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17 Beautiful Birds of Kentucky


List of Birds in Kentucky

  • Northern Cardinal
  • Blue Jay
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • American Robin
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • European Starling
  • American Goldfinch
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Mourning Dove
  • Common Grackle
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Wilson’s Phalarope
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Eastern Screech-Owl
  • Barn Owl
  • Cooper’s Hawk

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

The northern cardinal is the state bird of Kentucky. The northern cardinal, also known as redbird, common cardinal, or just cardinal, is a species of passerine bird in the Cardinalidae family that lives in Central and North America.

An interesting fact is that only the males of this species have this color since the plumage of the females is brown and gray, but this characteristic of the male is very important since the redder and brighter their plumage, the more possibilities they have to mate.

It inhabits from the South of Canada to the North of Guatemala, Belize, passing through the eastern part of the United States from Maine to Texas and through Mexico.

It can be found in forests, gardens, swamps, and much of Central America and the entire north of the continent, feeding on herbs, grains, seeds, fruits, and, to a lesser extent, plant sap.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Songbird with a large crested head and a broad, rounded tail. Blue jays are smaller than crows, bigger than robins.
White or light gray below, various shades of blue, white and black above.

Blue Jays make a wide variety of calls that travel long distances. Most calls are made while the jay is perched inside a tree. It usually flies silently through open areas, especially during migration.

Keep food in the throat pouch to store elsewhere; when eating, it holds a seed or nut at its feet and opens it.
Blue jays are birds that border the forest.

Acorns are a favorite food and are often found near oak trees, towns, cities, parks, forests, and groves.

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

With a short neck and a large head, this small bird has a distinctive spherical body shape, has a very thin and long tail. Its beak is slightly thicker than that of a warbler but thinner than that of a finch.

It has a black cap and a bib divided by white cheeks. There is light gray on the head, wings, and tail.

Acrobatic and inquisitive. It can be seen with other Carolina chickadees and other small species in feeding flocks that roam within a wide area, except during the breeding season.

Although it is an animal of flocks, when it feeds, they are usually very widely spaced.

American Robin

American Robin

The American robin is a large songbird with a large round body, long legs, and a long tail. Robins are the largest thrushes in North America, and their profile offers a good opportunity to learn the basic shape of most thrushes.

Robins are also a good benchmark for comparing the size and shape of other birds. American robins are grayish-brown birds with warm orange underparts and dark heads. In flight, a white patch on the underside of the belly and under the tail can be conspicuous.

Compared to males, females have paler heads that contrast less with the gray back.s

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

In the eastern United States, the common garden bird.

Silvery gray above and white below, with a rusty color on the sides, they have a black spot just above the bill.

Tufted Titmouses can be found throughout much of the eastern forest below two thousand feet in height. Tufted Titmice are also frequent visitors to feeders and can be found in parks, backyards, and orchards.

European Starling

European Starling

Starlings are stout and the size of a blackbird, but with a short tail and long, slender bill. In flight, their wings are short and pointed, making them look like small four-pointed stars (hence their name).

From a distance, the starlings appear black. In summer they are iridescent purple-green with a yellow bill; in cool winter plumage they are brown, covered with bright white spots.

Starlings are boisterous, noisy, and travel in large groups (often with blackbirds and rooks). They race across the fields, beaks down, feeling the grass for food; or they perch on top of cables or trees emitting a constant stream of bells, beeps and whistles.

Starlings are common in cities, suburbs, and the countryside near human settlements. They feed on the ground, in fields, lawns, sidewalks, and parking lots. They perch on top of cables, trees, and buildings.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Usually, goldfinches flock with Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls. The males in the spring are bright yellow and glossy black with a little white. Its strong sexual dimorphism characterizes them.

The male, which in winter has a green-blue to brown plumage, looks bright yellow in summer to attract females during the mating season, while in summer the females’ dull yellow-brown plumage becomes lighter.

With a conical beak to extract the seeds and agile feet to grip the stems of seedheads when feeding, the American goldfinch is a granivore and adapted for seedhead consumption.

This finch is known to eat garden vegetation as well and is particularly fond of beet greens. It is a social animal, and, when feeding and migrating, will gather in large flocks.

During nest building, it can act territorially, but this aggression is short-lived. Its breeding season is related to the peak supply of food, starting in late July, which is relatively late for a finch in the year.

Generally, this species is monogamous, and each year it produces one brood.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

It is a pale and medium-sized woodpecker, very common in eastern forests.

Its spectacular stripped back and its shiny red cap make it an indelible postcard.

It is distributed from the south of Canada, the northeast of the United States, and up to the south of Florida reaching the east of Texas.

It uses the pick as a chisel to drill the bark of the tree trunks, or probe in their cries, to capture with its long tongue beetles and other insects that are hidden there.

This bird is frequently perched on thick branches or tree trunks.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

It has a plump body and a long tail, with short legs, a small bill, and a head that appears particularly small compared to the body.

The long, pointed tail distinguishes it from other North American pigeons.
Mourning doves are typically found in open country. They have a delicate brown to tan beige coloration on the outside, with black spots on the wings and white tips with black edges on the tail feathers.

Mourning doves fly fast with powerful wingbeats, sometimes making sudden ascents, descents, and dodges, their pointed tails spreading out behind them.

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Common Grackles are large, lanky blackbirds with long legs and long tails. The head is flat and the bill longer than in most blackbirds, with a hint of a downward curve. In flight, the wings appear short compared to the tail.

Males are slightly larger than females. Common blackbirds appear black from a distance, but up close their bright purple heads contrast with iridescent tan bodies. A bright golden eye gives Grackles an intense expression.

Females are slightly less bright than males. Young birds are dark brown with dark eyes.

You will often find Common Grackles in large flocks, flying or foraging in grass and agricultural fields. They strut on their long legs, pecking for food.

At feeders, common Grackles dominate the smaller birds. When resting, they sit high in trees or on telephone lines, keeping up a raucous chatter. Flight is direct, with stiff flapping.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

The Black-throated Green Warbler is a medium-sized warbler that resembles many others in the Setophaga genus in size and shape. Plump and appear to have a large head, with a thick, straight bill and a shortish tail.

These are olive-green birds with white underwings, yellow faces, and black on the front. Adult males have a bright yellow face and extensive black on the throat that transitions to black streaks on the flanks. Two gleaming white wingbars. Females and young birds have the same pattern as males, but they are duller and lack the extensive black on the throat.

Breeding males sing from exposed perches, where their bright head is visible.

Wilson’s Phalarope

Wilson's Phalarope

Wilson’s Phalaropes are small shorebirds with long legs, slender necks, and long, thin bills that are straight and straight. Their wings are sharply pointed.

They have grayish plumage with cinnamon or rusty highlights, particularly on the neck. Females are more colorful than males during the breeding season, with a dark line through the eye that extends down the neck. The throat is white, and the neck has been washed in rust. Nonbreeding birds are pale gray on top and white on the bottom, with no prominent facial markings like other phalarope species.

Phalaropes are the only shorebirds that swim in deep water on a regular basis. They bob on the surface, frequently spinning in circles in order to bring small food items within reach of their slender bills.

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

The White-throated Sparrow is a large, full-bodied sparrow with a rounded head, long legs, and a long, narrow tail.

White-throated Sparrows have a striking head pattern and are brown on top and gray on the bottom. A bright white throat and yellow between the eye and the gray bill complement the black-and-white striped head. There is also a “tan-striped” form, which has a buff-on-brown face pattern rather than white-on-black.

White-throated Sparrows often congregate near the ground, scratching through leaves in search of food. You may also see them low in bushes, especially in the spring when they eat new buds.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrikes are large songbirds with thick bodies. Their heads are large and blocky, and they have a thick bill with a small hook. The tail is medium-length and rounded.

The Loggerhead Shrike is a gray bird with a black mask and black wings with white flashes. The gray head stands out against the black mask, black bill, and white throat.

Loggerhead Shrikes scan for rodents, lizards, birds, and insects from low, exposed perches. They eat smaller prey (such as ground beetles) immediately, but are known for impaling larger prey on thorns or barbed wire to be eaten later. The species frequently hovers. When flying, it employs bursts of extremely fast wingbeats.

Eastern Screech-Owl

Eastern Screech-Owl

The Eastern Screech-Owl is a small, stocky bird with a large head and no neck. It has rounded wings and a short, square tail. The tufts of pointed ear tufts on its head are often raised, giving it a distinct silhouette.

Eastern Screech-Owls can be mostly gray or mostly reddish-brown in color (rufous). Whatever color they are, they are patterned with complex bands and spots that provide excellent camouflage against tree bark. Yellow is the color of the eyes.

Eastern Screech-Owls are active at night and are far more often heard than seen—most bird watchers are only familiar with this species because of its trilling or whinnying song.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

These medium-sized owls have long, rounded wings and short tails that, when combined with a buoyant, loping flight, give them a distinct flight style. The legs are long, and the head is smooth and round with no ear tufts.

Barn Owls have pale skin and dark eyes. The head, back, and upperwings are buff and gray, while the face, body, and underwings are white. When viewed at night, they can appear completely white.

Barn Owls build their nests and roosts in cavities, abandoned barns and other structures, and dense trees. Barn Owls hunt at night by flying low and back and forth over open habitats, primarily by sound, in search of small rodents.

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

A medium-sized hawk with classic accipiter features such as broad, rounded wings and a long tail. In Cooper’s Hawks, the head is often large, the shoulders are broad, and the tail is rounded.

Adults have steely blue-gray upperparts with warm reddish bars and thick dark bands on the tail. Juveniles are brown above and crisply streaked with brown on the upper breast, giving them a hooded appearance when compared to the more diffuse streaking of young Sharp-shinned Hawks.

Cooper’s Hawks will fly in the typical accipiter pattern of flap-flap-glide. Even when crossing wide open spaces, they rarely flap indefinitely.

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