31 COMMON Birds Found in South America! (2024)

Are you trying to identify a bird found in South America?

South America has an incredible diversity of birds. Did you know there are records of 3,466 DIFFERENT species here?

As you can imagine, there was no way to include this many birds in the below article. So instead, I tried to focus on the birds that are most regularly seen and observed.

31 COMMON types of birds in South America!

#1. Great Kiskadee

  • Pitangus sulphuratus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults measure 21-27 cm (8-11 in) long.
  • The wings and tail are warm reddish-brown, and their underparts are yellow.
  • They have a black head with white eyebrows and throat.

Great Kiskadees are one of the most common birds in South America.

Look for Great Kiskadees in the wild in tropical forests near clearings or bodies of water. They prefer semi-open habitats with some large trees. However, they also occur in human-altered habitats, including suburbs, orchards, and coffee plantations.

The Great Kiskadee has an incredible evolutionary advantage of picking and choosing survival tactics from other species. The Kestrel, Vulture, Flycatcher, Thrush, and Kingfisher have all lent their habits to this amazing bird. For example, they often hunt by catching insects in midair, but they also forage for plant material and fish. In addition, Great Kiskadees visit feeders and sometimes steal pet food, bread, bananas, and peanut butter. They make wonderful visitors to the backyard!

They’re very vocal birds, and their name comes from their call, which is a ringing “kis-ka-dee.” They will often join mixed flocks of birds and aren’t easily scared off by humans.

YouTube video

#2. Saffron Finch

  • Sicalis flaveola

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 13-15 cm (5-6 in) long.
  • The males are bright yellow with an orange crown.
  • Females are similar but duller and may even be brownish and streaky in southern populations.
  • They have a black upper beak and a pale lower beak.

Look for Saffron Finches in dry, open lowlands, including towns, parks, and river valleys. They don’t mind human-altered habitats, so you’ll likely see them while out and about.

These brightly colored birds in South America are easy to attract to your yard.

They often visit bird feeders and are particularly fond of oats, but they also eat other seeds and insects. However, during breeding, males will aggressively defend their territory, chasing away other birds. They may even be aggressive with their mates and juveniles. Unfortunately, due to their hostile behavior, they are also illegally used for bird fighting.

Saffron Finches make a series of single and double notes and occasionally a brief trill.

YouTube video

#3. Southern Lapwing

  • Vanellus chilensis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 33-38 cm (13-15 in) long.
  • Their upper parts are mostly brownish-gray with a distinctive black breast, white belly, gray head, and bronze shoulders.
  • They have red eyes and legs, and their wings appear boldly patterned in flight.

The Southern Lapwing is a shorebird that occupies river banks, lake shores, and open grasslands. Cattle ranching has expanded grassland habitats which has benefited these birds in South America. In fact, in recent years, their range appears to be spreading.

They sometimes use human-altered habitats, including towns, soccer fields, and airports. It’s not uncommon to see them in open areas in the heart of cities and suburbs!

Interestingly, researchers have uncovered fossilized bones from Southern Lapwings that date to the Late Pleistocene period, 126,000 years ago. They’ve remained incredibly similar to their ancient ancestors!

#4. Rufous Hornero

  • Furnarius rufus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 18-20 cm (7-8 in) long.
  • They are reddish-brown above with a dark rufous tail.
  • They have dark feet, a slender, almost straight beak, and a whitish chin and throat.

Rufous Horneros are one of many birds in South America considered synanthropic.

This means they live near humans and benefit from their presence. For example, they eat human food scraps and spend time near humans to avoid predators.

In addition to these benefits, they are adept at creating homes in suburban and urban settings. They occupy various habitats, including pastures, parks, gardens, and areas near lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Listening to their song, you can easily tell the difference between male and female Rufous Horneros. The male calls in a rapid, high-pitched trill, and the female answers with a slower trill that matches her wingbeats.

YouTube video

#5. Tropical Kingbird

  • Tyrannus melancholicus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range 18-23 cm (7-9 in) inches long.
  • They have a big, gray head, bright yellow underparts, pale gray-green backs, and dark gray-brown wings.
  • They have a medium-length tail notched in the center, a heavy, long beak, and broad wings.

Tropical Kingbirds have adapted well to human development in South America.

Look for them in cities and suburbs, where they are comfortable living close to people. In particular, they like golf courses and parks.

As members of the flycatcher family, Tropical Kingbirds feed primarily from the air. They sit in their favorite perches and wait for insect prey, then fly out, catch it, and return to their perch to eat it. They will also feed on fruit and usually perch to grab fruit but occasionally hover if there’s no convenient perch. Whichever way they choose to eat, these birds show off their athletic nature!

Tropical Kingbirds use the safety of large numbers to protect their eggs and hatchlings. Look for their nests near large members of the blackbird family, such as orioles, which chase away predators and parasitic cowbirds.

#6. Tropical Mockingbird

  • Mimus gilvus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 23-25 cm (9-10 in) inches long.
  • Their coloration is silvery-gray above and whitish below, with a long black tail.
  • They have white stripes above their eye, long dark legs, and a slim, black beak with a slight downward curve.

Tropical Mockingbirds in South America occupy farmland, scrublands, savanna, and parks.

They prefer open habitats and avoid dense forests and mangroves. This species typically forages on the ground or in low vegetation. However, they may also perch and fly to catch insects like swarming termites.

These vocal birds are susceptible to parasitism by the Shiny Cowbird. Cowbirds lay their eggs in the Tropical Mockingbird’s nest, which then raises the chicks as their own. But, they have developed a unique adaptation to help them survive. Because up to 80% of nests are parasitized during their first brood, Tropical Mockingbirds lay second and third broods that aren’t affected.

Despite the name mockingbird, this species rarely mimics other birds. However, they often sing through the night and have various songs and calls.

YouTube video

#7. Rufous-Collared Sparrow

  • Zonotrichia capensis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 13-15 cm (5-6 in) inches long.
  • Their wings and back are predominantly brown, their stomach is drab gray to white, and they have a rufous collar.
  • They have a grayish-brown streak on the crown of their head with black lines on either side.

Look for this bird in South America in grasslands, urban areas, parks, and gardens. Rufous-collared Sparrows are well-adapted to human development and have a large, expanding range.

The Rufous-collared Sparrow’s diet is typically made up of about 80% seeds and 20% insects. However, in early summer, when insect populations increase, insects play a larger role making up to 60% of their diet. They have even been observed plucking termites from spiderwebs!

Because of their enormous range and varied subspecies, Rufous-collared Sparrows have a wide range of behaviors. For example, some subspecies migrate while others are year-round residents. The males of some subspecies help raise their young, while others move on and breed with another female. Their songs and calls also vary by region.

Despite these differences between subspecies, Rufous-collared Sparrows are similar in appearance, so it’s fairly easy to recognize them by sight.

#8. Smooth-Billed Ani

  • Crotophaga ani

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults measure about 36 cm (14 in) long.
  • Their coloration is black overall, with some bronzy gloss on their upper parts, which may be seen in optimal light.
  • They have flat heads, very heavy, rounded beaks, long tapering tails, and short, rounded wings.
  • This species is zygodactyl, meaning it has two toes pointing backward and two pointing forward.

This species thrives in many human-altered habitats, including parks, sugarcane fields, and suburbs. They are often drawn to herds of cattle that flush prey as they move through fields. Smooth-billed Anis typically capture prey using quick pounces but occasionally use short flights.

Smooth-billed Anis have the most unusual breeding habits of any bird in South America.

They’re highly social birds that live in small groups of up to five pairs plus their offspring. Amazingly, the group will construct a nest together, then all the females will lay their eggs inside this same nest. All members of the group also share incubation and chick feeding duties.

Males often bring their mate a twig or leaf when they relieve her from incubation duties. I think of it as a flower to thank her for a hard day!

#9. Blue-Gray Tanager

  • Thraupis episcopus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 15-18 cm (6-7 in) long.
  • Their plumage is shades of blue, from nearly gray to very bright. They have dark eyes, dark gray legs, and a short, thick bill.
  • Populations east of the Andes have white wing bars.

Look for this vibrant blue bird in South America in agricultural areas and urban parks.

They adapt well to human presence and will feed on cultivated fruit like papayas. Blue-gray Tanagers travel in pairs or small flocks and are noisy and restless. 

Although they typically make their nests high in trees, Blue-gray Tanagers have been known to use building crevices in urban areas. That’s one effective way to make use of human-altered habitats!

Listen for this species’ squeaky, high-pitched call, which can be compared to a series of “tseee” and “tsuuup” noises.

YouTube video

#10. Vermillion Flycatcher

  • Pyrocephalus obscurus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 13-14 cm (5-5.5 in) long.
  • Adult males are brilliant red with a dark brown mask, back, wings, and tail.
  • Females are gray-brown with faint streaks on the breast and salmon-red underparts.
  • Both sexes have a black beak.

The Vermillion Flycatcher’s genus name, Pyrocephalus, literally translates to “fire-headed.” And one look at a male of this species will tell you why! Its striking red color comes from its insect diet, which contains a chemical that turns its plumage bright red.

These beautiful birds primarily feed on flying insects. Their prey includes butterflies, honeybees, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers. Vermillion Flycatchers capture most of their prey by suddenly flying out from an exposed perch. Then, they carry their prey back to the same perch in a single swoop, sometimes hitting large prey against the perch before eating it.

The best place to spot a Vermillion Flycatcher is in an open habitat near the edges of ponds and streams. These birds often wander and are sometimes far outside their normal range.

#11. Eared Dove

  • Zenaida auriculata

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 24 cm (9 in) long.
  • Adult males have olive-brown upper parts, reddish underparts, and cinnamon-tipped tails.
  • The female is duller than the male.
  • Both sexes have a black bill, dark red legs, and a long wedge-shaped tail.

Eared Doves prefer open, disturbed habitats such as agricultural areas, towns, and cities. Look for them on telephone wires and posts and feeding near coastal resorts.

Seeds and grain make up most of the Eared Dove’s diet, although they will also eat insects. They can be agricultural pests because they prefer crop grains. For example, when crops like wheat, rice, soybeans, maize, and sorghum are available, they make up the entirety of their diet.

These birds are commonly hunted in South America, especially where their populations are large.

It isn’t unusual for a hunter to be able to take 1000 birds in one day. These large-scale hunts are similar to those seen in North America, with now extinct passenger pigeons in the 1800s. Thankfully, Eared Dove populations appear to be more resilient. Their ability to withstand heavy hunting is due to their year-round breeding and large-scale grain farming operations that provide an excellent food source.

#12. Chalk-Browed Mockingbird

  • Mimus saturninus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 23-25 cm (9-10 in) long.
  • Their coloration is brownish gray above and pale tan below.
  • They have a black tail tipped in white, a dark brown crown, and white cheeks.

You can find the Chalk-browed Mockingbird in savannas, open woodlands, and urban and suburban gardens. They’re omnivorous and mostly forage on the ground, feeding on fruits, berries, seeds, insects, and small invertebrates.

This species has a large range and is very common throughout it, including in several protected areas. The only real threat they face is cowbird parasitism. Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of Chalk-browed Mockingbirds, forcing the mockingbirds to raise the cowbird chicks instead of their own young.

Chalk-browed Mockingbirds give a loud series of notes, trills, and phrases. They also regularly imitate other birds, including raptors.

YouTube video

#13. Rufous-Bellied Thrush

  • Turdus rufiventris

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can reach a length of 25 cm (19 in).
  • They have an olive-brown back and breast, a pale streaky throat, and an orange belly.
  • This species has long, slender legs and yellow eye rings.

Rufous-bellied Thrushes are one of the most common birds in South America.

The Rufous-bellied Thrush is prevalent in various habitats, including urban parks, backyards, and gardens. They often visit backyards but prefer feeding on the ground instead of at bird feeders. It’s common to find them near people, although they may be restricted to areas near water sources in drier parts of their range.

These thrushes give rich, caroling, melodic songs typically from hidden perches shortly after dawn.

YouTube video

#14. Red-Crested Cardinal

  • Paroaria coronata

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 20 cm (8 in) long.
  • They have a bright red head and throat, gray back, and white underparts.
  • Their legs are dark, and their beaks are silver-gray.

Look for this distinctive-looking bird in South America in semi-open habitats.

Its vibrant red hood contrasts sharply with its gray wings and white body, making it nearly impossible to miss!

You can find Red-crested Cardinals in pairs or small family groups throughout the year, but they come together in larger flocks during the non-breeding season. They feed on fruit, seeds, and insects and prefer to forage on the ground.

These beautiful birds are common throughout their large range and have also been introduced to other parts of the world. North American birders may equate this species with the Northern Cardinal, but it’s not closely related. The Red-crested Cardinal is actually a member of the Tanager family!

#15. Monk Parakeet

  • Myiopsitta monachus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 28 cm (11 in) long with a wingspan of 49 cm (19 in).
  • Their body plumage is green with blue flight feathers.
  • They have pale pink beaks and gray faces and breasts.

Monk Parakeets are native birds in South America, but feral colonies exist in cities worldwide. Although they are escaped pets, these colonies are rarely seen as invasive. For example, a colony in Brooklyn, New York, is viewed favorably because its presence has reduced the number of nesting pigeons.

Also called the Quaker Parrot, this species is the only true parrot that can survive temperate winters. They create complex nests for the entire colony, and this communal living arrangement protects against harsh weather and predators. They’ve also learned to visit backyard bird feeders when food is scarce, giving them an additional advantage in cold climates.

Monk Parakeets have been found in the US since the 1960s. Originally, there were efforts to curb their populations because of fears that they would spread and become agricultural pests. However, none of these programs are still in place, and while populations in cities have persisted, they haven’t spread.

#16. Bananaquit

  • Coereba flaveola

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 10-13 cm (4-5 in) long.
  • Most adults have dark gray upper parts, a black crown, and a yellow chest, belly, and rump.
  • Coloration varies across their range, including one with a dark morph that’s entirely black.

Bananaquits have something in common with many humans I know – a sweet tooth! Also known as “sugar birds” in South America, this species is attracted to nectar feeders and bowls of sugar. They even enter homes looking for sweet treats.

Small and usually colorful Bananaquits are known for adapting easily to human habitats. They like fruit and nectar, so they spend a lot of time in backyards with flower gardens or fruit trees.

This species’ reliance on humans doesn’t stop with their diet. They often build their nests on human-made objects, including lampposts and garden trellises. Look for a globe-shaped tangle of sticks and leaves between 5 and 30 feet (1.5 to 9 m) off the ground.

#17. Toco Toucan

  • Ramphastos toco

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 56-66 cm (22-25 in) inches long.
  • Their body is mostly black with a white underside and a red patch under the tail.
  • They have a huge orange bill with a black tip and base.
  • Rings of orange and blue skin surround their dark eyes.

The Toco Toucan is easily the most recognizable bird in South America!

This incredible-looking bird has an enormous beak relative to its body size. Even though it appears heavy, it’s actually made of a thin honeycomb of keratin, the same material as fingernails, supported by thin rods of bone.

The exact purpose of the Toco Toucan’s beak isn’t well understood, but it may have multiple uses. For example, they likely play a role in courtship and warning off predators, and their large size may allow them to distribute heat away from their bodies. In addition, the size of their beak allows them to reach fruit from branches that are too thin to perch on.

Toco Toucans have a relatively small home range and tend to hop around trees more than they fly. They make raucous vocalizations, including a “wreh” call, grunting, and snoring sounds. They are sometimes compared to croaking frogs and can be heard up to 1/2 mile away through the jungle!

YouTube video

#18. Kelp Gull

  • Larus dominicanus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 53-66 cm (21-26 in) long with a wingspan of 127-142 cm (50-56 in).
  • Their back and wings are black, with a white head, neck, and tail.
  • They have a yellow bill with a red spot near the tip and greenish-yellow legs.

Kelp Gulls are one of the most prevalent water birds in South America.

One reason for the Kelp Gull’s success is its ability to adapt to any food source. These gulls are opportunistic omnivores, feeding on anything they can fit in their mouths, including fruit, sea creatures, insects, and even small mammals. They also scavenge carrion and even follow fishing boats or gather near slaughterhouses to feed on refuse.

In addition to eating almost anything, Kelp Gulls have been observed to be extremely aggressive at mealtimes. In some areas, they feed from Right Whales, using their powerful beaks to tear into their skin and blubber. This can leave the whales with large open sores. They’re also known to peck out the eyes of a seal pup before attacking it as a group. In addition, they frequently pick up shellfish and fly into the air, dropping them onto rocks below to break open the shells.

#19. Ruddy Ground Dove

  • Columbina talpacoti

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 13-18 cm (5-7 in) long.
  • Males have reddish-brown upper parts, a blue-gray head, pink feet.
  • Females are similar but have duller plumage, a brown head, and brighter rump.
  • Both sexes have rusty brown wing patches that are visible in flight.

Look for Ruddy Ground Doves in humid habitats with plenty of open space. They often frequent wet areas like marshes.

Although they’re typically seen in flocks of 10 to 20, occasionally flocks of up to 200 occur and may flush explosively when humans or predators walk near them. It can be startling to see hundreds of brown pigeon-size birds all take to the sky at once!

These doves are believed to be common, and their range seems to be expanding. Their need for open habitats means they have adapted well to deforested and agricultural areas. They also adapt well to towns and cities.

#20. Great Thrush

  • Turdus fuscater

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults measure 28-33 cm (11-13 in) long.
  • Their plumage is black to grayish-brown.
  • They have an orange bill and yellow-orange legs.
  • Males have an orange eye ring.

Great Thrushes prefer open habitats in highlands between 6,500 and 13,000 feet above sea level. Populations are sedentary, meaning they do not migrate. They adapt easily to humans, meaning it’s common to see these dark gray birds in South America in cities and towns.

The Great Thrush has many vocalizations, from songs to warning calls and distress signals.

They fly a short distance away if startled and give a staccato “kurt-kurt-kurt-kurt” call. During the breeding season, they sing a soft, melodious tune. Finally, they make a very loud “kweep” noise to advertise territory.

YouTube video

#21. Wattled Jacana

  • Jacana jacana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult females may grow to 58 cm (23 in) long, while males grow about 38 cm (15 in) long.
  • Adults have solid black bodies or rufous upper parts with a black head and neck.
  • They have a red wattle and forehead, yellow bill, bony spurs on their wings, and yellow flight feathers.

These unmistakable water birds in South America inhabit lakes, marshes, and swamps.

Wattled Jacanas have exceptionally long claws that allow them to walk across floating vegetation, especially lily pads. As a result, they sometimes appear to be walking on water!

Incredibly, Wattled Jacanas can swim underwater for long periods by leaving just the tip of their bill above water! However, they’re weak flyers and only travel short distances in the air. So, if threatened, this species dives underwater to avoid predators instead of taking flight.

The breeding habits of the Wattled Jacana are different from most birds. The male is responsible for the offspring once the eggs are laid. Males incubate the eggs, teach hatchlings to forage, and care for the chicks for 40 to 70 days. He may even carry the chicks under his wings if they are threatened.

Unfortunately, Wattled Jacanas are preyed on by raptors, large fish, water snakes, crocodilians, and otters. So despite constant supervision from the father, only about half of all hatchlings make it to adulthood.

#22. Scarlet Macaw

  • Ara macao

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults average about 81 cm (32 in) long.
  • Their plumage is bright scarlet red overall with yellow and blue wings.
  • They have bare white skin around the eye, light yellow eyes, and a white upper beak.

These stunning birds are a symbol of the rainforest in South America.

Look for Scarlet Macaws in humid, lowland rainforests, open woodlands, river edges, and savannas. They often flock to clay licks, which are natural deposits of clay that the Macaws eat for minerals.

As one of the longest-living birds worldwide, Scarlet Macaws can survive 40 to 50 years in the wild but may live up to 75 years in captivity. Despite their long lifespans, this species faces unique challenges like declining forest quality and poaching for the pet trade. In fact, they’re so dependent on healthy native trees that their populations can be used to measure the health of an entire rainforest.

My favorite fact about Scarlet Macaws is that they appear to all be left-footed! Believe it or not, observations show that every individual favors their left foot for peeling fruit and other tasks that require precise movements. Maybe I’m biased because I’m left-handed, but I think that’s pretty amazing! 🙂

#23. Neotropic Cormorant

  • Nannopterum brasilianum

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 61 cm (24 in) long with a wingspan of about 102 cm (40.2 in).
  • Their coloring is black, with orange skin on the throat bordered by a thin white line.
  • Their eyes are a striking aqua blue.
  • Breeding adults have a small white tuft of feathers near the ear.

Neotropic Cormorants prefer areas in South America with relatively clear waters and plenty of places to rest. Aside from these requirements, they’re habitat generalists and will frequent any body of water with enough food.

They feed primarily on fish and shrimp, hunting prey visually and capturing it by diving or swimming after it. They also make shallow angled dives from the air, flying very low across the water’s surface to scoop small bait fish gathered near the water’s surface.

Despite technically being a water bird, Neotropic Cormorants don’t spend extended periods of time swimming. After just a short time in the water, their feathers become waterlogged, which reduces their buoyancy, allowing them to dive after prey more easily. They spend much of their time on shore with their wings open to dry and preen.

Neotropic Cormorants make calls that are often likened to pig-like grunts.

YouTube video

#24. Black Vulture

  • Coragyps atratus

black vulture - common vulture species in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 56-74 cm (22-29 in) long with a wingspan of 130-168 cm (51-66 in).
  • Their coloring is black all over, with white legs.
  • The skin of their face and neck is featherless and leathery.

Black Vultures primarily eat carrion, but unlike most other vultures, they are also known to kill animals to feed on fresh meat. It’s not uncommon for them to prey on living skunks, opossums, and livestock, such as baby pigs, calves, and lambs.

These birds get their name because their entire body is covered in black feathers, except for their bald head, which features black skin. But as they are soaring, you can see silver feathers on the underside of their wings.

Look for Black Vultures in South America in both forested and open areas. They prefer to roost and nest in dense forests but forage for food along roads, fields, and other open spaces.

Like most vultures, these birds are mostly silent. The only noises you may hear are grunting and hissing. Trust me; you won’t be hearing any lyrical tunes from these birds!

#25. Crested Caracara

  • Caracara plancus

crested caracara

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-66 cm (20-26 in) with a wingspan of 119–132 cm (47–52 in).
  • Large, long-legged, and the appearance of a flat head.
  • Black body and cap. White neck and cheeks.
  • Orangish skin around their face. Yellow legs.

Crested Caracaras are incredibly unique. While they are technically falcons, most people think they look like hawks. But to make things more confusing, they act like vultures, as their primary food source is carrion. As a result, they are often seen scavenging on carcasses next to vultures.

caracara and vulture

As if you are not already confused about Crested Caracaras, one of the best places to find these black and white birds in South America is ON THE GROUND, as they spend a lot of time here walking around. It’s also fairly common for these falcons to run down live prey, which includes reptiles, insects, and small mammals.

#26. Cattle Egret

  • Bubulcus ibis

cattle egret

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 46–56 cm (18–22 in) long with a wingspan of 88-96 cm (35-38 in).
  • Smaller heron with a yellow bill that often perches with its neck drawn in.
  • Breeding adults are white but have yellow legs and golden feathers on their heads, backs, and chests.
  • Non-breeding adults are entirely white with black legs.

Cattle Egrets are a bit unique when compared to other types of heron-like birds. Instead of spending their time near water, they typically live in fields, where they forage for invertebrates that have been kicked up at the feet of grazing livestock. It’s also common to see them looking for ticks on the backs of cattle!

Interestingly, these white birds are not native to South America.

Cattle Egrets are originally from Africa but found their way here and have since spread across the continent. Their range keeps slowly expanding as people convert land for farming and livestock.

#27. Snowy Egret

  • Egretta thula

snowy egret

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 66 cm (26 in) long with a wingspan of 100 cm (39 in.
  • A completely white, medium-sized bird with a black dagger-like bill.
  • Black legs, but their feet are yellow.
  • A yellow patch of skin beneath their eye.

These beautiful white birds will often use their yellow feet to stir up water or mud to help them uncover hiding invertebrates, amphibians, or fish. Once their prey has been found, Snowy Egrets have no problem running their food down to finish the job!

Interestingly, Snowy Egrets will breed with other heron species, such as similarly sized birds like Cattle Egrets. So if you see a heron that you can’t seem to identify, it may be a hybrid!

#28. American Redstart

  • Setophaga ruticilla

Common Idaho Warblers

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 11-14 cm (4-6) long with a wingspan of 16-23 cm (6-9 in).
  • Males are black with bright red-orange patches on the tail, wings, and sides. The belly is white.
  • Females are charcoal gray with a white belly and light yellow patches instead of red-orange.

The American Redstarts’ abundance and bright coloring make them one of the more easily spotted birds in South America.

This beautiful species is high-energy and constantly moving. American Redstarts use their bright coloring to hunt insects, flashing their tail feathers to startle them into flight. Once the insect takes off, the bird snatches it right out of the air! That’s one stylish way to “catch” a meal! 🙂

The American Redstart song is often compared to a sneeze, with a few short notes at the beginning and an abrupt, loud end: “ah-ah-ah-CHEW!”

YouTube video

#29. Yellow Warbler

  • Setophaga petechia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 12-13 cm (5-5.1 in) long.
  • Lemon-yellow across the whole body, with light chestnut streaks on the chest.
  • Males are brighter than females.

With its bright yellow coloring and relatively large population, this is one yellow bird you shouldn’t have trouble finding. Look for Yellow Warblers primarily in moist forests of small trees, especially near rivers. Its particular favorite nesting habitat is willow groves in North America.

Unfortunately, because their diet is primarily insects, Yellow Warblers do not visit bird feeders. 

The song of the American Yellow Warbler is said to sound like “sweet, sweet, sweet; I’m so sweet!”

YouTube video

#30. American Oystercatcher

  • Haematopus palliatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • They are 42-52 cm (17-20 in) long when fully grown.
  • Adults have a bright orange-red bill, yellow eyes, and red eye-rings.
  • The back and wings are brown, the head is black, and the underparts are white.

American Oystercatchers occupy intertidal areas and barrier islands with few or limited predators. They prefer sandy and shelly beaches for nesting. During bad weather events like nor’easters and tropical storms, American Oystercatchers retreat to nearby open habitats such as agricultural fields.

As their name suggests, American Oystercatchers feed almost exclusively on mollusks, including several clams, oysters, and mussels. However, they will occasionally consume other sea creatures if food is scarce.

These specialized birds slowly walk through oyster reefs until they spot a slightly open one. They quickly jab their bill inside and then snip the abductor muscle that closes the two halves of the shell. Parents teach their young this hunting technique during their first year of life.

Surprisingly, oystercatchers don’t always win the battle against shellfish. Occasionally, a shellfish will manage to clamp down tight on an oystercatcher’s bill, which can kill the bird if the tide comes in.

#31. Rock Pigeon

  • Columba livia

Types of doves that live in Quebec

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males are 308-344 mm (12-14) long, and females are 324-326 mm (12.7-12.8) long.
  • A plump bird with a small head, short legs, and a thin bill.
  • The typical pigeon has a gray back, a blue-grey head, and two black wing bars.
  • But their plumage is highly variable, and it’s common to see varieties ranging from all-white to rusty-brown.

Rock Pigeons are extremely common birds in South America, but they are almost exclusively found in urban areas. These birds are what everyone refers to as “pigeons.” You have probably seen them gathering in huge flocks in city parks, hoping to get tossed some birdseed or leftover food.

Pigeons are easily attracted to bird feeders, especially if there is leftover food lying on the ground. Unfortunately, these birds can become a bit of a nuisance if they visit your backyard in high numbers. Many people find their presence overwhelming and look for ways to keep them away!

These birds are easy to identify by sound. My guess is that you will already recognize their soft, throaty coos. (Press PLAY below)

Love them or hate them, Rock Pigeons have been associated with humans for a long time! Some Egyptian hieroglyphics suggest that people started domesticating them over 5,000 years ago. And because of these facts, scientists aren’t even sure where their original range was.

Do you need help identifying birds in South America?

These books will provide you with much more information!

Which of these birds in South America have you seen before?

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Check out these guides to other animals found in South America!

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