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36 Birds With Double Letters in Their Name (Photos)

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

There are thousands of bird species in the world, each with unique features and behaviors. In this article, we’ve grouped together 36 birds from various families found in North America that share a common characteristic: they have double letters in their names. From the cackling goose to the burrowing owl, let’s learn a little about these birds and their fascinating worlds.

1. Cackling goose

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

Scientific Name: Branta hutchinsii

The Cackling goose is a small to medium-sized goose, distinguished from its close relative, the Canada goose, by its smaller size, shorter neck, and the distinct cackling call from which its name is derived.

This bird breeds in the Arctic tundra of North America and migrates south to spend the winter in more temperate regions of the United States and Mexico.

The Cackling goose prefers wetlands, agricultural fields, and coastal areas both during migration and in its wintering grounds. It feeds on a variety of grasses, grains, and aquatic plants.

An interesting fact about the Cackling goose is its ability to navigate long distances between its breeding and wintering areas, showcasing impressive migratory behaviors.

2. Bufflehead


Scientific Name: Bucephala albeola

The Bufflehead is a small duck known for its large head and bright colors. Males have shiny green and purple heads with a big white spot, while females are darker with a smaller white spot.

They breed in Canada and Alaska’s forests, using old woodpecker holes for nests, and spend winters on U.S. coasts and inland waters, diving for food like insects and crustacean

Buffleheads are quick swimmers, often staying together with the same mate for years. They can fly fast and take off from water easily, making them unique among ducks.

3. Canada goose

Two Canada geese
Two Canada geese | image by:

Scientific Name: Branta canadensis

The Canada goose is a large wild goose species with a black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and a brown body. Native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, it migrates south for the winter.

These geese frequent lakes, ponds, rivers, and parks, often seen grazing on grassy banks. They are known for their V-shaped flying formations and distinctive honking.

Canada geese are highly adaptable, sometimes nesting in urban or suburban areas. They are monogamous and known for being protective parents. An interesting fact is that Canada geese can live up to 30 years in the wild.

4. Cinnamon teal

Cinnamon teal
Cinnamon teal

Scientific Name: Spatula cyanoptera

The Cinnamon teal is a dabbling duck known for the male’s rich cinnamon-red plumage and the female’s mottled brown appearance. This species is found primarily in the western parts of North and South America, favoring marshes, ponds, and lakes with dense vegetation for breeding.

Cinnamon teals are unique in their diet, feeding on plant material and small aquatic creatures by skimming the water’s surface or tipping forward to reach food underwater. They are migratory, with northern populations moving southwards to warmer climates during the winter. 

5. Common merganser

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

Scientific Name: Mergus merganser

The Common merganser is a large, sleek diving duck with distinctive looks: males have a dark green head, white body, and black back, while females sport a reddish-brown head with a white chin and a grey body.

They inhabit freshwater lakes and rivers across North America, Europe, and Asia, preferring clear waters where they can hunt for fish, their primary food source.

Common mergansers are skilled swimmers, using their serrated bills to catch and hold slippery fish. During breeding season, they nest in tree cavities near water.

6. Gadwall

Gadwall in pond
Gadwall in pond

Scientific Name: Mareca strepera

The Gadwall is a medium-sized, understated duck with a predominantly gray body in males, marked by a black rear end, and more mottled brown in females.

Despite their subtle plumage, Gadwalls are distinguished by their elegant profile and the male’s distinctive black bill. Widely distributed across North America, Europe, and Asia, they prefer shallow wetlands, lakes, and marshes with abundant vegetation.

Gadwalls are dabbling ducks, feeding on aquatic plants and small invertebrates by tipping forward in the water rather than diving. During the breeding season, they are known for their monogamous pair bonds.

7. Lesser scaup

Lesser scaup
Lesser scaup

Scientific Name: Aythya affinis

The Lesser scaup is a small diving duck known for its appearance: males have dark heads with iridescent purple and green hues, black chests, and light gray bodies, while females are brown with white patches near their bills.

This species is common across North America, breeding in the northern parts of Canada and the United States and wintering in the southern U.S., Mexico, and Central America.

Lesser scaups favor freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers, as well as coastal bays in winter, where they dive to feed on aquatic invertebrates, plants, and seeds. Notable for their large congregations during migration and on wintering grounds, they often mix with other duck species.

8. Ruddy duck

Ruddy duck
Ruddy duck

Scientific Name: Oxyura jamaicensis

The Ruddy duck is a small, stout freshwater duck notable for its bright blue bill in males during the breeding season, chestnut body, and distinctive stiff tail often held upright. Females and non-breeding males have more subdued coloring, with brownish bodies and darker bills.

Ruddy ducks are found across North America, wintering in coastal bays and inland lakes of the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. They breed in marshes and ponds, where they construct nests in dense vegetation near water.

Known for their aggressive courtship displays, males produce a series of mechanical sounds by beating their bills against their chests. Ruddy ducks feed on aquatic invertebrates and plant material by diving or dabbling.

9. Snow goose

Snow goose standing in wetland
Snow goose | image by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Southwest Region via Flickr

Scientific Name: Anser caerulescens

The Snow goose is a waterfowl known for its white plumage and black wingtips. It has two color morphs: the white phase, where the body is almost entirely white, and the blue phase, which features a dark body with a white head.

Snow geese breed in the Arctic tundra of Canada and migrate in large, noisy flocks to the southern United States and Mexico for the winter.

They favor marshes, coastal bays, and agricultural fields, where they feed on plant material, often seen foraging in family groups. A unique aspect of Snow geese is their loud, honking call, especially during migration. Their populations have grown significantly, leading to concerns about their impact on their Arctic breeding grounds.

10. Common waxbill

Common waxbill | image by Alan Schmierer via Flickr

Scientific Name: Estrilda astrild

The Common waxbill is a small, attractive bird known for its appearance, with a predominantly gray body, red stripe through the eyes, and a distinctive red bill.

Native to sub-Saharan Africa, this species has been introduced to other parts of the world, including Portugal, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, thriving in open grasslands and areas near water where it can find seeds and insects to eat.

Common waxbills live in flocks and are known for their pleasant, trilling songs. An interesting behavior of this bird is its nesting habit; the Common waxbill builds intricate, ball-shaped nests in bushes or tall grasses.

11. Ocellated turkey

Ocellated turkey
Ocellated turkey | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Meleagris ocellata

The Ocellated turkey is a bird found only in the tropical forests of the Yucatán Peninsula, parts of northern Guatemala, and northern Belize. Unlike its North American cousin, this species dazzles with its iridescent plumage, featuring blue, green, and gold hues, and its tail feathers with eye-shaped spots, or ocelli, from which its name is derived.

Males have a distinctive blue head decorated with orange or red nodules, and during breeding season, they perform elaborate displays to attract females.

The Ocellated turkey feeds on the ground, consuming a diet of seeds, fruits, insects, and small vertebrates. This species is known for its unique, high-pitched gobbling and clicking sounds.

12. Willow ptarmigan

Willow ptarmigan
Image by Jessica Rockeman from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Lagopus lagopus

The Willow ptarmigan is notable for its seasonal camouflage, with white plumage in winter to blend with the snow and brown, mottled feathers in summer to match the tundra landscape.

This bird is found in the circumpolar regions of the northern hemisphere, including Canada, Alaska, and parts of Eurasia, inhabiting tundra and moorlands. The Willow ptarmigan is the largest of the ptarmigan species and has feathered feet, which act as natural snowshoes.

It feeds on a variety of vegetation, including willow leaves, buds, and berries. Unique among game birds, the Willow ptarmigan is known for its loud, croaking calls and its ability to remain motionless to avoid predators.

Males become territorial during the breeding season, often engaging in aerial displays. An interesting fact is that the Willow ptarmigan is Alaska’s state bird, symbolizing the adaptability and resilience required to thrive in harsh, arctic conditions.

13. Pied-billed grebe

Pied-billed grebe
Pied-billed grebe | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Podilymbus podiceps

The Pied-billed grebe is a small water bird known for its compact, chunky body and short, stout bill, which features a distinctive black band during the breeding season. Its plumage is primarily brown, helping it blend into its marshy pond and lake habitats across much of North and South America.

The Pied-billed grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver, using these skills to feed on aquatic insects, fish, and vegetation. Unlike many waterfowl, it is rarely seen in flight and prefers to escape predators by diving or sinking subtly into the water.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Pied-billed grebe is its ability to control its buoyancy, allowing it to submerge without a splash.

14. Passenger pigeon

Passenger pigeon
Passenger pigeon | image by James St. John via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Ectopistes migratorius

The Passenger pigeon was once among the most abundant birds in North America, known for its sleek body, long tail, and blue-gray plumage.

Flocks were so massive they darkened the sky, stretching over a mile wide and taking hours to pass a single point. These birds primarily inhabited deciduous forests across eastern North America, feeding on nuts, seeds, and fruits.

Despite their once vast numbers, they were driven to extinction in the early 20th century due to overhunting and habitat destruction. The last known Passenger pigeon, named Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

15. Spotted dove

spotted dove
Image by Peter W from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Streptopelia chinensis

The Spotted dove is a medium-sized bird, easily recognized by its soft gray plumage and distinctive black collar dotted with white spots. Native to Asia, this dove has adapted well to urban and suburban environments, making it a common sight in gardens, parks, and farmlands.

They are found from Southeast Asia to Australasia, having been introduced to many Pacific islands, parts of Australia, and California.

Spotted doves feed on seeds, grains, and occasionally insects, foraging mostly on the ground in pairs or small groups. Their gentle cooing call is a familiar sound in their habitats, contributing to the peaceful ambiance.

16. Carolina chickadee

Carolina chickadee
Image: Shenandoah National Park flickr

Scientific Name: Poecile carolinensis

The Carolina chickadee is a small, charismatic bird with a distinctive black cap and bib, white cheeks, and soft gray back and wings, complemented by a fluffy white underpart. Native to the southeastern United States, this bird prefers deciduous and mixed forests, as well as suburban and backyard settings where bird feeders are present.

Carolina chickadees are known for their curiosity and agility, often seen hanging upside down on branches to forage for insects, seeds, and berries.

Their cheerful “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call, from which their name derives, is a familiar sound, varying in intensity with the level of threat from predators. These birds are year-round residents in their range, often forming mixed-species flocks in the non-breeding season to find food.

17. Common myna

Common myna
Common myna | Image by

Scientific Name: Acridotheres tristis

The Common myna is a highly adaptable and intelligent bird, recognizable by its brown body, black head, yellow beak and eye patches, and distinctive white wing patches visible in flight.

Originally from Asia, it has been introduced to many parts of the world, including Australia, Africa, and the Pacific, thriving in urban and suburban environments where it often becomes a dominant species.

The Common myna is omnivorous, feeding on insects, fruits, and human scraps, demonstrating a remarkable ability to exploit a variety of food sources. Known for its loud calls, mimicry skills, and social behavior, mynas often gather in large groups at dusk to roost.

18. Anna’s hummingbird

Anna’s hummingbird | Image by Veronika Andrews from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Calypte anna

Anna’s hummingbird is a small, vibrant bird native to the western coastal regions of North America, from British Columbia to Baja California. This species stands out with its iridescent emerald feathers and the male’s striking ruby-red throat. Unlike most hummingbirds, Anna’s hummingbird is a permanent resident in its range, not migrating long distance

It can be found in a variety of habitats, including open woods, gardens, and urban areas, where it feeds on nectar from flowers and feeders, as well as small insects.

Anna’s hummingbird is known for its remarkable courtship display, where males perform a high-speed dive from the sky to impress females.

19. Calliope hummingbird

Calliope hummingbird
Male Calliope hummingbird perched on nectar feeder | image by Dawn Beattie via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Selasphorus calliope

The Calliope hummingbird is the smallest bird native to the United States and Canada, known for its diminutive size and appearance. Males feature a unique magenta streaking on their throats, while females have a more subdued green and white plumage.

This species breeds in mountainous areas of the western United States and Canada, particularly in open meadows and forests, migrating to Mexico and the southern United States for winter.

Despite its small size, the Calliope hummingbird undertakes one of the longest migrations of any hummingbird species, relative to its body length. They feed on nectar from a variety of flowers and small insects.

The male’s courtship display is a captivating aerial performance, involving hovering and diving to attract a mate. An interesting fact about the Calliope hummingbird is its ability to hover in place thanks to its rapid wing beats, allowing it to feed while airborne.

20. American coot

american coot walking on waters edge
American coot | Image by: Bird Feeder Hub

Scientific Name: Fulica americana

The American coot is a distinctive waterbird with a slate-gray body, a white bill, and a prominent forehead shield. Unlike ducks, coots have lobed toes rather than webbed feet, aiding their movement in both water and land.

Found across North America in marshes, ponds, and lakes, they are adaptable and can be seen in both freshwater and brackish environments. American coots are omnivores, feeding on plants, insects, and small fish. They are known for their aggressive behavior, especially in defending their territory during the breeding season.

Coots have a unique social structure; they can form large rafts in the water, sometimes numbering in the thousands. An interesting fact about the American coot is its practice of laying eggs in the nests of other coots, a behavior known as brood parasitism.

21. Common gallinule

Common gallinule
Common gallinule | image by Malcolm Manners via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Gallinula galeata

The Common gallinule is a medium-sized waterbird with a distinctive moorhen appearance, featuring a dark plumage that contrasts sharply with its yellow legs and a red frontal shield above its yellow bill.

This bird is widespread across freshwater marshes and ponds in the Americas, from southern Canada to Chile, adapting easily to both natural and man-made wetlands.

Common gallinules are omnivores, dining on a varied diet of aquatic vegetation, insects, and small fish. They are known for their unique ‘chick-chick’ calls and ability to walk on floating vegetation with their long-toed feet, which distribute their weight effectively.

22. Whooping crane

Three whooping cranes standing in a wetland
Three whooping cranes standing in a wetland | image by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services Headquarters via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Grus grus

The Whooping crane is the tallest North American bird, standing at nearly 5 feet tall, recognized for its white plumage, black wingtips, and red facial patch. This endangered species breeds in northern Canada’s wetlands and winters along the Gulf Coast of Texas, with a small population in central Florida.

Whooping cranes are known for their loud, trumpeting call that can be heard over long distances, which plays a crucial role in their complex mating dances and communication.

They feed on crustaceans, fish, and marsh plants. Conservation efforts, including breeding programs and habitat restoration, have been crucial in slowly increasing their numbers from the brink of extinction.

23. American woodcock

american woodcock
American woodcock | image by Rodney Campbell via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Scolopax minor

The American woodcock is a small, plump bird with a unique appearance, featuring a long, straight bill, large eyes set far back on its head, and cryptic brown, black, and gray plumage that camouflages it against the forest floor.

Native to North America, it inhabits young forests and thickets, especially those near wetlands across the eastern United States and parts of Canada. 

The American woodcock is known for its courtship display, called the “sky dance,” where males perform a series of aerial acrobatics at dusk or dawn during the breeding season. They feed mainly on earthworms, using their sensitive bill to probe the soil.

24. Common chiffchaff

Common chiffchaff
Common chiffchaff | image by Birds of Gilgit-Baltistan via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Phylloscopus collybita

The Common chiffchaff is a small, agile warbler known for its olive-green and buff plumage, perfectly suited to blend into its woodland surroundings. This bird is widespread across Europe and Asia, migrating to southern Europe, Africa, and south Asia to winter.

Characterized by its distinctive “chiff-chaff” song, from which it gets its name, the Common chiffchaff is a harbinger of spring in its breeding territories. Preferring open woodlands, parks, and gardens, it feeds on insects and spiders, often caught in mid-air or picked off from leaves.

25. Ruddy turnstone

Ruddy turnstone
Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Arenaria interpres

The Ruddy turnstone is a small, robust shorebird recognizable by its colorful mosaic of black, white, and chestnut plumage, and a short, pointed bill. This bird is named for its feeding behavior of flipping over stones and debris to uncover hidden invertebrates.

Widely distributed, Ruddy turnstones breed in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia and migrate to coastlines around the world for winter, including beaches, estuaries, and mudflats. They are highly adaptable, sometimes spotted inland near lakes and rivers.

26. Atlantic puffin

atlantic puffin
Atlantic puffin | image by NOAA Photo Library via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Fratercula arctica

The Atlantic puffin is a small, charismatic seabird with a distinctive black and white plumage and a large, colorful bill, which brightens further during the breeding season.

Known as the “clown of the sea” for its appearance, the Atlantic puffin breeds on coastal cliffs and islands across the North Atlantic, from the United States and Canada to Europe and Russia. These birds are excellent swimmers, using their wings to ‘fly’ underwater while hunting for fish.

Puffins live in large colonies and nest in burrows they dig in the soil. One of the most remarkable behaviors of puffins is their ability to carry multiple fish in their bills at once, thanks to their unique jaw structure.

27. Razorbill

Image by McCloudy from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Alca torda

The Razorbill is a sleek, medium-sized seabird known for its black and white plumage and a thick, black bill with a distinctive white line. Native to the North Atlantic, Razorbills breed on rocky cliffs and islands from eastern North America to western Europe. They are adept swimmers, diving deep to catch fish, their primary food source, using their wings to propel through the water.

Razorbills are monogamous and known for their loyalty, often returning to the same mate and breeding site year after year. They lay a single egg directly on the cliff ledges or in crevices, with both parents sharing incubation duties.

28. Herring gull

herring gull
Herring gull | image by ianpreston via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Larus argentatus

The Herring gull is a large, widespread gull recognizable by its white and gray plumage, pink legs, and yellow bill marked with a red spot. These birds are adaptable and can be found across the northern coasts of North America, Europe, and Asia, inhabiting shores, islands, and increasingly urban areas.

Herring gulls are opportunistic feeders, eating a wide range of food from fish and insects to garbage and carrion. Known for their intelligence, they use creative methods to access food, including dropping shellfish from heights to break them open.

29. Sooty tern

sooty tern
credit: Dan O’Malley

Scientific Name: Onychoprion fuscatus

The Sooty tern is a medium-sized seabird known for its sleek black upper body, white underside, and distinctive white forehead. Found across tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide, it nests in large, dense colonies on sandy islands. Sooty terns are remarkable for their life spent mostly at sea, coming to land only to breed.

They feed on fish and squid, catching their prey by plunging from the air into the water. These birds are known for their long-distance migrations, covering thousands of miles over open ocean.

30. Common loon

Common loon
Common loon | image via Pixabay

Scientific Name: Gavia immer

The Common loon is a large waterbird famed for its black-and-white plumage and haunting calls, which symbolize wild, northern lakes. During the breeding season, adults exhibit a black head, checkered black-and-white back, and a white breast, while in winter, they turn a more muted gray. Common loons are found across Canada, the northern United States, Greenland, and Iceland, favoring freshwater lakes and coastal waters.

Known for their excellent diving ability, they hunt fish by swimming underwater, propelled by their powerful, webbed feet. Loons are also noted for their strong, direct flight when migrating.

One of the most distinctive aspects of the Common loon is its eerie, melodious calls, varying from wails to tremolos, used to communicate across their large lake territories.

31. Laysan albatross

Laysan albatross
69 year old banded Laysan albatross | image: USFWS – Pacific Region

Scientific Name: Phoebastria immutabili

The Laysan llbatross is a large seabird with a predominantly white body, dark upperwing surfaces, and a pinkish bill, known for its impressive wingspan that allows it to glide effortlessly over the open ocean.

This species breeds primarily in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, though colonies can also be found in other parts of the Pacific including Mexico’s Guadalupe Island.

The Laysan albatross spends much of its life at sea, covering vast distances across the Pacific while feeding on squid, fish, and crustaceans. These birds are known for their longevity, with some individuals living over 60 years. They have a unique mating dance involving a series of coordinated movements and sounds.

32. Masked booby

masked booby
Masked booby | image by USFWS Pacific Region via Flickr

Scientific Name: Sula dactylatra

The Masked booby is the largest species of the booby family, easily recognized by its white plumage, dark wingtips, and tail, along with its namesake black mask around its eyes. This seabird breeds in tropical regions, favoring isolated islands across the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

The Masked booby is an exceptional diver, plunging from great heights into the sea to catch fish and squid. They are solitary nesters, laying their eggs directly on the ground on remote sandy beaches or cliffs. Known for their powerful and graceful flight, Masked Boobies can travel long distances over the ocean. 

33. Little blue heron

Little Blue Heron
Little blue heron | image by Alan Schmierer via Flickr

Scientific Name: Egretta caerulea

The Little blue heron is a small wading bird with a sleek, slate-blue plumage characteristic of adults, while juveniles display a white coloration that gradually transitions to blue as they mature.

Found throughout the Americas, from the southeastern United States to Central and South America, this heron frequents freshwater and saltwater habitats, including marshes, rivers, and ponds.

Unlike its more solitary heron relatives, the Little blue heron often feeds and nests in groups, showing a preference for small fish, amphibians, and insects, which it stealthily hunts in shallow waters.

34. Lesser nighthawk

Lesser nighthawk
Lesser nighthawk | image by Neil Orlando Diaz Martinez via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name:Chordeiles acutipennis

The Lesser nighthawk is a small, nocturnal bird known for its mottled gray and brown plumage, which provides excellent camouflage against the ground where it rests during the day.

Found in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and into Central and South America, this species prefers open, arid landscapes such as deserts, scrublands, and grasslands.

The Lesser nighthawk is active at dusk and dawn, feeding on insects in mid-flight with its wide, gaping mouth. A unique feature of this bird is its silent flight, enabled by soft feathers that minimize sound.

During breeding season, the Lesser nighthawk lays its eggs directly on the ground, relying on its cryptic coloration to protect them from predators.

35. Burrowing owl

Burrowing owl
Burrowing owl

Scientific Name: Athene cunicularia

The Burrowing owl is a small, ground-nesting owl with long legs and a distinctive round head, lacking the ear tufts common to many owl species. Its plumage is mottled brown and white, providing camouflage in its open habitat.

Unique among owls for its diurnal habits, it is often seen during the day standing at the entrance to its burrow or perched on nearby posts.

This species ranges from the grasslands and deserts of North and South America, adapting to a variety of open habitats. Burrowing owls do not dig their burrows but instead use those abandoned by small mammals, where they nest and seek refuge from predators. Their diet consists mainly of insects, small mammals, and reptiles.

36. Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker
Image: Naturelady |

Scientific Name: Picoides pubescens

The Downy woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in North America, recognizable by its black and white plumage, white back, and a distinctive red patch on the back of the male’s head.

This woodpecker is widespread across the continent, from forests to suburban backyards, adapting easily to various environments. The Downy woodpecker feeds on insects, sap, berries, and seeds, often foraging on tree trunks and branches, using its barbed tongue and sharp beak to extract food.

It is known for its drumming on trees, which serves as communication and territory marking. A unique behavior of the Downy woodpecker is its ability to use human-made structures for nesting, demonstrating its adaptability.

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