North America

Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana ©Dubi Shapiro Website

Like many things, North America can be defined in a number of different ways and its extent is also very much a matter of opinion. Clearly the North American ‘continent’ as a purely notional geographical entity starts at the Panama Canal and extends upward to the far north of Canada encompassing central America and the Caribbean. Fatbirder considers North America to consist of everything north of the southern Mexican border… Mexico, Bermuda, United States of America, Canada & the French Islands of St Pierre et Miquelon., hiving off the rest of the Caribbean and nations south to Columbia as ‘Central America & the Caribbean’.

The illustration of Western Tanager was chosen because it breeds as far north as Canada and many overwinter in Mexico.

Zoographically, the Nearctic starts in central Mexico northwards, excludes the Caribbean and the southern tip of Florida which are part of the Neotropics, but includes Greenland. Politically, most Canadians and US citizens see it as being just their two countries with every other part of the Americas being ‘Latin America’.

Birding North America

Birders from Canada & the US consider North America to be Canada, The French islands and the 49 continental US states and members of the ABA keep their bird lists accordingly. Numbers of species etc conform to this ‘gringo’ notion of what constitutes North America. Such birders would consider one fieldguide to be the best, although its checklist is more extensive than that of the ABA. That book is the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, with 592 pages, covering 1023 species.

Niagara Falls Bridging Two Nations

Confusingly the most recent version of the ABA Area Checklist now includes Hawaii and the 106 extinct and extant species found there which do not actually occur in North America. Geography, zoology and politics each has its own perspective.

On Fatbirder the pages for the North American countries are supplemented by individual pages for each US state, each Mexican state and each Canadian province. The main country pages are reserved for entries for organisations etc. that are of national significance or, at the very least, cover several states. This page is for links of significance for the whole continent as defined by Fatbirder.

The size of the continent means that many species that summer in the North winter in the south. Even within the US alone some birds breed in the north and over winter in the southernmost states, although the majority of summer visitors overwinter in the neo-tropics. Those birders who are affluent enough to do the same are often referred to as ‘snowbirds’.

North America probably has more websites than the whole of the rest of the world – it was first into the internet and many clubs etc. at a very local level have had websites for decades. Some have the web addresses and formats they started out with, most others have moved on and upgraded following technology changes. We try to keep everything updated and are constantly adding new material. Please let us know if you come across a dead or changed link… and we are always very happy to receive suggested updates for any of the introductions, top sites or links.

This page is sponsored by Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 2290

    (As at April 2024)

    This total is for the area Fatbirder considers to be North America.

  • Number of bird species: 1138

    The ABA List - Specifically, the area encompassed is the 49 continental United States, the Hawaiian Islands, Canada, the French islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon, and adjacent waters to a distance of 200 miles from land or half the distance to a neighboring country, whichever is less.
  • Birds endemic to the countries and their states are listed on their pages
  • Checklists are listed on the country and state pages
Useful Reading

  • American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America

    | Edited by François Vuilleumier | Dorling Kindersley | Edition 3 | 2020 | Hardback | 752 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780744020533 Buy this book from
  • Birds of North America A Photographic Atlas

    | By Bruce M Beehler | Johns Hopkins UP | 2024 | Hardback | 560 pages, 1200+ colour photos, 39 colour illustrations, 735 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781421448268 Buy this book from
  • Collins Field Guide: Birds of North America

    | By Norman Arlott | Harper Collins | 2011 | Hardback | 239 pages, 100 colour plates, colour distribution maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780007293346 Buy this book from
  • Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America

    | By Kenn Kaufman | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | 2005 | Paperback | 392 pages, Col plates, maps | ISBN: 9780618574230 Buy this book from
  • National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

    | By Jonathan Alderfer, Jon L Dunn & Paul Lehman | National Geographic Society | Edition 3 | 2021 | Hardback | 752 pages, 125 colour photos, 4000 colour illustrations, 850 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781426221880 Buy this book from
  • National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America

    | By Jon L Dunn, Jonathan Alderfer & Paul Lehman | National Geographic Society | Edition 7 | 2017 | Paperback | 592 pages, 4,000+ colour illustrations & colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781426218354 Buy this book from
  • Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America

    | By Roger Tory Peterson | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Edition 2 | 2020 | Flexiback | 512 pages, colour plates | ISBN: 9781328771445 Buy this book from
  • Rare Birds of North America

    | By Steve NG Howell, Ian Lewington & Will Russell | Princeton University Press | 2014 | Hardback | 428 Pages | 275 Colour Plates | 17 Colour Maps | 9 tables | ISBN: 9780691117966 Buy this book from
  • Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America

    | By Ted Floyd | Harper Collins | 2008 | Paperback | 512 pages, 2000 colour photos, colour distribution maps, includes audio CD | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780061120404 Buy this book from
  • The Best Places to Bird in the Prairies

    | By John Acorn, Alan Smith & Nicola Koper | Greystone Books | 2018 | Paperback | 280 pages, 36 colour photos, maps | ISBN: 9781771643269 Buy this book from
  • The National Audubon Society Book of Birds of North America

    | By National Audubon Society | Knopf Publishing | 2021 | Flexibound | 909 pages, <5000 colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780525655671 Buy this book from
  • The North American Bird Guide

    | By David Sibley | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2014 | Paperback | 599 pages, plates with 6600 colour illustrations, 600+ colour distribution maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781472909275 Buy this book from
Birding Aps
  • *Individual Country Bird Apps

    See Individual country pages for apps relating to that country (States & Provincial Apps are on the appropriate State or Province Page)

  • Audubon Bird Guide

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Audubon Bird Audubon Society | 105 MB | Requires iOS 9.0 or later. | Requires Android 4.1 and up |

    Identify over 800 bird species. The Audubon Bird Guide is a free and complete field guide to over 800 species of North American birds, right in your pocket. Built for all experience levels, it will help you identify the birds around you, keep track of the birds you've seen, and get outside to find new birds near you.
  • BirdNET

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Bird sound identification | Stefan Kahl | Requires Android 5.0 and up |

    How can computers learn to recognize birds from sounds? The BirdNET research project uses artificial intelligence neural networks to train computers to identify more than 500 of the most common species of North America and Germany. Help us test this prototype app by recording a file using the internal microphone of your Android device and seeing if BirdNET correctly identifies the probable bird species present in your recording.
  • Merlin Bird ID app

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Instant Bird Identification | Cornell University | 72.4 MB | Requires iOS 9.0 |

    What's that bird? Merlin Bird ID helps you solve the mystery in 5 questions, or with a photo of a bird. First, Merlin asks you a few simple questions. Then, almost like magic, it reveals the list of birds that best match your description. Pick your bird, then delve into more photos, sounds, and ID tips about your bird!
  • Sibley Birds

    Apple iOS | Android
    | (Birds of North America) | | 2nd Edition |

    The new Sibley Birds app has arrived with comprehensive, up to date information of over 930 North American species. All the detailed artwork from David Sibley’s Guide to Birds Second Edition is included as well as thorough descriptions and distribution maps.
  • American Bird Conservancy

    ABC is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist — the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.
  • American Birding Association

    The ABA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides leadership to birders by increasing their knowledge, skills, and enjoyment of birding. We are the only organization in North America that specifically caters to recreational birders. We also contribute to bird and bird habitat conservation through our varied programs. The American Birding Association inspires all people to enjoy and protect wild birds.
  • Birdability

    Our vision is that birding truly is for everybody and every body, regardless of disability or other health concerns.
  • Birds Canada

    Birds Canada is the country’s only national organization dedicated to bird conservation.
  • Boreal Songbird Initiative

    Our Mission - As the voice for boreal birds, the Boreal Songbird Initiative (BSI) is committed to protecting the Canadian Boreal Forest—the largest intact forest on Earth—on behalf of the billions of migratory birds that rely on it.
  • HawkCount

    Count data and site profiles for over 200 North American Hawkwatch sites
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI)

    Many bird species are migratory, and birds are not restricted by political boundaries. To effectively conserve migratory species, it is critical to work across geopolitical borders to ensure that birds are protected wherever they occur throughout the year.
  • North American Bluebird Society

    The North American Bluebird Society is a non-profit education, conservation and research organization that promotes the recovery of bluebirds and other native cavity-nesting bird species in North America. Here you can learn about the different species of bluebirds, how to attract and care for them, and download educational materials. You can also join our conservation efforts by becoming a NABS member.
  • Operation Rubythroat - the Hummingbird Project

    Building Environmental Cooperation and Understanding Throughout North and Central America
  • Optics for the Tropics

    Optics for the Tropics builds capacity for bird conservation in the western hemisphere by providing quality binoculars for ornithologists in the Caribbean and Latin America. Binoculars are used for monitoring, research and education.
  • State of the Birds

    The United States and Canada have lost 3 billion breeding birds since 1970—a loss of 1 in 4 birds, according to research published in Science in 2019. This steep decline in abundance can be reversed with new scales of conservation actions that benefit not only birds but also wildlife and people. When birds thrive, we all win.
  • The Institute for Bird Populations

    The Institute for Bird Populations is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded by Dr. David DeSante in 1989 to study the causes of bird population declines. IBP's first major initiative was the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program, a continent-wide collaborative network of bird banding stations. Other flagship programs include the Monitoreo de Sobrevivencia Invernal (MoSI) program to study the ecology of Neotropical migrant birds on their wintering grounds, and the Sierra Nevada Bird Observatory to study and conserve birds in the Sierra Nevada region of California. Our work has spread to other parts of the U.S. and the globe, including Canada, the Neotropics, and Pacific Islands
  • Vital Rates of North American Landbirds

    This website provides results of temporal and spatial analyses of capture-mark-recapture and constant-effort capture-rate data on 158 landbird species collected as part of the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program between 1992 and 2006. The objectives of these analyses are to provide estimates of, and explore relationships among, the vital rates and demographic parameters of each of these species in order to provide hypotheses regarding the demographic drivers of temporal and spatial variation in their population dynamics, especially as these results may help inform research, management, and conservation efforts for them.

Abbreviations Key

  • Abbreviations used in reserves sections

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    BR = Biosphere Reserve BiR = Bird Reserve BS = Bird Sanctuary CA = Conservation Area EBA = Endemic Bird Area ER = Ecological Reserve IBA = Important Bird Area IPP = Interprovincial Park MBS = Migratory Bird Sanctuary MP = Marine Park MWR = Migratory Waterfowl Refuge NA = Natural Area NC = Nature Center NF = National Forest NP = National Park NPR = National Park Preserve NPr = Nature Preserve NR = Nature Reserve NS = Nature Sanctuary NWA = National Wildlife Area NWR = National Wildlife Refuge PP = Provincial Park RNP = Regional Nature Park SNR = Strict Nature Reserve SeNR = State Nature Reserve SP = State Park SeR = Seabird Reserve SR = State Reserve SWA = State Wildlife Area SWMA = State Wildlife Management Area SWR = State Wildlife Refuge WA = Wildlife Area WBR = World Biosphere Reserve WMA = Wildlife Management Area WRf = Wildlife Refuge WRs = Wildlife Reserve WP = Waterfowl Park WiRv = Wilderness Reserve WeRv = Wetland Reserve WS = Wildlife Sanctuary WeS = Wetland Sanctuary WoS = Woodland Sanctuary
Sightings, News & Forums
  • ABA News

    News & Sightings
    Filter Birding News by making a selection from the dropdown. Refine your search by entering the type of bird you are looking for. Or just browse the lists below.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Bird Treks

    Tour Operator
    Our goal at Bird Treks is to provide you with a quality, enjoyable, and professionally organized birding experience to beautiful and exciting destinations. All at a reasonable and affordable price.
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Welcome to Birding Ecotours, here we will present to you some spectacular birding tours around the world. Our trips are for small groups of only 6-8 participants. Quality is of paramount importance to us – we prefer to use superior accommodation (where available at the top birding sites) and vehicles. Despite our focus on small groups and the fact that we err on the side of superior quality, our prices are competitive.
  • Naturalist Journeys

    Tour Operator
    Founded in 1998 by owner and lead guide, Peg Abbott, we are a top nature and birding tour company. Our guides are naturalists, ornithologists, biologists, entomologists, geologists, photographers, artists, and more. Collectively, we treasure birding, nature, travel, good food, and good company ― our inspiration in designing unique travel opportunities.
  • Paradise Birding

    Tour Operator
    Thanks to all of our loyal friends out there, 2019 marks our 22nd year of nature tours in North America—and beyond. We continue to offer a handful of carefully crafted itineraries timed for optimal birding at some of the best destinations in the world. Let us take you to Florida's Dry Tortugas, Borneo's Danum Valley, or Peru's Abra Patricia, or come see us at our home base in Oregon's Woodpecker Wonderland!
Other Links
  • Bird Planner

    BirdPlanner is a free site that enables you to generate bird lists for any place in the western hemisphere…
  • Birds

    Your destination for news, pictures, facts, and videos about birds.
  • Birds of North America

    Birds of North America (BNA) is the most comprehensive reference for the life histories of over 760 bird species that breed in the United States and Canada...
  • NatureServe

    Welcome to NatureServe, a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals, and ecological communities of the United States and Canada. NatureServe provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe is a product of the Association for Biodiversity Information in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.
  • eBird

    eBird began with a simple idea—that every birdwatcher has unique knowledge and experience. Our goal is to gather this information in the form of checklists of birds, archive it, and freely share it to power new data-driven approaches to science, conservation and education. At the same time, we develop tools that make birding more rewarding. From being able to manage lists, photos and audio recordings, to seeing real-time maps of species distribution, to alerts that let you know when species have been seen, we strive to provide the most current and useful information to the birding community.
  • Boreal Bird Blog

    The Boreal Songbird Initiative (BSI) is dedicated to education and outreach about the importance of the boreal forest to North America's birds, other wildlife, and the global environment.

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

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