Mingling amidst the vast mosaic of avian marvels, birds bestowed with the moniker of ‘M’ manifest a myriad of mysteries and majesties. From mountain peaks to marshy meadows, these majestic maestros mesmerize with their melodies and movements.
Meander with us through the mesmerizing realm of ‘M’-marked birds, and marvel at the magnificence they mirror.
List of Birds Starting with M
- Magnificent Frigatebird
- Magnolia Warbler
- Mangrove Cuckoo
- Marbled Godwit
- Marbled Murrelet
- Marsh Wren
- Masked Booby
- McCown’s Longspur
- Merlin (a type of falcon)
- Mew Gull
- Mexican Violetear (a type of hummingbird, occasionally seen in the U.S.)
- Mississippi Kite
- Mountain Bluebird
- Mountain Chickadee
- Mountain Plover
- Mourning Dove
- Mourning Warbler
- Mottled Duck
- Mottled Owl (occasionally found in the southern U.S.)
- Mottled Petrel (a rare visitor)
- Mountain Quail
- MacGillivray’s Warbler
- Manx Shearwater
- Monk Parakeet (originally from South America but has established populations in some U.S. cities)
The Magnificent Frigatebird, also known as Man o’ War bird, is a large seabird that belongs to the family Fregatidae. It is characterized by its impressive size, with males reaching up to 43 inches in length and having a wingspan of approximately 7.5 feet. The female frigatebirds are slightly smaller, measuring around 37 inches in length.
This bird has a unique appearance with its long, slender wings, a deeply forked tail, and a distinct hooked bill. Both males and females have black feathers and a glossy sheen, but the male frigatebirds have a vibrant red throat pouch, which they inflate during courtship displays. The female lacks this red pouch and has a white breast.
The Magnificent Frigatebird is found in tropical and subtropical regions across the globe. It is commonly seen in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as along the coasts of South and Central America. These birds prefer habitats close to the coastline, such as mangroves, cliffs, and rocky islands where they can perch and nest.
As fish are the primary source of food for the Magnificent Frigatebird, they are expert fishers. They have a unique hunting technique where they snatch fish from the surface of the water in mid-flight. Frigatebirds are also known for their pirating behavior, where they steal food from other seabirds, such as gulls and terns, by forcing them to regurgitate their catch.
- Magnificent Frigatebirds have the largest wingspan-to-body ratio of any bird, allowing them to soar effortlessly for long periods without flapping their wings.
- Male frigatebirds inflate their bright red throat pouches during courtship displays to attract females.
- These birds are highly adapted for aerial life and spend most of their time flying and hunting while rarely landing on the ground or water.
- The Magnificent Frigatebird is not a strong swimmer and can only takeoff from water by accelerating into the wind.
- They are known to fly incredible distances during migration, with some individuals traveling over 20,000 miles in a year.
The Mallard is a medium-sized dabbling duck that is widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere. It is recognized by its distinctive green head, white neck ring, and yellow bill. The male Mallard, called a drake, has a glossy green head, while the female, known as a hen, has a mottled brown plumage.
Both male and female Mallards have a blue patch on their wings, called a speculum, which is visible during flight. They have a streamlined body, webbed feet for swimming, and a long, flat tail that helps them maneuver in the water.
Mallards are versatile birds that can adapt to various habitats, including wetlands, ponds, lakes, and rivers. They can be found in both urban and rural areas, making them one of the most abundant and widespread duck species in the world.
This duck species is native to the Northern Hemisphere, and their natural range extends across North America, Europe, and Asia. However, Mallards have been introduced to other parts of the world, such as Australia and New Zealand, where they have established feral populations.
Mallards are omnivorous birds that feed on a varied diet. They primarily eat plant matter such as seeds, aquatic vegetation, and grass. In addition, they also consume insects, snails, frogs, and small fish. They have a unique feeding behavior called “dabbling,” where they tip their head underwater and their rear end up in the air to reach for food.
- Mallards are known for their distinctive quacking sound, which is most commonly associated with ducks.
- Male Mallards perform elaborate courtship displays, including head bobbing, tail wagging, and wing flapping, to attract females.
- These ducks are strong fliers, capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 mph during migration.
- Mallards are social birds and are often seen in large groups called “rafts” when feeding or resting.
- They are excellent swimmers and have specialized feathers that provide buoyancy and insulation.
The Marabou Stork is a large wading bird native to Africa. It is one of the largest flying birds, standing at an average height of 5 feet and having a wingspan of up to 10 feet. This stork has a distinct appearance with its bald head, long, thin legs, and a massive bill.
The Marabou Stork has a predominantly white plumage, but its wings and tail are black, and it has a pink throat pouch that expands during courtship displays. Juveniles have a more brownish coloration and lack the distinctive throat pouch.
Marabou Storks are found in various habitats across sub-Saharan Africa, including wetlands, marshes, riverbanks, and open savannahs. They are highly adaptable birds and can thrive in urban environments, often nesting on tall buildings or in trees near human settlements.
This stork species has a wide distribution, ranging from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Ethiopia and Somalia in the east. They are also found in Southern Africa, including countries like Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa.
The Marabou Stork is a scavenger and opportunist when it comes to its diet. It feeds on a wide range of prey, including carrion, fish, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. It is often seen near human settlements, scavenging for scraps of food or leftovers.
These storks have a unique feeding behavior where they use their massive bill to grab and swallow food, sometimes swallowing it whole. Their bald head and neck help keep them clean when feeding on carrion.
- Marabou Storks have a significant ecological role as scavengers, as they clean up and remove decaying organic matter, which helps prevent the spread of diseases.
- They are social birds and are often seen nesting in large colonies, where they build a massive stick nest on trees or cliffs.
- Marabou Storks have been observed gathering in large numbers near wildfires to feed on fleeing or stranded animals.
- Due to their bald head and neck, these birds are also known as “Undertaker Birds” or “Ghoulish Birds.”
- They have a unique way of cooling themselves by defecating on their legs, which helps regulate their body temperature.
The Merlin is a small but powerful falcon species that is widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere. It is about the size of a pigeon, with males being slightly smaller than females. The adult male Merlin has a blue-gray back, a rusty-colored breast, and a dark head with a pale-colored mustache mark.
Female Merlins have a brownish plumage with dark streaks on their belly and breast. Both males and females have a compact body, short wings, and a long tail, which allows them to maneuver swiftly through the air.
Merlins can be found in a range of habitats, including open woodlands, grasslands, moorlands, and tundra. They are often seen in areas with scattered trees or shrubs, which provide perches for hunting.
These falcons have a wide distribution, with breeding populations occurring across North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. During the winter, Merlins may migrate to warmer regions or move to lower elevations in search of food.
Merlins primarily feed on small birds, such as sparrows, finches, and warblers. They are skilled hunters that use their agility and speed to capture their prey in mid-air. Merlins also consume insects, small mammals, and occasionally, reptiles.
To catch their prey, Merlins will often fly low, using a combination of surprise and fast pursuit. They are known for their remarkable hunting technique, known as the “stoop,” where they fold their wings and dive towards their target at high speeds.
- Merlins are one of the few raptor species that can hover in mid-air. They use this technique to spot and ambush their prey.
- Male Merlins perform elaborate aerial courtship displays, including acrobatic flight maneuvers and calling to attract females.
- These falcons are known for their aggressive behavior and have been observed chasing much larger birds, such as crows and hawks, to defend their territory or protect their nests.
- Merlins have a swift and powerful flight, capable of reaching speeds up to 50 mph.
- They are adaptable birds and can nest in a variety of locations, including abandoned crow or squirrel nests, tree cavities, or on rocky ledges.
The Mountain Bluebird is a small thrush species known for its vibrant blue plumage. Adult males have bright blue feathers on their back, wings, and tail, while their breast and belly are white. Females, on the other hand, have a slightly duller blue coloration with grayish-brown wings and a pale orange breast.
Both male and female Mountain Bluebirds have a round body, a short tail, and a slender bill. They are around 6 to 7 inches in length, making them slightly larger than a sparrow.
Mountain Bluebirds are primarily found in open habitats, including meadows, grasslands, and mountain slopes. They prefer areas with scattered trees or shrubs, where they can perch and nest. These birds are native to North America and can be found across the western and central parts of the continent.
During the breeding season, Mountain Bluebirds are commonly seen in higher elevations, such as mountainous regions and open woodlands. In the winter, they may migrate to lower elevations or move south to escape colder temperatures.
The diet of Mountain Bluebirds consists mainly of insects and other small invertebrates. They feed on various arthropods, including beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and spiders. These birds primarily forage on the ground or in the air, swooping down to catch their prey.
During the breeding season, Mountain Bluebirds supplement their diet with berries and fruits, which provide additional nutrients for themselves and their young.
- The vibrant blue color of the Mountain Bluebird is the result of structural coloration, where light is scattered by the microscopic structure of the feathers, rather than by pigments.
- These birds are known for their melodious song, which consists of a series of warbling or flute-like notes.
- Mountain Bluebirds are cavity nesters and often compete with other cavity-nesting birds, such as Tree Swallows and Western Bluebirds, for nesting sites.
- They are highly territorial during the breeding season and will vigorously defend their nesting area against intruders.
- Mountain Bluebirds are migratory birds and undertake long-distance migrations to their breeding and wintering grounds, covering thousands of miles each year.
The Mandarin Duck is a medium-sized duck species that boasts one of the most vibrant and colorful plumages of any bird. Males have a radiant combination of orange, purple, green, and yellow feathers on their body, while their head is adorned with a crest of orange, black, and white plumes. Females, on the other hand, have a more subtle appearance with a grayish-brown coloration and white eye-ring.
Both male and female Mandarin Ducks have a compact body, a small bill, and a rounded head. They have a long, narrow tail and strong webbed feet for swimming.
Mandarin Ducks are native to East Asia and can be found across several countries, including China, Japan, and Korea. They inhabit forested areas near rivers, lakes, and ponds where they have access to both water and trees for roosting and nesting.
In recent years, Mandarin Ducks have been introduced to other parts of the world, including Europe, North America, and Australia, where they have established small feral populations.
The diet of Mandarin Ducks consists mainly of plant matter. They feed on various aquatic plants, seeds, fruits, and rice. Insects, snails, and small fish are also occasionally consumed, especially during the breeding season when the ducklings require a protein-rich diet.
Mandarin Ducks are dabbling ducks, meaning they feed by tipping their head underwater and filtering out small organisms and plant material using their specialized bill.
- Mandarin Ducks have been widely regarded as a symbol of love and fidelity in many Asian cultures, often associated with matrimonial bliss and harmony.
- During the breeding season, male Mandarin Ducks perform elaborate courtship displays, including head-bobbing, wing-flapping, and vocalization, to attract females.
- Unlike most duck species, Mandarin Ducks nest in tree cavities, often utilizing abandoned woodpecker holes or natural tree hollows.
- These ducks are highly agile and can perch and even walk on branches, thanks to their strong claws and the tightly webbed toes.
- The vibrant plumage of the male Mandarin Duck fades after the breeding season, and they resemble the more subtle appearance of the females.
The Mourning Dove is a medium-sized bird that is highly recognizable by its soft cooing sound and gentle appearance. It has a slender body with a small head, long, tapered wings, and a long, pointed tail. The plumage of Mourning Doves is predominantly gray-brown, with a lighter underside and dark spots on its wings.
These birds have a delicate, graceful stature and measure around 9 to 13 inches in length, making them slightly larger than a robin.
Mourning Doves are found throughout North America and are one of the most common and widespread bird species on the continent. They inhabit a variety of habitats, including open woodlands, fields, deserts, and urban areas. Mourning Doves are adaptable birds and can coexist with humans in suburban environments.
These doves have a migratory nature, with some individuals moving to warmer regions during the winter months. However, many Mourning Doves are considered year-round residents in their breeding range.
Mourning Doves primarily feed on seeds, especially those of grasses and agricultural crops. They have a specialized digestion system that allows them to consume hard seeds and digest them efficiently. These birds usually forage on the ground, pecking at seeds or plucking them off plants.
In addition to seeds, Mourning Doves also eat small fruits, berries, and the occasional insect or snail.
- Mourning Doves are known for their distinctive cooing sound, which is often described as a mournful, repetitive “coo-ah, coo, coo, coo.”
- Their flight is swift and direct, with a characteristic whistling sound made by their wings.
- These doves form monogamous pairs and are socially monogamous, often staying together for multiple breeding seasons.
- The male Mourning Dove performs a beautiful courtship display, where it flies in an undulating pattern around the female, while simultaneously making a soft, low whistle.
- Mourning Doves can produce crop milk, a high-protein secretion produced in their crop, which is regurgitated and fed to their young.
The Marsh Owl, also known as the American Harrier, is a medium-sized raptor that belongs to the owl family. It has distinct facial discs and large, round eyes that give it an owl-like appearance. The plumage of the Marsh Owl is variable, ranging from shades of brown, buff, and white, allowing it to blend in with its marshland habitat.
These birds have long, slender wings and a long tail, which helps them maneuver gracefully through dense vegetation. Male Marsh Owls are generally smaller than females, measuring around 15 to 18 inches in length.
The Marsh Owl is primarily found in wetland habitats, such as marshes, swamps, and wet meadows. It prefers areas with tall grasses and reeds where it can roost and nest. This owl species is native to North and South America, with its range extending from the United States to Argentina.
Within its range, the Marsh Owl can be quite locally distributed, favoring specific areas suitable for its hunting and nesting requirements.
Marsh Owls are primarily insectivorous, with a diet that consists mainly of small mammals, such as mice, voles, shrews, and rabbits. They also feed on birds, frogs, reptiles, and larger insects. These owls can detect prey by sound alone, using their acute hearing to pinpoint the exact location of their prey in dense vegetation.
To catch their prey, Marsh Owls will fly low over the ground, listening for the faint rustling sounds made by small mammals. Once located, they will swoop down and grab their prey with their sharp talons.
- Unlike most owls, Marsh Owls are active during both day and night, with their hunting activity mostly concentrated during the early morning and late afternoon.
- These owls have a unique facial disc with a heart-shaped pattern of feathers, which helps direct sound towards their ears for enhanced hearing.
- Marsh Owls are excellent fliers and can hover in mid-air, similar to a harrier, while searching for prey.
- Female Marsh Owls are responsible for most of the incubation and care of the young, while the males provide food for the family.
- These owls are highly elusive and are often difficult to spot due to their excellent camouflage and silent flight.
The Mottled Duck is a medium-sized dabbling duck that is closely related to the Mallard. It has a stocky body, a flat head, and a thick, short neck. The plumage of the Mottled Duck is predominantly brown, with a mottled pattern of black and buff feathers. Both males and females have a bright blue patch on their wings, known as a speculum, which is visible during flight.
These ducks measure around 20 to 22 inches in length, making them slightly larger than a Mallard.
Mottled Ducks are native to the southeastern United States and can be found in coastal marshes, estuaries, and freshwater wetlands. They are most commonly seen in areas with emergent vegetation, such as grasses, sedges, and shrubs.
This duck species is considered a year-round resident within its range, although some individuals may undertake short-distance movements to find suitable breeding or feeding grounds.
The diet of Mottled Ducks consists mainly of plant matter, such as aquatic vegetation, seeds, and grasses. They also feed on small invertebrates, including insects, snails, and crustaceans. Mottled Ducks have specialized bill adaptations that allow them to filter out food from the water, similar to other dabbling ducks.
These ducks forage by tipping their head underwater or dabbling at the surface, using their bill to strain out food particles.
- Mottled Ducks are closely related to the Mallard, with whom they can interbreed, creating hybrid individuals known as “Muddled Ducks.”
- They are primarily silent birds, but during the breeding season, males may emit a soft quacking sound.
- Mottled Ducks form monogamous pair bonds that can last for multiple breeding seasons.
- Unlike most duck species, Mottled Ducks do not migrate long distances and are considered non-migratory within their range.
- These ducks are protected by conservation efforts, as they face threats from habitat loss, invasive species, and hybridization with Mallards.
The Mistle Thrush is a medium-sized songbird that is native to Europe and Asia. It has a plump body, a long, straight bill, and a short tail. The plumage of the Mistle Thrush is mostly gray-brown, with a pale belly and distinct dark spots on its breast. It has a white underwing, which becomes visible during flight.
These birds measure about 10 to 11 inches in length, making them slightly larger than a blackbird.
Mistle Thrushes are commonly found in open woodlands, parks, and gardens, often occupying areas with scattered trees or hedgerows. They prefer habitats with a mix of trees and open spaces, allowing them to forage on the ground and take cover in trees when threatened.
This species has a broad distribution across Europe and Asia, ranging from the United Kingdom and Scandinavia to Siberia and Japan. Mistle Thrushes are generally resident birds, although some individuals may undertake seasonal movements in search of food during harsh winter conditions.
The diet of the Mistle Thrush consists of a wide range of food items. They feed on insects, snails, worms, berries, fruits, and occasionally, small reptiles or amphibians. Mistle Thrushes have a unique feeding behavior where they often feed on the ground, turning leaves with their bill to uncover hidden invertebrates.
During the winter months, when food is scarce, these birds may defend feeding territories, vigorously guarding their preferred food sources.
- Mistle Thrushes are known for their distinctive loud and melodious song, which is sung from treetops during the breeding season.
- They are territorial birds and will defend their nesting area against intruders, including other Mistle Thrushes.
- Mistle Thrushes are among the earliest breeders, often starting their nesting activities in late winter or early spring.
- These birds are known to be “farmers” of mistletoe, as they play a crucial role in dispersing the seeds of this parasitic plant through their droppings.
- Mistle Thrushes are associated with folklore and are believed to bring good luck, particularly when spotted near a house or at Christmas time.