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20 Unique White Birds With Long Necks (Photos and Fun Facts!)

If you’re looking for help to identify white birds with long necks, this will be the best article you read today. 

In this post, you will find photos, identification info, size characteristics, and all the fun information you need. 

Examples of white birds with long necks include the great white egret, whooping crane, dalmatian pelican, mute swan, snow goose, American white pelican, and many others. 

Here are the 20 most interesting ones.

White Birds With Long Necks

Great White Egret

great egret
  • Scientific Name: Ardea alba
  • Lifespan: 22 years 
  • Wingspan: 52-67 in
  • Length: 31-41 in

Great egrets are impressively large birds that can span up to 5 ft 7 in across the wings and have a weight of up to 3.3 lbs. 

They have all-white plumage, long black legs, and enormous yellow-orange beaks (4.2-5.3 inches long) that they use for hunting. 

Great egrets have extremely long necks that are around 1.5 times their body length. Due to such extreme length, great egrets hold their necks in a curved S-shape position and tuck them right into their backs during flight. 

Great egrets resemble intermediate egrets and one of the main differences is the great egrets’ thinner and more kinked necks.

These white birds with long necks are widespread worldwide and can be seen in North, Central, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa; usually around the tropical and warmer temperate regions. 

In North America, great egrets almost became extinct in the 19th century as people extensively hunted them for their beautiful plumes called “aigrettes” they used as hat decorations. 

Thanks to several laws and conservational measures, great egret numbers have since recovered. 

They are seasonally monogamous (stay with the same partner for one breeding season) and breed in colonies in trees close to large lakes. 

To attract a female, a male great egret will display its mating season plumage and colors and point its beak upward. 

Great egrets are carnivores that feed on fish, frogs, small mammals, small reptiles, crustaceans, and insects.

They hunt by slowly stalking their prey or staying motionless, waiting for the right moment to strike and impale prey with their long, sharp bills.

Intermediate Egret

intermediate egret
  • Scientific Name: Ardea intermedia
  • Lifespan: up to 20 years
  • Wingspan: 41–45 in
  • Length: 22-28 in

Intermediate egrets are stocky birds that are bigger than cattle egrets, but smaller than great egrets.

They are all white and have dark legs and long and reddish beaks with yellow-orange tips. 

Intermediate egrets have long heads and necks that are often held in an s-shape when standing or flying; their necks are about the size of their body length.

They also tend to stalk their prey upright with their necks extended forward.

Intermediate egrets are native to southeastern Asia, Africa, and Australia, around coastal or fresh waters and pastures.

These birds are mainly quiet but will make soft “glock-glock” and “kroo-kroo” alarm calls and “kraa-krr” flight calls.

They are carnivores and feed on fish, crustaceans, and insects.

🔥 Trending: How to distinguish an egret from an ibis?

Snowy Egret

snowy egret
  • Scientific Name: Egretta thula
  • Lifespan: up to 17 years
  • Wingspan: 39.4 in
  • Length: 22-26 in 

Snowy egrets are medium-sized herons with a wingspan of around 3.3 feet and a weight of 0.8 pounds.  

They are completely white and have yellow lores (the region between the eyes and beaks), black legs, and bright yellow feet. Similar to great egrets, they also have shaggy aigrettes. 

Snowy egrets have long necks they hold in a tight curve during flying. During the breeding season, they will also develop long aigrette plumes on their necks.

Back in the 19th century, an ounce of aigrettes cost $32; this was two times more expensive than gold at the time!

Snowy egrets are native to North, Central, and South America. In North America, they are permanent residents around the coastal parts of the Gulf of Mexico. They breed in south-central and northwestern parts of the USA. 

Although quiet, snowy egrets will make several raspy or nasal calls, or snap their beaks during aggressive displays. 

They mostly inhabit wetlands, including marshes, lakes, riverbanks, and pools; they avoid high altitudes and coasts. 

Snowy egrets are social birds that can be seen breeding in mixed colonies together with great egrets, cattle egrets, glossy ibises, and other birds. 

They are carnivores and have a diet consisting of fish, insects, small reptiles, crabs, shrimp, worms, etc. Similar to other herons, snowy egrets also love to stalk their prey in shallow waters.

Cattle Egret

cattle egret
  • Scientific Name: Bubulcus ibis
  • Lifespan: 16-23 years
  • Wingspan: 34.6-37.7 in
  • Length: 18-22 in

Cattle egrets are stocky egrets that were named so after the habit of following cattle and other large animals. 

These birds can be identified by their white plumage, short legs, and dull orange beaks and legs.

When the breeding season comes, they might develop some orange patches on their backs, breasts, and heads.

Although short for herons, cattle egrets still have decently-long and thick necks that males stretch as part of their courting rituals. As they fly in flocks, often in formation, they will hold their necks back.

They were introduced to North America around the 1940s and expanded so much that they reached as far west as California.

In Hawaii, these birds were introduced in 1959. They went from 105 released birds to over 30,000 in less than 22 years. 

They are mostly quiet but will make weak and throaty “rick-rack” calls at their breeding colonies.

In North America, cattle egrets breed from April to October and nest in large colonies around water, woodlands near lakes or rivers, swamps, small inland islands, etc.

They feed on land insects, worms, frogs, lizards, and small mammals.

Yellow-billed Stork

yellow-billed stork
  • Scientific NameMycteria ibis
  • Lifespan: 19 years in captivity
  • Wingspan: 59-65 in
  • Length: 35–41 in

Yellow-billed storks are large African wading storks. 

They have white bodies and short black tails. Their beaks are deep yellow and slightly curved; they also have bright red facial skin patches. 

Yellow-billed storks have long necks and beaks with very quick muscle reflexes that allow them to swiftly catch their prey in water. 

They are widespread south of the Sahara region of Africa and in Madagascar and inhabit wetlands, shallow waters, lakes, swamps, and lagoons. 

Yellow-billed storks are carnivores that feed on small fish, worms, frogs, small mammals, birds, aquatic insects, and crustaceans. 

They hunt using their sense of touch, by wading, stirring, and probing water to find their next meal. As they get in contact with the prey, they quickly snap their mandibles, raise their heads, and swallow the prey alive. 

Despite not being a particularly social species, yellow-billed storks might gather in groups when there’s lots of food available.

Whooping Crane

whooping crane large bird
  • Scientific Name: Grus americana
  • Lifespan: 22-24 years
  • Wingspan: 79-90 in
  • Length: 52 in

Whooping cranes are the tallest North American birds that stand over 5 ft in height.

Together with sandhill cranes, they are the only two crane species native to North America and were named after the whooping sounds they make.

They have snowy white colors, crimson caps, black wings seen during flight, and very long, dark, and pointed beaks they use to probe the ground with. 

Whooping cranes have very long necks they hold straight both at rest and in flight; they do not tuck them back as herons do. 

These cranes need to have very long necks to be able to reach down and pull up food from the bottom of marshes without getting their body feathers soaked.

In the USA, whooping cranes breed in central Wisconsin and Texas; there are also reintroduced non-migratory populations in Florida and Louisiana.

They are common around wetland areas, where they feed on crabs, clams, frogs, and aquatic plants. 

Whooping cranes are known for their “unison calls” while courting and their loud bugle calls that last less than a second when they feel alarmed. 

This endangered crane species had a population of just 20 birds in the 1940s. In recent years, thanks to strong conservation efforts, the total number of whooping cranes has now exceeded 800 birds. 

They breed from April to May and have a clutch size of 1-3 olive-colored eggs. Both parents will incubate the eggs. 

Whooping cranes have many predators, including black bears, wolves, foxes, coyotes, and eagles.

Dalmatian Pelican 

dalmatian pelican
  • Scientific Name: Pelecanus crispus
  • Lifespan: 35 years
  • Wingspan: 96.4-142.1 in
  • Length: 63-72 in

Dalmatian pelicans are the largest species of pelican and one of the largest freshwater birds in the world. 

They can measure up to 6 ft long, weigh up to 33 pounds, and have a wingspan of up to 11 ft 6 in. They have silvery-white plumage, gray legs, and the second-longest beaks in the world (up to 18 in). 

Dalmatian pelicans have extremely long necks, almost as long as their beaks; during flight, they hold their necks back like herons. 

They are native to Europe and Asia and inhabit lakes, rivers, deltas, and estuaries. 

Dalmatian pelicans are mainly quiet, similar to other pelicans. However, when the breeding season comes, they will make various deep sounds, including barks, hisses, and grunts.

They are carnivores (piscivores) and almost completely feed on fish. 

Dalmatian pelicans need around 2.6 pounds of fish per day to survive. 

These large white birds will use their long beaks and pouches to swoop fish and water, dump the water on the side of their pouches, and swallow the prey. 

Dalmatian pelicans might also eat some worms, beetles, water birds, and crustaceans. 

They nest in small groups, build their nests on or near the ground, and have a clutch of 1-6 whitish eggs that both parents incubate. 

Their numbers have been declining and some estimates claim a total population of 10,000-20,000 birds today. 

Royal Spoonbill

royal spoonbill
  • Scientific Name: Platalea regia
  • Lifespan: over 15 years
  • Wingspan: 47 in
  • Length: 29-32 in

Native to Australia, New Zealand, and surrounding islands, royal spoonbills are large and conspicuous birds.

They are also known as black-billed spoonbills and have white plumage, long, spoon-shaped bills, and black legs. They use their long legs to wad through wetlands and sweep through the water with their long beaks to catch fish, shellfish, crabs, and amphibians. 

Royal spoonbills have moderately long necks that they hold extended when flying.

Outside of the breeding season, they look similar to other spoonbills. When they get into breeding season, royal spoonbills develop long white plumes on their heads. 

These white birds with long necks build their nests from sticks in trees; females will lay 2-3 eggs there.

Royal spoonbills inhabit wetlands and feed there on crustaceans, fish, and small insects.

American White Ibis

american white ibis
  • Scientific Name: Eudocimus albus
  • Lifespan: 16 years in the wild
  • Wingspan: 35-41 in
  • Length: 21-28 in

These large wetland birds have all-white plumage and black wing tips seen during flight. 

They also have very long legs, pink facial skin, and red-orange downcurved beaks that become pink with black tips during the breeding season.

American white ibises have long necks held straight and outstretched during flight. As part of their courting ritual, male and female ibises will lock their heads by wrapping their necks together.

And because of their sizes, young white ibises need to lay on their sides for a couple of days until their neck muscles have developed enough to sustain the weight of their necks.

In the USA, American white ibises are permanent residents in states along the Gulf and the Atlantic coast, including Florida, Texas, Louisiana, the Carolinas, and Virginia.

They inhabit shallow coastal marshes, wetlands, mangrove swamps, and even parks and golf courses.

American white ibises make several sounds, including the honking “urnk-urnk” call they use in flight or when agitated, and the muted “huu-huu” call when foraging.

They are very social birds with some colonies including over 30,000 birds.

They breed during spring and summer, females lay 2-4 eggs, and both parents take turns in incubating the eggs.

One field study in Florida discovered that white ibises spent almost half of their day looking for food and the rest on flying, resting, and roosting.

They are carnivores and consume crabs, crayfish, fish, snakes, frogs, and insects that they find by probing the ground with their long beaks.

White ibises are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act – it is illegal to hunt them.

They are just one of many examples of Florida’s native birds.

Tundra Swan

tundra swan
  • Scientific Name: Cygnus columbianus 
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Wingspan: 66-83 in
  • Length: 45–59 in

Tundra swans are small swans but large white birds with long necks, black beaks and legs, dark eyes, and yellow “teardrops” in front of the eyes. Males and females look alike. 

Tundra swans have necks around 52 inches long that they hold more vertically. Some birds living around bog lakes that are rich in iron will develop golden or rusty hue on their heads and necks. 

Unlike trumpeter swans, tundra swans do not bob their heads and necks; they might hold them at a 45° angle when vocalizing.

Tundra swans, as the name suggests, breed in the tundra of the Arctic and subarctic and can be found around shallow pools, lakes, and rivers. 

Around September, they will migrate to winter grounds on the Pacific coast (from Vancouver Island to Northern California and from southern Idaho to southern Colorado river) and around the eastern Great Lakes and the mid-Atlantic coast. 

Tundra swans are the most numerous of the North American swans and are nicknamed “whistling” because of the sound their wing flapping produces. 

They become very aggressive and territorial during the breeding season; in other parts of the year, tundra swans are rather social birds. 

They are monogamous, mate for life, and build nests near lakes and other open waters that both parents construct. The female will incubate 4-5 eggs while the male helps; both parents will raise the young. 

Tundra swans are omnivores and mainly feed on aquatic plants and roots, some arthropods, worms, and shellfish.

Mute Swan

mute swan
  • Scientific Name: Cygnus olor
  • Lifespan: up to 10 years in the wild
  • Wingspan: 79-94 in
  • Length: 49-67 in

Mute swans are very large waterfowl species introduced to North America in the late 19th century. 

They were named “mute” for being less vocal than other swan species, but still produce a variety of hisses, bugles, and other sounds. 

Mute swans can have a wingspan of up to 7 ft 10 in, measure up to 5 ft 7 in long, and weigh as much as 32 pounds.

Identify mute swans by their all-white plumage, orange beaks with black borders, and pronounced knobs on top of their beaks. 

Mute swans have very long necks, around 57 inches long; they swim with their long necks curved into an S shape.

Mute swans are common around wetland areas including marshes, lakes, parks, and ponds in the northeastern USA. 

These aggressive, territorial, and invasive swans will fight with the native trumpeter swans on Lake Erie marshes and other locations, pushing them out of their nesting area. 

Due to their large numbers and negative effect on other waterfowl and vegetation, they are considered invasive species. 

Mute swans are omnivores that feed on aquatic vegetation, aquatic insects, fish, and frogs.

They use their necks to grab underwater plants; if you see a mute swan with a neck curved back and wings half raised, take caution as it is a threat display called busking.

Whooper Swan

whooper swans
  • Scientific Name: Cygnus cygnus
  • Lifespan: up to 26 years
  • Wingspan: 81–108 in
  • Length: 55–65 in

Whooper swans are the European counterparts of the North American trumpeter swans. 

They are also known as common swans and can span almost 8 feet across their wings.

Scientists consider them among the heaviest flying birds and recorded a male in Denmark that weighed 34.17 pounds!

They have pure white plumage, black webbed feet and legs, and orange-yellow beaks with black tips. 

Whooper swans have long and thick necks that they usually hold erect. When they fly, whooper swans keep their necks extended forward.

They are commonly found in Europe and Asia, around large areas of water, preferably wetlands. 

These enormous birds with long necks can be vocal and make deep honking calls, similar to those of trumpeter swans. 

Whooper swans are monogamous and mate for life; females will lay 4-7 eggs. 

They forage in shallow waters and have a diet consisting of aquatic plants and roots; their young will eat small insects and different invertebrates to get the required protein needed for their proper growth. 

Whooper swans are the national birds of Finland and are featured on their 1 euro coins.

Trumpeter Swan

trumpeter swan
  • Scientific Name: Cygnus buccinator
  • Lifespan: up to 25 years
  • Wingspan: 72.8-98 in
  • Length: 54-70.8 in

Trumpeter swans are the heaviest and the longest native birds of North America.

The largest known trumpeter swan ever recorded weighed 38 pounds, measured 6 ft long, and had a wingspan of 10 ft 2 in!

They can be identified by their enormous size, white plumage, pinkish legs, and black bills up to 4.7 inches long.

Trumpeter swans have long necks, around 60 inches long, that they usually hold straight, both on the water and when flying. They will frequently bob their heads and necks up and down (head bobbing).

Trumpeter swans breed in large shallow ponds, undisturbed lakes, wetlands, wide slow rivers, and marshes of northwestern and central North America and Alaska.

They migrate to spend winter around the Pacific coast of Northwestern USA and Canada.

Trumpeter swans are loud birds and their calls sound similar to a trumpet, which resulted in the specie’s name. 

They are omnivores and eat plants found in or near the water. Their diet might also include some insects, small fish, and eggs, but trumpet swans prefer plants overall.

They had a population of around 3,700 birds in 1968 and thanks to strong conservatory measures and efforts, scientists recorded over 63,000 of these large white birds back in 2015.

They can be seen in Ohio, and are just one of many examples of birds found in the northeastern parts of that state.

Red-crowned Crane 

red-crowned crane
  • Scientific Name: Grus japonensis
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Wingspan: 86.6-98.4 in
  • Length: 39.7-59 in

Red-crowned cranes are also known as Manchurian or Japanese cranes. 

They are among the rarest cranes in the world and in Japan, they are considered sacred. 

Overall, these large birds are snow white and have black secondary wing feathers. 

They were named after the red caps on their heads, patches of red bare skin on their crowns that become brighter during the breeding season. 

Red-crowned cranes have very long and thin black-colored necks. 

Their main vocalization includes soft purring contact calls and unison calls where the pair sings to strengthen their bonds and protect their territory.

They breed in large wetlands in temperate East Asia and can be seen in southeastern Russia, northeast China, Mongolia, and eastern Japan.

Red-crowned cranes are omnivores that feed on plants, fish, shrimp, small rodents, crabs, etc. 

They forage on the ground, probing their long and sharp beaks in pursuit of food. When they spot their prey, these cranes will strike rapidly by extending their necks forward. 

Red-crowned cranes breed in April and May and lay 1-3 eggs that both partners incubate. 

According to some estimates, there are around 3,000 of these birds in existence today.

American White Pelican

american white pelican
  • Scientific Name: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
  • Lifespan: 16-30 years
  • Wingspan: 95-120 in
  • Length: 50–70 in

American white pelicans are one of the largest white birds in North America

They span almost 10 feet across the wings and can weigh up to 30 pounds.

They are all white with black flight feathers and the longest bills of any North American waterbirds. Their bills are vivid yellow-orange and can measure up to 15.2 inches.

American white pelicans also have very long and thick necks they keep folded back on their bodies during flight.

These enormous birds breed in interior North America and Canada. When the winter comes, they move to winter on the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts, from central California and Florida south to Panama.

Their diet mostly consists of fish, but also some crayfish and salamanders.

A group of pelicans is called a “brief” and a “squadron”.

Read More: More examples of Florida birds with long beaks

Australian Pelican 

australian pelicans
  • Scientific NamePelecanus conspicillatus
  • Lifespan: 10-25 in the wild
  • Wingspan: 90.5-102.3 in
  • Length: 60–74 in

Australian pelicans are enormous waterbirds found in inland and coastal waters of Australia, New Guinea, Fiji, and parts of Indonesia. 

They have white plumage with black wings and pink beaks; they have the longest beaks of any living birds that can measure up to 20 inches long.

Australian pelicans also have very long and thick necks that they hold folded back during flight. 

Their main habitats include large lakes, rivers, swamps, estuaries, coastal lagoons, etc.

Australian pelicans are carnivores that mainly feed on fish, crustaceans, turtles, and tadpoles; they will also harass and rob other birds of their prey. 

They hunt using their sensitive beaks and beak pouches that serve as a fishing net and can hold almost 3.5 gallons of water. 

These white birds with long necks breed colonially and can have over 40,000 individuals on a single island. 

After a successful courtship ritual, females will dig the scrape in the ground and line it with available vegetation and feathers. 

Both parents incubate the clutch of 1-3 eggs, and the first young that hatches will be larger than its siblings and might even attack or kill them.

Siberian Crane

siberian crane
Source: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped)
  • Scientific NameLeucogeranus leucogeranus
  • Lifespan: up to 80 years
  • Wingspan: 82.6-102.3 in
  • Length: 45-50 in

Siberian cranes are also known as Siberian white cranes or showy cranes due to their pure white color. 

Both sexes are all-white, except for the black flight feathers. They also have dark beaks and pinkish legs. 

Siberian cranes have elegant and long necks that these birds stretch forward when calling for others.

They breed in the Arctic tundra in western and eastern Russia; after, they migrate to winter in China or Iran, and India. 

Like all cranes, Siberian cranes inhabit shallow marshlands and wetlands where they feed on different plants, seeds, small rodents, earthworms, and fish. 

They breed from April to May and produce a clutch of 2 eggs that the female incubates. 

Compared to other cranes, Siberian cranes are more musical; they will often make flute-like calls. 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed them as Critically Endangered; there are around 3,200-4,000 of these birds in existence today. 

The oldest recorded Siberian crane named Wolf lived 83 years!

Masked Booby

masked booby
  • Scientific Name: Sula dactylatra 
  • Lifespan: n/a
  • Wingspan: 63-67 in
  • Length: 30-33 in

The masked booby is a huge seabird with a long bill, a pointed tail, and long wings.

It is commonly referred to as the masked gannet and it is the largest booby species in the world.

Adults are bright white and have black wings, facial masks, and tails. 

Masked booby has a stout and long neck that mated pairs often stretch out and forward to protect their territory.

The masked booby breeds in the Caribbean, across the Pacific Ocean, to Hawaii, Australia, and Indonesia. 

It is a social bird that breeds in colonies found on remote islands, atolls, and cays. 

Although quiet at sea, masked booby gets very vocal around nesting grounds. The main call males make is a descending whistle; females make loud honks. 

The masked booby is a carnivore and its diet mainly consists of fish, but also some squid. 

The name “booby” comes from the Spanish word “bobo” meaning fool, most likely due to their “clumsy” courtship dances.

These big white birds nest in shallow holes in the ground, lay 1-2 eggs, and decorate their nests. 

One study found a large masked booby nest with 988 pieces of small stone or coral, 155 fragments of shell, 10 pieces of avian skeletal material, and one small piece of wood!

Read More: Examples of white birds of prey

Great White Pelican 

great white pelican
  • Scientific Name: Pelecanus onocrotalus
  • Lifespan: over 16 years
  • Wingspan: 89-141.7 in 
  • Length: 55-71 in

Great white pelicans are enormous birds, only smaller than Dalmatian pelicans. 

They are also known as eastern white pelicans or rosy pelicans and can measure 5.9 feet in length and weigh up to 33 pounds. 

Great white pelicans also have dull pale yellow gular pouches and huge pink and yellow beaks that can measure up to 18.5 inches long. 

They are predominantly white with black flight feathers and yellowish bases on their necks. 

Great white pelicans have downward bent necks; these white birds will tuck their necks back as they fly. 

They breed in southeastern Europe, Asia, and Africa, around swamps and shallow lakes. Their breeding season starts around April and a female will lay 1-4 eggs that both parents raise. 

Highly social birds, great white pelicans will often form large flocks. 

They are carnivores that mainly feed on fish and need to consume 2-3 pounds per day. 

Although adults are protected from other birds of prey due to their size, their eggs, nestlings, and fledglings can be in danger. Occasionally, jackals, lions, or crocodiles might hunt these large pelicans. 

Snow Goose

greater snow goose
  • Scientific Name: Anser caerulescens
  • Lifespan: 15-25 years
  • Wingspan: 53-65 in
  • Length: 25-31 in

This large goose species is native to North America. Snow geese come in two morphs, white or dark. 

The white morph, as the name suggests, has snow-white plumage, rose red feet, and pink beaks. 

Snow geese have long and thick necks that measure around 27 inches in length.

They breed in Greenland, Alaska, and Canada from late May to mid-August. 

After, they migrate to their warmer wintering grounds mainly in the Southern and Central USA, and can be common around grasslands and agricultural fields. Some populations winter on the Atlantic coast. 

Snow geese are very vocal species and their most common call is a nasal, one-syllable honk. 

These big white birds nest in colonies, females select nesting places and build them on high ground, and lay 3-5 creamy-white eggs. 

Snow geese are herbivores that feed on seeds, grasses, leaves, and roots. 

There are 2 subspecies, the lesser snow goose which is smaller and winters in southern parts of the USA, and the greater snow goose which winters in northeastern parts of the USA.

Read More: Examples of tiny white birds


This concludes our list of white birds with long necks. 

Examples include several types of swans, pelicans, cranes, herons, and geese.

Next time, should you see these birds in person, you should be able to recognize any of them with ease! 

And if you enjoyed our article, here are our other popular reads on birds: Examples of black birds with blue heads and Examples of blue and black birds

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