List of birds of Montana facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Western Meadowlark
The western meadowlark is the state bird of Montana

This list of birds of Montana includes every wild bird species recorded in the U.S. state of Montana, based on the list published by Montana Audubon.

Only birds that are considered to have established, self-sustaining, wild populations in Montana are included on this list. This means that birds that are considered probable escapees, although they may have been sighted flying free in Montana, are not included. Introduced species that are not native to North America, but were brought to this continent by humans are marked on this list as (I).

This list is presented in taxonomic order and follows The Check-list of North American Birds (7th edition, 1998) published by the American Ornithologists' Union. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account.

Ducks, geese and swans

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae

The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, bills which are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils. There are 39 Montana species.

  • Greater white-fronted goose, Anser albifrons
  • Snow goose, Chen caerulescens
  • Ross's goose, Chen rossii
  • Brant, Branta bernicla
  • Cackling goose, Branta hutchinsii
  • Canada goose, Branta canadensis
  • Mute swan, Cygnus olor (I)
  • Trumpeter swan, Cygnus buccinator
  • Tundra swan, Cygnus columbianus
  • Wood duck, Aix sponsa
  • Gadwall, Anas strepera
  • Eurasian wigeon, Anas penelope
  • American wigeon, Anas americana
  • American black duck, Anas rubripes
  • Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
  • Blue-winged teal, Anas discors
  • Cinnamon teal, Anas cyanoptera
  • Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata
  • Northern pintail, Anas acuta
  • Garganey, Anas querquedula
  • Green-winged teal, Anas crecca
  • Canvasback, Aythya valisineria
  • Redhead, Aythya americana
  • Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris
  • Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula
  • Greater scaup, Aythya marila
  • Lesser scaup, Aythya affinis
  • Harlequin duck, Histrionicus histrionicus
  • Surf scoter, Melanitta perspicillata
  • White-winged scoter, Melanitta fusca
  • Black scoter, Melanitta americana
  • Long-tailed duck, Clangula hyemalis
  • Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola
  • Common goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
  • Barrow's goldeneye, Bucephala islandica
  • Hooded merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
  • Common merganser, Mergus merganser
  • Red-breasted merganser, Mergus serrator
  • Ruddy duck, Oxyura jamaicensis

Partridges, grouse, turkeys and Old World quail

Order: Galliformes   Family: Phasianidae

Phasianidae consists of the pheasants and their allies. These are terrestrial species, variable in size but generally plump with broad relatively short wings. Many species are gamebirds or have been domesticated as a food source for humans. There are 12 Montana species.

  • Chukar, Alectoris chukar (I)
  • Gray partridge, Perdix perdix (I)
  • Ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus (I)
  • Ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus
  • Greater sage-grouse, Centrocercus urophasianus
  • Spruce grouse, Falcipennis canadensis
  • Willow ptarmigan, Lagopus lagopus
  • White-tailed ptarmigan, Lagopus leucurus
  • Dusky grouse, Dendragapus obscurus
  • Sharp-tailed grouse, Tympanuchus phasianellus
  • Greater prairie chicken, Tympanuchus cupido
  • Wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo


Order: Gaviiformes   Family: Gaviidae

Loons are aquatic birds the size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely gray or black, and they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well and fly adequately, but are almost hopeless on land, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body. There are 4 Montana species.

  • Red-throated loon, Gavia stellata
  • Pacific loon, Gavia pacifica
  • Common loon, Gavia immer
  • Yellow-billed loon, Gavia adamsii


Western Grebe swimming
Western grebe

Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 6 Montana species.

  • Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps
  • Horned grebe, Podiceps auritus
  • Red-necked grebe, Podiceps grisegena
  • Eared grebe, Podiceps nigricollis
  • Western grebe, Aechmorphorus occidentalis
  • Clark's grebe, Aechmorphorus clarkii

Shearwaters and petrels

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary. There is 1 Montana species.

  • Manx shearwater, Puffinus puffinus


Order: Suliformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of colored skin on the face. The bill is long, thin and sharply hooked. Their feet are four-toed and webbed, a distinguishing feature among the Pelecaniformes order. There is 1 Montana species.

  • Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus


American white pelican

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Pelecanidae

Pelicans are very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes. There is 1 Montana species.

  • American white pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

Bitterns, herons and egrets

Lightmatter greatblueheron2
Great blue heron

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Ardeidae

The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets and bitterns. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills. There are 10 Montana species.

  • American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus
  • Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis
  • Great blue heron, Ardea herodias
  • Great egret, Ardea alba
  • Snowy egret, Egretta thula
  • Little blue heron, Egretta caerulea
  • Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
  • Green heron, Butorides virescens
  • Black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
  • Yellow-crowned night heron, Nyctanassa violacea

Ibises and spoonbills

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Threskiornithidae

The family Threskiornithidae includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings. Their bodies tend to be elongated, the neck more so, with rather long legs. The bill is also long, decurved in the case of the ibises, straight and distinctively flattened in the spoonbills. There are 2 Montana species.

  • Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus
  • White-faced ibis, Plegadis chihi


Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae

Storks are large, heavy, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills and wide wingspans. They lack the powder down that other wading birds such as herons, spoonbills and ibises use to clean off fish slime. Storks lack a pharynx and are mute. There is 1 Montana species.

  • Wood stork, Mycteria americana

New World vultures

Order: Cathartiformes   Family: Cathartidae

The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers, however, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carcasses. There is 1 Montana species.


Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Pandionidae

Hawks, kites and eagles

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Accipitridae

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight. There are 14 Montana species.

  • White-tailed kite, Elanus leucurus
  • Mississippi kite, Ictinia mississippiensis
  • Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  • Northern harrier, Circus cyaneus
  • Sharp-shinned hawk, Accipiter striatus
  • Cooper's hawk, Accipiter cooperii
  • Northern goshawk, Accipiter gentilis
  • Red-shouldered hawk, Buteo lineatus
  • Broad-winged hawk, Buteo platypterus
  • Swainson's hawk, Buteo swainsoni
  • Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
  • Ferruginous hawk, Buteo regalis
  • Rough-legged hawk, Buteo lagopus
  • Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos

Caracaras and falcons

USGS Prairie Falcon
Prairie falcon

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey, notably the falcons and caracaras. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons. There are 5 Montana species.

  • American kestrel, Falco sparverius
  • Merlin, Falco columbarius
  • Gyrfalcon, Falco rusticolus
  • Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus
  • Prairie falcon, Falco mexicanus

Rails, gallinules and coots

Fulica americana3
American coot

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and tend to be weak fliers. There are 5 Montana species.

  • Yellow rail, Coturnicops noveboracensis
  • Virginia rail, Rallus limicola
  • Sora, Porzana carolina
  • Common gallinule, Gallinula galeata
  • American coot, Fulica americana


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Gruidae

Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". There are 2 Montana species.

Lapwings and plovers


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water. There are 7 Montana species.

  • Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
  • American golden-plover, Pluvialis dominica
  • Snowy plover, Charadrius nivosus
  • Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus
  • Piping plover, Charadrius melodus
  • Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus
  • Mountain plover, Charadrius montanus

Stilts and avocets

Recurvirostra americana -Palo Alto Baylands-8
American avocet

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 2 Montana species.

  • Black-necked stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
  • American avocet, Recurvirostra americana

Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes and phalaropes

Phalaropus tricolor - breeding female
Wilson's phalarope

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae

Scolopacidae is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 32 Montana species.

  • Spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularia
  • Solitary sandpiper, Tringa solitaria
  • Greater yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
  • Willet, Tringa semipalmata
  • Lesser yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes
  • Upland sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda
  • Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
  • Long-billed curlew, Numenius americanus
  • Hudsonian godwit, Limosa haemastica
  • Marbled godwit, Limosa fedoa
  • Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
  • Black turnstone, Tournepierre noir
  • Red knot, Calidris canutus
  • Sanderling, Calidris alba
  • Semipalmated sandpiper, Calidris pusilla
  • Western sandpiper, Calidris mauri
  • Least sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
  • White-rumped sandpiper, Calidris fuscicollis
  • Baird's sandpiper, Calidris bairdii
  • Pectoral sandpiper, Calidris melanotos
  • Sharp-tailed sandpiper, Calidris acuminata
  • Dunlin, Calidris alpina
  • Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
  • Stilt sandpiper, Calidris himantopus
  • Buff-breasted sandpiper, Calidris subruficollis
  • Short-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus
  • Long-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus
  • Wilson's snipe, Gallinago delicata
  • American woodcock, Scolopax minor
  • Wilson's phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor
  • Red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
  • Red phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius

Gulls, terns and skimmers

Ring-billed gull

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes jaegers, skuas, gulls, terns, kittiwakes and skimmers. They are typically gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 26 Montana species.

  • Black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
  • Ross's gull, Rhodostethia rosea
  • Laughing gull, Leucophaeus atricilla
  • Franklin's gull, Leucophaeus pipixcan
  • Little gull, Hydrocoloeus minutus
  • Sabine's gull, Xema sabini
  • Bonaparte's gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia
  • Mew gull, Larus canus
  • Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
  • California gull, Larus californicus
  • Herring gull, Larus argentatus
  • Thayer's gull, Larus thayeri
  • Iceland gull, Larus glaucoides
  • Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus
  • Glaucous-winged gull, Larus glaucescens
  • Glaucous gull, Larus hyperboreus
  • Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus
  • Least tern, Sternula antillarum
  • Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
  • Black tern, Chlidonias niger
  • Common tern, Sterna hirundo
  • Arctic tern, Sterna paradisaea
  • Forster's tern, Sterna forsteri


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae

  • Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus
  • Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus
  • Long-tailed jaeger, Stercorarius longicaudus

Auks, murres and puffins

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Alcidae

The family Alcidae includes auks, murres and puffins. These are short winged birds that live on the open sea and normally only come ashore for breeding. There are 2 Montana species.

  • Long-billed murrelet, Brachyramphus perdix
  • Ancient murrelet, Synthliboarmphus antiquus

Pigeons and doves

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 6 Montana species.

  • Rock dove, Columba livia (I)
  • Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata
  • Eurasian collared-dove, Streptopelia decaocto (I)
  • White-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica
  • Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura
  • Inca dove, Columbina inca

Cuckoos, roadrunners and anis

Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. There are 2 Montana species.

  • Black-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalmus
  • Yellow-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus

Barn owls

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There is 1 Montana species.

True owls

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 14 Montana species.

  • Flammulated owl, Psiloscops flammeolus
  • Western screech-owl, Megascops kennicottii
  • Eastern screech-owl, Megascops asio
  • Great horned owl, Bubo virginianus
  • Snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus
  • Northern hawk owl, Surnia ulula
  • Northern pygmy-owl, Glaucidium gnoma
  • Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia
  • Barred owl, Strix varia
  • Great gray owl, Strix nebulosa
  • Long-eared owl, Asio otus
  • Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus
  • Boreal owl, Aegolius funereus
  • Northern saw-whet owl, Aegolius acadicus


Chordeiles minor -British Columbia -Canada-8c
Common nighthawk

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically colored to resemble bark or leaves. There are 3 Montana species.

  • Common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor
  • Common poorwill, Phalaenoptilus nuttallii
  • Eastern whip-poor-will, Antrostomus vociferus


Order: Apodiformes   Family: Apodidae

The swifts are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have very long, swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang. There are 4 Montana species.

  • Black swift, Cypseloides niger
  • Chimney swift, Chaetura pelagica
  • Vaux's swift, Chaetura vauxi
  • White-throated swift, Aeronautes saxatalis


Order: Apodiformes   Family: Trochilidae

Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. There are 7 Montana species.

  • Ruby-throated hummingbird, Archilochus colubris
  • Black-chinned hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri
  • Anna's hummingbird, Calypte anna
  • Costa's hummingbird, Calypte costae
  • Calliope hummingbird, Selasphrus calliope
  • Broad-tailed hummingbird, Selasphorus platycercus
  • Rufous hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails. There is 1 Montana species.

  • Belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon

Woodpeckers, sapsuckers and flickers

Order: Piciformes   Family: Picidae

Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 13 Montana species.

  • Lewis's woodpecker, Melanerpes lewis
  • Red-headed woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus
  • Red-bellied woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus
  • Williamson's sapsucker, Sphyrapicus thyroideus
  • Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius
  • Red-naped sapsucker, Sphyrapicus nuchalis
  • Downy woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
  • Hairy woodpecker, Picoides villosus
  • White-headed woodpecker, Picoides albolarvatus
  • American three-toed woodpecker, Picoides dorsalis
  • Black-backed woodpecker, Picoides arcticus
  • Northern flicker, Colaptes auratus
  • Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus

Tyrant flycatchers

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Tyrannidae

Tyrant flycatchers are Passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust and have stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, are rather plain. As the name implies, most are insectivorous. There are 20 Montana species.

  • Olive-sided flycatcher, Contopus cooperi
  • Western wood-pewee, Contopus sordidulus
  • Eastern wood-pewee, Contopus virens
  • Yellow-bellied flycatcher, Empidonax flaviventris
  • Alder flycatcher, Empidonax alnorum
  • Willow flycatcher, Empidonax traillii
  • Least flycatcher, Empidonax minimus
  • Hammond's flycatcher, Empidonax hammondii
  • Gray flycatcher, Empidonax wrightii
  • American dusky flycatcher, Empidonax oberholseri
  • Cordilleran flycatcher, Empidonax occidentalis
  • Eastern phoebe, Sayornis phoebe
  • Say's phoebe, Sayornis saya
  • Vermilion flycatcher, Pyrocephalus rubinus
  • Ash-throated flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
  • Great crested flycatcher, Myiarchus crinitus
  • Cassin's kingbird, Tyrannus vociferans
  • Western kingbird, Tyrannus verticalis
  • Eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus
  • Scissor-tailed flycatcher, Tyrannus forficatus


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Laniidae

Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 2 Montana species.

  • Loggerhead shrike, Lanius ludovicianus
  • Northern shrike, Lanius excubitor


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Vireonidae

The vireos are a group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in color and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. There are 8 Montana species.

  • White-eyed vireo, Vireo griseus
  • Yellow-throated vireo, Vireo flavifrons
  • Plumbeous vireo, Vireo plumbeus
  • Cassin's vireo, Vireo cassinii
  • Blue-headed vireo, Vireo solitarius
  • Warbling vireo, Vireo gilvus
  • Philadelphia vireo, Vireo philadelphicus
  • Red-eyed vireo, Vireo olivaceus

Jays, crows, magpies and ravens

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae

The family Corvidae includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence. There are 9 Montana species.

  • Gray jay, Perisoreus canadensis
  • Steller's jay, Cyanocitta stelleri
  • Blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata
  • Woodhouse's scrub jay, Aphelocoma woodhouseii
  • Pinyon jay, Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus
  • Clark's nutcracker, Nucifraga columbiana
  • Black-billed magpie, Pica hudsonia
  • American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  • Common raven, Corvus corax


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Alaudidae

Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds. There is 1 Montana species.

  • Horned lark, Eremophila alpestris

Swallows and martins

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae

The family Hirundinidae is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. These adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 7 Montana species.

  • Purple martin, Progne subis
  • Tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  • Violet-green swallow, Tachycineta thalassina
  • Northern rough-winged swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis
  • Bank swallow, Riparia riparia
  • Cliff swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  • Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica

Chickadees and titmice

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Paridae

The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. There are 4 Montana species.

  • Black-capped chickadee, Poecile atricapilla
  • Mountain chickadee, Poecile gambeli
  • Chestnut-backed chickadee, Poecile rufescens
  • Boreal chickadee, Poecile hudsonica


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sittidae

Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet. There are 3 Montana species.

  • Red-breasted nuthatch, Sitta canadensis
  • White-breasted nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  • Pygmy nuthatch, Sitta pygmaea


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Certhiidae

Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. There is 1 Montana species.

  • Brown creeper, Certhia americana


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Troglodytidae

Wrens are small and inconspicuous birds, except for their loud songs. They have short wings and thin down-turned bills. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 7 Montana species.

  • Rock wren, Salpinctes obsoletus
  • Canyon wren, Catherpes mexicanus
  • Bewick's wren, Thryomanes bewickii
  • House wren, Troglodytes aedon
  • Winter wren, Troglodytes hiemalis
  • Pacific wren, Troglodytes pacificus
  • Sedge wren, Cistothorus platensis
  • Marsh wren, Cistothorus palustris


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cinclidae

Dippers are small, stout, birds that feed in cold, fast moving streams. There is 1 Montana species.

  • American dipper, Cinclus mexicanus


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Regulidae

The kinglets are a small family of birds which resemble the titmice. They are very small insectivorous birds in the genus Regulus. The adults have colored crowns, giving rise to their names. There are 2 Montana species.

  • Golden-crowned kinglet, Regulus satrapa
  • Ruby-crowned kinglet, Regulus calendula


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Polioptilidae

  • Blue-gray gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea


Mountain Bluebird
Mountain bluebird

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Turdidae

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 11 Montana species.

  • Eastern bluebird, Sialia sialis
  • Western bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  • Mountain bluebird, Sialia currucoides
  • Townsend's solitaire, Myadestes townsendi
  • Veery, Catharus fuscescens
  • Gray-cheeked thrush, Catharus minimus
  • Swainson's thrush, Catharus ustulatus
  • Hermit thrush, Catharus guttatus
  • Wood thrush, Hylocichla mustelina
  • American robin, Turdus migratorius
  • Varied thrush, Ixoreus naevius

Mockingbirds and thrashers

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Mimidae

The mimids are a family of passerine birds which includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance. There are 5 Montana species.

  • Gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis
  • Northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  • Sage thrasher, Oreoscoptes montanus
  • Brown thrasher, Toxostoma rufum
  • Curve-billed thrasher, Toxostoma curvirostre


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sturnidae

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are medium-sized passerines with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There is 1 Montana species.

  • European starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I)


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Prunellidae

The accentors are small, fairly drab birds with thin sharp bills superficially similar, but unrelated to, sparrows. They are endemic to the Palearctic and only appear in North America as a vagrant. There is 1 Montana species.

  • Siberian accentor, Prunella montanella

Wagtails and pipits

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Motacillidae

Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 2 Montana species.

  • American pipit, Anthus rubescens
  • Sprague's pipit, Anthus spragueii


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Bombycillidae

The waxwings are a group of passerine birds with soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter. There are 2 Montana species.

  • Bohemian waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus
  • Cedar waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum

Longspurs and snow buntings

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Calcariidae

  • McCown's longspur, Calcarius mccownii
  • Lapland longspur, Calcarius lapponicus
  • Smith's longspur, Calcarius pictus
  • Chestnut-collared longspur, Calcarius ornatus
  • Snow bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis

Wood warblers

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Parulidae

The wood warblers are a group of small often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some like the ovenbird and the two waterthrushes, are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. There are 37 Montana species.

  • Blue-winged warbler, Vermivora cyanoptera
  • Golden-winged warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera
  • Tennessee warbler, Oreothlypis peregrina
  • Orange-crowned warbler, Oreothlypis celata
  • Nashville warbler, Oreothlypis ruficapilla
  • Northern parula, Setophaga americana
  • Yellow warbler, Setophaga petechia
  • Chestnut-sided warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica
  • Magnolia warbler, Setophaga magnolia
  • Cape May warbler, Setophaga tigrina
  • Black-throated blue warbler, Setophaga caerulescens
  • Yellow-rumped warbler, Setophaga coronata
  • Black-throated gray warbler, Setophaga nigrescens
  • Black-throated green warbler, Setophaga virens
  • Townsend's warbler, Setophaga townsendi
  • Blackburnian warbler, Setophaga fusca
  • Yellow-throated warbler, Setophaga dominica
  • Pine warbler, Setophaga pinus
  • Prairie warbler, Setophaga discolor
  • Palm warbler, Setophaga palmarum
  • Bay-breasted warbler, Setophaga castanea
  • Blackpoll warbler, Setophaga striata
  • Hooded warbler, Setophaga citrina
  • American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla
  • Black-and-white warbler, Mniotilta varia
  • Prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea
  • Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla
  • Northern waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis
  • Connecticut warbler, Oporornis agilis
  • Kentucky warbler, Geothlypis formosa
  • Mourning warbler, Geothlypis philadelphia
  • MacGillivray's warbler, Geothlypis tolmiei
  • Common yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
  • Wilson's warbler, Cardellina pusilla
  • Canada warbler, Cardellina canadensis
  • Painted redstart, Myioborus pictus
  • Yellow-breasted chat, Icteria virens

American sparrows, towhees, juncos and longspurs

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Emberizidae

Emberizidae is a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with distinctively shaped bills. In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are 26 Montana species.

  • Green-tailed towhee, Pipilo chlorurus
  • Spotted towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  • Eastern towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus
  • American tree sparrow, Spizelloides arborea
  • Chipping sparrow, Spizella passerina
  • Clay-colored sparrow, Spizella pallida
  • Brewer's sparrow, Spizella breweri
  • Field sparrow, Spizella pusilla
  • Vesper sparrow, Pooecetes gramineus
  • Lark sparrow, Chondestes grammacus
  • Black-throated sparrow, Amphispiza bilineata
  • Sagebrush sparrow, Artemisiospiza nevadensis
  • Lark bunting, Calamospiza melanocorys
  • Savannah sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
  • Grasshopper sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
  • Baird's sparrow, Ammodramus bairdii
  • Le Conte's sparrow, Ammodramus leconteii
  • Nelson's sparrow, Ammodramus nelsoni
  • Fox sparrow, Passerella iliaca
  • Song sparrow, Melospiza melodia
  • Lincoln's sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii
  • White-throated sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
  • Harris's sparrow, Zonotrichia querula
  • White-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys
  • Golden-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  • Dark-eyed junco, Junco hyemalis

Cardinals, saltators and grosbeaks

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cardinalidae

The cardinals are a family of robust, seed-eating birds with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. There are 12 Montana species.

  • Summer tanager, Piranga rubra
  • Scarlet tanager, Piranga olivacea
  • Western tanager, Piranga ludoviciana
  • Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
  • Pyrrhuloxia, Cardinalis sinuatus
  • Rose-breasted grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus
  • Black-headed grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus
  • Blue grosbeak, Passerina caerulea
  • Lazuli bunting, Passerina amoena
  • Indigo bunting, Passerina cyanea
  • Painted bunting, Passerina ciris
  • Dickcissel, Spiza americana


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Icteridae

The icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds and New World orioles. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. There are 14 Montana species.

  • Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
  • Red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  • Eastern meadowlark, Sturnella magna
  • Western meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  • Yellow-headed blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
  • Rusty blackbird, Euphagus carolinus
  • Brewer's blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  • Common grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
  • Great-tailed grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
  • Brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater
  • Orchard oriole, Icterus spurius
  • Hooded oriole, Icterus cucullatus
  • Bullock's oriole, Icterus bullockii
  • Baltimore oriole, Icterus galbula

Fringilline finches, cardueline finches and allies

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Fringillidae

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have twelve tail feathers and nine primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 15 Montana species.

  • Brambling, Fringilla montifringilla
  • Gray-crowned rosy-finch, Leucosticte tephrocotis
  • Black rosy-finch, Leucosticte atrata
  • Pine grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator
  • Purple finch, Haemorhous purpureus
  • Cassin's finch, Haemorhous cassinii
  • House finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  • Red crossbill, Loxia curvirostra
  • White-winged crossbill, Loxia leucoptera
  • Common redpoll, Acanthis flammea
  • Hoary redpoll, Acanthis hornemanni
  • Pine siskin, Spinus pinus
  • Lesser goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  • American goldfinch, Spinus tristis
  • Evening grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus

Old World sparrows

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passeridae

Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or grayish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects. There is 1 Montana species.

List of birds of Montana Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.