There are hundreds of birds with common names starting with the letter B. In fact, with terms like “black”, “blue”, “bold”, and “banded”, there are almost more birds that start with a B than any other category.
This list selects just 30 of those birds, highlighting everything from rare and hard-to-find birds to common backyard birds you might expect to see anywhere.
Of those, 10 include types of birds that start with a B (like buntings) and the rest are birds with species-specific names that start with a B (bicolored antbird).
Scientific Name (genus): Emberiza
Buntings are a group of some 45 different birds. However, they’re all in the genus Emberiza.
They’re also all about the size of a sparrow, but with stubbier beaks – ideal for their chosen food source of seeds.
In addition, all true buntings are native to Europe and Asia. However, there is a similar type of bird, “snow buntings”, that is found in North America.
Otherwise, buntings look like colorful sparrows.
The Cirl bunting features yellow and black stripes on the head and red and black alternating feathers across the body. That makes them remarkably distinctive from their more common, but more drab cousins.
Scientific Name (family): Pycnonotiae
Bulbuls are a very broad species of songbirds native to Africa, the Middle East, tropical Asia, and Indonesia.
These birds stand out to American viewers as looking similar to cardinals. However, most are significantly drabber, with only a few having red or yellow spots.
Still, with 160 recognized species, there are a lot of different types of bulbul. All of them are medium-sized, and feature crested heads and long tails. They’re also all about 7 inches in length or larger.
Also, they can eat almost anything but may be crop pests, as they commonly eat both pests on fruit and fruit.
Scientific Name (genus): Colinus
The bobwhite is a type of bird commonly called a “new world quail”. These birds are distantly related to true quail, but share many similarities in appearance, including a small and rounded body and a speckled appearance.
Nearly all bobwhites also feature a crest of feathers on the head, which, depending on the species, may be a single, large feather. There are four living species of bobwhites, but with over 40 subspecies, they can be quite diverse.
In addition, bobwhites are native to almost every part of the Americas, so provided you live in a region with adequate brush covering, it’s highly likely you can see them in their native habitat.
Scientific Name: Dolichonyx oryzivorus
The bobolink is a small black and white bird commonly known as the “rice bird”. It gets that name from its habit of feeding on grain in fields – where the small birds can be viewed as pests.
Bobolinks often travel in flocks, leading many to mistake them for blackbirds or crows. However, with an average length of about 8 inches, they’re much smaller than most crows.
In addition, bobolinks travel between Canada and the upper hemisphere of North America and the lower half of South America every year – as they breed in Southern Canada and the Northern United States.
Here, you can often see these birds creating cup-shaped nests in dense vegetation on the ground. When fledglings are large enough, they fly back to South America.
Bobolinks are also uniquely connected to human activity in that they rely heavily on grass fields.
Populations soared in the 1700s and 1800s when horses, and therefore hayfields were everywhere. Today, their numbers are in decline – and are at risk in some areas.
Scientific Name (genera): Siali
Bluebirds are one of the most famous birds in the United States, which is largely thanks to their bright blue feathers and their songs. These tiny but bright birds are also one of the only thrushes in the Americas.
There are three living species of bluebirds, including the Mountain Bluebird, the Western Bluebird, and the Eastern Bluebird. Of these, all but the Mountain Bluebird has a red or pink ruff on the neck.
The Mountain Bluebird is the most striking, as it’s normally entirely blue with a dark beak and legs.
These birds feed exclusively on seeds and small insects, especially grubs and worms.
Scientific Name: Turdus merula
The blackbird or the common blackbird is a true thrush native to the Eurasian continent. The bird includes multiple subspecies, meaning there’s also a great deal of variety in appearance and coloration across the genus.
However, most blackbirds are dark black with a bright orange beak. That makes them distinctive, and they’re easily recognizable in most of Europe and Asia.
In addition, while the blackbird is native to Old World continents, it is a migrant in North America, where it may be found in Newfoundland.
Despite migrating into new territory, blackbirds are not considered invasive, as they don’t outcompete local birds.
Scientific Name (subfamily): Botaurinae
Bitterns are a subfamily of birds in the same family as herons. In addition, with 14 different species, these birds are very diverse. They’re also found in Europe, the Americas, and in Australia.
Like the heron, bitterns hunt by waiting near waterways. When they see prey, they dive with their head and long neck, allowing them to spear and catch small fish and crustaceans. Like many similar birds, bitterns also fly with their long neck retracted.
Bitterns almost always hide in tall and thick reeds. To facilitate this, many have stripes, which allow them to blend in and hide from predators.
Scientific Name: Bucephala albeola
Buffleheads (meaning “bullheaded”) are small, sea ducks native to the western and southern United States.
These ducks can be spotted each spring as they fly inland to lakes and ponds across the Northern United States and Canada. In fact, some nest as far south as the Great Lakes – although they’re more likely to be seen in Alaska.
When they fly, they often take up abandoned woodpecker nests to lay their own eggs in.
Buffleheads are also one of the smallest sea ducks. The largest weighs about 13 ounces, meaning the green-winged teal is the only duck that rivals them as being smaller.
Often, buffleheads can be distinguished by their bright black and white markings. That makes them one of the most popular birds for bird watchers during the breeding season.
Scientific Name (genus): Branta
The brant is a small goose native to the Pacific Ocean and the upper ranges of the Northern Hemisphere. There are three known species of brants, all of which spend summers along the west coast in North America, in Greenland, Japan, and Korea.
In addition, every species of brant flies to Siberia, Alaska, and Canada for the summer, where they nest and breed – not flying back until winter forces them to warmer climates.
Brants are also small for geese, with bodies not usually longer than 2 feet and wingspans of under 4 feet.
Scientific Name (genus): Sula
Boobies include 6 species of sea birds, found across the Americas and the world. Most species are native to the Americas but may range into Asia and the Pacific.
Of the boobies, the blue-footed boobie is the most well-known. Its bright blue feet make it stand out against its native rocky coast of western United States and Central America.
However, the red-footed booby, which is primarily found in the Indian Ocean, is even brighter.
In addition, boobies are slow-moving and show little fear of humans.
Their name refers to the Spanish slang term “bobo”, meaning stupid. That refers back to the ease that Spanish sailors had in catching these oily waterbirds for meals.
Scientific Name: Psaltriparus minimus
The American bushtit or simply bushtit is a small species of tits native to North America. In fact, the American bushtit is the only tit native to the New World.
Bushtits also stand out from regular tits with tails that are almost as long as the body.
In the United States, these birds can be found across the western and central parts of the country. However, they range down through Central America.
In addition, they can often be found in mixed-species flocks with chickadees and warblers with as many as 40 individuals.
They’re also famous for elaborate nests, which they assemble using stolen spiderwebs.
12. Blackish Tapaculo
Scientific Name: Scytalopus latrans
The blackish tapaculo is a small songbird native to South America – with a range across the Andes mountains. Its name comes from the dark plumage which ranges from very dark gray to dark gray with a green sheen.
Often, these small dark birds are only found in mountain forests. They also feed primarily on very tiny insects and arthropods found in moss and soil.
13. Black Kite
Scientific Name: Milvus migrans
The black kite is a bird of prey common across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Plus, with an estimated population of around 6 million, it’s one of the most common raptor species on the planet.
These birds resemble black or red hawks with smaller heads and slightly longer tails. They also hunt similarly, perching as high as possible and scanning for prey.
When they spot a small animal, they dive for it, catching it in their claws. Kites, like other raptors, also hunt by gliding for long distances in search of prey.
Kites are distinctive in that they often shrilly call out when diving.
14. Burmese Prinia
Scientific Name: Prinia cooki
The prinia is a small, gray bird native to Southeast Asia.
In appearance, the bird looks similar to a gray thrush, although it’s often about half the size of a thrush. In addition, the tail fans out with a distinctive set of four very broad feathers that end wider than the body.
The Burmese prinia is the only prinia without distinctive feather markings. This means that other similar birds have spots, stripes, or coloration, often on the tail feathers.
It’s also not known why the Burmese prinia doesn’t, although it probably offers it some advantage in hiding in the local jungle.
15. Buru Green Pigeon
Scientific Name: Trerib arinatucys
The Buru green pigeon is one of the most colorful pigeon species, with bright green feathers marked by red and yellow wings. It’s also extremely similar in appearance to the Pompadour green pigeon, which has similar markings but is a distinct species.
In addition, the Buru green pigeon is less social than many other pigeons. It’s not unusual to see these birds on their own or in very small groups. Also, they only lay 1-2 eggs at a time.
While pretty, you’re unlikely to see the Buru green pigeon outside of a zoo, as they’re native to a very small region in India.
16. Butterfly Coquette
Scientific Name: Lophornis verreauxii
The butterfly coquette is a species of hummingbird native to South America. As a medium-sized hummingbird, it averages about 3 inches in length – but can often be found feeding from flowers close to its own size.
The coquette features dark plumage with bright, green feathers on the head. It also features a sharp tuft on the head.
Like many hummingbirds, the butterfly coquette also features whiskers, which allow it to act as a pollinator, benefiting the plant it’s feeding from.
17. Bushy-Crested Jay
Scientific Name: Cyanocorax malanocyaneus
The bushy-crested jay is a dark black jay with bright blue coloration, making it one of the most striking of the American corvids.
In addition, with a length as long as 12 inches and a dark blue or violet sheen across the feathers, this brightly-colored bird it can be hard to miss.
However, it’s native to Central America, where it’s primarily found in forests. That means they’re hard for North American birdwatchers to ever see.
Bushy-crested jays also share family raising with other birds.
During nesting, other females will help to incubate the eggs and after hatching, multiple birds will assist in finding food – which can include family members and strangers of the mother.
18. Biak Lorikeet
Scientific Name: Trichoglossus rosenbergii
The Biak lorikeet is a very brightly colored parrot endemic to two small islands in Indonesia. The bird is similar to the more common coconut lorikeet but darker in coloration – with a dark blue head and chest.
Today, the Biak lorikeet is also vulnerable to extinction, due to pressure from logging and farming in the area.
In addition, at about one foot in length, the Biak lorikeet is a small parrot. These birds can also mate for life, with a single partner spanning 15+ years.
19. Bicolored Antbird
Scientific Name: Gymnopithys bicolor
The bicolored antbird is a species of antbird native to South America. Like other antbirds, it specializes in following army ants, which forage in large numbers.
Those large numbers of ants scare arthropods and insects out of hiding – which the antbird then eats.
The bird is very dark brown with black facial markings and a white chest. Like other antbirds, it can also focus on following an ant trail to the point where humans can get within a few feet of it.
However, it’s only found in subtropical and tropical forests, so you’d have to go there to see one.
20. Beck’s Petrel
Scientific Name: Pseudobulweria becki
The Beck’s petrel is a small bird endemic to the Melanesia islands – where it’s extremely rare. In fact, up until the early 2000s, the bird was known from only two specimens.
The Beck’s petrel is also highly migratory.
Like other petrel birds, Beck’s petrel is thought to nest southeast of New Guinea. However, the bird likely spends most of its time coasting over water – where it feeds on small fish.
Beck’s petrels hunt much like raptors, gliding until they see prey, at which they dive, often going deep underwater for prey.
21. Beautiful Woodpecker
Scientific Name: Melanerpes pulcher
The beautiful woodpecker is a woodpecker endemic to Colombia. While less common than many other species of woodpecker, it stands out with a bright red cap and yellow banding on the head and back.
Like other woodpeckers, this one is also found exclusively in forests, although the beautiful woodpecker is only found in the Magdalena River Valley.
22. Bay Coucal
Scientific Name: Centropus celebensis
The bay coucal is a species of cuckoo native to Indonesia. Like other cuckoos, the bird is medium-sized.
It also looks mottled brown from a distance and has long tail feathers. However, it looks more brightly colored, as the head starts out very yellow to yellowish, which fades into brown and then moves into a dark muddy red at the tail.
The bay coucal also engages in shared brooding. This means that they may build nests that they communally add eggs and incubate.
Like other cuckoos, they might also lay eggs in the bests of other birds – which means the other bird will incubate and feed the chick.
23. Blue-billed Curassow
Scientific Name: Crax alberti
The blue-billed curassow is a large curassow that can be over 3 feet long. At close glance, the bird may resemble a slender turkey – as it mostly lives on the ground, in tall grasses and reeds.
In addition, with a very tiny range in Colombia, this beautiful black and white bird is critically endangered. That’s especially true as the birds are often used as a food source, despite a rapidly diminishing habitat.
As the name suggests, the curassow has a bright blue bill. It uses this to pick up worms, fruit, and almost anything it can find from the ground.
24. Brown-capped Rosy Finch
Scientific Name: Leucosticte australis
The brown-capped rosy finch is a medium-sized finch found only in the central Rocky Mountains in the United States. The finches are normally smaller than 4 inches in length, but are still considered medium-sized.
In addition, while they look drab and gray-brown from a distance, most feature a pinkish sheen and pinkish feathers on the underbelly. These can light up in bright sunlight, creating a very rosy and pink effect.
Brown-capped rosy finches live exclusively in mountains. Here, they normally feed on insects, seeds, and grasses.
They also nest in rocks and small cavities and are very likely to reuse abandoned nests from other birds.
25. Bar-winged Rail
Scientific Name: Hypotaenidia poeciloptera
The bar-winged rail is a now-extinct water bird that was formerly endemic to Fiji. The rail was flightless and primarily nested around swamps and forests.
Its disappearance is traced to the local introduction of the domestic housecat and the mongoose, which people imported to combat snake issues.
Like other rails, the bar-winged rail is a wading bird. It walks in shallow water looking for vegetation and small insects to eat.
They’re also excellent swimmers and may build nests on piles of debris in the middle of the water – which offers protection from predators.
However, the bird and its eggs are now inhabitants of museums, where some 12 preserved (taxidermized) examples are kept in the United States.
26. Barka Indigobird
Scientific Name: Vidua larvaticola
The barka indigobird is a medium-sized bird native to the African continent. The bird resembles a very large finch, with a very broad and stubby beak.
In addition, these birds are dark black to extremely dark black-blue, which can be quite striking. During the breeding season, males take on a blue or green sheen.
Like the cuckoo, to which they are related, the barka indigobird can be a nest parasite. Here, the birds lay eggs in the nests of fire finches, leading to the name “finch cuckoo”.
However, the indigobird takes replication much further than most cuckoos, with even its calls imitating the vocalizations of the firefinch.
27. Band-tailed Earthcreeper
Scientific Name: Ochetorhynchus phoenicurus
The band-tailed earthcreeper is a small and sparrow-like bird native to Patagonia. It gets its name from the red band across the tailfeathers.
The bird, which looks like a sparrow from a distance, sports a strikingly long tail. Unlike the sparrow, the band-tailed earthcreeper also has a long beak, allowing it to more easily pull small insects from the ground and from grass.
The earthcreeper is often found hunting on the ground, as its name would suggest. Here, it looks for small insects including ants, grubs, worms, and beetles.
28. Broad-billed Prion
Scientific Name: Pachyptila vittata
The broad-billed prion is a sea bird found in the Atlantic, where it breeds on rocky coasts.
These birds are gray and similar in appearance to most other prions and petrels. However, at up to a foot long, it’s also longer than other prions.
In addition, the bird gets its name from its beak, which curves and can encompass nearly the full width of the bird’s head.
29. Bronze Mannikin
Scientific Name: Spermestes cucullata
The bronze mannikin is a small Estrildid finch common across most of the African continent.
At less than 4 inches long, these birds are lightweight and often difficult to spot. However, they sport dark brown and metallic feathers, which can make them stand out a great deal in the sunlight.
All bronze mannikins live in grassland, where they feed on seeds, termites, algae, and nectar. They’ve also been introduced to Puerto Rico, where they’re considered a migratory rather than an invasive species.
These broad-billed birds also often forage on the ground, where most of the flock will look for food, while a few sentries stand on the lookout, ready to sound the alarm in case of danger.
30. Baer’s Pochard
Scientific Name: Aythya baeri
The Baer’s pochard is a medium-sized diving duck native to Asia, where it’s been introduced to Russia, Japan, and India. The bird was formerly bred domestically but is now critically endangered in the wild due to habitat loss.
At almost 2 feet in length and weighing over a pound, these ducks were also popular for hunters. Today, they’re a protected species and mostly kept in zoos, where visitors can go to see these distinctive, black-headed ducks.