List of Iowa birds

List of Iowa birds

This is a list of all birds ever seen in Iowa, based on the list published by the Iowa Ornithologists' Union. The following markings are used:

*(C) = Casual: seen fewer than nine times in the past ten years but more than twice.
*(A) = Accidental: seen fewer than four times in the past ten years.
*(E) = Extinct; a recent member of the avifauna that no longer exists.
*(Ex) = Extirpated; no longer occurs in area of interest, but other populations still exist elsewhere.
*(I) = Introduced: The species was introduced, either directly or indirectly, to North America through the actions of humans.

Birds listed as either casual or accidental should not be expected to be found anywhere in Iowa with regularity. Except for the casual and accidental birds, only birds that are considered to have established, self-sustaining, wild populations in Iowa or, in the case of extinct or extirpated species, have had such populations in Iowa in the past are included on this list. This means that birds that are considered probable escapees, although they may have been sighted flying free in Iowa, are not included on this list.

This list is presented in taxonomic order and follows The Check-list of North American Birds (7th ed., 1998), published by the American Ornithologists' Union. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family accounts. Introduced, casual, accidental, extirpated and extinct species are included in the total species counts for North America and Iowa.


Ducks, Geese, and Swans

Order: AnseriformesFamily: Anatidae

The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, bills which are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils. There are 131 species world wide, 61 North American species, and 43 Iowa species.

*Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, "Dendrocygna autumnalis" (C)
*Taiga Bean-Goose, "Anser fabalis" (A)
*Greater White-fronted Goose, "Anser albifrons"
*Snow Goose, "Chen caerulescens"
*Ross's Goose, "Chen rossii"
*Brant, "Branta bernicla" (C)
*Cackling Goose, "Branta hutchinsonii"
*Canada Goose, "Branta canadensis"
*Mute Swan, "Cygnus olor" (I)
*Trumpeter Swan, "Cygnus buccinator"
*Tundra Swan, "Cygnus columbianus"
*Wood Duck, "Aix sponsa"
*Gadwall, "Anas strepera"
*Eurasian Wigeon, "Anas penelope" (A)
*American Wigeon, "Anas americana"
*American Black Duck, "Anas rubripes"
*Mallard, "Anas platyrhynchos"
*Mottled Duck, "Anas fulvigula" (A)
*Blue-winged Teal, "Anas discors"
*Cinnamon Teal, "Anas cyanoptera"
*Northern Shoveler, "Anas clypeata"
*Northern Pintail, "Anas acuta"
*Garganey, "Anas querquedula" (A)
*Green-winged Teal, "Anas crecca"
*Canvasback, "Aythya valisineria"
*Redhead, "Aythya americana"
*Ring-necked Duck, "Aythya collaris"
*Greater Scaup, "Aythya marila"
*Lesser Scaup, "Aythya affinis"
*King Eider, "Somateria spectabilis" (A)
*Common Eider, "Somateria mollissima" (A)
*Harlequin Duck, "Histrionicus histrionicus" (A)
*Surf Scoter, "Melanitta perspicillata"
*White-winged Scoter, "Melanitta fusca"
*Black Scoter, "Melanitta nigra"
*Long-tailed Duck, "Clangula hyemalis"
*Bufflehead, "Bucephala albeola"
*Common Goldeneye, "Bucephala clangula"
*Barrow's Goldeneye, "Bucephala islandica" (A)
*Hooded Merganser, "Lophodytes cucullatus"
*Common Merganser, "Mergus merganser"
*Red-breasted Merganser, "Mergus serrator"
*Ruddy Duck, "Oxyura jamaicensis"

Partridges, Grouse, Turkeys, and Old World Quail

Order: GalliformesFamily: Phasianidae

The Phasianidae is a family of birds which consists of the pheasants and their allies including the partridges, grouse, turkeys, and old world quail. These are terrestrial species, variable in size but generally plump, with broad, relatively short wings. Many species are gamebirds, or have been domesticated as a food source for humans. There are 180 species world wide, 16 North American species, and 6 Iowa species.

*Gray Partridge, "Perdix perdix" (I)
*Ring-necked Pheasant, "Phasianus colchicus" (I)
*Ruffed Grouse, "Bonasa umbellus"
*Sharp-tailed Grouse, "Tympanuchus phasianellus" (Ex)
*Greater Prairie-Chicken, "Tympanuchus cupido"
*Wild Turkey, "Meleagris gallopavo"

New World Quail

Order: GalliformesFamily: Odontophoridae

The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. There are 32 species, world-wide, all found only in the Americas, 6 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*Northern Bobwhite, "Colinus virginianus"


Order: GaviiformesFamily: Gaviidae

Loons are aquatic birds the size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely grey or black, and they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well, and fly adequately, but, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body, are almost hopeless on land. There are 5 species world-wide, 5 North American species, and 4 Iowa species.

*Red-throated Loon, "Gavia stellata"
*Pacific Loon, "Gavia pacifica"
*Common Loon, "Gavia immer"
*Yellow-billed Loon, "Gavia adamsii" (A)


Order: PodicipediformesFamily: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 20 species world-wide, 7 North American species, and 6 Iowa species.

*Pied-billed Grebe, "Podilymbus podiceps"
*Horned Grebe, "Podiceps auritus"
*Red-necked Grebe, "Podiceps grisegena"
*Eared Grebe, "Podiceps nigricollis"
*Western Grebe, "Aechmorphorus occidentalis"
*Clark's Grebe, "Aechmorphorus clarkii" (C)


Order: PelecaniformesFamily: Pelecanidae

Pelicans are very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes. There are 8 species world wide, 2 North American species, and 2 Iowa species.

*American White Pelican, "Pelecanus erythrorhynchos"
*Brown Pelican, "Pelecanus occidentalis" (A)


Order: PelecaniformesFamily: Phalacrocoracidae

Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of coloured skin on the face. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet are four-toed and webbed, a distinguishing feature among the Pelecaniformes order. There are 36 species world-wide, 6 North American species, and 2 Iowa species.

*Neotropic Cormorant, "Phalacrocorax brasilianus" (A)
*Double-crested Cormorant, "Phalacrocorax auritus"


Order: PelecaniformesFamily: Anhingidae

Darters are cormorant-like water birds with very long necks and long, straight beaks. They often swim with only the neck above water, and are fish-eaters. There are 4 species world-wide, 1 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*Anhinga, "Anhinga anhinga" (A)


Order: PelecaniformesFamily: Fregatidae

Frigatebirds are large sea-birds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black or black and white, with long wings and deeply-forked tails. The males have inflatable coloured throat pouches. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. There are 5 species world-wide, 3 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*Magnificent Frigatebird, "Fregata magnificens" (A)

Bitterns, Herons, and Egrets

Order: CiconiiformesFamily: Ardeidae

The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets, and bitterns. Herons and Egrets are medium to large sized wadng birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secrative. Unlike other long necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species world wide, 17 North American species, and 12 Iowa species.

*American Bittern, "Botaurus lentiginosus"
*Least Bittern, "Ixobrychus exilis"
*Great Blue Heron, "Ardea herodias"
*Great Egret, "Ardea alba"
*Snowy Egret, "Egretta thula"
*Little Blue Heron, "Egretta caerulea"
*Tricolored Heron, "Egretta tricolor" (A)
*Reddish Egret, "Egretta rufescens" (A)
*Cattle Egret, "Bubulcus ibis" (I)
*Green Heron, "Butorides virescens"
*Black-crowned Night-Heron, "Nycticorax nycticorax"
*Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, "Nyctanassa violacea"

Ibises and Spoonbills

Order: CiconiiformesFamily: Threskiornithidae

The family Threskiornithidae includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings. Their bodies tends to be elongated, the neck more so, with rather long legs. The bill is also long, decurved in the case of the ibises, straight and distinctively flattened in the spoonbills. There are 36 species world wide, 5 North American species, and 4 Iowa species.

*White Ibis, "Eudocimus albus" (A)
*Glossy Ibis, "Plegadis falcinellus" (A)
*White-faced Ibis, "Plegadis chihi"
*Roseate Spoonbill, "Platalea ajaja" (A)


Order: CiconiiformesFamily: Ciconiidae

Storks are large, heavy, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills and wide wingspans. They lack the powder down that other wading birds such as herons, spoonbills and ibises use to clean off fish slime. Storks lack a pharynx and are mute. There are 19 species world wide, 2 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*Wood Stork, "Mycteria americana" (A)

New World Vultures

Order: CiconiiformesFamily: Cathartidae

The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers However, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they located carcasses. There are 7 species world wide, all found only in the Americas, 3 North American species and 2 Iowa species

*Black Vulture, "Coragyps atratus" (A)
*Turkey Vulture, "Cathartes aura"

Hawks, Kites, and Eagles

Order: FalconiformesFamily: Accipitridae

The family Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 233 species world wide, 28 North American species, and 15 Iowa species.

*Osprey, "Pandion haliaetus"
*Swallow-tailed Kite, "Elanoides forficatus" (A)
*Mississippi Kite, "Ictinia mississippiensis"
*Bald Eagle, "Haliaeetus leucocephalus"
*Northern Harrier, "Circus cyaneus"
*Sharp-shinned Hawk, "Accipiter striatus"
*Cooper's Hawk, "Accipiter cooperii"
*Northern Goshawk, "Accipiter gentilis"
*Red-shouldered Hawk, "Buteo lineatus"
*Broad-winged Hawk, "Buteo platypterus"
*Swainson's Hawk, "Buteo swainsoni"
*Red-tailed Hawk, "Buteo jamaicensis"
*Ferruginous Hawk, "Buteo regalis"
*Rough-legged Hawk, "Buteo lagopus"
*Golden Eagle, "Aquila chrysaetos"

Caracaras and Falcons

Order: FalconiformesFamily: Falconidae

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey, notably the falcons and caracaras. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. There are 62 species world wide, 10 North American species, and 6 Iowa species.

*Crested Caracara, "Caracara cheriway " (A)
*American Kestrel, "Falco sparverius"
*Merlin, "Falco columbarius"
*Gyrfalcon, "Falco rusticolus" (A)
*Peregrine Falcon, "Falco peregrinus"
*Prairie Falcon, "Falco mexicanus"

Rails, Gallinules, and Coots

Order: GruiformesFamily: Rallidae

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. There are 143 species world wide, 13 North American species, and 8 Iowa species.

*Yellow Rail, "Coturnicops noveboracensis"
*Black Rail, "Laterallus jamaicensis" (A)
*King Rail, "Rallus elegans" (C)
*Virginia Rail, "Rallus limicola"
*Sora, "Porzana carolina"
*Purple Gallinule, "Porphyrio martinica" (A)
*Common Moorhen, "Gallinula chloropus"
*American Coot, "Fulica americana"


Order: GruiformesFamily: Gruidae

Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". There are 15 species worldwide, 3 North American species, and 2 Iowa species.

*Sandhill Crane, "Grus canadensis"
*Whooping Crane, "Grus americana" (A)

Lapwings and Plovers

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Charadriidae

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 66 species world-wide, 18 North American species, and 6 Iowa species.

*Black-bellied Plover, "Pluvialis squatarola"
*American Golden-Plover, "Pluvialis dominica"
*Snowy Plover, "Charadrius alexandrinus" (C)
*Semipalmated Plover, "Charadrius semipalmatus"
*Piping Plover, "Charadrius melodus"
*Killdeer, "Charadrius vociferus"

tilts and Avocets

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Recurvirostridae

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 9 species world wide, 3 North American species, and 2 Iowa species.

*Black-necked Stilt, "Himantopus mexicanus"
*American Avocet, "Recurvirostra americana"

andpipers and allies

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Scolopacidae

The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the Sandpipers, Curlews, Godwits, Shanks, Tattlers, Woodcocks, Snipes, Dowitchers and Phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 86 species world wide, 65 North American species, and 33 Iowa species.

*Spotted Sandpiper, "Actitis macularia"
*Solitary Sandpiper, "Tringa solitaria"
*Greater Yellowlegs, "Tringa melanoleuca"
*Willet, "Tringa semipalmata"
*Lesser Yellowlegs, "Tringa flavipes"
*Upland Sandpiper, "Bartramia longicauda"
*Eskimo Curlew, "Numenius borealis" (Ex)
*Whimbrel, "Numenius phaeopus" (C)
*Long-billed Curlew, "Numenius americanus" (A)
*Hudsonian Godwit, "Limosa haemastica"
*Marbled Godwit, "Limosa fedoa"
*Ruddy Turnstone, "Arenaria interpres"
*Red Knot, "Calidris canutus"
*Sanderling, "Calidris alba"
*Semipalmated Sandpiper, "Calidris pusilla"
*Western Sandpiper, "Calidris mauri"
*Least Sandpiper, "Calidris minutilla"
*White-rumped Sandpiper, "Calidris fuscicollis"
*Baird's Sandpiper, "Calidris bairdii"
*Pectoral Sandpiper, "Calidris melanotos"
*Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, "Calidris acuminata" (A)
*Dunlin, "Calidris alpina"
*Curlew Sandpiper, "Calidris ferruginea" (A)
*Stilt Sandpiper, "Calidris himantopus"
*Buff-breasted Sandpiper, "Tryngites subruficollis"
*Ruff, "Philomachus pugnax" (C)
*Short-billed Dowitcher, "Limnodromus griseus"
*Long-billed Dowitcher, "Limnodromus scolopaceus"
*Wilson's Snipe, "Gallinago delicata"
*American Woodcock, "Scolopax minor"
*Wilson's Phalarope, "Phalaropus tricolor"
*Red-necked Phalarope, "Phalaropus lobatus"
*Red Phalarope, "Phalaropus fulicarius" (C)

Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Common Tern] Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls, terns, kittiwakes and skimmers. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 103 species world wide, 57 North American species, and 27 Iowa species.

*Laughing Gull, "Larus atricilla" (C)
*Franklin's Gull, "Larus pipixcan"
*Little Gull, "Larus minutus" (C)
*Black-headed Gull, "Larus ridibundus"
*Bonaparte's Gull, "Larus philadelphia"
*Black-tailed Gull, "Larus crassirostris" (A)
*Mew Gull, "Larus canus" (C)
*Ring-billed Gull, "Larus delawarensis"
*California Gull, "Larus californicus" (C)
*Herring Gull, "Larus argentatus"
*Thayer's Gull, "Larus thayeri"
*Iceland Gull, "Larus glaucoides" (C)
*Lesser Black-backed Gull, "Larus fuscus"
*Slaty-backed Gull, "Larus schistisagus" (A)
*Glaucous Gull, "Larus hyperboreus"
*Great Black-backed Gull, "Larus marinus" (C)
*Sabine's Gull, "Xema sabini"
*Black-legged Kittiwake, "Rissa tridactyla" (C)
*Ross's Gull, "Rhodostethia rosea" (A)
*Ivory Gull, "Pagophila eburnea" (A)
*Least Tern, "Sternula antillarum"
*Caspian Tern, "Hydroprogne caspia"
*Black Tern, "Chlidonias niger"
*Common Tern, "Sterna hirundo"
*Arctic Tern, "Sterna paradisaea" (A)
*Forster's Tern, "Sterna forsteri"
*Royal Tern, "Sterna maxima" (A)


Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Stercorariidae

Skuas are related to gulls, waders, auks and skimmers. In the three smaller species (all Holarctic), breeding adults have the two central tail feathers obviously elongated and at least some adults have white on the underparts and pale yellow on the neck, characteristics that the larger species do not share. This family was recently split from Laridae by the AOU. There are 7 species world wide, 5 North American species, and 3 Iowa species.
*Pomarine Jaeger, "Stercorarius pomarinus" (A)
*Parasitic Jaeger, "Stercorarius parasiticus" (A)
*Long-tailed Jaeger, "Stercorarius longicaudus" (A)

Auks, Murres, and Puffins

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Alcidae

Alcids are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits, however they are not related to the penguins at all, being able to fly. Auks live on the open sea, only deliberately coming ashore to nest. This family also includes murres and puffins. There are 24 species world wide, 22 North American species, and 3 Iowa species.

*Thick-billed Murre, "Uria lomvia" (A)
*Long-billed Murrelet, "Brachyramphus perdix" (A)
*Ancient Murrelet, "Synthliboramphus antiquus" (A)

Pigeons and Doves

Order: ColumbiformesFamily: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 308 species world wide, 18 North American species, and 6 Iowa species.

*Rock Pigeon, "Columba livia" (I)
*Eurasian Collared-Dove, "Streptopelia decaocto" (I)
*White-winged Dove, "Zenaida asiatica" (C)
*Mourning Dove, "Zenaida macroura"
*Passenger Pigeon, "Ectopistes migratorius" (E)
*Common Ground-Dove, "Columbina passerina" (A)


Order: PsittaciformesFamily: Psittacidae

Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and the have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. There are 335 species world wide, 8 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*Carolina Parakeet, "Conuropsis carolinensis" (E)

Cuckoos, Roadrunners, and Anis

Order: CuculiformesFamily: Cuculidae

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 138 species world wide, 8 North American species, and 3 Iowa species.

*Black-billed Cuckoo, "Coccyzus erythropthalmus"
*Yellow-billed Cuckoo, "Coccyzus americanus"
*Groove-billed Ani, "Crotophaga sulcirostris" (A)

Barn owls

Order: StrigiformesFamily: Tytonidae

Barn owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There are 16 species world wide, 1 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*Barn Owl, "Tyto alba"

Typical owls

Order: StrigiformesFamily: Strigidae

Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 195 species world wide, 21 North American species, and 11 Iowa species.

*Eastern Screech-Owl, "Megascops asio"
*Great Horned Owl, "Bubo virginianus"
*Snowy Owl, "Bubo scandiacus"
*Northern Hawk Owl, "Surnia ulula" (A)
*Burrowing Owl, "Athene cunicularia" (C)
*Barred Owl, "Strix varia"
*Great Gray Owl, "Strix nebulosa" (A)
*Long-eared Owl, "Asio otus"
*Short-eared Owl, "Asio flammeus"
*Boreal Owl, "Aegolius funereus" (A)
*Northern Saw-whet Owl, "Aegolius acadicus"


Order: CaprimulgiformesFamily: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically coloured to resemble bark or leaves. There are 86 species world wide, 9 North American species, and 3 Iowa species.

*Common Nighthawk, " Chordeiles minor"
*Chuck-will's-widow, " Caprimulgus carolinensis"
*Whip-poor-will, " Caprimulgus vociferus"


Order: ApodiformesFamily: Apodidae

The swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have very long, swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There are 98 species world wide, 9 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*Chimney Swift, "Chaetura pelagica"


Order: ApodiformesFamily: Trochilidae

Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. There are 337 species world wide, 23 North American species, and 3 Iowa species.

*Green Violet-ear, "Colibri thalassinus" (A)
*Ruby-throated Hummingbird, "Archilochus colubris"
*Rufous Hummingbird, "Selasphorus rufus" (A)


Order: CoraciiformesFamily: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There are 94 species world wide, 3 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*Belted Kingfisher, "Ceryle alcyon"

Woodpeckers, Sapsuckers, and Flickers

Pileated Woodpecker] Order: PiciformesFamily: Picidae

Woodpeckers are small to medium sized birds with chisel like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 218 species world wide, 26 North American species, and 11 Iowa species.

*Lewis's Woodpecker, "Melanerpes lewis" (A)
*Red-headed Woodpecker, "Melanerpes erythrocephalus"
*Acorn Woodpecker, "Melanerpes formicivorus" (A)
*Red-bellied Woodpecker, "Melanerpes carolinus"
*Red-breasted Sapsucker,"Sphyrapicus ruber" (A)
*Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, "Sphyrapicus varius"
*Downy Woodpecker, "Picoides pubescens"
*Hairy Woodpecker, "Picoides villosus"
*Black-backed Woodpecker, "Picoides arcticus" (A)
*Northern Flicker, "Colaptes auratus"
*Pileated Woodpecker, "Dryocopus pileatus"

Tyrant Flycatchers

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Tyrannidae

Tyrant flycatchers are Passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, are rather plain. As the name implies, most are insectivorous. There are 429 species world wide, all found only in the Americas, 45 North American species, and 17 Iowa species.

*Olive-sided Flycatcher, "Contopus cooperi"
*Western Wood-Pewee, "Contopus sordidulus" (A)
*Eastern Wood-Pewee, "Contopus virens"
*Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, "Empidonax flaviventris"
*Acadian Flycatcher, "Empidonax virescens"
*Alder Flycatcher, "Empidonax alnorum"
*Willow Flycatcher, "Empidonax traillii"
*Least Flycatcher, "Empidonax minimus"
*Western Flycatcher, "Empidonax difficilis" (A) Bird was seen before the split into two separate species: Cordilleran Flycatcher and Pacific-slope Flycatcher
*Eastern Phoebe, "Sayornis phoebe"
*Say's Phoebe, "Sayornis saya" (A)
*Vermilion Flycatcher, "Pyrocephalus rubinus" (A)
*Great Crested Flycatcher, "Myiarchus crinitus"
*Western Kingbird, "Tyrannus verticalis"
*Eastern Kingbird, "Tyrannus tyrannus"
*Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, "Tyrannus forficatus"
*Fork-tailed Flycatcher, "Tyrannus savana" (A)


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Laniidae

Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 31 species world wide 3 North American species, and 2 Iowa species.

*Loggerhead Shrike, "Lanius ludovicianus"
*Northern Shrike, "Lanius excubitor"


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Vireonidae

The vireos are a group of small to medium sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in colour and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. There are 52 species world wide, 16 North American species, and 7 Iowa species.

*White-eyed Vireo, "Vireo griseus"
*Bell's Vireo, "Vireo bellii"
*Yellow-throated Vireo, "Vireo flavifrons"
*Blue-headed Vireo, "Vireo solitarius"
*Warbling Vireo, "Vireo gilvus"
*Philadelphia Vireo, "Vireo philadelphicus"
*Red-eyed Vireo, "Vireo olivaceus"

Jays, Crows, Magpies, and Ravens

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Corvidae

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show levels of learned behavior of a high degree. There are 120 species world wide, 21 North American speicies, and 8 Iowa species.

*Gray Jay, "Perisoreus canadensis" (A)
*Blue Jay, "Cyanocitta cristata"
*Pinyon Jay, "Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus" (A)
*Clark's Nutcracker, "Nucifraga columbiana" (A)
*Black-billed Magpie, "Pica hudsonia"
*American Crow, "Corvus brachyrhynchos"
*Fish Crow, "Corvus ossifragus" (A)
*Common Raven, "Corvus corax" (A)


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Alaudidae

Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds. There are 91 species world wide, 2 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*Horned Lark, "Eremophila alpestris"

wallows and Martins

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Hirundinidae

The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with a wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species world wide, 14 North American species, and 7 Iowa species.

*Purple Martin, "Progne subis"
*Tree Swallow, "Tachycineta bicolor"
*Northern Rough-winged Swallow, "Stelgidopteryx serripennis"
*Bank Swallow, "Riparia riparia"
*Cliff Swallow, "Petrochelidon pyrrhonota"
*Cave Swallow, "Petrochelidon fulva" (A)
*Barn Swallow, "Hirundo rustica"

Chickadees and Titmice

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Paridae

The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. There are species 59 species world wide, 12 North American species and 3 Iowa species.

*Black-capped Chickadee, "Poecile atricapilla"
*Boreal Chickadee, Poecile hudsonica" (A)
*Tufted Titmouse, "Baeolophus bicolor"


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Sittidae

Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet. There are 24 species world wide, 4 North American species, and 3 Iowa species.

*Red-breasted Nuthatch, "Sitta canadensis"
*White-breasted Nuthatch, "Sitta carolinensis"
*Pygmy Nuthatch, "Sitta pygmaea" (A)


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Certhiidae

Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. There are 6 species world wide, 1 North American species , and 1 Iowa species.

*Brown Creeper, "Certhia americana"


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Troglodytidae

Wrens are small and inconspicuous birds, except for their loud songs. They have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 79 species world wide, 9 North American species, and 7 Iowa species.

*Rock Wren, "Salpinctes obsoletus" (A)
*Carolina Wren, "Thryothorus ludovicianus"
*Bewick's Wren, "Thryomanes bewickii" (C)
*House Wren, "Troglodytes aedon"
*Winter Wren, "Troglodytes troglodytes"
*Sedge Wren, "Cistothorus platensis"
*Marsh Wren, "Cistothorus palustris"


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Regulidae

The kinglets are a small family of birds which resemble the titmice. They are very small insectivorous birds in the genus Regulus. The adults have coloured crowns, giving rise to their names. There are 5 species world wide, 2 North American species, and 2 Iowa species.

*Golden-crowned Kinglet, "Regulus satrapa"
*Ruby-crowned Kinglet, "Regulus calendula"

Old World warblers and Gnatcatchers

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Sylviidae

The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. The Sylviidae mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs. There are about 300 species world wide, 12 North American Species and 1 Iowa species.

*Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, "Polioptila caerulea"


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Turdidae

The Thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 335 species world wide, 28 North American species, and 10 Iowa species.

*Eastern Bluebird, "Sialia sialis"
*Mountain Bluebird, "Sialia currucoides" (C)
*Townsend's Solitaire, "Myadestes townsendi"
*Veery, "Catharus fuscescens"
*Gray-cheeked Thrush, "Catharus minimus"
*Swainson's Thrush, "Catharus ustulatus"
*Hermit Thrush, "Catharus guttatus"
*Wood Thrush, "Hylocichla mustelina"
*American Robin, "Turdus migratorius"
*Varied Thrush, "Ixoreus naevius"

Mockingbirds and Thrashers

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Mimidae

The Mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance. There are 35 species world wide, 13 North American species, and 5 Iowa species.

*Gray Catbird, "Dumetella carolinensis"
*Northern Mockingbird, "Mimus polyglottos"
*Sage Thrasher, "Oreoscoptes montanus" (A)
*Brown Thrasher, "Toxostoma rufum"
*Curve-billed Thrasher, "Toxostoma curvirostre" (A)


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Sturnidae

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are medium-sized passerines with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There are 125 species world wide, 3 North American species, and 1 Iowa species.

*European Starling, "Sturnus vulgaris" (I)

Wagtails and Pipits

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Motacillidae

The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species world wide, 11 North American species, and 2 Iowa species.

*American Pipit, "Anthus rubescens"
*Sprague's Pipit, "Anthus spragueii" (C)


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Bombycillidae

The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterised by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter. There are three species world wide, 2 North American species, and 2 Iowa species.

*Bohemian Waxwing, "Bombycilla garrulus"
*Cedar Waxwing, "Bombycilla cedrorum"


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Parulidae

The Wood Warblers are a group of small often colourful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some like the Ovenbird and the two waterthrushes, are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. There are 119 species world wide, 57 North American species, and 39 Iowa species.

*Blue-winged Warbler, "Vermivora pinus"
*Golden-winged Warbler, "Vermivora chrysoptera"
*Tennessee Warbler, "Vermivora peregrina"
*Orange-crowned Warbler, "Vermivora celata"
*Nashville Warbler, "Vermivora ruficapilla"
*Northern Parula, "Parula americana"
*Yellow Warbler, "Dendroica petechia"
*Chestnut-sided Warbler, "Dendroica pensylvanica"
*Magnolia Warbler, "Dendroica magnolia"
*Cape May Warbler, "Dendroica tigrina"
*Black-throated Blue Warbler, "Dendroica caerulescens"
*Yellow-rumped Warbler, "Dendroica coronata"
*Black-throated Gray Warbler, "Dendroica nigrescens" (A)
*Black-throated Green Warbler, "Dendroica virens"
*Townsend's Warbler, "Dendroica townsendi" (A)
*Blackburnian Warbler, "Dendroica fusca"
*Yellow-throated Warbler, "Dendroica dominica"
*Pine Warbler, "Dendroica pinus"
*Prairie Warbler, "Dendroica discolor" (C)
*Palm Warbler, "Dendroica palmarum"
*Bay-breasted Warbler, "Dendroica castanea"
*Blackpoll Warbler, "Dendroica striata"
*Cerulean Warbler, "Dendroica cerulea"
*Black-and-white Warbler, "Mniotilta varia"
*American Redstart, "Setophaga ruticilla"
*Prothonotary Warbler, "Protonotaria citrea"
*Worm-eating Warbler, "Helmitheros vermivorus"
*Ovenbird, "Seiurus aurocapilla"
*Northern Waterthrush, "Seiurus noveboracensis"
*Louisiana Waterthrush, "Seiurus motacilla"
*Kentucky Warbler, "Oporornis formosus"
*Connecticut Warbler, "Oporornis agilis"
*Mourning Warbler, "Oporornis philadelphia"
*MacGillivray's Warbler, "Oporornis tolmiei" (A)
*Common Yellowthroat, "Geothlypis trichas"
*Hooded Warbler, "Wilsonia citrina"
*Wilson's Warbler, "Wilsonia pusilla"
*Canada Warbler, "Wilsonia canadensis"
*Yellow-breasted Chat, "Icteria virens"


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Thraupidae

The tanagers are a large group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World, mainly in the tropics. Many species are brightly coloured. They are seedeaters, but their preference tends towards fruit and nectar. Most have short, rounded wings. There are 256 species world wide, 6 North American species, and 3 Iowa species.

*Summer Tanager, "Piranga rubra"
*Scarlet Tanager, "Piranga olivacea"
*Western Tanager, "Piranga ludoviciana" (C)

American sparrows, Towhees, Juncos, and Longspurs

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Emberizidae

The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are 275 species world wide, 60 North American species, and 30 Iowa species.

*Green-tailed Towhee, "Pipilo chlorurus" (A)
*Spotted Towhee, "Pipilo maculatus"
*Eastern Towhee, "Pipilo erythrophthalmus"
*American Tree Sparrow, "Spizella arborea"
*Chipping Sparrow, "Spizella passerina"
*Clay-colored Sparrow, "Spizella pallida"
*Field Sparrow, "Spizella pusilla"
*Vesper Sparrow, "Pooecetes gramineus"
*Lark Sparrow, "Chondestes grammacus"
*Black-throated Sparrow, "Amphispiza bilineata" (A)
*Lark Bunting, "Calamospiza melanocorys" (A)
*Savannah Sparrow, "Passerculus sandwichensis"
*Grasshopper Sparrow, "Ammodramus savannarum"
*Baird's Sparrow, "Ammodramus bairdii" (A)
*Henslow's Sparrow, "Ammodramus henslowii"
*Le Conte's Sparrow, "Ammodramus leconteii"
*Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, "Ammodramus nelsoni"
*Fox Sparrow, "Passerella iliaca"
*Song Sparrow, "Melospiza melodia"
*Lincoln's Sparrow, "Melospiza lincolnii"
*Swamp Sparrow, "Melospiza georgiana"
*White-throated Sparrow, "Zonotrichia albicollis"
*Harris's Sparrow, "Zonotrichia querula"
*White-crowned Sparrow, "Zonotrichia leucophrys"
*Golden-crowned Sparrow, "Zonotrichia atricapilla" (A)
*Dark-eyed Junco, "Junco hyemalis"
*Lapland Longspur, "Calcarius lapponicus"
*Smith's Longspur, "Calcarius pictus"
*Chestnut-collared Longspur, "Calcarius ornatus" (A)
*Snow Bunting, "Plectrophenax nivalis"

Cardinals, Saltators, and Grosbeaks

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Cardinalidae

The Cardinals are a family of passerine birds that are robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. There are 43 species world wide, 13 North American species and 8 Iowa species.

*Northern Cardinal, "Cardinalis cardinalis"
*Rose-breasted Grosbeak, "Pheucticus ludovicianus"
*Black-headed Grosbeak, "Pheucticus melanocephalus" (C)
*Blue Grosbeak, "Passerina caerulea"
*Lazuli Bunting, "Passerina amoena" (C)
*Indigo Bunting, "Passerina cyanea"
*Painted Bunting, "Passerina ciris" (A)
*Dickcissel, "Spiza americana"


Order: PasseriformesFamily: Icteridae

The Icterids are a group of small to medium, often colourful passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles. Most species have black as a predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. There are 98 species world wide, 25 North American species, and 14 Iowa species.

*Bobolink, "Dolichonyx oryzivorus"
*Red-winged Blackbird, "Agelaius phoeniceus"
*Eastern Meadowlark, "Sturnella magna"
*Western Meadowlark, "Sturnella neglecta"
*Yellow-headed Blackbird, "Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus"
*Rusty Blackbird, "Euphagus carolinus"
*Brewer's Blackbird, "Euphagus cyanocephalus"
*Common Grackle, "Quiscalus quiscula"
*Great-tailed Grackle, "Quiscalus mexicanus"
*Brown-headed Cowbird, "Molothrus ater"
*Orchard Oriole, "Icterus spurius"
*Hooded Oriole, "Icterus cucullatus" (A)
*Bullock's Oriole, "Icterus bullockii" (A)
*Baltimore Oriole, "Icterus galbula"

Fringilline Finches, Cardueline Finches, and Allies

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Fringillidae

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 137 species world wide, 23 North American species, and 13 Iowa species.

*Brambling, "Fringilla montifringilla" (A)
*Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, "Leucosticte tephrocotis" (A)
*Pine Grosbeak, "Pinicola enucleator" (A)
*Purple Finch, "Carpodacus purpureus"
*House Finch, "Carpodacus mexicanus"
*Red Crossbill, "Loxia curvirostra"
*White-winged Crossbill, "Loxia leucoptera"
*Common Redpoll, "Carduelis flammea"
*Hoary Redpoll, "Carduelis hornemanni" (A)
*Pine Siskin, "Carduelis pinus"
*Lesser Goldfinch, "Carduelis psaltria" (A)
*American Goldfinch, "Carduelis tristis"
*Evening Grosbeak, "Coccothraustes vespertinus" (A)

Old World sparrows

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Passeridae

Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or greyish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. There are 35 species world wide, 2 North American species, and 2 Iowa species.

*House Sparrow, "Passer domesticus" (I)
*Eurasian Tree Sparrow, "Passer montanus" (I)

ee also

*List of birds
*Lists of birds by region
*List of North American birds


* [ The Iowa Ornithologists' Union State Checklist] . Iowa Ornithologists' Union. (Version January 18, 2007).

* [ The A.O.U. Check-list of North American birds] , American Ornithologists' Union, 7th edition (the official source on the taxonomy of birds found in North and Middle America).

*"Splitting headaches? Recent taxonomic changes affecting the British and Western Palaearctic lists" - Martin Collinson, British Birds vol 99 (June 2006), 306-323

External links

* [ Iowa Ornithologists' Union]

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