Whether researching unique bird species, playing a word game, or exploring out of sheer curiosity, you’ll find out why this list might suit you. This compilation highlights birds from Abert’s towhee to the Ruffed grouse, covering environments from deserts to forests. Despite their varied locations and lifestyles, one unique aspect brings them together in this article: their names all end with the letter E.
1. Abert’s towhee
Scientific Name: Melozone aberti
Abert’s towhee is a bird primarily found in the desert regions of the southwestern United States, particularly around Arizona and California. This bird is easily recognizable by its plain brown appearance, save for its distinctive black face and a long, rounded tail. Abert’s towhees are ground feeders, often seen scratching at the soil to uncover seeds and insects.
They are not very migratory, tending to stay within their home range throughout the year. An interesting fact about Abert’s towhee is its close association with mesquite and cottonwood habitats along desert rivers, relying heavily on the underbrush for nesting.
2. African crake
Scientific Name: Crecopsis egregia
The African crake is a small, ground-dwelling bird native to sub-Saharan Africa, thriving in wetlands and grassy marshes. Characterized by its striking black-and-white barred flanks, gray breast, and notably, a reddish bill, this bird is adept at remaining concealed within dense vegetation. It leads a largely secretive life, making it a challenge to spot.
African crakes are omnivorous, feeding on insects, seeds, and small invertebrates, foraging for food by darting quickly through undergrowth. They are known for their distinctive, sharp calls during the breeding season, which is one of the few indicators of their presence, as they are otherwise elusive.
Scientific Name: Loxops caeruleirostris
The ʻAkekeʻe is a small, critically endangered honeycreeper native to the island of Kauaʻi in Hawaii. This bird is notable for its unique bill, which is asymmetrically shaped to allow for the extraction of insects and nectar from flowers, showcasing a remarkable adaptation to its environment. The ʻAkekeʻe sports a striking lime-green plumage, blending seamlessly with the lush foliage of its habitat. It primarily dwells in high-elevation forests, where it forages in the canopy.
A fascinating behavior of the ʻAkekeʻe is its social feeding habit, often seen foraging in pairs or small groups. Due to habitat loss, invasive species, and diseases such as avian malaria, the ʻAkekeʻe faces significant threats to its survival, making conservation efforts critical to its future.
4. Altamira oriole
Scientific Name: Icterus gularis
The Altamira oriole is a vibrant bird known for its striking orange and black plumage, making it one of the most colorful orioles. Found primarily in the southernmost parts of Texas in the United States, Mexico, and Central America, it inhabits open woodlands and tropical areas. This bird is easily recognizable by its deep orange body, contrasted with a black throat, back, and wings, and a distinctive black and white wing bar.
Altamira orioles are known for their elaborate hanging nests, which can be up to three feet long, woven from fibers and grasses, and suspended from tree branches. They have a melodious and flute-like song, contributing to the rich soundscape of their environments.
5. Baltimore oriole
Scientific Name: Icterus galbula
The Baltimore oriole is a medium-sized songbird famous for its vivid orange and black plumage, which makes it a striking sight against the greenery of its habitat. Found across the eastern and central United States during the summer breeding season, it migrates to Central America for the winter.
This bird has a distinctive appearance, with males sporting bright orange underparts and shoulders, contrasted by a black head and back, while females are more subdued in color, with shades of orange-yellow and gray. Baltimore orioles are known for their rich, flute-like song and their unique, bag-shaped hanging nests, woven from plant fibers and suspended from tree branches.
6. Barred dove
Scientific Name: Geopelia maugeus
The Barred Dove is a small and elegantly patterned bird primarily found in Indonesia and East Timor. Characterized by its distinctive barred pattern across its wings and back, this dove exhibits a soft, grayish body coloration with striking black-and-white barring, making it a visually captivating species.
It has a relatively quiet and unobtrusive behavior, often seen foraging on the ground for seeds and small insects. A notable feature of the Barred Dove is its gentle cooing call, which adds a serene ambiance to its habitat. These doves are monogamous, forming strong pair bonds, and are known for their simple yet elaborate courtship displays.
7. Black grouse
Scientific Name: Lyrurus tetrix
The Black Grouse is a large bird native to the Palearctic, including parts of Europe and Asia. It is renowned for its striking sexual dimorphism: males exhibit glossy black plumage with a distinctive lyre-shaped tail and a vivid red wattle over the eye, while females are mottled brown, offering excellent camouflage.
Black Grouse are ground-dwelling birds that prefer woodland and moorland habitats where they feed on a diet of leaves, seeds, and insects. A unique and fascinating behavior is the males’ lekking, where they gather in open areas to perform elaborate displays and vocalizations to attract females.
8. Blue crane
Scientific Name: Grus paradisea
The Blue Crane is South Africa’s national bird, recognized for its elegance and distinct pale blue-gray plumage. It has a long neck and an impressive head plume, setting it apart in the crane family. Predominantly found in the grasslands and agricultural fields of southern Africa, the Blue Crane is a ground-dwelling bird that feeds on insects, reptiles, and plant matter. It is celebrated for its intricate and beautiful mating dance, which includes a series of jumps, bows, and wing flapping, serving both to strengthen pair bonds and attract mates.
Blue Cranes are monogamous, forming lifelong partnerships, and are known for their resonant, trumpeting call. An important update on their status is that they are now classified as Vulnerable due to habitat destruction, agricultural practices, and poisoning, underscoring the urgent need for conservation measures to protect this magnificent species.
9. California towhee
Scientific Name: Melozone crissalis
The California Towhee, Melozone crissalis, thrives in the coastal and chaparral areas of California and into Baja California, Mexico, featuring a modest brown plumage that camouflages well with its environment. This bird’s simplicity is contrasted by its engaging behaviors, including its methodical search for food on the ground, uncovering seeds and insects with persistent scratching.
It communicates through a unique single-note call, which is perceived differently by listeners, being described as seet, tseek, tsip, cheet, cheenk, or peenk, showcasing the bird’s vocal diversity. Additionally, its song is notable for its repetitive series culminating in a distinctive trill, adding to the auditory landscape of its habitat.
10. Chukar partridge
Scientific Name: Alectoris chukar
The Chukar Partridge, Alectoris chukar, stands out in its native Eurasian rocky slopes and scrublands with a robust build and a distinctive appearance. It features a striking black and white face mask and flanks adorned with vertical black bars on a gray background. A notable characteristic is its red bill, adding a splash of color to its otherwise earth-toned plumage.
Adapted to arid environments, the Chukar’s diet is mainly seeds and insects, which it seeks out on the ground. Its loud, repetitive “chuk-chuk-chuk” call, echoing its name, is used for communication and to establish territory.
11. Common gallinule
Scientific Name: Gallinula galeata
The Common Gallinule is a distinctive waterbird found in marshes and ponds across the Americas. It is easily identified by its dark plumage, contrasting white flank stripes, and striking red and yellow bill that makes it stand out among wetland birds. The gallinule is known for its remarkable adaptability, able to walk on floating vegetation with its long toes that distribute its weight evenly.
This bird is both a swimmer and a walker, often seen foraging for a variety of plant and animal matter. Its vocalizations are a mix of cackles, clucks, and whistles, which contribute to the lively soundscape of its habitat.
12. Dusky turtle dove
Scientific Name: Streptopelia lugens
The Dusky Turtle Dove, found in eastern Africa’s highlands, sports a grayish-brown coat with a darker neck collar. This bird, known for its calm nature, is commonly seen in pairs or small groups in woods, gardens, and fields, feeding on seeds and sometimes insects. It’s recognized by its soft, cooing calls that contribute to a tranquil atmosphere. The Dusky Turtle Dove is notable for its strong bonds with mates, often seen preening each other.
13. Egyptian goose
Scientific Name: Alopochen aegyptiaca
The Egyptian Goose, native to Africa, is a striking bird with a mix of gray, brown, and white feathers, and distinctive dark patches around its eyes. It’s not just known for its looks but also for its loud, honking call. These geese are often found near water bodies like lakes and rivers, where they feed on a diet of grasses, seeds, and occasionally small insects. One of their unique behaviors is their aggressive territoriality, especially during breeding season when they can be quite vocal and combative in defending their space.
Scientific Name: Turdus pilaris
The Fieldfare is a robust thrush, easily recognizable by its gray head, brown back, and black tail, complemented by a speckled breast. Native to the woodlands and forests of Europe and Asia, it migrates to warmer regions in winter. Fieldfares are social birds, often seen in large flocks, especially during migration or when foraging in fields for insects, worms, and berries. A notable behavior is their aggressive defense of feeding territories against other birds. They are also known for their loud, chattering calls and a distinctive “chack-chack” noise.
15. Giant snipe
Scientific Name: Gallinago undulata
The Giant Snipe is notable for its size, being the largest in the snipe family. It inhabits wet grasslands and marshes in South America, particularly from Colombia to Brazil. This bird features a long, straight bill used for probing the mud for invertebrates, a cryptic brown camouflage pattern that blends into its environment, and short, rounded wings.
Despite its bulk, the Giant Snipe is elusive, often remaining hidden in dense vegetation. It is known for its unique “drumming” display during the breeding season, a sound produced by vibrating its tail feathers while diving during flight, which is a key aspect of its mating rituals.
16. Golden eagle
Scientific Name: Aquila chrysaetos
The Golden Eagle is a majestic bird of prey known for its impressive size, with a wingspan reaching up to 2.3 meters (7.5 feet). It sports dark brown plumage with lighter golden-brown feathers on its head and neck, hence its name. Found across the Northern Hemisphere, this eagle prefers open and mountainous terrains. It is a skilled hunter, preying on mammals like rabbits, marmots, and even young deer.
Golden Eagles are solitary or pair-based, known for their remarkable flight abilities and use of thermal currents to soar high in the sky. They build large nests, or eyries, in cliff faces or trees. An interesting fact is their long-term pair bonds, often remaining with the same mate for several years or life.
17. Great crested grebe
Scientific Name: Podiceps cristatus
The Great Crested Grebe, Podiceps cristatus, is known for its unique look, with a black and white face and a large ruff of feathers around its neck during breeding season. It lives in freshwater lakes and ponds across Europe and Asia, excelling in swimming and diving to catch fish. This bird has a notable courtship display that includes dances and poses with its mate.
One interesting behavior is carrying their young on their backs while swimming. Conservation efforts in the early 20th century helped it recover from near extinction in the UK, showcasing the impact of environmental protection.
18. Harpy eagle
Scientific Name: Harpia harpyja
The Harpy Eagle is one of the largest and most powerful raptors found in the rainforests of Central and South America. It has a distinctive appearance with broad, black wings, a gray chest, and striking black and white facial markings. The eagle’s large, curved talons are adapted for hunting tree-dwelling mammals like sloths and monkeys.
Harpy Eagles are solitary creatures, with a large territory for each pair, and they nest high in the forest canopy. Despite their size and strength, they are elusive and rarely seen.
19. Hooded grebe
Scientific Name: Podiceps gallardoi
The Hooded Grebe is a rare and striking bird, characterized by its distinctive black-and-white plumage and a remarkable, fluffy black headpiece that contrasts with its white forehead and golden tiara, particularly noticeable during the breeding season. Both males and females share a similar appearance, with no significant color differences, making them indistinguishable by plumage alone.
This species is unique for its elaborate mating dances, involving synchronized movements and poses to attract mates. The Hooded Grebe’s diet mainly consists of small aquatic invertebrates. It inhabits remote freshwater lakes in Patagonia, Argentina, often preferring isolated and undisturbed locations for nesting.
20. Inca dove
Scientific Name: Columbina inca
The Inca Dove is a small, slender dove with a distinctive scaled appearance, thanks to the edges of its feathers being darker than their centers, giving it a fish-scale pattern. Both males and females look similar with their overall grayish-brown plumage, making sex differentiation challenging based solely on color. Unique to this species are its long, slender tail and the soft, cooing calls it uses to communicate.
Inca Doves are primarily ground feeders, their diet consists mainly of seeds and grains. They inhabit urban and suburban areas across the southwestern United States down to Central America, adapting well to human environments.
21. Magpie goose
Scientific Name: Anseranas semipalmata
The Magpie goose is a distinctive waterbird native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea. It showcases a striking black and white plumage, with males and females sporting similar color patterns complemented by a noticeable bulbous lump atop its head and vivid orange legs and feet.
Magpie geese are known for their strong monogamous bonds, often forming long-lasting relationships. They are vegetarians, feeding mainly on wetland plants. An interesting aspect of their behavior is their communal care for the young, with several females laying eggs in a single nest, which is then defended and cared for by the group.
Scientific Name: Branta sandvicensis
The Nene, or Hawaiian Goose, is an endemic species of Hawaii, distinguished by its muted gray-brown plumage, black face, and crown, with cream-colored cheeks. Both males and females are similarly colored, though males tend to be slightly larger.
Unique among geese, the Nene has adapted to life in the volcanic landscapes of Hawaii, with reduced webbing on its feet for better traction on rugged terrain and strong legs for walking. It has a more terrestrial lifestyle compared to its aquatic relatives, feeding on a variety of native vegetation.
23. Orange oriole
Scientific Name: Icterus auratus
The Orange Oriole is a vibrant bird species primarily found in the Yucatan Peninsula. Males display a striking orange and black plumage, with orange bodies contrasted by black wings, tail, and throat patch. Females, while also orange, tend to have a paler hue and less pronounced black markings, making them slightly less vivid than their male counterparts.
This species is known for its elusive nature, preferring dense foliage where it skillfully weaves hanging nests. The Orange Oriole’s diet mainly consists of fruit, nectar, and insects, showcasing a versatile feeding behavior.
24. Philippine eagle
Scientific Name: Pithecophaga jefferyi
The Philippine Eagle stands as a symbol of majesty with its large size, one of the world’s biggest eagles. Sporting a dark brown plumage and a distinctive creamy-brown crown, both genders display similar colors, making them hard to distinguish by color alone. This eagle is noted for its powerful beak, long crest feathers, and wingspan designed for navigating through dense forest canopies.
It inhabits the tropical rainforests of the Philippines, adapting to high elevations for nesting and hunting. The Philippine Eagle is a formidable predator, feeding on a variety of prey including small mammals like monkeys, birds, and reptiles.
25. Red-billed partridge
Scientific Name: Arborophila rubrirostris
The Red-billed Partridge is a distinctive bird species known for its vivid red bill and legs, contrasting with a reddish-brown chest, and striking black-and-white scaly patterns on its flanks, complemented by a back adorned with black and brown stripes. Both males and females exhibit similar coloration, making it difficult to distinguish between the sexes based solely on appearance.
This bird is native to the dense, humid forests of Southeast Asia, thriving in environments that offer ample ground cover. The Red-billed Partridge’s diet consists mainly of seeds, fruits, and insects, showcasing its omnivorous feeding habits.
26. Ruffed grouse
Scientific Name: Bonasa umbellus
The Ruffed Grouse is a medium-sized bird well-adapted to cold climates, featuring mottled brown and gray plumage that provides excellent camouflage in its woodland habitat. A unique characteristic of the Ruffed Grouse is its behavior of “drumming” on a log, which males perform to attract mates and establish territory. This sound, created by rapid wing beats, can be heard over considerable distances in the forest.
Ruffed Grouses are omnivores, with a diet varying by season; they consume leaves, buds, and berries, as well as insects. They inhabit deciduous and mixed forests across North America, particularly valuing areas with dense underbrush for cover.
Mary is an outdoor enthusiast, nature lover, and amateur birdwatcher that enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with others.