Green-feathered birds are unique because this hue of plumage is not as common as other colors. Many bright green birds are found in semi-tropical and tropical climates. But don’t worry if you don’t live in the jungle! In this article we look at 16 types of green birds that live in North America.
16 Types of Green Birds
In North America, birds covered in green plumage are a little hard to come by. There are a few in our list, but we also showcase birds may have just a tail, head, or chest with green feathers. They may just be a darker, more subdued shade of green than bright green tropical birds. Regardless, they bring beauty and ecological diversity to whatever habitat they’re a part of.
1. Mallard Duck
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Length: 23 in
Weight: 2.4 lb
Wingspan: 35 in
The Mallard duck may be the first bird in your mind if you think about green birds. It makes its way to this list because the male mallard’s head is decorated with brilliant green feathers during the breeding season.
The males in several duck species have green head feathers, but the Mallard’s may be the most brilliant. From October to May, a mallard drake is unmistakable because of this obvious plumage.
Outside of those months, however, the male mallard is brown, white, and gray. Females are brown and gray year-round.
2. Green Jay
Scientific name: Cyanocorax yncas
Length: 10.5 in
Weight: 3.5 oz
Wingspan: 13.5 in
Limited to southern Texas and the gulf coast of Mexico, the Green jay is a brilliantly colored yellow-green bird that eats a variety of insects and seeds. They’re regular visitors to bird feeders and are related to the common Blue Jay.
Notice how the Green jay has a yellowish underside and a brighter green back, tail, and tops of its wings. The blue and black head is a pop of color amidst the rest of its green plumage!
3. Rivoli’s Hummingbird
Scientific name: Eugenes fulgens
Length: 5.25 in
Weight: 0.25 oz
Wingspan: 7.5 in
Most hummingbirds have green bodies, but some are more brilliant than others. One of the larger hummingbird species, the Rivoli’s hummingbird (formerly known as the Magnificent hummingbird) has dark green feathers that give off a faint metallic sheen.
Males are darker than females or juveniles. Both females and immature young have a tail with dark green feathers that fade into black and white at the tips.
4. Green Parakeet
Scientific name: Psittacara holochlorus
Length: 13 in
Weight: 8 oz
Wingspan: 21 in
Originally native to Mexico, these parakeets are one of a few all-green birds native to North and South America. Wild populations have migrated north into southern Texas and created new colonies, as they’re very social.
Green parakeets are also common pets. In Florida, enough of these birds have escaped from captivity or been abandoned by owners that a self-sustaining population has formed. After adapting to the subtropical and tropical climates, Green Parakeets coexist with other parrot species and forage for food.
5. Tennessee Warbler
Scientific Name: Orothlypis peregrina
Length: 4.75 in
Weight: 0.35 oz
Wingspan: 7.75 in
Some may call this bird yellow, but the Tennessee Warbler is much more of a yellowish -green or olive color. During breeding season, males have a dark green back and a gray head. Females’ coloring is similar, but the green is along more of a gradient.
The Tennessee Warbler winters in South and Central America, then migrates through the U.S. in the spring and spends the summer breeding season in Canada. So despite its name, this warbler does not breed in Tennessee.
6. Green Kingfisher
Scientific name: Chloroceryle americana
Length: 8.75 in
Weight: 1.3 oz
Wingspan: 11 in
This tiny kingfisher is a native to streams and ponds in Mexico, southern Texas, and into Arizona. Both males and females have emerald green heads and upper backs, with white spotting on their wings and tails. Males have rusty orange on their breast.
You won’t see a Green Kingfisher at your bird feeder. This carnivorous bird prefers a diet of fish and insects. Kingfishers like to perch above water, then dive headfirst into the water to catch fish in their large bill. It may spend its entire life in the vicinity of a single river system or pond.
7. Violet-green Swallow
Scientific name: Tachycineta thalassina
Length: 5.25 in
Weight: 0.49 oz
Wingspan: 13.5 in
Found in western North America, the Violet-green Swallow has green feathers along its head and back. These feathers are slightly iridescent and only shine green in the right light. They are sometimes mistaken for Tree swallows, which are a much bluer hue.
The Violet-green Swallow winters in Mexico and summers in the crevices of cliffs, holes in trees, and birdhouses along the West Coast. They eat insects and often live in large flocks.
8. Green-tailed Towhee
Scientific name: Pipilo chlorurus
Length: 7.25 in
Weight: 1 oz
Wingspan: 9.75 in
Green-tailed Towhees are beautiful birds native to the western mountain regions of the United States. They spend their summers anywhere from the mountains of Arizona to southern Montana, and winter in Mexico and the Baja Peninsula.
With a mostly gray body and rusty brown cap, they may not be the first you think of when thinking of green birds. However they sport distinctive olive-green coloring on their tails and wings. Both males and females have greenish wings too. Their song is often described as “mewing” or catlike.
9. Green Heron
Scientific name: Butorides virescens
Length: 18 in
Weight: 7 oz
Wingspan: 26 in
This deceptively-named bird may not appear green at all. Aside from their reddish-brown neck and chest, the rest of their feathers often just look dark. However in the right light you can see where they get their name, as the tops of their head, wings and back feathers are a dark forest green.
Very shy and inconspicuous, they prefer to nest and live in brushy areas around ponds and streams. Both males and females look similar.
Both parents regurgitate food to feed their young, and they may even teach them to ‘bait’ fish by dropping small sticks on the water to lure fish up to the surface.
10. Crimson-collared Grosbeak
Scientific name: Rhodothraupis celaeno
Length: 8.75 in
Weight: 1.9 oz
Wingspan: 13 in
Spotting a Crimson-collared Grosbeak in the United States is very rare – they have only recently been spotted in Texas. Their changing habitat patterns may mean backyard birders see more of them in the future.
However, that doesn’t change the rare appeal of these beautiful relatives of the Northern Cardinal. Males are red and black, hence the name, but females look entirely different. Except for their dark black head and neck, the female Crimson-collared grosbeak is a dusky shade of yellow-green and olive.
11. Green-winged Teal
Scientific name: Anas crecca
Length: 14 in
Weight: 12 oz
Wingspan: 23 in
The Green-winged Teal is already one of the better-known species of waterfowl in North America. They can be found in ponds, mudflats, and marshes across the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
Males’ and females’ plumage boasts bright green wing bars year round. They’re fully visible when in flight and can be partially seen when the bird is at rest.
During the breeding season, males also grow a striking green patch, outlined in black, on their head. This indicates breeding availability to females nearby.
12. Purple Gallinule
Scientific name: Porphyrio martinica
Length: 13 in
Weight: 8 oz
Wingspan: 22 in
You may wonder why a bird with “purple” in its name made it to a list of green birds. This is because Purple Gallinules are only half purple.
An adult Purple Gallinule’s wings are a bright shade of green. These shimmering green feathers combine with blue and purple to blend in with the natural colors of a marshland. Furthermore, juvenile Purple Gallinules gradually molt from brown and green feathers into their adult colors.
Look for these water birds in the Southeastern United States. They prefer to forage alone along the shores of marshes and ponds. They can use their extra long toes to balance on top of aquatic vegetation like lilly pads.
13. Glossy Ibis
Scientific name: Plegadis falcinellus
Length: 23 in
Weight: 1.2 lb
Wingspan: 36 in
On first glance, the Glossy Ibis may not appear green because of the intense red of its neck, chest, and legs. However, a breeding adult’s wings and tail are greenish-blue, and the green shows prominently in sunlight.
Glossy Ibises are similar to White-faced ibises, which also have similar green wing feathers and a near-identical call. The similarities end, however, when considering their habitat. Glossy ibises make their home along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida, then northward along the Eastern seaboard up to Maine. Glossy Ibis habitat has spread rapidly in the last century.
14. Green-breasted Mango
Scientific name: Anthracothorax prevostii
Length: 4.7 in
Weight: 0.2 oz
Wingspan: 6.5 in
The Green-breasted Mango is native to Mexico and South America, but sightings of this hummingbird have been recorded as far away as Texas, Wisconsin, and North Carolina!
Both males and females have a green forehead, neck, back, and wings. However, males during the breeding season grow deep blue-green feathers on their chin and belly, contrasting them with females, which have white and black vertical stripes on their chin and belly.
15. Monk Parakeet
Scientific name: Myiopsitta monachus
Length: 17.7-20.9 in
Weight: 3.2-4.2 oz
Both male and female Monk Parakeets share the same bright green plumage across their head, back, wings and tail. They can be distinguished from other parakeets by their gray face and breast, and pink bill.
Monk Parakeets are native to parts of South America. However after decades of pet trading, enough Monk Parakeets have escaped their owners in the U.S. and established local wild populations, especially in large cities. Southern Florida is home to many wild populations, as well as parts of Texas, Louisiana and other cities along the Gulf Coast.
However they have also adopted to cities that can have quite cold winters, such as New York, Chicago and Portland. They are currently the most populous naturalized parrot species in the United States.
16. Northern Shoveler
Scientific name: Spatula clypeata
Length: 17.3-20.1 in
Weight: 14.1-28.9 oz
Wingspan: 27.2-33.1 in
Similar to other duck species on this list, breeding adult males of this species sport bright green heads. They also have green wingbars, usually only visible when their wings are stretched out.
Although their emerald head and yellow eye catch attention, they are perhaps best known for their long and wide shovel-like bill. Found across North America, their beak has lamellae along its edge (fine, comb-like ridges) that allow them to filter small seeds, crustaceans and invertebrates out of the water.
Mary is an outdoor enthusiast, nature lover, and amateur birdwatcher that enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with others.