North American Birds with a White Breast (18 Species with Pictures and Sounds)

Canada and America are filled with many wonderful birds with a white breast – in fact, there are 18 birds that you can spot. Have you spotted a bird with a white breast that you’re looking to identify? Look no further than this article.


This article will list all 18 birds and help birdwatchers find and identify all birds of North America that have a white breast with both pictures and calls.


Herring Gull

Herring gulls are big, loud gulls found year-round along beaches and inland among garbage tips, fields, large reservoirs, and lakes in coastal North America, especially in winter.

The adult has a pale grey back, pink webbed feet, a white belly, and black ”mirrors” on the tips of its wings. Young birds have a mottled brown appearance. Herring Gulls are omnivorous and eat carrion, offal, seeds, fruits, young birds, eggs, small animals, insects, and fish. Herring gulls are common, especially near garbage tips, playing fields, and reservoir roosts.


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Royal Tern

If you’ve been to the beach in the US, you’ve probably seen a Royal Tern. The Royal tern is a widespread species common in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts. It is distinguished by its flat head and angular bright orange beak.

Royal terns whose preferred meal is fish, hunt by flying over the water until they find a fish. When they do, they dive and capture it. The birds prefer to breed in colonies on sandy islands rather than cliffs.


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Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night-Herons are stockier than other herons.

Their peak activity hours are at night or around twilight when you could see their phantom-like shapes flying out of their daytime roosts to graze in wetlands throughout North America. Adults are remarkable in the daylight with their gray and black coloring and lengthy white head plumes.

These gregarious birds breed in colonies of stick nests above water. They reside in fresh, salt, and brackish wetlands and are the most common heron.

They migrate south and spend the winter in the coastal regions of their breeding area, as well as in Mexico and Central America.


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Canada Goose

The Canada Goose is an enormous bird with a big white throat patch and a black head and neck. Originating in North America, this species has successfully colonized most of the United Kingdom after being introduced there.

In high numbers, they may be a nuisance on recreational grassland and in parks due to their constant squawking.

Each year, thousands of “honkers” make the annual migration north and south, filling the sky with long V-formations.


Roots, grass, leaves, and seeds make up the bulk of their natural diet. Canada Geese are commonly seen on open water, near shore,  on lawns and agricultural fields throughout the summer and increasingly at other times of the year.

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Snowy Owl

Upon first glance, it’s easy to understand where the term “snowy owl” came from; these birds are as white as snow. Males are often whiter than females. Males get whiter as they age. The females never fully whiten; they always retain a brownish color and deeper markings.

The Arctic tundra is the primary habitat of these massive owls.


While most owls are nocturnal, the snowy owl is often seen foraging during the day. They are most active just before sunrise and just after sunset.

Typically, snowy owl pairs mate for life. The snowy owls’ primary food source is lemmings, and lemming populations naturally fluctuate in size.

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Cattle Egret

Cattle Egrets prefer dry terrain and graze for insects, unlike other egrets. They are prone to loitering around cow pastures to pounce on insects agitated while grazing by the big animals.


These birds, which are the smallest egret species, may be found throughout southern Mexico and the United States.

They travel as far south as southern California and as far west as Kansas and Missouri. During the mating season, the adults’ head, breast, and back feathers turn a pale golden color, whereas the rest of the year they are nearly completely white.

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Trumpeter Swan

Due to childhood tales about a trumpet-playing Trumpeter Swan, non-birders in the US are familiar with this bird. However, in the wild, Trumpeter Swans don’t require any additional trumpets thanks to their distinctive trumpet-like vocalizations.


The Trumpeter Swan is bigger and has a more rounded back and a straight upper beak than the Tundra Swan.

The Great Lakes region is home to a particularly significant population of trumpeter swans, although they are also found in other isolated regions in the north and central west of the United States. They may also be found along the Pacific coast, starting in Northern California and going all the way up to Alaska.

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Great Egret

This white bird with long legs and an S-shaped neck is widespread across the Americas and beyond. The huge white egret is the largest of all white egrets found across its range (except the white-colored form of the great blue heron).

Great egrets feed in a variety of wetlands, streams, ponds, and tidal flat habitats, as well as other sites near water.


They hunt prey by moving slowly or remaining still for extended periods while watching for an animal to approach their long necks and blade-like bills. The prey is killed by a swift thrust of the sharp bill and is then swallowed whole.

Great egrets consume mostly fish, although they also utilize similar strategies to catch mice, other small animals, amphibians, and reptiles.

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Mute Swan

In North America, the Mute Swan is a rare species. A huge, pure white swan, easily recognizable across Tennessee. Its long, S-shaped neck and orange-red beak with a big, black knob at its base set it apart from other swan species.

It was brought to North America between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s from Eurasia, where it originated. Mute Swans were initially imported to North America to beautify city ponds and lakes.


You may also encounter them in shallow wetlands, lakes, rivers, and estuaries within their dispersed natural habitat.

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Great Black-backed Gull

The great black-backed gull is an enormous species of a gull with a robust, stocky body and a strong beak.

A fierce predator, pirate, and scavenger. This species is somewhat sedentary, as it only migrates to the North Atlantic coastlines and islands to breed.

In its mature form, the great black-backed gull has a white head, neck, and underparts, dark grey wings and back, pink legs, and a yellow beak.


The adult diet of a Great Black-backed Gull includes a wide variety of foods, including seafood, birds, and carrion.

During the spring and summer, great black-backed gulls may be seen mating around the coastlines. During nonbreeding months, you can spot it at reservoir roosts, inland garbage dumps, and coastal areas with harbors and bays.

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Snow Goose

The Snow Goose has a pure white body with black wingtips and a pink beak and legs.

The “blue morph” kind, on the other hand, has dark feathers. In the winter, you have a better chance of spotting them in wide fields and near bodies of water across the United States. They, like many other white birds on our list, spend the breeding season in the Arctic.


They migrate in large groups and make a lot of noise with their honking calls. More than likely, you will hear them flying overhead before you see them.

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Northern Gannet

The adult gannet is a huge bird, mostly white except for the black tips of its wings.

They have a pointed beak, tail, and wings, giving them a striking appearance. Flapping and gliding low over the water, they cross the seas in tiny groups. They soar above the water and circle before diving into the water to catch fish.

The northern gannet’s current environment is favorable for survival since it has few predators and plenty of food. Only six well-established Northern Gannet colonies exist in North America: three in Quebec’s Gulf of St. Lawrence and three in Newfoundland’s North Atlantic.


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The White Ibis is a coastal bird found in the southern United States, the Caribbean, and coastal Mexico.

It is easily recognizable by its dark pink legs, beak and its black wingtips on an otherwise white body.

Unlike herons and egrets, they have a bent beak that points downwards. This aids them as they search for food in the mud and moist sand near the water’s edge, probing about with their beaks. These are another species of morning bird you could spot on a wet field.

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Snow Bunting

Snow buntings are Arctic birds that make their nests in crevices and rocky outcrops. Males in breeding plumage are pure white with black wingtips, while females tend to have more brown streaking.

They migrate to southern Canada and the northern part of the United States during the non-breeding season. During this period, their normally white feathers begin to turn reddish brown all over their bodies.

This color helps them blend in when foraging in cut agricultural fields and beach/lakeshores.

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Northern Shrike

The Northern Shrike is a small but powerful predator that feeds on insects, small animals, and birds characterized by a striking black mask and a robust, hooked bill. You’ll have the most luck finding them in the winter when they migrate south from their breeding grounds in the extreme north of North America to spend the season in the northern United States.


They like semiopen, brushy areas for hunting, where they may stalk birds, ambush small mammals, or pounce on insects.

They’ll use sharp objects like thorns or barbed wire to store food for later consumption. They like open, brushy areas and, on calm, bright days, can be seen on utility wires, shrubs, and trees. However, they frequently lurk out of sight, so seeing one may take some time.

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Rock Ptarmigan

This little omnivorous bird is indigenous to Canada and Alaska’s highlands.

It inhabits rocky outcroppings on the broad plains of these freezing climates, between ice and snow. Rock Ptarmigans spend most of the year camouflaged in the snow by maintaining a snowy white appearance.


But throughout the summer, they undergo a triple molt!

This serves two purposes: to attract potential mates and to set the birds apart from one another. Males will first partially molt into their courting and breeding plumage, fully molt into their brown breeding plumage, and then molt once again in the fall, returning to their all-white state.

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American White Pelican 

This distinctive bird may be seen almost anywhere along the beaches of the United States.

What’s a visit to the ocean without the clack of a pelican’s beak? The American White Pelican spends the colder months of the year along the shores of Florida, the Gulf Coast into Texas, and Southern California.

They migrate south from the Canadian Rockies and into the central Canadian prairies for the summer. In contrast to other birds, pelicans have a special pouch on the underside of their beak that may expand to hold their prey before they swallow it whole. Fish are their preferred food, and they typically hunt in groups.


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Tundra Swan

The adult gannet is a huge bird, mostly white except for the black tips of its wings.

They have a pointed beak, tail, and wings, giving them a striking appearance. Flapping and gliding low over the water, they cross the seas in tiny groups. They soar above the water and circle before diving into the water to catch fish.

The northern gannet’s current environment is favorable for survival since it has few predators and plenty of food. Only six well-established Northern Gannet colonies exist in North America: three in Quebec’s Gulf of St. Lawrence and three in Newfoundland’s North Atlantic.

To learn more about the Tundra Swan you can visit:


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