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15 Birds That End With the Letter R (Photos)

Learn about birds that start with all 26 letters of the alphabet!

This article contains an assortment of bird species in North America like colorful tanagers, ducks, and woodpeckers that you might even spot in your backyard. Despite being different types of birds and belonging to different families, they do belong to one common category: birds that end with the letter R. 

So have a look at them!

1. American dipper

american dipper
American dipper | image by Glacier National Park via Flickr

Scientific Name: Cinclus mexicanus

The American dipper is a unique bird characterized by its solid gray plumage and ability to dive and swim in swift, cold mountain streams. Known for its bobbing motion, or “dipping,” this bird is North America’s only truly aquatic songbird.

It feeds on aquatic insects, small fish, and larvae, caught by diving underwater. The American dipper is found along clear, unpolluted streams across the western mountains of the United States, Canada, and Central America.

An interesting behavior is its use of wings to “fly” underwater, a skill that allows it to forage in fast-flowing rivers. Dippers build their moss-covered nests close to the water on rocky ledges or under bridges, which protects their young from predators.

2. Belted kingfisher

Belted kingfisher
Belted kingfisher | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Megaceryle alcyon

The Belted kingfisher is easily recognized by its blue-gray plumage, large head, and distinctive white belt across its chest. Males and females are similar, but females have an additional rusty band along their flanks. This bird is known for its fishing technique: hovering above water before diving headfirst to catch fish with its sharp bill.

The Belted kingfisher is found across North America, from northern Canada to Central America, inhabiting rivers, lakes, and coastlines. It nests in burrows along riverbanks, which both parents excavate.

An interesting fact is that the Belted kingfisher is one of the few bird species where the female is more brightly colored than the male. This bird’s loud, rattling call is often heard before it is seen, signaling its presence along waterways.

3. Brown creeper

brown creeper clinging to tree trunk
Brown creeper | image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Certhia americana

The Brown creeper is a small, inconspicuous bird with a slender, down-curved bill and mottled brown camouflage plumage that blends seamlessly into tree bark. This bird is known for its unique behavior of spiraling upwards around tree trunks while foraging for insects in the crevices of bark, using its stiff tail feathers for support.

Found across North America, from Canada to Nicaragua, Brown creepers favor wooded areas, especially with mature trees, where they can be seen year-round in the northern parts of their range and as winter visitors further south. Despite their quiet nature, they emit a high, thin call that can be heard in their forest habitats.

4. Brown thrasher

Brown Thrasher
Brown thrasher | pixabay

Scientific Name: Toxostoma rufum

The Brown thrasher is known for its rich reddish-brown plumage, long rufous tail, and yellow eyes, making it one of the most distinctive birds in its range. As a skilled vocalist, it boasts an extensive repertoire of songs, often mimicking other birds’ calls with accuracy.

This bird is found primarily in North America, especially in the eastern and central United States, where it prefers bushy, dense habitats like thickets and woodlands.

Brown thrashers are ground foragers, using their long, curved bills to sift through leaf litter for insects, fruits, and seeds. They are also noted for their aggressive defense of their nests and territory. An interesting behavior is their double-footed scratching method to unearth food.

5. California condor

California Condor
California Condor | image by vivtony00 via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Gymnogyps californianus

The California condor, is known as one of the world’s largest flying land birds with a wingspan of up to 9 feet. Its features include a bald head, which can change color in response to emotional states, and a predominantly black plumage with white underwing patches. Native to North America, this condor primarily inhabits rocky, rugged mountainous regions, soaring high to scout for carrion, which makes up its diet.

Once on the brink of extinction, intensive conservation efforts have helped its numbers to slowly increase, though it remains critically endangered. The California condor is a significant symbol of conservation success, with wild populations now found in California, Arizona, Utah, and Baja California, Mexico.

6. California thrasher

California thrasher
California thrasher | image by Allan Hack via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Toxostoma redivivum

The California thrasher is a large, robust songbird with a long, curved bill and a distinctive brownish-gray plumage that blends well with its preferred chaparral and scrub habitats. Found exclusively in California and parts of Baja California, Mexico, this bird is well-adapted to its dry, brushy environment.

It uses its bill to dig through leaf litter and soil for insects, spiders, and seeds. The California thrasher is also known for its melodious and complex songs, often mimicking other birds and sounds within its environment. Unlike many birds, it is quite territorial and often seen alone or in pairs, especially during breeding season.

7. Common merganser

Common merganser
Common merganser (female) | Image: Becky Matsubara | CC BY 2.0 | flickr

Scientific Name: Mergus merganser

The Common merganser is a sleek, large-bodied duck known for its distinctive appearance: males have a white body, dark green head, and a slender, red bill, while females sport a gray body with a reddish-brown head and a similar red bill. These birds are adept swimmers and divers, using their serrated bills to catch fish, their primary diet.

Common mergansers are found across North America, Europe, and Asia, preferring freshwater lakes, rivers, and coasts where they can easily hunt for fish. They are often seen in small flocks, working together to herd fish, making hunting more efficient.

8. Hawaiʻi creeper

Hawaiʻi creeper
Hawaiʻi creeper | image by Carter T. Atkinson, U.S. Geological Survey via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Loxops mana

The Hawaiʻi creeper, endemic to the island of Hawaiʻi, is a small bird with an olive-green back and lighter underparts, adept at blending into its native forest habitat. Using its slightly downward-curved bill, it skillfully extracts insects and larvae from bark and tree crevices, moving up trunks and branches in a creeper-like manner.

This bird is found in the higher-elevation forests of the Big Island, particularly in ʻōhiʻa lehua and koa forests, where it plays a vital role in the ecosystem. Despite its adaptability, the Hawaiʻi creeper is currently classified as endangered, facing significant threats from habitat loss, invasive species, and diseases like avian malaria.

9. Hooded merganser

Hooded merganser
Male Hooded Merganser | image by:

Scientific Name: Lophodytes cucullatus

The Hooded merganser is a small waterfowl with a distinctive crest that can be expanded or contracted, giving the bird its “hooded” appearance. Males have a bold black and white crest, with a black back, white breast, and yellow eyes, while females are more subdued, with a brownish crest and body.

Specializing in diving to catch fish, crustaceans, and insects, their slender, serrated bills are perfectly adapted for catching slippery prey. Hooded mergansers are native to North America, preferring forested wetlands, lakes, and rivers across the United States and Canada, often nesting in tree cavities close to water.

10. Northern flicker

Northern flicker
Northern flicker | Image: Naturelady |

Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus

The Northern flicker is a medium-sized woodpecker known for its vibrant plumage, featuring a brown body speckled with black spots, a black bib, and a distinctive red or yellow shaft on its feathers, depending on the subspecies.

Unlike other woodpeckers, Northern flickers prefer to forage on the ground, mainly eating ants and beetles, using their slightly curved bill to dig into the soil.

They are found across North America, from Alaska and Canada down to Central America, adapting to a variety of habitats including forests, woodlands, and suburban areas. One unique behavior is their loud call, often described as a loud “wick-wick-wick,” and their drumming on metal objects, which resonates as a territorial signal.

11. Northern harrier

northern harrier dive
Northern harrier | image by Tom Koerner/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr

Scientific Name: Circus hudsonius

The Northern harrier is a medium-sized raptor known for its flight silhouette, featuring long wings and a long tail that gives it a slender appearance. Males are gray with black wingtips, while females and juveniles are brown.

A unique feature of the Northern harrier is the white patch at the base of the tail, visible in flight. Adapted for hunting by sight and sound, they have an owl-like facial disc that helps funnel sounds to their ears, aiding in the detection of prey hidden in vegetation.

Northern harriers inhabit open fields, marshes, and grasslands across North America, Europe, and Asia, where they can be seen gliding low over the ground, searching for small mammals and birds. They are the only harrier variety found in North America, nesting on the ground in dense vegetation.

12. Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker facing right clinging to wood
Pileated woodpecker | Image by Veronika Andrews from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Dryocopus pileatus

The Pileated woodpecker is one of the largest woodpeckers in North America, easily recognized by its black body, white stripes on the face, and red crest. Both males and females have a similar appearance, but males feature a red stripe on the cheek. This bird is known for its powerful bill, which it uses to carve out large, rectangular holes in trees to search for its favorite food, carpenter ants, along with other insects and fruits.

Pileated woodpeckers are found in mature forests across Canada, the eastern United States, and parts of the Pacific Coast. They prefer large, old trees for nesting and feeding, making them vital for maintaining forest health by controlling insect populations and creating habitats for other species. Their distinctive drumming and loud calls echo through the woods, signaling their presence.

13. Pine warbler

Pine warbler
Pine warbler | Image by Mickey Estes from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Setophaga pinus

“The Pine warbler is a small songbird characterized by its distinctive olive-green back and yellowish underparts, setting it apart from other warblers. Males typically exhibit brighter colors than females.

Unique among warblers, Pine warblers often feed on seeds from pine cones in addition to the more common insect diet, demonstrating adaptability in their feeding habits. They are primarily found in the eastern United States, inhabiting pine forests where they are more likely to be heard than seen, thanks to their melodious trills and songs.

Pine warblers are one of the few warbler species that may remain in their breeding range all year, especially in the southern parts of their range, such as in Florida, where they are also common backyard birds, and in the Gulf Coast states.

14. Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker
Red-bellied woodpecker | Image: Ken Thomas | Wikicommons

Scientific Name: Melanerpes carolinus

The Red-bellied woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker known for its barred black and white back and a red cap that runs from the bill to the nape, more prominent in males. Despite its name, its red belly is quite subtle and often hard to see. This bird is adept at using its bill to drill into trees to find insects, and it also eats fruits and nuts, storing food in tree crevices for later.

Found across the eastern United States, from the Midwest to the South and along the Atlantic Coast, the Red-bellied woodpecker favors wooded areas, including forests, parks, and suburban neighborhoods, making it a common sight at bird feeders. They are known for their distinctive churr calls and drumming on trees.

15. Scarlet tanager

Scarlet tanager
Scarlet tanager | image by Kelly Colgan Azar via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Piranga olivacea

The Scarlet tanager, is known for the male’s vibrant scarlet body contrasted with black wings and tail, while females are a more subdued olive-yellow. These birds are summer visitors to the eastern United States, migrating from South America to breed in mixed deciduous forests.

They are often heard before seen, thanks to their distinctive, somewhat harsh song, and a knack for staying hidden in the forest canopy. Scarlet tanagers feed on insects and fruits, playing an important role in controlling insect populations and dispersing seeds. 

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