32 Birds That Start With C (with Pictures)

Learn about birds that start with other letters of the alphabet!

Have you ever wondered what birds out there begin with the letter C? We’ve compiled a list of 32 “C” birds of all kinds, from tiny hummingbirds to large ducks. Of course of all the birds in the world that start with the letter C, this is only a small sampling. Enjoy learning about each of these birds that start with C.

Birds that Start With C

1. Cassia Crossbill

Cassia Crossbill | image by Alan Schmierer via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific name: Loxia sinesciuris
Lives in: South Hills, Idaho

Stocky, large-headed finch with a unique crossed bill that is used to pull seeds from lodgepole pine cones. It is similar to the Red Crossbill, best separated by voice, particularly the calls made during flight. Males are dull orange or red overall, with brown or gray highlights. The females are drab yellowy olive. The streaks in immature specimens are more prominent than those of adults.

Fun fact: the cassia crossbill was only recently designated a separate species from the red crossbill because it has adapted to eating the lodgepole pine cones in the South Hills area that the red crossbill cannot open. 


2. Crested Caracara

Scientific name: Caracara plancus
Lives in: southern United States, Mexico, Central and South America

The Crested Caracara appears like an eagle due to its sharp beak and long talons. It is a hawk-like bird but is, in fact, a black and white falcon that is found in tropical areas. It’s instantly recognized standing tall on its long legs that are yellow-orange, and each has a short black cap that stands out against a white neck and a yellow-orange face.

Fun fact: it is sometimes called the ‘Mexican Eagle’ in Central and South America due to its popularity in mythology and folklore across the region.


3. Connecticut Warbler

Scientific name: Oporornis agilis
Lives in: South America, Florida to the Great Lakes, parts of Canada

The Connecticut warbler has a white eye-ring, yellow belly, yellow-olive back and gray hood. Males and females are similar but females are paler. These warblers are considered rather hard to spot since they forage on the ground and by slowly walking through underbrush. Its preferred habitat is also rather remote, spruce bogs, poplar forests and muskeg. Due to these factors they are considered one of the least well-studied of the American songbirds. 

Fun fact: you may assume from its name that this bird lives in the state of Connecticut. However this is only the location of where the first specimen was collected. This warbler does not breed in, nor it is even particularly common in Connecticut. 


4. Carolina Chickadee

Image: Shenandoah National Park flickr

Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis
Lives in: southeastern United States

The curious, clever Carolina chickadee looks very similar to the black-capped chickadee. Both have black caps and bibs, black back and wings, and whitish undersides. The Carolina is so similar to the black-capped chickadee (who residers further north) that it comes as no surprise the two mate successfully in regions where their ranges overlap.

Fun fact: chickadees readily visit backyard bird feeders, but they will often grab one seed and fly away to a nearby branch to eat it. 


5. California Condor

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

Scientific name: Gymnogyps californianus
Lives in: Baja California, California, parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah

The magnificent yet threatened California condor is the largest bird found in North America. They are wonderful gliders that travel far and wide to feast on the carcasses of pigs, deer, cattle, sea lions, cattle, and whales, as well as other species. Couples build nests in caves on cliffs. The population dropped to 22 birds in the 80s. However, around 230 birds are flying free in California as of 2021.

Fun fact: at carcasses, California condors dominate other scavengers. It is the opposite when there is a golden eagle present. The condor weighs approximately twice the weight of an eagle, but the superior talons of an eagle are a good reason to show some respect.


6. Clay-colored Sparrow

Image: Ryan Moehring USFWS / flickr / CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Spizella pallida
Lives in: parts of Canada, central U.S., Mexico

The clay-colored sparrow’s chirping song is their characteristic sound. Although they’re not particularly brightly-colored, their pale tones and clear, sharp markings differentiate them from other species of sparrows. These active birds prefer to hunt in the branches of plants or on the ground in grass, under vegetation cover. Although they are still quite numerous, their numbers have slowly decreased over the last 40 years.

Fun fact: clay-colored sparrow pair bonds do not last for very long. Males are generally loyal to their territories every year, however females choose a different breeding area every season.


7. Cerulean Warbler

image: WarblerLady | Flickr | CC 2.0

Scientific name: Setophaga cerulea
Lives in: eastern United States, eastern Mexico, Central America, parts of northern and western South America

Males live up to their name with blue on their heads, back, wings and sides. Females however are mostly a drab bluish-green and yellow. Cerulean warblers breed in mature forests in the northeastern United States and then fly all the way down to the Andes Mountains in South America to spend the winter. Unfortunately due to habitat loss, their population has been decreasing. 

Fun fact: when constructing a new nest, females will often use bits of spiderweb from the previous nest.


8. Chestnut-collared Longspur

Chestnut Collared Longspur | image by Rick Bohn, USFWS Mountain Prairie via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific name: Calcarius ornatus
Lives in: desert grasslands, rangelands, and shortgrass prairies (United States and Mexico)

Breeding males have a striking mix of buff throat, black belly, and chestnut nape. They display these hues when they take part in display flights at the beginning of summer. In winter, females and males appear grayish and unnoticeable as they graze in the desert grasslands. Their diet is mainly insects such as grasshoppers and seeds they find on the ground. They spend much of their time walking through the grass to forage for food.

Fun fact: They get their ‘longspur’ name from their hind toe’s extended claw.


9. Canvasback

Scientific name: Aythya valisineria
Lives in: United States, western Canada up through Alaska, Mexico

Canvasbacks have a distinctive long, sloping face shape.  Males have a brownish-red head and neck, black chest and white body. Females are all brown, but still have that unique sloping face. They are diving ducks, mostly eating tubers at the bottom of lakes, ponds and wetlands.  

Fun fact: in the winter they can gather in groups of hundreds or even thousands on freshwater lakes and along the coast. 


10. Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Image: Alan Schmierer

Scientific name: Poecile rufescens
Lives in: Canada’s Pacific Northwest and U.S. West Coast

Active, social, and as loud as any other chickadee. You’ll find these birds amid foraging flocks that travel through tall conifers, with nuthatches, titmice, and occasionally other species of chickadee. Although they’re comfortable in damp, dark forests, they’ve also been known to take to the suburbs and ornamental plants of cities such as San Francisco.

Fun fact: The chestnut-backed chickadee utilizes a lot of fur and hair to construct its nest. The adults build an enveloping layer of fur around a quarter-inch thick, which they use to cover their eggs before leaving their nest.


11. Chukar

Scientific name: Alectoris chukar
Lives in: New Zealand, Hawaii, parts of the U.S., Greece, Turkey, Iran, areas along the border of China

The Chukar is a ground bird that lives in dry habitats. It scurries and flies across slopes with the speed and agility of mountain goats, which is why hunters call it the ‘devil bird’ for the fierce determination with which it tries to escape capture or death. Because they live in such dry climates, they stick closely to any water source they can find, even tiny springs, ground seeps or underground caves.

Fun fact: Chukars bathe in dust almost daily to ensure their feathers are in top form. They create small depressions in the earth and then toss the dust onto their bodies and rub it in as best as they can.


12. Cackling Goose

Cackling Goose | image by Paul Hurtado via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Branta hutchinsii
Lives in: United States, coastal Canada

The Cackling Goose looks like a mini version of the more widespread Canada Goose. In fact they were once considered to be the same species. However, cackling geese are much more delicate, sporting stubbier bills and shorter necks (which becomes obvious when these birds are flying). Also, they typically have more rounded heads. Their calls are higher in pitch than those of Canada goose. Most people will only see them during the winter, since they spend their summer breeding season in remote areas of northern Canada and Alaska.

Fun fact: Listen to hear the distinctive high-pitched cry of the cackling goose. That’s where the popular term ‘cackling’ comes from–their call, which is noticeably different from that of Canada geese.


13. Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr | Public Domain Image

Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
Lives in: Asia, North America, and Europe.

A striking medium-sized duck. Adult males sport a black head with a circular white cheek patch. They also have a body that is mostly white with some black on the back. Females and males in the first year have a gray body with chocolate brown heads. This bird’s bright yellow eyes typically catch the attention of all.

Fun fact: Hunters have dubbed the Common Goldeneye the ‘whistler’ because of the distinct whistling sound that its wings make during flight. The cold weather amplifies the whistling sound.


14. Cooper’s Hawk

Photo: Pixabay.com

Scientific name: Accipiter cooperii
Lives in: Southern Canada, continental USA, Mexico, and parts of Guatemala and Belize.

Cooper’s hawks are extremely skilled fliers. They are common woodland hawks who can quickly maneuver through the tangled canopy of trees in pursuit of smaller birds. There’s a good chance of seeing one soaring over an edge of the forest or in a field, gliding with just a few wing beats, scanning for prey. They are also known to stalk backyard bird feeders in hopes of catching a quick meal. While cooper’s hawks do also eat small rodents, birds make up a large part of their diet.

Fun fact: Their lifestyle of high-speed chases doesn’t come without injury. In the study of over 300 Cooper’s hawk bones, 23 percent showed at some point they had fractured the bones in their chest. 


15. Common Ground Dove

Common Ground Dove | image by Dominic Sherony via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Columbina passerina
Lives in: southernmost United States, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, northern South America

A small, sparrow-sized dove, the common ground dove has drab “dusty” brownish-gray feathers. This helps them blend in with the ground as they walk along tall grasses looking for seeds. They often go unnoticed until you get close to them and scare them away, noticing the rusty red patch underneath their wings as they fly off. These constant foragers need to eat nearly 2,500 seeds a day, and can store hundreds of them in a special throat pocket. 

Fun fact: Like other pigeons and doves, common ground doves can take in swallow water without raising their heads. They have the ability to suck it up, unlike many birds who need to tilt their head back.


16. Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren | image by Robb Hannawacker via Joshua Tree National Park Flickr

Scientific name: Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus
Lives in: southwestern United States, Baja, Mexico

The cactus wren has a rounded body and brown back with heavy streaking. The tail is barred and the throat and belly light with dark speckles. Like most wren’s, their bill is long with a slightly downward curve, and they have a distinctive white “eyebrow”. Cactus wren’s are always on the move and can often be seen fanning their tail and being noisy. You’ll always find them around cholla or prickly-pear cacti where they make their nests. They also like to sit on the top of cacti to call. 

Fun fact: A true desert bird, cactus wren’s don’t often drink water directly. They are able to get most of the water they need from the food they eat (fruit and plump insects).


17. California Scrub-Jay

Scientific name: Aphelocoma californica
Lives in: western California, western Oregon, parts of Washington, Baja California

The California scrub-jay is a fairly large songbird with beautiful blue coloring on its head, back and tail. Across their upper back is a patch that can appear gray or brown. Its chest and belly are mostly white, with some blue feathers that come around the front like “necklace”. They are known for having a boisterous personality, both with frequent vocalizations and the way they bounce around and always seem to be cocking their heads, as if hatching schemes. They eat mainly fruit and insects during the spring and summer, then switch to nuts, seeds and acorns in the winter.

Fun fact: These birds will sometimes hang out on the back’s of mule deer, picking through their fur for ticks and parasites to eat. 


18. California Towhee

Scientific name: Melozone crissalis
Lives in: western California, southwestern Oregon, Baja California

The California towhee is actually a large member of the sparrow family. They are overall a dusty gray-brown, with spots of rusty brown around the eye, on the face and below the tail. They are known to frequently challenge their reflection, so you may encounter them knocking on your window, car mirror or other reflective surface. While common in many backyards, their favorite habitat is tangled chaparral and scrublands where they forage on the ground and in shrubs. 

Fun fact: These towhees actually like to build their nests in poison oak and eat its berries. 


19. Cassin’s Finch

Cassin’s Finch (male) | image by PEHart via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Haemorhous cassinii
Lives in: western United States, parts of western Canada, pockets in Mexico

This cute rosy finch likes the aspen and evergreen forests of the mountainous west. Males have a raspberry red wash on their head, chest and back, with the darkest red being on the small crest at the front of their head. Their belly is buffy and plain. Females have the same brown back but lack any read coloring. Their chest and belly is white with heavy brown streaking.

Cassin’s finch is commonly confused with the house finch or purple finch. Some tips to help tell them apart are that Cassin’s finch does not have streaks on its belly like a house finch, and its head is less purple and has a small peak unlike the smoothly rounded and heavily colored head of the purple finch.

Fun fact: These little birds crave salt, and can often be seen visiting mineral deposits on the ground.


20. Carolina Wren

Scientific name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
Lives in: central and eastern United States, parts of eastern Mexico

These little birds are mostly reddish-brown on top and a lighter orangish color on bottom. Their longish, slightly curved beak and bold white “eyebrow” are good identifiers. They like to hide in brush and may be hard to spot, however their loud “teakettle-teakettle” song is likely one you would recognize. Only the males sing, but they have a surprisingly loud voice for their small size. 

Fun fact: the range of the Carolina wren has slowly crept further north, likely due to the increasing winter temperatures. 


21. Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee | image by Alan Schmierer via Flickr

Scientific name: Melozone fusca
Lives in: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, southern Colorado, Mexico

Canyon towhees are members of the sparrow family, but are larger than the typical sparrow with longer legs and a longer tail. The best way to describe their color is an all-over “dirt” brown with a warm brown patch on the underside of the tail. This coloring helps them blend in well in their desert habitat where they spend their time on the ground and under shrubs. Towhees search through leaf litter and vegetation for insects, seeds and berries. It can be fun to watch them, they do a doubled footed backwards hop motion to scratch at the ground and move aside brush. 

Fun fact: because of their overly dry habitat, canyon towhees are vigilant about water supply and will time their nesting to coincide with winter and summer rains.


22. Cedar Waxwing

cedar waxwing
Image: 272447 | pixabay.com

Scientific name: Bombycilla cedrorum
Lives in: Canada, United States, Mexico, Central America

Cedar Waxwings are easy to identify by their unique coloring. These medium sized birds have a tawny brown head and chest, yellow belly, dark gray wings, and a yellow tipped short tail. Their face sports a dramatic black eye mask rimmed in white, and a large fluffy brown crest.  Cedar waxwings love fruit, and are one of the only North American birds that can survive on fruit alone for several months. They do supplement their diet with insects and other foods, but they can eat a much higher percentage of fruit than other birds.

Fun fact: The name “waxwing” comes from small, red, waxy nubs found at the tips of their wings. These can often be hard to see and no one is really sure what purpose they serve. They may help attract mates.


23. Chipping Sparrow

Scientific name: Spizella passerina
Lives in: Canada, United States, Mexico, Central America

Chipping sparrows have their most crisp feathers in the summer, with a buffy gray breast, brown and tan streaked wings, rusty red cap, and a black line through the eye with white above. In winter their markings may appear less defined and their coloring more buffy-brown. They are common sparrows that like to feed on open ground. Look for them in habitats where areas of trees are mixed with grassy openings. 

Fun Fact: Chipping sparrows are common at backyard feeders, and often like to remain on the ground picking up what has spilled. Attract them with sunflower and mixed seed, especially scattered on the ground.


24. Cape May Warbler

image: Rodney Campbell | Flickr CC 2.0

Scientific name: Setophaga tigrina

Lives in: eastern United States and Canada, Caribbean, east coast of Central America

These beautiful warblers have a short tail and thin bill. They sport a dark olive back, yellow streaked breast, and males have a chestnut cheek patch. While breeding, they are hard to find in the northern spruce-fir forests of Canada. Their success in producing young depends on the abundance of their main food source, the spruce budworm caterpillar. Best seen in the U.S. during spring and fall migration, then settling down to winter in the Caribbean. 

Fun fact: their name comes from Cape May, New Jersey where the bird was first seen and described. However, these warblers are not commonly seen on Cape May, and after that first sighting were not recorded there again for over 100 years! 


25. Common Grackle

Image: diapicard | pixabay.com

Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Lives in: Canada, United States

Though they fall into the bully bird category like the starling does, grackles are also quite pretty in the right light with their iridescent feathers. They often appear black in color, but in the right light you can see hues of blue, green, brown and purple. They sometimes will roost with other types of blackbirds, and appear in massive flocks numbering in the millions of birds. They are easy to identify by their solid coloring, long narrow body and tail, and yellow ringed eye.

Fun Fact: grackles have a hard spot on the inside of their upper mandible that they can use to saw open acorns. 


26. Common Raven

Image: Neal Herbert

Scientific name: Corvus corax
Lives in: Mexico, United States, Canada, Greenland, Europe, Asia

Common Ravens are solid black in color, and quite large in size. They are also know for being highly intelligent problem solvers, like their cousin the crow. They seem equally at ease living alongside human activity as out in very remote wilderness. Ravens can make a large number of different vocalizations, the most common sound like a series of croaks. In the U.S., ravens are more common in the western half of the country. 

Fun fact: Ravens have a history in all countries of following the wagons and sleds of human hunting parties, ready to make a meal from any animal carcass leftovers. 


27. Common Yellowthroat

Scientific name: Geothlypis trichas
Lives in: Canada, United States, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean

Common yellowthroats are one of the most common warblers in the U.S. For most of the country, they only spend the breeding season here then migrate south of the border to winter. Males have a 0live-brown back and tail, black face mask, bright yellow throat. Females are similarly colored but lack the black mask. They love brushy fields, and areas around water such as wetlands and marshes. I often run into these guys while hiking a trail near a large pond or marsh.

Fun Fact: Males typically only breed with one female per season, however the mating song of the female can attract other males which she may breed with behind his back.


28. Curve-billed Thrasher

Curved-billed Thrasher | image by Alan Schmierer via Flickr

Scientific name: Toxostoma curvirostre
Lives in: southwestern United States, Mexico

The curve-billed thrasher is a dull gray-brown with a pale throat and spotted belly. They have a sturdy black beak that curves downward and a yellow-orange eye. I assume they are called thrashers because of the way they sweep their beak back and forth through leaf litter looking for bugs. They also eat fruit, seeds and even flowers. Their long bill helps them forage among plants with spines, like cacti. 

Fun Fact: Their call is described as being similar to the whistling sound someone makes when hailing a taxi. 


29. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

Scientific name: Selasphorus calliope

Lives in: northwestern U.S. and Canada, southwestern Mexico

The calliope hummingbird mainly spends its winter in southwestern Mexico, then travels north for the breeding season to the Pacific Northwest and parts of western Canada. This is an impressively far migration, especially considering the calliope is the smallest bird in the United States! Males have a unique throat pattern of magenta stripes that fork down on the sides. Females are plain with some green spotting on the throat and peachy tinted underparts.  

Fun Fact: Calliope hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the U.S., weighing only as much as a ping-pong ball. 


30. Costa’s Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird | image by Mike’s Birds via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Calypte costae

Lives in: northwestern Mexico, southwestern U.S., Baja California

Male Costa’s are known for their deep purple faces. They have a splash of purple on their foreheads as well as their throat, with purple feathers flaring out on both sides like a mustache. Females are green above with white below. Costa’s are compact and compared to other hummingbirds have slightly shorter wings and tail. They can be found year-round in Baja and southern California. They are perfectly at home in the super hot Sonoran and Mojave Deserts. 

Fun Fact: researches say a Costa’s hummingbird needs to visit over 1,000 flowers daily to get enough nectar. 


31. Caspian Tern

Image: Dick Daniels | wikicommons

Scientific name: Hydroprogne caspia
Lives: lakes and ocean coasts in North America, Europe (mainly around the Baltic Sea and Black Sea), Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. 

The adult breeding Caspian tern has a reddish-orange bill that is larger and “fatter” than most terns. Usually a black or dusky patch can be seen at the tip of the beak. Their forehead and cap are solid black with a slight crest at the back of the head. They are the largest of all terns with a large head, stocky body and thick neck. In flight their tail has a shallow fork, and you can see black on the underside of their primary feathers.

Fun Fact: an artificially created island in the Columbia River is home to the world’s largest breeding Caspian tern colony, consisting of over 6,000 pairs each year. 


32. Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler | image by khteWisconsin via Flickr

Scientific name: Cardellina canadensis
Lives in: northern South America, eastern North America

Canada warbler have a dark back with a bright yellow throat, chest and belly. Males have a black “necklace” and black streaking on the head. Females have a faint black necklace and less black on the face. They winter in northern South America then travel through Central America, eastern Mexico and the eastern U.S. to breed in northern New England and Canada. They don’t stay long though, they are one of the last warblers to arrive in the spring and one of the first to head south again in the fall. 

Fun Fact: these warblers fly over 3,000 miles during their migration from South America to Canada.

About Mary Richardson

Mary is an outdoor enthusiast, nature lover, and amateur birdwatcher that enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with others.