White isn’t the most common color among birds. Yet, nothing takes away the fact that white birds are a symbol of purity and elegance in many cultures.
If you want to learn more about the white birds with long necks around the world – or if you want to add some wading species to your birdwatching list – check out the twenty-one species below:
- Dalmatian pelican
- Great egret
- Greater flamingo
- Swinhoe’s egret
- Snowy egret
- Tundra swan
- Eurasian spoonbill
- Whooping crane
- Australian white ibis
- Blue-footed booby
- Yellow-billed stork
- Siberian crane
- Snow goose
- Shoebill stork
- White ibis
- Cattle egret
- Whooper swan
- Masked booby
- Little blue heron
- Wood stork
Note: This list includes some of the most interesting white birds with long necks, but it is not exhaustive. The species are ranked in no particular order.
1. Dalmatian Pelican
Scientific name: Pelecanus crispus
The largest freshwater bird in the world – it can measure up to six feet in length – the Dalmatian pelican is famous for its conspicuous curly nape feathers, bright red throat pouches, and gracefully synchronized flock flight.
It is also one of the white pelican species, sporting silvery-white plumage that contrasts with the gray beak and legs, as well as the yellow marks around the eyes.
This near threatened species is found near inland lakes and coastal lagoons in southeast Europe and western Asia and is one of the largest white birds with long necks in the world.
2. Great Egret
Scientific name: Ardea alba
The great egret is a pure white bird with a long neck and one of the most common egrets in the world.
Divided into four subspecies – all of them sharing similar characteristics – this egret is present in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Its usual habitat is constituted of wetlands, marshes, shallow coastal lagoons, and estuaries. The largest white egret anywhere in its range, the great egret is easily recognizable thanks to the long black legs and S-shaped neck.
The beak is long too, and typically a bright yellow hue.
These adaptations allow the egret to walk around the shallow body of water and catch fish or crustaceans that are within reach of its long necks with a quick thrust of their sharp bills.
3. Greater Flamingo
Scientific name: Phoenicopterus ruber
Flamingos are famous worldwide for their blush pink hue. What might be less known is that flamingos in general – and greater flamingos, in particular – are actually white.
Greater flamingos are the only flamingo species breeding in Europe. They are born silvery-white and remain white for the first two years of their lives.
In their breeding range, flamingoes inhabit shallow brackish and saltwater lagoons, feeding on algae and shrimplike crustaceans that are responsible for the pink color.
Their actual hue can vary from whitish to blush pink, depending on their diet. In periods of drought or scarce availability of crustaceans, greater flamingos often become some of the largest white birds with long necks and legs in their breeding or wintering range.
4. Swinhoe’s Egret
Scientific name: Egretta eulophotes
First described by Robert Swinhoe, the Swinhoe’s or Chinese egret is a threatened species of white birds with long necks in Asia.
These egrets are about a foot smaller than the great egrets, but the two birds are very similar in appearance.
That said, Swinhoe’s egrets are easily recognizable thanks to their thicker legs and yellow feet. Breeding adults have yellow-orange bills, blue facial skin, and a shaggy nuchal crest characteristic of both sexes. Non-breeding adults have a greenish-gray upper mandible.
Like the great egrets, Chinese egrets sport pure white plumage.
5. Snowy Egret
Scientific name: Egretta thula
The snowy egret also sports pure white plumage, but it’s one of the easiest to recognize egret birds. The main difference between it and other egret species living in the same range is the long black beak with a yellow base and the black legs with yellow feet.
Like the great egrets, snowy egrets have an extensive range. Egrets wintering in North America are typically found in wetlands, shallow coastal areas, and tidal flats along the USA’s east coast and southern Canada.
This bird is about the same size as the Chinese egrets, which makes it easy to tell it apart from great egrets found in the same habitats.
6. Tundra Swan
Scientific name: Cygnus columbianus
A widespread type of swans, tundra swans are native white birds with long necks in North America, Europe, Asia, and even Africa and the Caribbean.
During the summer breeding season, the western populations are usually found in southwest Alaska and above the arctic circle of Canada, in tundra habitats. These breeding areas earned the name of this swan.
Tundra swans are large birds that can grow over four feet long. The long neck is typically held high or stretched out, especially during flight. They have a strong beak that is black and often extends up to the forehead in adult individuals.
These swans are very similar to trumpeter or whooper swans, but the outstretched neck is a telltale sign between these species.
7. Eurasian Spoonbill
Scientific name: Platalea leucorodia
Eurasian spoonbills are white birds with long necks in the ibis family, even though they look nothing like ibises.
Their Asian range is rather small and confined to Japan. In Europe, this spoonbill is found in a wide variety of habitats and countries ranging from England to Spain. European breeders mainly winter in Africa, even if they may also choose to remain in mild winter areas in western Europe.
Eurasian spoonbills are large-sized birds with almost full-white plumage, except for a yellow patch at the base of the neck. Their facial skin is yellow.
These birds have slenderer bills compared to other spoonbills and sturdy black legs. Breeding adults also have beautiful crests.
Scientific name: Jabiru mycteria
Members of the stork family, jabirus are white birds with long black necks in South America – even if they do sometimes wander into the US, especially in Texas.
These birds usually live in large groups and prefer freshwater marshes and open wetlands.
Adults grow over three feet high and have huge wingspans, often over eight feet wide. Their plumage is completely white, but they don’t have feathers on their heads and necks, which are instead covered in skin that is black.
They also have a light-colored skin band around the base of the neck, which is pink during rest but turns a deep scarlet color when the jabiru is excited or irritated.
Jabirus are often mistaken for black-necked storks that are native to Asia and Australia (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) and that have slender black necks and black wings.
9. Whooping Crane
Scientific name: Grus americana
The tallest bird in America and one of the rarest white birds with long necks in the world, the whooping crane is an endangered species with fewer than 250 adult individuals left in the world.
Almost all extant individuals are part of a flock that migrates from Texas to Canada. However, a small group exists in Florida, which is mainly non-migrating.
Whooping cranes are tall birds that often grow over five feet. They have slender bodies covered in pure white plumage. Like the jabirus, they have red and black skin on the head. The beak is yellow-black, and black feather patches are visible on the underside of the wings when they are stretched.
Whooping cranes are typically found in mudflats, marshes, wet prairies, and wetlands in general.
10. Australian White Ibis
Scientific name: Threskiornis moluccus
Jabirus aren’t the only white birds with long featherless necks in the world. Another species that matches the description is the Australian white ibis.
One of the three ibis species in Australia – and the only one to sport almost entirely white plumage – the Australian white ibis has a bare neck and head covered in black skin. The beak is long and black, and so are the feet.
The body is predominantly white, with glossy black patches on the tips of the wings. These ibises are stockier compared to ibis birds in Europe and America, and their necks are also shorter compared to their European or American counterparts.
Australian white ibises are found in all but the driest habitats.
11. Blue-Footed Booby
Scientific name: Sula nebouxii
A long-necked white bird with brown wings, the blue-footed booby is one of the most funny-looking bird species.
This marine bird is found in most tropical and subtropical regions of the eastern Pacific Ocean, including the Gulf of California.
These birds owe their name to the bright blue feet that occur in breeding males. The almost icy hue of the feet complements the plumage, which is pure white on the undersides and a faint brown streaked with white on the head and back. The wings are brown.
Females don’t have blue feet and are slightly larger than males. Both sexes have stocky yet long necks, as well as long beaks that are grayish-blue.
12. Yellow-Billed Stork
Scientific name: Mycteria ibis
One of the most common African types of white birds with long necks, the yellow-billed stork can be described as a stork and flamingo hybrid.
The body reminds of flamingos, with the largely white plumage that can turn pink, depending on the diet. Their black wing tips are also similar to those of some flamingo species. Yellow-billed storks even have long, red-pink legs.
However, as their name suggests, the bill is long, yellow, and has a triangular shape like all stork bills. These birds also have red skin that covers their faces and foreheads.
13. Siberian Crane
Scientific name: Grus leucogeranus
Siberian cranes are critically endangered white birds with long necks. As their name suggests, they breed in northern Siberia, even though they migrate to eastern Asia during winter.
These cranes are similar in appearance to the whooping cranes. Their bodies are almost pure white, with the exception of the primaries, which are black.
The skin is red on both legs and face, and they can have reddish or pale yellow eyes. Males and females are very similar, but males tend to be slightly larger.
14. Snow Goose
Scientific name: Anser caerulescens
Geese may not have necks as long as other bird species, but their necks are definitely long compared to their body size.
Of all wild species, snow geese are white, even if a snow goose subspecies is dark and commonly called blue goose.
White geese with long necks are often found in the northernmost parts of Canada and northwest Greenland. The wintering range stretches from the southern United States to Central America.
Snow geese breed in colonies in tundra habitats, usually near ponds or water streams, but also in saltwater marshes near coastal areas. In winter, they commonly occur in agricultural fields where they feed on leftover grains.
15. Shoebill Stork
Scientific name: Balaeniceps rex
The shoebill stork is best described as a whitish-gray bird with a long neck, even if its color can actually vary from light to dark gray.
However, it isn’t the plumage that makes this bird famous, but the beak. This stork-like bird has a very wide and flattened bill that resembles a wooden shoe.
The plumage is a slate-blue gray on the back and wings, often darker on the head. The undersides are a very light shade of silver-gray. Shoebill storks have yellowish bills with blotchy dark spots and end with a sharp hook that aids in capturing prey.
This large wading bird is native to Africa.
16. American White Ibis
Scientific name: Eudocimus albus
A common white bird with a long neck in Virginia, the American white ibis, is primarily found in coastal regions and often shares the habitat with egrets and other ibises.
These long-legged wading birds require shallow water for feeding and can thrive in both freshwater and saltwater environments. They are almost completely white, but the wing tips are black. American white ibises have long red beaks and red skin on the face and feet.
The species is sexually dimorphic, with males significantly larger than females. However, both sexes have the same coloration.
17. Cattle Egret
Scientific name: Bubulcus ibis
White and brown birds with long necks, the cattle egrets are aptly named for their habit of following cattle herds. They do so to feed on insects disturbed by the cows, a thing that makes their habitats a lot more varied compared to other egrets.
In fact, cattle egrets prefer wetlands, but they are also commonly found in grasslands and woodlands.
This species is found in a variety of geographic regions. In the Americas, it is found all year round in South America. Cattle egrets are also present in the United States, where they breed from California to the Great Lakes to Maine and the Gulf Coast.
18. Whooper Swan
Scientific name: Cygnus cygnus
The Eurasian counterpart of the American trumpeter swan, the whooper swan, is one of the most beautiful white birds with long necks. It is also the largest white swan and the only swan species that breeds in Iceland and Ireland.
Both sexes have white plumage in adult age and black webbed feet and legs. Their beaks are black and bright yellow.
Similar to the American white ibis, whooper swans are sexually dimorphic, with adult males larger and heavier than females.
19. Masked Booby
Scientific name: Sula dactylatra
A fairly small bird with a long neck, but the biggest booby species, the masked booby is a widespread bird primarily found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
These white birds prefer living on small islands without trees and often nest on cliff edges.
Their plumage is pure white, but they have black patches on their wings and tails and black masks around their beaks and eyes – hence, their name. Juveniles have gray plumage and are often mistaken for northern gannets.
20. Little Blue Heron
Scientific name: Egretta caerulea
Gray birds with long necks when they are grown-ups, little blue herons look a lot like snowy egrets when they are young. In fact, juveniles of these species are pure white, their plumage molting to a bluish gray when they turn adults.
Their feet and legs are yellow, while the beaks are grayish-blue to dark gray in color.
Little blue herons are some of the smallest wading birds, their length rarely exceeding 29 inches.
They are found in brackish, fresh, and saltwater environments all across Florida, but sightings have also been recorded in Missouri, Texas, and Virginia.
21. Wood Stork
Scientific name: Mycteria americana
The only stork species found in North America, wood storks, are a true delight for birdwatching enthusiasts.
They only occur in a few areas in the United States, being one of the few species of white birds with long necks in South Carolina.
What makes them stand out is the unusual appearance given by the pure white plumage and scaly, dark gray necks and faces. The long beaks are also dark, while the thin, long legs are black with pink to red feet. They also have black feathers on their wings and tails.
Wood storks prefer shallow freshwater habitats where they feed on lots of minnows – a breeding pair can eat over 400 pounds of fish per season.