Nestled within the nuanced tapestry of the avian world, birds bearing the ‘N’ nomenclature narrate tales of nomadic voyages and nocturnal serenades. From nebulous night skies to nourishing niches in nature, these noble navigators nestle their narratives.
Navigate with us as we nod to the nuances and novelties of birds named with the noteworthy letter ‘N’.
Birds Starting with N
Here’s a list of birds found in the U.S. that start with the letter N:
- Nashville Warbler
- Nazca Booby (occasionally seen off the West Coast)
- Neotropic Cormorant
- Nēnē (also known as the Hawaiian Goose)
- Nelson’s Sparrow
- Nighthawk (Common Nighthawk is the most widespread, but there’s also the Lesser Nighthawk in the Southwest)
- Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
- Northern Bobwhite (a type of quail)
- Northern Cardinal
- Northern Flicker (a woodpecker species with “Yellow-shafted” and “Red-shafted” variants)
- Northern Fulmar
- Northern Gannet
- Northern Goshawk
- Northern Harrier
- Northern Hawk Owl
- Northern Jacana (occasional in the U.S., especially in Texas)
- Northern Lapwing (a rare visitor)
- Northern Mockingbird
- Northern Parula (a type of warbler)
- Northern Pintail (a duck species)
- Northern Pygmy Owl
- Northern Raven (commonly referred to as Common Raven)
- Northern Rough-winged Swallow
- Northern Saw-whet Owl
- Northern Shoveler (a dabbling duck)
- Northern Waterthrush
- Northern Wheatear (a rare visitor)
Appearance of Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is an iconic bird known for its vivid red plumage, which instantly catches the eye. The male cardinal boasts a vibrant red body, topped with a distinctive black face mask and a prominent crest on its head. In contrast, the female cardinal is predominantly grayish-brown, with touches of red on the wings and tail. Both sexes have a robust beak, perfectly adapted for cracking open seeds.
Habitat of the Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinal can be found in a variety of habitats across North America, from dense forests to urban gardens. These birds are particularly fond of thick shrubs, where they build their nests. Cardinals are known to form monogamous pairs, and their nests are usually situated within dense vegetation for protection.
Behavior of the Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinals are known for their melodious songs, which can be heard throughout the year. These birds are not migratory and tend to stay in their territories year-round. They are also fiercely territorial and will defend their feeding and breeding areas against intruders. Cardinals primarily feed on seeds and fruits, though they occasionally consume insects as well. Their distinctive crest and bright red plumage make them a delight to spot, adding a vibrant burst of color to any landscape.
Appearance of Northern Mockingbird
The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is a medium-sized songbird that has a plain grayish-brown plumage, making it less flamboyant than its cardinal counterpart. However, what it lacks in vibrant color, it more than makes up for with its remarkable ability to mimic the songs of other birds. The Northern Mockingbird has a slender body, long tail, and a slender beak adapted for snatching up insects.
Habitat of the Northern Mockingbird
The Northern Mockingbird can be found across North America, from coast to coast. These birds prefer open habitats such as scrublands, gardens, and parks, where they can easily spot insects and find suitable perches to sing their melodious tunes. They are also commonly found in urban areas, thanks to their adaptability to human-altered environments.
Behavior of the Northern Mockingbird
The Northern Mockingbird is an incredibly vocal bird, known for its impressive mimicry skills. These birds can imitate the songs of numerous other bird species, often stringing together a medley of melodies to create their own unique songs. In addition to their musical prowess, Northern Mockingbirds are fiercely territorial and will defend their territory against intruders, including humans or other animals that may pose a threat.
New Zealand Falcon
Appearance of New Zealand Falcon
The New Zealand Falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae), also known as the Karearea, is a powerful and agile raptor unique to New Zealand. With a medium-sized body and long, pointed wings, this bird cuts an impressive figure in the sky. The New Zealand Falcon exhibits sexual dimorphism, with females being larger and heavier than males. Their plumage ranges from dark brown to fawn, with distinctive streaking and mottling.
Habitat of the New Zealand Falcon
The New Zealand Falcon can be found throughout New Zealand, from coastal areas to forests and mountain ranges. These birds are particularly fond of open habitats, such as grasslands and alpine regions, where they can easily spot their prey. They are well-adapted to a wide range of environments and can even be found in urban areas from time to time.
Behavior of the New Zealand Falcon
The New Zealand Falcon is a highly skilled hunter, known for its incredible speed and agility in the air. These birds primarily feed on small to medium-sized birds, insects, and small mammals. Unlike some other falcon species, the New Zealand Falcon does not build nests but instead utilizes natural or man-made cavities for breeding. They are fiercely protective of their nesting sites and will defend them vigorously against potential threats.
Appearance of Northern Harrier
The Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) is a medium-sized raptor known for its unique hunting behavior and striking appearance. These birds have a distinctive facial disk and owl-like facial structure, which aids in their unparalleled hearing abilities. The male Northern Harrier has a gray back and wings, with a white underside and a prominent white rump. The female, on the other hand, exhibits sexual dimorphism, with a mottled brown plumage that helps camouflage her when nesting.
Habitat of the Northern Harrier
The Northern Harrier can be found in a variety of open habitats, including grasslands, marshes, and agricultural fields. These birds prefer areas with low vegetation, as it provides them with a clear view of their prey, primarily small mammals and birds. Northern Harriers are known to nest on the ground, often in dense grasses or reeds, where their nests remain well-concealed.
Behavior of the Northern Harrier
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Northern Harrier’s behavior is its unique hunting technique. Unlike other raptors, the Northern Harrier flies low over the ground, using its exceptional hearing to locate its prey. They have the ability to hover in mid-air, providing them with an advantage when hunting in open habitats. These birds are also known for their spectacular courtship displays, with the male performing aerial acrobatics to impress the female.
Appearance of Neotropic Cormorant
The Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) is a medium-sized aquatic bird known for its sleek black plumage and long, slender neck. These birds have a unique appearance, with a hooked bill and striking blue eyes. During the breeding season, Neotropic Cormorants develop white patches on their thighs and flanks, adding an additional touch of elegance to their overall appearance.
Habitat of the Neotropic Cormorant
Neotropic Cormorants can be found in a variety of aquatic habitats across the Americas, from saltwater estuaries to freshwater bodies. These birds are often seen perched on rocks or tree branches near the water, with their wings outstretched to dry. They are highly adaptable and can thrive in both natural and man-made aquatic environments.
Behavior of the Neotropic Cormorant
The Neotropic Cormorant is an excellent swimmer and diver, using its webbed feet to propel itself through the water. Unlike other aquatic birds, Neotropic Cormorants do not have waterproof feathers. After each dive, they must emerge from the water and spread their wings to dry, as their plumage can become waterlogged. These birds primarily feed on fish, using their sharp, hooked bill to catch and swallow their slippery prey.
Appearance of Nene
The Nene (Branta sandvicensis), also known as the Hawaiian Goose, is a unique bird that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. It is the rarest goose species in the world and is known for its distinctive appearance. The Nene has a dark gray-brown plumage with intricate black and white markings on its face and neck. Their legs and feet are black, and they have a small, delicate beak.
Habitat of the Nene in Hawaii
The Nene is native to the Hawaiian Islands and can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, shrublands, and lava fields. They are particularly fond of areas near water, where they can find suitable food sources and nesting sites. Unfortunately, the Nene population has significantly declined due to habitat loss and the introduction of predators and is now restricted to a few protected locations.
Behavior of the Nene
Nene are typically found in pairs or small family groups, and they mate for life. These birds are not particularly vocal, but they do emit soft honking sounds to communicate with each other. Nene primarily feed on grasses, seeds, and leaves, using their beaks to graze the vegetation. They are superb swimmers and will sometimes take to the water when threatened. The Nene is a critically endangered species, and conservation efforts are ongoing to protect and preserve this unique bird.
New Britain Sparrowhawk
Appearance of New Britain Sparrowhawk
The New Britain Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brachyurus) is a small raptor endemic to the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea. This bird has a compact body with short wings and a long, narrow tail, allowing for swift and agile flight. The female New Britain Sparrowhawk is larger than the male and exhibits sexual dimorphism, with brownish-gray plumage on the upperparts and a white underside heavily streaked with brown.
Habitat of the New Britain Sparrowhawk in Papua New Guinea
The New Britain Sparrowhawk inhabits the dense rainforests of New Britain Island in Papua New Guinea. These birds prefer undisturbed primary forests, where they can find suitable prey and build their nests. Due to the destruction of their natural habitat, their populations have been declining, making them a vulnerable species.
Behavior of the New Britain Sparrowhawk
The New Britain Sparrowhawk is an exceptional hunter and specializes in capturing small birds and mammals. These birds are known for their stealthy hunting technique, silently gliding through the forest in search of prey. They have sharp talons and a hooked beak that enable them to swiftly capture and kill their quarry. The New Britain Sparrowhawk is a solitary bird and is rarely seen in pairs or groups.
Northern Rockhopper Penguin
Appearance of Northern Rockhopper Penguin
The Northern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi) is a charismatic penguin species primarily found on islands in the southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans. These penguins have a distinctive appearance, with a spiky yellow crest on their heads and bright red eyes. They have a black back and white underside, with two wide yellow bands across their black brows.
Habitat of the Northern Rockhopper Penguin
The Northern Rockhopper Penguin is found on remote islands, breeding in colonies nestled on rocky cliffs. They prefer areas without dense vegetation, allowing for easy access to the ocean for feeding. This penguin species is highly pelagic, spending most of its life at sea searching for food. They have been known to travel long distances to find suitable feeding grounds.
Behavior of the Northern Rockhopper Penguin
Northern Rockhopper Penguins are highly social birds, often breeding in large colonies composed of thousands of individuals. They have a unique, hopping gait when moving about on land, which differentiates them from other penguin species. These penguins primarily feed on krill and small fish, using their streamlined bodies and flipper-like wings to navigate through the water. Regrettably, the Northern Rockhopper Penguin is classified as endangered, primarily due to habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing of its food sources.
Appearance of Nutting’s Flycatcher
Nutting’s Flycatcher (Myiarchus nuttingi) is a small passerine bird that resides exclusively in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. These birds have a distinctive look, with a bright yellow belly, olive-green upperparts, and a pale gray head. They have a long tail, slender bill, and a piercing gaze.
Habitat of Nutting’s Flycatcher
Nutting’s Flycatcher inhabits arid and semi-arid habitats with sparse vegetation, such as desert scrublands, chaparrals, and woodlands. They prefer areas near water sources where insects, their primary food source, are abundant. The availability of suitable habitat is crucial for the survival of this species, as they depend on specific nesting sites, such as woodpecker holes or natural cavities in saguaro cacti.
Behavior of Nutting’s Flycatcher
Nutting’s Flycatcher is an insectivorous bird that spends a significant amount of time perched on exposed branches, scanning the surroundings for potential prey. They are highly territorial and will defend their feeding and nesting areas against intruders. These birds communicate through various vocalizations, including a melodious song and distinct calls. Nutting’s Flycatcher is considered a near-threatened species due to habitat loss, degradation, and climate change.
Appearance of Nuthatch Vanga
The Nuthatch Vanga (Hypositta corallirostris) is a small, secretive bird endemic to the rainforests of Madagascar. This species has a distinct appearance, with a black and white plumage, an upright stance, and a long, curved bill. The Nuthatch Vanga is known for its ability to climb down tree trunks headfirst, much like its namesake, the Nuthatch.
Habitat of the Nuthatch Vanga
The Nuthatch Vanga inhabits the humid rainforests of Madagascar, particularly the eastern coastal regions. These birds are typically found in the lower levels of the forest, foraging for insects on tree trunks and amongst leaf litter. They prefer areas with dense vegetation, providing them with ample cover from predators.
Behavior of the Nuthatch Vanga
The Nuthatch Vanga is an acrobatic climber, using its strong legs and feet to move nimbly along tree trunks and branches. These birds primarily feed on insects, spiders, and occasionally small reptiles. They have a soft, whistling call that can be heard echoing through the forest, serving as a means of communication and territorial defense. Due to the destruction of their natural habitat, the Nuthatch Vanga is considered a vulnerable species.