Coastal Birdwatching: 9 Beautiful Birds
These bright songbirds known for the sweet tone of their whistle and their distinctive yellow bodies can be spotted from coast to coast in the United States. Males have chestnut streaks across their feathers. They mostly eat insects, so they’re unlikely to come to backyard feeders, but you can find them on the top of tall shrubs and small trees near the water.
This black-and-white seabird is best known for its clown-like face, with a large multicolored bill against stark white cheeks (also earning it the moniker of “sea parrot”). In the U.S., you can only see the Atlantic Puffin in Maine during the summer, as the state marks the southern boundary of its breeding grounds. In winter, these birds, which may live to be more than 30 years old, rest on the waves out at sea.
A dweller of open, sandy beaches, this small shorebird can be seen along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It scurries across the sand with its short yellow legs and pale body. Keep an eye out for chicks during spring and summer breeding season—these little puffballs are seriously cute.
This bird’s striking orange color lasts through the summer during breeding, before fading back to black and white during winter months. American Avocets feed in lagoons and marshes along the Pacific Coast and spend the winters along the southern parts of the East and West Coasts.
These sea ducks spend their winters along the East and West coasts of the country, and can often be seen in groups floating just past the breaking waves. The males are a deep black color with large, bright orange bills and white markings on their necks and at the base of their bills. Females are slightly lighter and have small white markings on their faces.
Distinctive for its very long, downward sloping bill, the Glossy Ibis can be found in marshes along the East Coast—year-round in Florida and other southern areas, and just during summer breeding in New England. In the right lighting, its stunning chestnut and green colors shine.
Ospreys are large hawks often seen flying over coastal U.S. waterways all across the country searching for live fish to catch. They’re brown on top and white on their undersides, with piercing yellow eyes. Spot them by looking for the M-shape made by their wings when seen from below.
These large black waterbirds are seen across North America, and they breed on the coasts as well as on large inland lakes. They float in the water to catch fish, and after getting out of the water can be seen spreading their wings wide to dry off quickly. Their coloring may look simple from a distance, but up close they have stunning aquamarine eyes and yellow on their faces.
Belted Kingfishers can be found near the water across most of the United States, spending much of their time along the edges of streams and rivers waiting for small fish to catch. They have large heads with straight bills and blue and white markings on their bodies, plus a brown band across the stomach on females. These birds travel far: They’ve also been seen in the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, the British Isles, the Azores, Iceland, Greenland, and the Netherlands.