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This is a list of the bird species recorded in Bhutan. The avifauna of Bhutan include a total of 680 species, of which two have been introduced by humans and six are rare or accidental. Twenty-two species are globally threatened.
This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for Bhutan.
The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories. The commonly occurring, native, species do not fall into any of these categories.
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Non-passerines: Grebes • Cormorants • Bitterns, herons and egrets • Storks • Ducks, geese and swans • Osprey • Hawks, kites and eagles • Caracaras and falcons • Pheasants and partridges • Buttonquails • Cranes • Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots • Bustards • Ibisbill • Avocets and stilts • Thick-knees • Pratincoles and coursers • Plovers and lapwings • Sandpipers and allies • Gulls • Terns • Pigeons and doves • Parrots, macaws and allies • Cuckoos and anis • Barn owls • Typical owls • Frogmouths • Nightjars • Swifts • Treeswifts • Trogons and quetzals • Kingfishers • Bee-eaters • Typical rollers • Hoopoes • Hornbills • Barbets • Honeyguides • Woodpeckers and allies
Passerines: Broadbills • Pittas • Larks • Swallows and martins • Wagtails and pipits • Cuckoo-shrikes • Bulbuls • Kinglets • Leafbirds • Ioras • Dippers • Wrens • Accentors • Thrushes and allies • Cisticolas and allies • Old World warblers • Old World flycatchers • Fantails • Monarch flycatchers • Babblers • Spotted elachura • Parrotbills • Long-tailed tits • Chickadees and titmice • Nuthatches • Wallcreeper • Treecreepers • Penduline tits • Sunbirds and spiderhunters • Flowerpeckers • White-eyes • Old World orioles • Fairy-bluebirds • Shrikes • Helmetshrikes • Drongos • Woodswallows • Crows, jays, ravens and magpies • Starlings • Weavers and allies • Waxbills and allies • Buntings, sparrows, seedeaters and allies • Siskins, crossbills and allies • Sparrows
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 20 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies, with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black-and-white, and a few being colourful. There are 38 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bhutan.
The Ardeidae family contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Bhutan.
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory. There are 19 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bhutan.
Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide and 14 species which occur in Bhutan.
The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium-large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight. There are 233 species worldwide and 42 species which occur in Bhutan.
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons. There are 62 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Bhutan.
The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds which consists of quails, partridges, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowls and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump (although they vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings. There are 156 species worldwide and 19 species which occur in Bhutan.
The buttonquails are small, drab, running birds which resemble the true quails. The female is the brighter of the sexes, and initiates courtship. The male incubates the eggs and tends the young. There are 16 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
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 15 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, 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 to be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bhutan.
Bustards are large terrestrial birds mainly associated with dry open country and steppes in the Old World. They are omnivorous and nest on the ground. They walk steadily on strong legs and big toes, pecking for food as they go. They have long broad wings with "fingered" wingtips, and striking patterns in flight. Many have interesting mating displays. There are 26 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
The ibisbill is a bird related to the waders, but sufficiently distinctive to merit its own family. The adult is grey with a white belly, red legs and long down curved bill, and a black face and black breast band.
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 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
The thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow-black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats. There are 9 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long, pointed bills which curve downwards. There are 17 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
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 66 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Bhutan.
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. Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 89 species worldwide and 14 species which occur in Bhutan.
Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 55 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years. There are 44 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bhutan.
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two to the back. There are 335 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Bhutan.
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 19 species which occur in Bhutan.
Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There are 16 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
The 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 195 species worldwide and 17 species which occur in Bhutan.
The frogmouths are a group of nocturnal birds related to the nightjars. They are named for their large flattened hooked bills and huge frog-like gape, which they use to take insects. There are 12 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
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 camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 86 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bhutan.
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 long swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Bhutan.
The treeswifts or crested swifts are closely related to the true swifts. They differ from the other swifts in that they have crests, long forked tails and softer plumage. There are 4 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
The family Trogonidae includes trogons and quetzals. Found in tropical woodlands worldwide, they feed on insects and fruit, and their broad bills and weak legs reflect their diet and arboreal habits. Although their flight is fast, they are reluctant to fly any distance. Trogons have soft, often colourful, feathers with distinctive male and female plumage. There are 33 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Bhutan.
The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colourful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar. There are 26 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bhutan.
Rollers resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups with blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but the outer toe is not. There are 12 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
Hoopoes have black, white and orangey-pink colouring with a large erectile crest on their head. There are 2 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
Hornbills are a group of birds whose bill is shaped like a cow's horn, but without a twist, sometimes with a casque on the upper mandible. Frequently, the bill is brightly coloured. There are 57 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bhutan.
The barbets are plump birds, with short necks and large heads. They get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills. Most species are brightly coloured. There are 84 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Bhutan.
Honeyguides are among the few birds that feed on wax. They are named for the behaviour of the greater honeyguide which leads traditional honey-hunters to bees' nests and, after the hunters have harvested the honey, feeds on the remaining contents of the hive. There are 17 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
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 218 species worldwide and 20 species which occur in Bhutan.
The broadbills are small, brightly coloured birds, which feed on fruit and also take insects in flycatcher fashion, snapping their broad bills. Their habitat is canopies of wet forests. There are 15 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
Pittas are medium-sized by passerine standards, and stocky, with fairly long, strong legs, short tails and stout bills. Many, but not all, are brightly coloured. They spend the majority of their time on wet forest floors, eating snails, insects and similar invertebrate prey which they find there. There are 32 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bhutan.
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 are 91 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Bhutan.
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. These adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide and 10 species which occur in Bhutan.
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 54 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Bhutan.
The cuckoo-shrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured. There are 82 species worldwide and 10 species which occur in Bhutan.
Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throats or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests. There are 130 species worldwide and 10 species which occur in Bhutan.
The kinglets or crests are a small group of birds often included in the Old World warblers, but frequently given family status because they also resemble the titmice. There are 7 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
The leafbirds are small, bulbul-like birds. The males are brightly plumaged, usually in greens and yellows. There are 8 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
The ioras are bulbul-like birds of open forest or thorn scrub, but whereas that group tends to be drab in colouration, ioras are sexually dimorphic, with the males being brightly plumaged in yellows and greens. There are 4 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
Dippers are a group of perching birds whose habitat includes aquatic environments in the Americas, Europe and Asia. They are named for their bobbing or dipping movements. There are 5 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and thin down-turned bills. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 80 species worldwide (of which all but one are New World species) and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
The accentors are in the only bird family, Prunellidae, which is completely endemic to the Palearctic. They are small, fairly drab species superficially similar to sparrows. There are 13 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Bhutan.
The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly 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 335 species worldwide and 21 species which occur in Bhutan.
The Cisticolidae are warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are generally very small birds of drab brown or grey appearance found in open country such as grassland or scrub. There are 111 species worldwide and 11 species which occur in Bhutan.
The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. They mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent, Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs. There are 291 species worldwide and 48 species which occur in Bhutan.
Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is highly varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls. There 274 species worldwide and 57 species which occur in Bhutan.
The fantails are small insectivorous birds which are specialist aerial feeders. There are 44 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bhutan.
The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines, which hunt by flycatching. There are 99 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
The babblers or timaliids are somewhat diverse in size and colouration, but are characterised by soft fluffy plumage. There are 270 species worldwide and 75 species which occur in Bhutan.
The parrotbills are a group of birds native to East and Southeast Asia, though feral populations exist elsewhere. They are generally small, long-tailed birds which inhabit reed beds and similar habitats. There are 20 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Bhutan.
Long-tailed tits are a group of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They make woven bag nests in trees. Most eat a mixed diet which includes insects. There are 9 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
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 59 species worldwide and 10 species which occur in Bhutan.
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 24 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bhutan.
The wallcreeper is a small bird, with stunning crimson, grey and black plumage, related to the nuthatch family.
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 are 6 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bhutan.
The penduline tits are a group of small passerine birds, related to the true tits. They are insectivores. There are 13 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
The sunbirds and spiderhunters are very small passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed. There are 131 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Bhutan.
The flowerpeckers are very small, stout, often brightly coloured birds, with short tails, short thick curved bills and tubular tongues. There are 44 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Bhutan.
The white-eyes are small and mostly of undistinguished appearance, the plumage above being generally either some dull colour like greenish-olive, but some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. As their name suggests, many species have a white ring around the eyes. There are 96 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
The Old World orioles are colourful passerine birds. They are not related to the New World orioles. There are 29 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bhutan.
The fairy-bluebirds are bulbul-like birds of open forest or thorn scrub. The males are dark-blue and the females a duller green. There are 2 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
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 31 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bhutan.
The helmetshrikes are similar in build to the shrikes, but tend to be colourful species with distinctive crests or other head ornaments, such as wattles, from which they get their name. There are 12 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
The drongos are mostly black or dark grey in colour, sometimes with metallic tints. They have long forked tails, and some Asian species have elaborate tail decorations. They have short legs and sit very upright when perched, like a shrike. They flycatch or take prey from the ground. There are 24 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Bhutan.
The woodswallows are soft-plumaged, somber-coloured passerine birds. They are smooth, agile flyers with moderately large, semi-triangular wings. There are 11 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bhutan.
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence. There are 120 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Bhutan.
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There are 125 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Bhutan.
The weavers are small passerine birds related to the finches. They are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills. The males of many species are brightly coloured, usually in red or yellow and black, some species show variation in colour only in the breeding season. There are 116 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have wide variation in plumage colours and patterns. There are 141 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bhutan.
The emberizids are 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 275 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Bhutan.
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 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 137 species worldwide and 26 species which occur in Bhutan.
Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bhutan.