

Masked Boobies are native to the tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. They breed on islands and coastal cliffs, where they lay their eggs in simple nests on the ground. They are strong fliers and spend much of their time soaring over the ocean in search of food.

Masked Boobies are important indicators of the health of marine ecosystems, as they are sensitive to changes in ocean conditions, such as water temperature, water quality, and availability of food. They are also a valuable source of food for many predatory species, including humans in some parts of the world. Despite this, Masked Boobies are not considered to be threatened with extinction, though their populations may be declining in some areas due to habitat loss, pollution, and other factors.

Bufflehead Duck

  • Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 14 1/2 inches
  • Native to: wooded lakes and ponds in Alaska and Canada

The Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is a small species of sea duck that is native to North America. It is a small, compact bird with a round head and a short, thick neck. Buffleheads are most easily recognized by their iridescent black-and-white plumage, with the male having a large, round white head with a glossy green-black cap, while the female is drabber, with a brown head and neck. These birds are found primarily in coastal areas and in the Great Lakes region during the breeding season, and they migrate to coastal waters in the winter months. They feed on small aquatic invertebrates and seeds, and they are known for their ability to dive and swim underwater in pursuit of their food. Buffleheads are a common sight in many areas of North America and are popular with birdwatchers and hunters alike.

Black-crowned Night Herons

white birds in florida

  • Scientific name: Nycticorax nycticorax
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Size: 22.8 to 26 inches
  • Native to:  North America, Mexico, Central America, West Indies

The Black-crowned Night Herons, often referred to as “Black-capped Night Herons,” are among the most common herons in the world. During their non-breeding seasons, these herons move to the northernmost region of their range, where they nest in freshwater or saltwater marshes.
Despite having a mostly white body, they do have black cap on their heads that extends to the top of their backs.
A few white feathers on their heads rise upright during courting. They have legs, bills, and a small neck. With a continual “woc” or “quok” calling sound, they are among the noisiest herons.

Snowy Owl

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  • Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus
  • Life span: up to 9 years in the wild
  • Size: length of 20-28 inches, wingspan of 49-59 inches
  • Weight: 3.5-6.5 lbs
  • Origin: Arctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia

The Snowy Owl is an enormous white bird of prey native to the Arctic region of North America. It is the heaviest owl in North America and has a longer wingspan than any other owl found there. Females are larger than males, with some weighing as much as 6.5 pounds and spanning up to 6 feet across the wings. Snowy owls are diurnal birds, hunting during the day, especially in summer, and their diet includes small mammals, water birds, fish, and even carrion. They are monogamous and mate for life, with females laying 3-11 eggs in a ground nest.

Egyptian Vulture

  • Scientific name: Neophron percnopterus
  • Lifespan: About 25-30 years
  • Size: Medium-sized vulture; roughly 26-30 inches (66-76 cm) in length, wingspan of 66-71 inches (168-180 cm)
  • Origin: Found in southern Europe, Africa, and Asia

The Egyptian Vulture is a small bird of prey found in Europe, Africa, and Asia. They are white with black wing feathers and naked yellow faces. Egyptian vultures are known for using tools, such as rocks as hammers to break eggs and sticks to gather and roll wool for their nests. They inhabit open and semi-open areas and mostly nest on cliffs. Their diet consists of carcasses, waste, carrion, frogs, insects, and reptiles.

White Stork

  • Scientific name: Ciconia ciconia
  • Lifespan: 22 years
  • Size: 95 to 110 centimeters
  • Native to: across Europe and Asia and winters south to South Africa
  • Beak length on average is 6-8 inches (15-20 cm).

The white stork, the ninth-highest flyer on our list, reaches altitudes of 16,000 feet. This avian behemoth boasts an expansive wingspan of over 5 feet and can weigh up to 5 pounds, making its presence truly formidable.

With predominantly white plumage adorned by black wings, the white stork’s appearance is unmistakable. Its striking appearance graces open farmland, where it crafts nests of sticks on trees, buildings, or cliffs. A family-oriented species, both parents share responsibilities, from incubation to nurturing the young.

Letter-winged Kite

  • Scientific name: Elanus scriptus
  • Lifespan: Typically 5-10 years
  • Size: Small raptor; around 14-16 inches (36-41 cm) in length, wingspan of 3.5-4 feet (107-122 cm)
  • Origin: Found in Australia, inhabiting arid and semi-arid regions.

The Letter-winged Kite is a small and striking white bird of prey with black shoulder patches. It is found only in Australia and is named after the distinctive black patterns under its wings that resemble letters M or W during flight. Letter-winged Kites belong to the Accipitridae family and are the only nocturnal members. They inhabit open country and grasslands, especially near streams and watercourses. Letter-winged Kites are rather noisy, with males making high whistling alarm calls and females responding with harsh rasping “karr” sounds. They hunt small mammals, reptiles, and insects and breed in large colonies with up to 100 birds. Their nests are constructed using twigs, leaves, cattle dung, and rat fur, and females lay 4-5 whitish eggs with dark marks. The population of Letter-winged Kites is in decline, and they are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, with an estimated population of 700-7,000 birds.

Final Thoughts on White Birds

Exploring the world of white birds has revealed a captivating array of creatures that inspire wonder and admiration. From the majestic presence of swans to the stealthy grace of herons, these birds offer a glimpse into the diversity of nature’s creations. While they may not boast the vibrant colors of their counterparts, their pristine white plumage serves as a testament to their resilience and adaptability in their chosen habitats.

As we conclude our journey through the realms of snowy-hued avians, one thing becomes abundantly clear: each of these birds plays a vital role in the ecosystems they inhabit. Whether they soar through the skies or wade through tranquil waters, they contribute to the intricate balance of nature in ways both seen and unseen.

So, the next time you catch a glimpse of a white bird against the backdrop of a serene lake or a snowy landscape, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and significance of these feathered wonders. For in their presence lies a reminder of the marvels that await us when we pause to observe and cherish the natural world around us.

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind Birdsology.com. My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, Birdsology.com is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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