7 Birds That Are WHITE in Kentucky! (ID Guide)

Did you recently see a mystery WHITE bird in Kentucky?

Types of white birds in Kentucky

If so, I’m guessing you are trying to figure out how to identify the species correctly!

Well, you’re in the right place. Below, you will learn about the different WHITE birds found in Kentucky. I’ve included high-quality pictures and range maps to help you!

But before you begin, let me give you one warning:

Trying to figure out which WHITE bird you saw can be difficult. The reason is that you may have seen a bird affected by either of these two conditions:

Birds that are white in Kentucky

  • Albinism: This happens when cells can’t produce ANY melanin, which is the pigment that provides color to feathers.
  • Leucism: This condition only involves a PARTIAL loss of pigmentation. Instead of being completely white, the bird may be duller in color or have irregular patches of white plumage.

The list below focuses ONLY on NATURALLY white birds found in Kentucky.


#1. Rock Pigeon

  • Columba livia

Kentucky white birds

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

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 completely white birds in Kentucky.

Rock Pigeon Range Map

pigeon range map

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

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. But, interestingly, scientists aren’t even sure where their original range occurs!


#2. Snow Bunting

  • Plectrophenax nivalis

white birds in Kentucky

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Round bodied with a short thick conical bill.
  • Breeding males are almost all white, with black on the back.
  • Females and non-breeding males are white but have brown-streaked backs and brownish heads.

These charming white birds are a rare delight to see in Kentucky!

But since Snow Buntings choose frigid locations high in the Arctic to breed, your best chance to find them is in winter in open fields along the roadside.

Snow Bunting Range Map

snow bunting range map

Even in summer, Snow Buntings have to work hard to keep their hatchlings warm enough to survive. They build their nests in the deep cracks of rocks and use a thick fur lining to protect the eggs. They never really leave the nest, ensuring it stays warm, and the male comes and feeds the mother every fifteen minutes.


#3. Ring-Billed Gull

  • Larus delawarensis

Types of white birds in Kentucky

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 16.9 to 21.3 inches in length and have a wingspan of 41.3 and 46.1 inches.
  • Breeding adults are clean gray above with a white head, white body, white tail, and black wingtips spotted with white.
  • They have yellow legs, eyes, and bill with a black band.

Look for these white birds in Kentucky near aquatic habitats.

They are often spotted on coasts, piers, large bodies of water, and landfills. However, unlike many other gulls, they prefer to nest near freshwater sources.

If you see a gull inland, it’s most likely a Ring-billed Gull. These birds have adapted well to human-disturbed areas and are common around cities, farmlands, docks, and parking lots. In fact, I see them often near my home, scavenging for food in a Target parking lot!

To see a complete list of the types of gulls and terns that live in Kentucky, many of which are white, check out the article below.


#4. Great Egret

  • Ardea alba

white birds

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Large, white bird with long, black legs.
  • S-curved neck and a dagger-like yellow bill. Look for a greenish area between their eyes and the base of the bill.
  • While they fly, their neck is tucked in, and their long legs trail behind.

Appearance-wise, Great Egrets are one of the most stunning white birds found in Kentucky. They especially put on a show during breeding season when they grow long feathery plumes, called aigrettes, which are held up during courtship displays.

Great Egret Range Map

great egret range map

These aigrettes are so beautiful, Great Egrets were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because these white feathers made such nice decorations on ladies’ hats. The National Audubon Society was actually formed in response to help protect these birds from being slaughtered. To this day, the Great Egret serves as the organization’s symbol.


#5. Snowy Egret

  • Egretta thula

snowy egret

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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!

Snowy Egret Range Map

snowy egret range map

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


#6. Snow Goose

  • Anser caerulescens

snow goose

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Most Snow Geese are all white with black tail feathers. But some individuals display a “blue morph,” whose heads are still white but bodies are sooty gray.
  • Pink legs.
  • Pink bill, which has a black patch on each side.

During the breeding season, Snow Geese spend their time in the continent’s northernmost areas, away from human civilization. As a result, most people only get the pleasure of seeing this abundant white bird in Kentucky when they migrate south in fall and winter.

Snow Goose Range Map

snow goose range map

Look for them in large fields and bodies of water. If they are around, it’s usually not hard to find them, as they are almost always seen in huge flocks accompanied by a lot of honking!

And lastly, here is a fun fact that my kids loved to learn. Snow Geese are prolific at pooping, and they defecate between 6 – 15 times per hour. 🙂


#7. Ross’s Goose

  • Anser rossii

Geese and Swans species

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Small, stocky goose that is completely white, except for black wingtips. They are slightly larger than a Mallard duck.
  • A stubby red-orange bill that has a gray base.
  • Legs and feet are also red-orange.

Ross’s Goose looks very similar to the Snow Goose, except they are smaller and have a shorter neck and stubbier bill. It’s common for these two species to travel together in the same large flocks!

Ross’s Goose Range Map

ross goose range map

Populations of Ross’s Goose have been increasing due to climate change. As their summer breeding grounds in the Arctic are warming, the snow cover has been reduced, which increases plant growth. More plants mean more food for Ross’s Goose, which leads to more babies being born and surviving!

During migration and the non-breeding season, these white birds can be seen in western Kentucky in marshes, lakes, and farm fields, where they enjoy eating leftover crops.


Which of the white birds have you seen before in Kentucky?

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2 Comments

  1. in the last 3 of 12 years on the Ohio river in Westport, KY we have started seeing white birds in the sand quarry nearby. they appear gull-like but do not appear to have any gray. is it possible another species if gull is moving north as the barges come up from the gulf?