For this article we have chosen a sampling of 22 different birds that start with H. Anywhere from commoners you can find in your backyard to exotic species you’ve probably never heard of or seen in the wild! Most of these birds that are quite plentiful and thriving across the world, and then some that are going extinct, or endemic to one area of the world.
Let’s have a look!
22 species of birds that start with the letter H
1. Hooded oriole
Scientific name: Icterus cucullatus
Also known as the palm-leaf oriole because of their tendency to build their nests in palm trees, the Hooded Oriole is found in the southwestern parts of the country such as California, Nevada, and Arizona. They have the same love of sweets as other orioles and are known for being inconspicuous birds, but their bright colors may give them away if you look hard enough.
2. Harris’s hawk
Scientific name: Parabuteo unicinctus
Harris’s Hawks are known as the most social raptors in North America. Unlike most other hawks, Harris’s Hawks actually hunt in groups of up to 7 birds. It is believed that the larger the group that the hawk is a part of, the longer the lifespan that hawk is likely to have.
They can be identified by their dark brown plumage, red feathers on their wings and legs, and white-tipped tail. They live in desert lowlands with plenty of high perches for perching, feeding, and nesting.
Another thing that makes this species unique is the fact they don’t seem to have any strict breeding guidelines. They will have up to 3 clutches of eggs per year and have been reported breeding in every single month of the year.
3. House wren
Scientific name: Troglodytes aedon
The house wren is a small, brown songbird that’s common throughout the Americas and frequents backyards within its range. The far northern edge of its breeding range is well into Southern Canada.
These little guys will often take up residence at bluebird houses, as they are about the same size as bluebirds. They feed primarily on insects so they aren’t common at feeders, but it’s quite easy to attract a breeding pair to a nest box.
4. House finch
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
House finches are grayish-brown in color, but males can have a bit of a rosy color on their chest. These birds are very common at bird feeders and relish sunflower seeds. Their range extends from Southern Canada, covers most of the United States, and extends well into Southern Mexico.
5. House sparrow
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
House sparrows are considered bully birds and are invasive to much of their range. They cause a problem for the native species since they are known to destroy nests and kill babies of other species.
House sparrows were introduced to the Americas from Europe and Asia in 1851 as a means of controlling caterpillar populations. I’m not sure how the caterpillars did, but the house sparrows soon became one of the most common species of birds in North America.
6. Horned lark
Scientific name: Eremophila alpestris
Horned larks are ground-foragers that live in fields, tundras, and deserts. The male of the species has a black and yellow face with black feathers that sometimes extend out making them look like horns. Horned larks winter as far south as Mexico, but they migrate north well into Canada and Alaska for breeding.
7. Hooded warbler
Scientific name: Setophaga citrina
Hooded Warblers have the same bright yellow plumage as Kentucky and Prothonotary Warblers. Their heads are black except for a thick yellow band that runs across their faces. Find them along the understories of forests.
8. Hermit thrush
Scientific name: Catharus guttatus
The hermit thrush is common throughout North America, they are a migrating species and fly north in the breeding season. Their range extends from Alaska to Central America. If you look hard enough, they can be found quietly lurking in forests across the country.
Their song is described as flute-like and melancholy. Hermit thrushes rarely visit backyards or bird feeders, your best chance of spotting one is near a berry bush or plant of some type.
9. Harris’s sparrow
Scientific name: Zonotrichia querula
You’ll find the Harris’s sparrow wintering as far south as Southern Texas, and as far north as the Northwest Territories of Canada during breeding season. These small birds are a bit larger than song sparrows and are brown and black with a black bib.
To catch a glimpse of this bird in the United States you’ll need to live in a state like Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and neighboring states that are within its winter range.
10. Hooded merganser
Scientific name: Lophodytes cucullatus
Hooded mergansers are found throughout most of the lower 48 states as well as Southern Canada in some capacity. They are migrating birds but a large population are year-round residents to the eastern United States.
One look at a male hooded merganser and there’s no question where they got their name. The male’s large hood shown above, is actually a collapsible crest.
11. Horned grebe
Scientific name: Podiceps auritus
Horned grebe’s are known for spending their winters throughout the Southeast United States as well as along the West Coast. They fly north into Canada and Alaska to breed.
Breeding adults of this species can be recognized by their mostly black heads and backs, cinnamon necks, and the yellow-orange over their eyes that goes back into “horns”.
12. Hoary redpoll
Scientific name: Acanthis hornemanni
Hoary redpolls are mostly Canadian birds with populations living in northernmost areas of the United States. However, they have an irruptive range that goes as far south as Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio.
Most of these tiny birds live in a tundra habitat where they forage for seeds and insects. Hoary redpolls are not common at bird feeders and are somewhat rare to see for most people.
Scientific name: Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Hawfinches are birds with a large, powerful bill. They have orange heads, white neck stripe, with light brown body. Wings are dark brown close to the body, white, then black at the tips.
With a bill like that of a parrot, their jaw and bill muscles can exert up to 150 pounds of pressure per inch. Hawfinches are common throughout much of Europe as well as Eastern Asia and North Africa.
Scientific name: Upupa epops
Hoopoes are colorful birds with a long, sleek, and pointy bill. They have feathers on their heads that fan out into a mohawk, orange heads, and black and white – almost zebra-patterned – wings. Hoopoes live in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The hoopoe is the national bird of Israel.
Scientific name: Scopus umbretta
The hamerkop is a medium-sized bird with skinny legs. They’re common throughout most of the continent including Central Africa, Southern Africa, and Madagascar. They’re recognized by their sleek brown feathers and hammer-like head and bill, hence the name. This species of bird builds the biggest nests in all of Africa.
16. Hen Harrier
Scientific name: Circus cyaneus
Hen harriers are birds of prey found in Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. They’re very closely related to Northern harriers, which are found in North America. Their wings are in a distinctive V shape in flight, with long feathers or “fingers” sticking out the ends.
Adult males are gray in color with white bellies and black end feathers or “fingers,” females are brown and white to black wings. These unique birds of prey fly low to the ground, relying on hearing and eyesight to spot prey.
Scientific name: Opisthocomus hoazin
Hoatzin are medium to large, chicken or rooster-like bird with long feathers and red eyes. They have spikey feathers on top of their heads, thick legs, and a short bill. They can also be recognized by their long, black feathers on the back, and red or auburn feathers underneath.
These South American birds are sometimes called the reptile bird, skunk bird, and stinkbird, it’s known for its unpleasant smell, clumsy movement, and noisy behavior.
18. Highland Elaenia
Scientific name: Elaenia obscura
The Highland Elaenia is a small South American flycatcher found from Ecuador to Bolivia and in Northern Argentina. Their bodies are puffy with brown wings and they have a dull yellow belly and under their chins.
19. Hemprich’s Hornbill
Scientific name: Lophoceros hemprichii
This medium to large-sized bird has a huge beak, stubby legs, and long back and white feathers. They have a mostly gray cape of feathers with a white underbelly. Long-tail feather sticks out behind. The feathers on top of their heads are shorter, almost look like hair.
These African birds are found predominantly in Ethiopia. They’re easily recognized by their long, horn-like bills and sometimes have a casque on the upper mandible, as well as two-lobed kidneys.
20. Hadada Ibis
Scientific name: Bostrychia hagedash
This large gray to brown African bird has bulky grayish feathers and a large wingspan. Among their more recognizable features are their large, bare legs, and slick heads. Their feathers are concentrated on their wing and body area.
There are some coloration in the wings, with shiny, glossy colors. The Hadada ibis call is one of the most characteristic sounds of Africa and is where its name is derived.
21. Hairy Woodpecker
Scientific name: Dryobates villosus
The only type of woodpecker on this list of birds that start with H is the Hairy Woodpecker. This species looks nearly identical to Downy Woodpeckers in plumage coloration, but there are many subtle differences between the two species.
They have mostly black and white plumage with the same white stripe running along their backs. However, Hairy Woodpeckers are larger and possess a longer bill.
Compared to other smaller sized woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers do a lot of drilling and excavating in order to feed on wood-boring insects and larvae. Listen for their drumming and look for them perched on tree trunks and on the main limbs of trees.
22. Harlequin duck
Scientific name: Histrionicus histrionicus
Harlequin duck males have some of the most beautiful and flamboyant plumage of any duck on the planet. This species breeds in rivers and streams near forested habitats, but they spend their winters on coastlines.
They can only be found in far western Canada, Alaska, and some areas of the Pacific Northwest in the lower 48 states. Harlequin ducks are very common in Maine in the winter, but may also be spotted in New England states such as Connecticut and Rhode Island.