This list brings together a unique segment of birds from the Antarctic shag to the painted bunting, spanning diverse habitats from icy expanses to vibrant landscapes. Though these birds inhabit different continents and display a variety of characteristics, what unites them in this article is that their names all end in the letter G.
1. Antarctic shag
Scientific Name: Leucocarbo bransfieldensis
The Antarctic Shag is a marine bird found on the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands. It sports a distinctive black and white plumage with blue eye-ring and pink feet, setting it apart from other shag species. These birds are skilled divers, using their feet to propel themselves underwater to catch fish and invertebrates.
They nest in colonies on rocky cliffs, where they build nests out of seaweed and mud. A unique feature of the Antarctic Shag is its ability to dive to considerable depths in search of food, showcasing remarkable adaptations to its cold, marine environment.
2. Black-winged lapwing
Scientific Name: Vanellus melanopterus
The Black-winged Lapwing stands out as a substantial, long-legged bird found in the uplands, easily recognized by its contrasting coloration: a dark gray head cap, a brown back, and a stark white underbelly. It thrives in elevated grasslands and agricultural areas, where it is commonly observed in groups.
Its calls include a unique, high-pitched series of notes, transitioning into a deeper tone. When compared to the closely related Senegal Lapwing, it is identifiable by its larger size but shorter stature, the presence of additional white on the forehead, more pronounced red on the legs, and a greater extent of black across the chest area.
3. Brownish twistwing
Scientific Name: Cnipodectes subbrunneus
The Brownish Twistwing, also known as the Brownish Flycatcher, inhabits the dense undergrowth of the Amazon rainforest. This bird is characterized by its predominantly brown plumage, which allows it to camouflage effectively within its forest environment. Primarily insectivorous, it forages for food in the lower to middle levels of the jungle, adept at navigating through the complex underbrush.
4. Brown-chested lapwing
Scientific Name: Vanellus superciliosus
The Brown-chested Lapwing is easily recognized by its distinctive brown chest, white belly, and striking facial markings, including a black crown and a white supercilium (eyebrow). Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, it prefers wet grasslands and floodplains where it feeds on insects and other small invertebrates.
This lapwing is notable for its loud, piercing calls and its habit of performing dramatic aerial displays, especially during the breeding season.
5. Cape starling
Scientific Name: Lamprotornis nitens
The Cape Starling is known for its vibrant, iridescent blue-green plumage that shines under the sun, making it a standout species in its native habitats across southern Africa. This bird is often seen in open woodland, savannahs, and around human habitation, where it feeds on a diet of insects, fruit, and occasionally, nectar. The Cape Starling is a social bird, commonly found in small groups or flocks. It has a distinctive, musical call that adds to the auditory landscape of its environment.
6. Cedar waxwing
Scientific Name: Bombycilla cedrorum
The Cedar Waxwing is a sleek bird known for its silky, smooth plumage that ranges from soft brown to gray and features a distinctive black mask and a bright yellow tip on its tail. A unique characteristic is the waxy red tips on some of the wing feathers, from which its name derives. Its underparts are marked by a pale yellow wash on the belly. Found across North America, these birds have a strong preference for areas with abundant fruit, which makes up the majority of their diet, although they also eat insects.
Cedar Waxwings are highly social and often travel in large flocks, particularly during migration. Their soft, high-pitched calls are a common sound in their habitats. An interesting behavior is their communal approach to feeding, where they can pass a berry or insect down a line of birds perched on a branch until one eats it.
7. Common starling
Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris
The Common Starling, also known as the European Starling, displays glossy black feathers with an iridescent tint, a short tail, pointed wings, and a bill that brightens to yellow during the breeding season. While it thrives in diverse environments from Europe and Asia to its introduced territories in Australia, New Zealand, and North America, its adaptability comes with significant ecological drawbacks.
Apart from competing with native species for habitats and causing agricultural damage, another major concern is its role in spreading diseases transmissible to humans and animals. This capacity for disease transmission includes a variety of pathogens, making the European Starling not just an ecological problem but a public health concern as well.
8. Great sapphirewing
Scientific Name: Pterophanes cyanopterus
The great sapphirewing is a species of hummingbird found in the Andean regions of South America. Male great sapphirewings display bright shimmering emerald bodies with blue wings, while females exhibit a greenish hue above and cinnamon-colored underparts. Both genders have medium-length, slightly upturned bills.
These birds are known for their remarkable agility and hovering ability, allowing them to feed on nectar from flowers. They inhabit montane forests and cloud forests, typically at elevations between 2,500 to 4,000 meters. Unfortunately, habitat loss and climate change pose significant threats to their populations.
9. Lazuli bunting
Scientific Name: Passerina amoena
The Lazuli bunting is a small songbird found in western North America. During the breeding season, male Lazuli buntings are easily identified by their bright cerulean plumage above, complemented by bold white wing bars, a white belly, and an orange breast. In contrast, females appear plain buffy brown with paler wing bars and a slightly brighter orangey breast.
These birds are commonly seen in open habitats such as grasslands, scrublands, and forest edges, where they forage for seeds and insects. They are known for their melodious songs, which they use to attract mates and establish territories during the breeding season. Lazuli buntings construct cup-shaped nests in shrubs or low trees, where they lay eggs and raise their young.
10. Indigo bunting
Scientific Name: Passerina cyanea
The indigo bunting is a small songbird found across North America. During the breeding season, male indigo buntings showcase a vibrant blue plumage, with a slightly darker head. In contrast, females appear plain brown, distinguished by a whitish throat, bluish tail, and faint streaks on the underparts.
These birds are often seen in open habitats such as fields, meadows, and forest edges, where they forage for seeds and insects. They are known for their melodious songs, which they use to communicate and establish territories during the breeding season. Indigo buntings construct cup-shaped nests in shrubs or low trees, where they lay eggs and raise their young.
Scientific Name: Turdus iliacus
The redwing is a captivating thrush that displays bold whitish eyebrows, along with a variable orangey patch on each flank, and a base of yellow on its bill. In flight, it reveals rusty-orange underwings, adding to its striking appearance.
These birds are known for their melodious song, often heard during the breeding season. Redwings prefer wooded areas and marshes as their habitats, where they forage for insects, berries, and seeds. They typically nest in trees, constructing cup-shaped nests from twigs and grasses.
12. Rock shag
Scientific Name: Leucocarbo magellanicus
The rock shag, also known as the Magellanic cormorant, is a seabird native to the southern coasts of South America. Adult rock shags have a white body, black head and neck, and red eyering, with a variable white face patch. Juveniles can be differentiated from Neotropic Cormorants by their pink feet and dark faces with reddish eyering.
These birds are remarkable divers, using their webbed feet to propel themselves underwater in search of fish, crustaceans, and squid. They typically nest in colonies on rocky cliffs along the shoreline, where they build nests from seaweed and other materials. Rock shags are well-adapted to their marine habitat, with specialized glands that allow them to excrete excess salt from their bodies.
13. Painted bunting
Scientific Name: Passerina ciris
The painted bunting is a small, colorful bird found in North America. An adult male painted buntings display striking colors, with a vivid combination of rich blue heads, bright red underparts, and lime-green backs. In contrast, females and immature males appear plain green and unstreaked, unlike other bunting species that tend to have brown tones.
These birds are often seen perching in shrubs and brushy areas, where they forage for seeds, insects, and berries. Painted buntings are known for their melodious songs, which they use to attract mates and establish territories during the breeding season. They typically build cup-shaped nests in dense vegetation, where they lay eggs and raise their young.
14. Snow bunting
Scientific Name: Plectrophenax nivali
The snow bunting is a small bird found in Arctic and Subarctic regions. Nonbreeding of this species typically displays a predominantly white underside with warm brown and orange tones on their heads and backs. However, during the breeding season, their plumage changes to primarily white with black or gray on their backs.
These birds are well adapted to cold climates, often seen foraging for seeds and insects in snow-covered landscapes. Snow buntings typically nest on the ground, constructing their nests from grasses, moss, and feathers. They migrate in large flocks during the winter, sometimes traveling long distances to find food.
15. Yellow bunting
Scientific Name: Emberiza sulphurata
The yellow bunting, also known as the yellowhammer, is a small songbird found in Europe and parts of Asia. Adult yellow buntings feature yellow-green heads and breasts, with both sexes displaying brown wings, yellow bellies, whitish vents, narrow white wing bars, and white eyering, with males usually sporting brighter plumage, often with a small black patch between the eye and bill. Immature males are generally brownish overall, with a yellowish throat.
These birds are commonly found in open habitats such as fields, hedgerows, and farmlands, where they forage for seeds, insects, and grains. Yellow buntings are known for their melodious songs, which they use to communicate and establish territories during the breeding season. They build cup-shaped nests in shrubs or low trees, where they lay eggs and raise their young.
16. Yellow-eyed starling
Scientific Name: Aplonis mystacea
The yellow-eyed starling is a bird native to New Zealand, known for its striking appearance and distinctive yellow eyes. Both male and female yellow-eyed starlings have similar plumage, featuring glossy black feathers with a bluish sheen and yellow eyes.
These birds are typically found in forested areas and coastal cliffs, where they forage for insects, fruits, and small vertebrates. They are known for their complex vocalizations, often communicating through a variety of calls and songs. Yellow-eyed starlings are solitary or found in small groups, and they construct cup-shaped nests in trees or rocky crevices.
Mary is an outdoor enthusiast, nature lover, and amateur birdwatcher that enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with others.