26 Birds that Start with S

birds that start with S

Once upon a time, there were some birds. They had a conversation and one bird asks: “What birds start with the letter S?” Did you know there are birds that start with the letter “S”? Well, I’m sure you did. You probably already knew there were sparrows, swans, and even seagulls.

Bird watching is a great way to relax in the good ole’ US of A. Swooping through pristine forests in search of feathered friends can be a great way to relieve stress and get some exercise. It does get lonely at times though, so here’s a list of birds that start with the letter S just for you.

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)

sharp-shinned hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawks are tiny hawks endemic to North and Central America. These raptors inhabit woodland occupied with conifers, oaks, and temperate, boreal forests.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are small-bodied raptors, with the adult females being larger than their male counterparts.

They have a yellow, hooked-bill, short but broad wings, and a medium-length blackish tail band tipped with grey. Their remiges are whitish and can only be seen during flight, while their long, slender legs are yellow.

Sharp-shinned Hawks catch their prey, which is mainly small birds, by flying through dense vegetation.


Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanagers are medium-sized migratory American songbirds belonging to the cardinal family. They breed across the Southern United States in open wooded areas.

During winters, these songbirds travel to Central and South America. They are rare vagrants to Western Europe.

Summer Tanagers have a stout pointed bill colored in dark grey. The adults are sexually dimorphic in plumage; the males are colored in red-rose while their female counterparts have olive upperparts and orange underparts. The wings and the tail of females are olive-brown.

Summer Tanagers have a melody call repeated in a constant stream. These birds mainly feed on insects like bees and wasps but also enjoy berries, especially during winters.


Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)

Swallow-tailed Kite

Swallow-tailed Kites are large raptors endemic to the Americas. They’re the monotypic member of their genus and breed across the Southeastern United States. The majority of their central and northern population migrates to South America during winters.

Swallow-tailed Kites are among large raptors, wherein both adult sexes appear similar, lacking any sexual dimorphism.

Their black and white body features a black elongated forked tail, black flight feathers, and feet.; their bill is black too. The wings of these birds have black upper sides, while their underside is a blend of black and white.

Swallow-tailed Kites feed on small reptiles, small mammals, and insects. Their Central American population can even consume fruits.


Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens)

Snow Goose

Snow Geese are a medium-sized goose species breeding in North America and wintering across the Gulf Coastal Plain of Central America. These geese get their name from their typically white plumage and are a rare vagrant in Europe.

As we just discussed, Snow Geese are fully white except for their black wingtips. They have rose-red feet and a beautiful pink bill. On their head, you can notice a rusty-brown texture.

Snow Geese are vocal birds often heard from a considerable distance. They primarily feed on leaves, seeds and wild grasses, and berries.


Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus)

Sooty Grouse

Sooty Grouses are a forest grouse species native to the Pacific Coast of North America. These birds naturally inhabit coniferous and mixed forests across mountainous regions. Though permanent residents, they might move to denser forests in the winter months.

Sooty Grouses are medium-sized grouses having a long tail with a slight grey tone at the tip. The adults display significant sexual dimorphism in plumage. The males usually have a dark appearance with a yellow throat air sac that is enclosed by white. They also feature a yellow wattle over the eye.

On the other hand, their female counterparts are between mottled brown to dark brown, having white patches on their underparts. Sooty Grouses thrive on green plants, berries, and insects.


Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis)

spotted dove

Spotted Doves are long-tailed pigeons endemic to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. These doves primarily inhabit scrubs, woodlands, and farmlands.

Spotted Doves have a long and slim body with rosy-buff underparts, while their head and belly are colored in grey. These doves have black feathers on their neck, with white spots at the tips.

Their flight feathers are deep brown with grey edges, while the outer, white-tipped tail feathers are visible during take-off. The vent and center of their abdomen are colored in white. Both sexes of adults have identical plumage and size.


Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egrets are small herons endemic to Central, North, and South Americas. Their species is a permanent resident, except for the population across the Southern United States, that are migratory. These birds inhabit marshes, pools, lakesides, riverbanks, and estuaries.

Snowy Egrets have completely white plumage, with a long black bill and yellow lores between them. These birds have black legs with bright yellow feet. Their nape and leg have long, scattered plumes called “air gates.”

Snowy Egrets prefer catching their prey from shallow water by running or shuffling their feet. They feed on fish, insects, crayfish, snails, and frogs.


Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)

Smooth-billed Ani

The Smooth-billed Anis are a non-migratory, passerine species belonging to the cuckoo family. These resident species breed across Southern Florida, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. They primarily inhabit open and semi-open regions under civilization.

Smooth-billed Anis are medium-sized with mainly black plumage. They have a long tail, brown irises, and a dark, black bill. Despite having a weak flight, these birds are good runners and are primarily ground-foragers.

Smooth-billed Anis are primarily insectivores but can also feed on lizards and frogs occasionally.


Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

Surf Scoter

Surf Scoters are large, North American sea ducks that are the smallest members of the scoter group. Their breeding habitats are boreal forests near the Northern freshwater lakes.

A small range of their population migrates to western Europe, while most of them spend their winter across the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America.

Surf Scoters have a medium-sized body and are sexually dimorphic in size and plumage; the males are larger than their female counterparts. The adult males have a shiny black body, with white patches on the forehead and neck. Their swollen red-white bill has a yellowish texture and a black spot near its base.

On the other hand, their female counterparts are browner with darker upperparts than below. Their black bill has a squarish base, tossed with green and blue shades.


Scaled Quail (Callipepla Squamata)

Scaled Quail

Commonly referred to as “Cottontop” and “Blue Quail,” the Scaled Quails are short-tailed game birds found across North America. They are permanent residents that inhabit open valleys, canyons, gullies, and rocky slopes within their range.

Scaled Quails are named after the scaly appearance of their breast and back feathers. They have a bluish-grey body with a short, white crest that somewhat resembles a cotton tuft.

These quails have an intricate white scaling on their breast and belly. Their head and wings have a brownish tone. Both sexes of the adults have similar plumage. Scaled Quails mostly survive on seeds, sunflowers, and insects.


Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica)


Sungrebes are small aquatic birds found in abundance across the tropical and subtropical regions found in North and South America. They inhabit densely vegetated freshwater wetland environments.

Sungrebes have a small body, with both the adult sexes looking identical. However, the males are duller in appearance than their female counterparts. Their plumage is reddish-brown, with a black crown, a patterned head, and neck. White stripes are visible across their neck, chin, and throat are white, too.

The breeding females display a bright rufous patch on the side of the face while breeding males have a pale beige lower mandible.


Smew (Mergellus albellus)


Smews are the only extant species within the Mergellus genus. These nomadic birds breed in the Palearctic regions and spend the winters in inland lakes of the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, and Northern Germany. They are only spotted as rare vagrants in North America.

The adult Smews are strongly sexually dimorphic, but the bill of both sexes consists of a hooked tip and serrated edges. The males have a panda-like appearance, with a black-white body.

On the other hand, their female counterparts have mostly grey plumage, with a chestnut forehead. They also have oval white wing patches that are easy to spot during the flight.


Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Cranes are large crane species found mainly in North America and also in extreme northeastern Siberia. These birds belong to the Gruidae bird family.

Sandhill Cranes have an overall grey plumage, stained with ochre at several places. These birds have a red forehead, white cheeks, and a dark, pointed bill. The adults are identical in plumage, but the males are larger than their female counterparts in size.

Though herbivores, Sandhill Cranes prefer having different types of food according to availability. Their primary diet comprises seeds, corn, wheat, and cotton seeds.


Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanagers are an American songbird species from the cardinal bird family. These little birdies inhabit thick deciduous woodlands and shrubs.

Scarlet Tanagers have a medium-sized body with a pale, stout, smooth textured bill. These birds are sexually dimorphic. The males have a crimson red body with black wings and tails. Their female counterparts have yellowish underparts, olive upperparts. Furthermore, the wings and tails of females are paler in comparison to the males.

Scarlet Tanagers are omnivores and feed on insects as well as various plant components, like berries and fruits.


Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae)

Silver Gull

Silver Gulls are an Australian gull species found throughout the continent but are most abundant across the coastal regions. These gulls are also quite common in New Zealand and New Caledonia.

Silver Gulls are small to medium-sized birds with fully white bodies. Their light grey wings have white-spotted black tips. They have a red bill, the color of which grows darker as they grow older.

Silver Gulls have a harsh, high-pitch call. They primarily feed on insects, worms, and crustaceans.


Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus)

Snowy Plover

Snowy Plovers are waders that are found on the Pacific Coast. These are sedentary birds that migrate to the Southern tropical regions like Peru and Chile. Many coastal birds remain permanently. They prefer inland alkaline lakeshores, brackish lakes, mudflats, and sandy beaches with little vegetation.

The Snowy Plovers are sexually monomorphic. All adults have sandy-colored upperparts, pale white underparts, and black spotted eyes. They also have a thin, black-colored bill and short, grey legs.

Due to the increasing disturbances on beaches, the population of Snowy Plovers is declining; the IUCN has declared them to be Near-threatened Species.

Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)

Stilt Sandpiper

The Stilt Sandpipers are an American shorebird species that breed in the Arctic Tundra of North America and spend their winter in northern South America.

Stilt Sandpipers have a curved bill, a long neck, and a white rump. Their back is brownish with darker feathers.

The breeding adults of these sandpipers display reddish spots above and below their eyes, while their winter plumage is grey on the upper parts and white on the undersides.

Stilt Sandpipers prefer foraging in muddy areas and mainly feed on insects and other invertebrates.


Short-tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatross)

Short-tailed Albatross

Also referred to as “Stellar’s Albatross,” the Short-tailed Albatrosses are a vulnerable seabird species belonging to the North Pacific regions. These birds breed across large open areas near grass stands.

Short-tailed Albatrosses have a medium-sized body with white plumage and black flight feathers. Their large bill is colored in pink, which turns bluish as they grow older. Their nape and crown are yellow, while the terminal bar on their tail is black.

Squids make up the main diet of the Short-tailed Albatrosses.


Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibises are a large ibis species found in South America and the Caribbean. These birds are declared as the national bird of islands of Trinidad and Tobago. They prefer to inhabit wetlands, marshy habitats, rainforests, and shorelines and breed on mangrove trees.

Both sexes of the adult Scarlet Ibises are sexually monomorphic. These medium-sized birds have bright red plumage, as their name suggests. They have a black or pink bill, black wingtips, long legs, and a neck. Their bill is narrow and curved at the end.

Scarlet Ibises have slightly webbed feet and are highly sociable, particularly in their breeding months. A large part of their diet consists of insects, particularly ground beetles and scarabs.


Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

Snail Kite

Closely related to the Slender-billed Kites, the Snail Kites are medium-sized raptors found in South America, North America, and the Caribbean. These are non-migratory birds of prey that live in marshes, freshwater bodies, open waters, and low trees.

The adult Snail Kites display very little sexual dimorphism. The males have an overall dark grey plumage with dark wings and pink skin around their bill. On the other hand, the female counterparts have brown plumage, with a white face and pale streaks in their underparts.

Both sexes have orangish-brown irises, paddle-like wings, and a sharp, thin bill. These kites are quite fond of apple snails and feed on them almost exclusively, which lends them their name.


Stellar’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)

Stellar's Sea Eagle

The Stellar’s Sea Eagles are a diurnal raptor species found in northeastern Asia and Russia. They are mainly coastal birds that prefer floodplain forests, rocky places, and occasionally open sea-ice.

Stellar’s Sea Eagles are the largest birds within their genus. These birds display sexual monochromatism, with both sexes having a large head and a large orange bill. The rest of their plumage is dark brown, with striking white underparts.

The females are just slightly heavier than their male counterparts. Pollution and overfishing have led these species to a Vulnerable state.


Stellar’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Stellar's Jay

Named after the German botanist, Georg Wilhelm Stellar, the Stellar’s Jays are a corvid species found in western North America.

These jays primarily inhabit coniferous forests, evergreen forests, pine-oak, and deciduous trees but are also found in orchards, woodlands, suburbs, and parks.

Both sexes of the adult Stellar’s Jays are sexually monomorphic. They are large birds and have black and blue plumage. Their head is brownish-black, with their dark eyes having white streaks around them. They also have long legs, a slender bill, and shiny wings.


Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)

Snowy Owl

Also known as “Polar Owls,” the Snowy Owls are a true owl species found in North America. They are strongly nomadic birds that wander mostly southwards, breeding in the tundra regions. The IUCN has listed these owls as Vulnerable Species due to their declining population.

The adult Snowy Owls are large owls with snow-white plumage and black claws. They are sexually dimorphic, with the males having white plumage with varied black streaks.

On the other hand, their female counterparts have denser markings on their bodies. Both sexes have feather-covered feet and a black bill.

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

Spotted Towhee

The Spotted Towhees are a sparrow species endemic to the Americas. These birds inhabit riparian forests, wetlands, open woods, and pinyon-juniper woods. They are migratory and fly towards the southern parts of their range during winter.

Spotted Towhees have a large, rounded body. The adults display slight sexual dimorphism, with the males having a dark head, upperparts, reddish-brown sides, a white belly, and a spotted back.

Their female counterparts have dark brown and grey plumage with a paler crown. Both sexes have a thick, pointed bill, pink legs, and red eyes.


Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis)

Shiny Cowbird

The Shiny Cowbirds are a South American cowbird species belonging to the icterid family. They prefer to reside in open terrains, cultivated lands, mangrove forests, and lowlands.

Interestingly enough, these birds are brood parasites and depend on other birds to raise their younger ones.

The adult Shiny Cowbirds are sexually dimorphic, with their sizes and colors varying according to subspecies. The males are shiny purple-blue and look blackish, while their female counterparts are pale, greyish-brown, and have flatter heads. Both sexes have a slender dark bill and curved claws.


Conclusion: Birds that Start with S

Wow, what a great article. I can feel my brain tingling with all this valuable information.

A collection of birds that start with the letter S. If you’re a birder, this list should be a great resource for you. If you’re a non-birder, I hope you’ve learned a little about these spectacular birds from reading this list.

I know some of you who are reading this article might have heard about these birds before. But some of you may have never heard of them before. Either way, it was a pleasure to have shared this fun little activity with the letter S.

Birds By Alphabet (A-Z List)

Birds that Start with A
Birds that Start with B
Birds that Start with C
Birds that Start with D
Birds that Start with E
Birds that Start with F
Birds that Start with G
Birds that Start with H
Birds that Start with I
Birds that Start with J
Birds that Start with K
Birds that Start with L
Birds that Start with M
Birds that Start with N
Birds that Start with O
Birds that Start with P
Birds that Start with Q
Birds that Start with R
Birds that Start with S
Birds that Start with T
Birds that Start with U
Birds that Start with V
Birds that Start with W
Birds that Start with X
Birds that Start with Y
Birds that Start with Z