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18 Birds With Four Letters

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

Birds live around the world in every kind of habitat. Species have adapted to the freezing conditions of the Arctic and the humid tropical jungles of Southeast Asia. No matter what ecosystem you visit, there are bound to be birds living there. Some of them can have longer, more descriptive names like flycatcher or woodpecker. While other birds and groups of birds, like the duck, keep it short and sweet.  Keep reading for a list of 18 types of birds from around the world that have names four letters long. 

Birds with four letters 

The birds on this list have only four letters in the their name, whether it refers to a single species or a type of bird. 

1. Hawk

ferruginous hawk
Ferruginous Hawk | image by Alan Schmierer via Flickr

Hawks live in six of the seven continents. The only place they can’t survive is Antarctica because of the extreme cold. They are birds of prey, meaning they are carnivores that eat other birds and small animals. 

Hawks have a variety of adaptations to a life of hunting rodents, mice, reptiles, and fish. These raptors have hooked bills to tear flesh and razor-sharp talons on each of their two feet.

They use these talons to grab onto prey when they swoop down from high in the air. All hawks have color vision. Some can see prey from up to a mile away! 

2. Swan

A mute swan
A mute swan

The swan is one of the most recognizable birds on earth. This waterbird’s pristine white plumage and long, graceful neck make it popular in gardens and nature preserves. They’ve been memorialized in poetry, song, and literature.

Some species of swans mate for life and revisit the same nesting spot year after year. Baby swans are called cygnets, hatch with fluffy gray feathers and immediately follow their mother.

However, swans are not always as beautiful as they appear. They can be extremely aggressive and are known to bite people who encroach on their territory. During migrations, they ‘take over’ marshes and wetlands.

Their presence becomes a nuisance to residents and area visitors. If you choose to feed docile or semi-captive swans, make sure you know what’s healthy for them to eat

3. Duck 

wood duck male
Wood Duck (male) | image by Rodney Campbell via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Everyone can recognize a duck! Ducks are semi-aquatic waterbirds that live in shallow lakes, ponds, and marshes. Their diets consist mostly of aquatic vegetation, which they glean by “dabbling” in the water.

Other ducks take a mouthful of sand and mud from the bottom of a pond. They sift it around by swishing it through the water. From this, they harvest small snails, crustaceans, and seeds. Many duck species are migratory.

They spend spring and summer in a temperate location where they breed, nest, and raise their chicks. When fall comes around, many species take flight to an area less affected by cold weather, usually somewhere closer to the tropics. 

4. Lark

Skylark | Image by TheOtherKev from Pixabay

Larks are common in Africa and Europe, where there are nearly 100 species of this bird. North America and Australia have only one species each – the Horned Lark and Horsfield’s Bush Lark, respectively. Regardless of where they live, all larks have similar coloration.

They are brown, white, and occasionally have a yellow tinge. Most eat insects and seeds, which they find by hopping and digging around in the dirt. Their penchant for singing complex and lilting songs has led to their inclusion in literature, histories, and music for hundreds of years.

Many poems from European poets reference the Eurasian skylark’s tweets and chirps. They were even eaten as a delicacy by the Romans and later empires’ aristocracy. 

5. Dove

White dove
White dove | Image by Chris from Pixabay

The peaceful coo of a dove is unmistakable. This ground-dwelling bird lives throughout most of the world. Its profound ability to adapt has led it to build nests on window ledges of New York City skyscrapers.

While most have drab gray and brown coloring, doves from Southeast Asia are gloriously patterned in shades of pink, purple, and green. Doves eat seeds, insects, and fruit.

They peck along the ground in a manner similar to chickens, in pursuit of each snack. They are substantial enough to warrant status as a game bird. Many people in Europe and the United States hunt doves for consumption. 

6. Gull

Great black backed gull
Great Black-Backed Gull | image by puffin11k via Flickr

A gull is a type of sea bird that lives along the coasts or near a large body of water. Some gulls live along the seacoasts, while others live along the shores of large lakes or inland seas. Many inland gulls take advantage of landfills and garbage dumps to support themselves.

Most gulls have a recognizable keening cry as well as white or gray feathers. Gulls can adapt to so many living conditions because they are cosmopolitan birds.

They are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of environments, from busy urban areas to remote islands. Gulls are also known for their loud calls and social behavior, often forming large flocks during migration and breeding seasons.

7. Coot

american coot
American Coot | image by fletchershauna via Pixabay

Coots are medium-sized water birds that are mostly black with a distinctive white beak and forehead shield. They have short wings and a rounded body, with a stubby tail. Their legs are long and greenish-gray in color, with large lobed toes. There are 10 species of coot world-wide, but most live in the Western Hemisphere in South America.

The most widespread coot, the Eurasian coot, has a range that stretches from the United Kingdom west to Mongolia and south as far as New Zealand. Coots’ diets are diverse.

They eat anything from algae to vegetation to other birds’ eggs to even small lizards or frogs. Parents work together to make a nest and raise chicks. Coots’ nests are usually floating platforms in open water, but a female coot isn’t above laying her eggs in another hen’s nest so that she doesn’t have to raise them. 

8. Crow

American crow
American crow | Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

You can hear the “caww” of a crow almost anywhere in the world. Crows are cosmopolitan in nature. They have adapted to cities, suburbs, rural places, and conserved areas without human populations.

These birds are one of the smartest species of animal. Scientists have recorded them using tools and communicating in complex social groups. They can be trained and they develop loyalty and affection for their owners. 

Crows are not pets, however. These black medium-sized birds feast on carrion, trash, and rotten fruits. They may scare songbirds away from backyard bird feeders.

They have historically been viewed as bad omens or negative symbols, but some of that likely stems from them being more clever than other birds. 

9. Tern

Sandwich tern
Sandwich Tern | image by Marie Hale via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Terns are a family of birds that are known for their graceful flight and distinctive appearance. They are typically small to medium-sized birds with long, pointed wings and forked tails. Most have bodies of white and gray, with long pointed beaks. 

Terns are found in coastal and inland habitats around the world, and they are known for their ability to dive into the water to catch fish and other small prey. Many species of terns are migratory, traveling long distances between their breeding and wintering grounds. Terns are important indicators of ecosystem health, as they are sensitive to changes in water quality and other environmental factors.

10. Skua

Skua bird on the ground
Skua bird on the ground

Skuas are a group of seabirds that are known for their aggressive behavior and scavenging habits. They are typically medium to large-sized birds with strong, hooked beaks and long, pointed wings. Skuas are found in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, as well as in coastal areas around the world.

They are opportunistic feeders, and will often steal food from other birds or scavenge carrion from the shore. This stealing of food is called “kleptoparasitism.” 

Skuas are also known to attack and kill other seabirds, including penguins and terns. Despite their reputation as aggressive predators, skuas play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to control populations of other seabirds and scavenging waste from the ocean.

11. Teal

Green-winged Teal (male)
Green-winged Teal (male) | image by USFWS Mountain Prairie via Flickr

Teals are common waterbirds in North America and Eurasia. The name “teal” for ducks comes from the Old English word “tēal”, which means a small duck. The word was originally used to describe a specific species of duck, the Eurasian teal, which is a small dabbling duck found in Europe and Asia.

Over time, the word “teal” came to be used more broadly to refer to a group of small, freshwater dabbling ducks that are found around the world. Today, the term “teal” is used to describe a variety of duck species, including the green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal, and others.

12. Loon

Common loon
Common Loon | image via Pixabay

Loons are common in freshwater environments in Eurasia, South America, and North America. They spend most of their lives in the water and only emerge for mating and nesting. They are amazing underwater swimmers, but can barely move around on land. Parents incubate their eggs together in a nest they build at the water’s edge. 

This bird is striking and easy to recognize. Most adults have piercing red eyes, a muscular neck, and black and white feathers. Their feathers are patterned with stripes and dots.   

13. Ibis

White-faced ibis
White-faced Ibis | image by Becky Matsubara via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Ibises are common on six of the seven continents, mainly found in tropical and subtropical regions. These birds live in wetlands, swamps, marshes, and grasslands. They prefer low-lying areas which flood regularly and shallow shorelines.

Ibises are omnivorous, which means they eat a variety of foods. Their diet typically includes small fish, frogs, insects, crustaceans, and other small animals. They also eat plant material such as seeds, berries, and fruit. Feeding in shallow water, they use their long bills to probe the mud and water for food. 

Their feathers can be any number of colors, including brown, red, white, black, and orange, and they have long curved bills.

14. Sora

Sora wading through water
Sora wading through water | image by Susan Young via Flickr

Sora refers to just one bird species, Porzana carolina, which is native to wetland habitats throughout North America. They are part of the rail family and are known for their distinctive calls, which sound like a horse whinnying.

Soras are about the size of a small chicken, with brown and black feathers that provide excellent camouflage in the dense vegetation of their wetland habitats. They sport a gray face with a black mask, bright yellow beak, and greenish-yellow legs. They use their bill to sift the mud for insects and crustaceans, especially snails.  

They are active during the day and night, but are rarely seen due to their secretive nature. Soras are known for their ability to walk on floating vegetation without sinking, and they use their long toes to grip the stems of plants as they move through the wetland.

15. Kite 

White-tailed kite on tree
White-tailed kite on tree | image by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr

Kites are birds of prey that tend to be smaller than hawks but larger than falcons. They are found in many regions around the world, including North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. They are agile fliers and are often seen soaring high in the sky with their pointed wings and forked tail, using their keen eyesight to spot prey on the ground.

They eat a variety of foods, including insects, small reptiles, rodents, and fish. Kites are much more opportunistic feeders than falcons, and will eat a variety of foods, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. They are also known to scavenge carrion and will sometimes steal food from other birds.

Kites typically build nests in trees or other elevated locations, while falcons will often nest in cliffs or other rocky outcroppings.

16. Wren

Cactus wren
Cactus Wren | image via Pixabay

A wren is a type of songbird. The group includes 88 different species. All have brown, patterned feathers that help them blend in with their surroundings. Male and female wrens do not differ in their plumage.

Wrens are notable for their singing ability and lively, varied vocalizations. Despite how small they are (some wrens are just 4 inches long) they can sing at a deceptively loud volume. 

You can often tell a wren from a distance by the way they hold their tail upright, and tend to flick it up and down. They mainly eat spiders, beetles, caterpillars, moths, and other small arthropods. They are also known to eat small reptiles and amphibians, as well as seeds and berries. They are known for their agility and can often be seen hopping and flitting through the vegetation in search of prey.

17. Kiwi

Kiwi bird with kiwifruit
Kiwi bird with kiwifruit

Kiwis are small flightless birds native to the island of New Zealand. Thanks to the isolated conditions on the island, they were able to evolve without fear of predation. The biggest threat to kiwis today is being killed by domestic cats. Known to be rather odd looking, kiwis have a long beak and soft feathers that look much more like hair than normal bird featers.

There are actually five species of kiwis. Each species is adapted to different regions of the country. They have several unique traits that set them apart from other birds. 

First off, they have nostrils at the end of their bills. These help them smell prey better than if their nostrils were set close to their skulls. Second, their bones contain marrow rather than being hollow like most birds.

While this would weigh down a flying bird, it doesn’t inhibit kiwis since they are flightless. Third, they rely so little on their sense of sight that many kiwis are functionally blind. Sight is usually extremely important to birds. 

18. Rhea

Lesser rhea standing
Lesser rhea standing

To the uninitiated, the rhea is like a smaller, peaceful version of the ostrich. The two are distantly related. Rheas are native to South America, where wild populations live in the grasslands and plains of Paraguay, Argentina, Peru, and other nations.

Most rheas are tan and brown in color. They blend in well with grassland landscapes thanks to their feathers and their penchant for dust bathing.

Rheas eat plants and travel in flocks of two dozen. They are quiet and only make noise in the mating season.