Birds That Start With a J: 7 Dynamic Journeys of Discovery

“birds that start with a j” There are a surprising number of bird species with names starting with the letter J. From the widespread jays and juncoes to more exotic jacanas and jabirus, these judicious “birds that start with a j” showcase the diversity of the avian world. Getting acquainted with j-birds gives bird enthusiasts a great opportunity to expand both their birding life lists and their ornithological vocabulary.

TOP 16 birds that start with a j

The avian world contains a plethora of birds with interesting names that start with the letter J. From the sophisticated Jackdaw to the colorful Jewel-babbler, these jittery birds captivate bird enthusiasts across the globe.

In this article, we will explore 16 fascinating birds whose names start with the letter J, discussing their key identification features, behavior, habitat preferences, and conservation status. Read on to learn more about these special J birds!


birds that start with a j

The Jackdaw is a familiar corvid across much of Europe, western Asia, and North Africa. These intelligent birds can be identified by their all-gray bodies, black heads, and pale eyes.

Jackdaws thrive in woodlands, parks, and urban areas, where they nest in cavities and tall chimneys. Highly social and vocal, they will vigorously mob predators in large flocks to protect their nest sites.

While Jackdaws remain widespread, their populations have declined in parts of northern Europe due to habitat loss and pesticides.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Corvus monedula
  • Length: 13-15 inches
  • ID Features: Gray body, black head, pale eyes
  • Habitat: Woodlands, urban areas
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Java Sparrow

birds that start with a j

Native to Java and Bali, the Java Sparrow has been introduced widely across the world from Mauritius to Hawaii.

Male Java Sparrows have striking gray heads, red bills,, and cheeks, with contrasting white ear coverts. Females are tan-brown overall with pale gray underparts. These sociable finches thrive at bird feeders in urban and suburban areas.

While still abundant in Java, the Java Sparrow suffers from trapping for the pet trade and habitat degradation in parts of its native range.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Lonchura oryzivora
  • Length: 4-5 inches
  • ID Features: Red-cheeked male, plain tan female
  • Habitat: Urban areas, cultivated lands
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern


birds that start with a j

Juncos comprise a genus of small sparrows, with the Dark-eyed Junco being one of the most common backyard birds across North America.

Dark-eyed Juncos have slate gray heads, necks, and breasts contrasting with reddish-brown backs and white bellies. They breed in coniferous or mixed forests before migrating south for winter.

Many regional subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco exist, with varying amounts of white in the outer tail feathers being one key difference. Junco populations remain robust across their range.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Junco hyemalis
  • Length: 5.5-7 inches
  • ID Features: Gray head and breast, white belly
  • Habitat: Forests, backyards
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern


birds that start with a j

Found from Mexico through South America, jacamars comprise a family of stunning, iridescent birds most closely related to puffbirds and toucans. Their brilliant colors serve to camouflage them within tropical forests.

The Rufous-tailed Jacamar has a rainbow of blue, yellow, orange, black, and green plumage along with a bright red bill and long tail feathers. Jacamars hunt insects on the wing, occasionally beating prey against branches before swallowing.

Habitat loss threatens some jacamar species, especially in Central America, while others remain fairly widespread in Neotropical rainforests.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Galbula ruficauda
  • Length: 9 inches
  • ID Features: Long tail, red bill, rainbow iridescence
  • Habitat: Tropical forests
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern


birds that start with a j

The Jabiru is a huge, iconic stork across wetlands and grasslands from Mexico to Argentina. Standing over 4 feet tall with immense black and white wings, these birds are an impressive sight soaring over rivers or marshes.

Jabirus feeds mainly on snails, fish, and amphibians. They build massive nests high in trees, using sticks lined with vegetation. While still locally common, habitat drainage and disturbance threaten some Jabiru populations.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Jabiru mycteria
  • Length: 55 inches
  • ID Features: Huge black and white stork
  • Habitat: Wetlands, grasslands
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened

Population Status

YearPopulation Estimate
1996Declining due to habitat loss


birds that start with a j

Jacanas comprise a family of elegant tropical waterbirds with exceptionally long toes used for walking atop floating vegetation. Wattled Jacanas are found from Panama through South America.

Jacanas have black plumage, with males having yellow wattles around the bill and females having white foreheads. The long toes spread out to allow walking on lilypads without sinking. Jacanas feed on invertebrates and some plant material while on their lilypad foraging routes.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Jacana jacana
  • Length: 9.5 inches
  • ID Features: Long toes, black plumage with yellow wattles (male)
  • Habitat: Freshwater marshes, ponds
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern


birds that start with a j

The Jay family encompasses medium-sized, colorful songbirds including the familiar Blue Jay of North America. Jays possess crested heads, strong bills, and tails featuring prominent white spots.

Blue Jays have blue upperparts with a black necklace across the throat and belly. Their wings feature distinct white and black barring. Intelligent and vocal, Blue Jays sometimes mimic hawks or give loud alarm calls when threatened.

They inhabit deciduous or mixed forests interspersed with clearings, parks, and backyards. Blue Jay populations are robust after recovering from 19th-century hunting.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Cyanocitta cristata
  • Length: 9-12 inches
  • ID Features: Blue, black, and white plumage with crest
  • Habitat: Forests, parks, backyards
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern


birds that start with a j

The aptly named Babblers comprise a family of sociable Asian birds that inhabit dense thickets and respond to threats with chatter. The Yellow-eyed Babbler, or Jewel-babbler, occurs from Pakistan to Vietnam.

Furtive but noisy, the Jewel-babbler has olive upperparts with a grey hood, throat, and breast, with bold yellow eyes. These babblers forage terrestrially in groups of six to ten, taking insects and fruit. Logging and agricultural expansion threaten some populations.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Chrysomma sinense
  • Length: 7 inches
  • ID Features: Olive and gray plumage, yellow eyes
  • Habitat: Scrub and secondary forest
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern


birds that start with a j

Junglefowl refers to four pheasant species ranging from India to Indonesia that are ancestral to the domestic chicken. The male Red Junglefowl has an orange body, red face, green-black tail, and elaborate red fleshy ornaments on its head.

Junglefowl inhabits scrub, woodland edges, forest clearings, and cultivated areas while foraging for seeds, insects, and fallen fruit. The Red Junglefowl remains locally common despite some declines from hunting and habitat loss.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Gallus Gallus
  • Length: 15-18 inches
  • ID Features: Male has orange plumage and red fleshy head ornaments
  • Habitat: Scrub, open woodland
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Jack Snipe

birds that start with a j

Jack Snipes comprise a genus of well-camouflaged shorebirds breeding in bogs and marshes across northern Europe and Asia. They have distinctive breeding displays, and vibrating tail feathers to produce a humming “song”.

In flight, Jack Snipes shows contrasting dark and white V-like markings across the back and long straight bills. Outside breeding seasons, they reside in wet meadows and marshes. Their elusive nature makes population trends difficult to ascertain.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Lymnocryptes minims
  • Length: 8 inches
  • ID Features: Straight dark bill, white V-like back markings
  • Habitat: Wet meadows, bogs, marshes
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Japanese Quail

birds that start with a j

A popular gamebird across Asia, the Japanese Quail shows high diversity across its range from Manchuria to Southeast Asia. Both males and females have intricately speckled brown plumage used as camouflage within fields and grasslands.

Outside the breeding season, Japanese Quails gather in large communal roosts. The species has declined in parts of its range from overhunting and intensive farming methods but remains locally common in some regions.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Coturnix japonica
  • Length: 5.5-6.5 inches
  • ID Features: Small size, intricately speckled brown plumage
  • Habitat: Fields, grasslands, cultivated lands
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Japanese White-eye

birds that start with a j

Japanese White-eyes are tiny, active warblers introduced widely across Pacific islands from Hawaii to the Philippines. Identified by distinctive white eye-rings, they have olive-green upperparts and pale yellow underparts.

Foraging in restless hyperactive flocks, these birds take nectar and small insects within forests as well as parks and gardens. Unfortunately, Japanese White-eyes compete with native birds and degrade habitat on some islands.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Zosterops japonicus
  • Length: 4 inches
  • ID Features: White eye-ring, yellow underparts
  • Habitat: Forests, parks, gardens
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Jordon’s Courser

birds that start with a j

One of the most elusive and mysterious birds in Asia, Jerdon’s Courser was thought extinct until its rediscovery in India in 1986. No bigger than a starling, the camouflaged brown course blends into the bare patches and rocks of scrub forest.

First described by British naturalist Thomas C. Jerdon in the 1860s, these birds disappeared for over a century before delighting researchers with their recent re-discovery. Less than 500 likely remain due to habitat loss and grazing.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Rhinoptilus bitorquatus
  • Length: 8 inches
  • ID Features: Plain brown nightjar-like bird with bare facial skin
  • Habitat: Scrub forest with rocks and bare patches
  • Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Jungle Prinia

birds that start with a j

A family of drab Warblers blending into Asian scrublands, Prinias include the widespread Jungle Prinia ranging from India to Vietnam. These tiny songbirds have rather nondescript, streaky brown plumage that used to disappear amidst the vegetation.

Foraging close to the ground in pairs or small groups, Jungle Prinias take insects and some seeds. As habitat generalists not restricted to pristine ecosystems, Jungle Prinias remain common across their wide range.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Prinia sylvatica
  • Length: 4.5 inches
  • ID Features: Small streaky brown songbird
  • Habitat: Scrublands, forest edges
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Jerdon’s Baza

This rainforest raptor occurs only in a few areas of peninsular India and Sri Lanka high in the Western Ghats and central highlands. Slightly smaller than a crow, Jerdon’s Baza has dark chocolate plumage with a barred white underside to the flight feathers.

It perches quietly before descending rapidly with claws outstretched to snatch birds, lizards, and insects. Due to habitat loss and nest disturbances, possibly fewer than 250 breeding pairs remain.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Aviceda jerdoni
  • Length: 14 inches
  • ID Features: Chocolate plumage, barred white underwings
  • Habitat: Tropical rainforest
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened

Jer Falcon

birds that start with a j

This impressive falcon inhabits mountains and deserts from southeastern Europe to China, targeting birds and mammals. It has pointed wings and a long tail, adept for high-speed aerial pursuits.

The Jer Falcon’s slate gray back contrasts its streaked white underside and rusty neck. It shows subtle variations in plumage across subspecies from Europe to Asia. Though widespread, these falcons suffer declines in heavily populated areas.

Key Facts

  • Scientific Name: Falco biarmicus
  • Length: 18-20 inches
  • ID Features: Pointed wings, rusty neck, streaked underparts
  • Habitat: Mountains, deserts
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Spotting J Birds: Locations and Identification Tips

Many j-birds like jays and juncos readily visit backyards across much of North America. But you may need to travel to see jabirus, jacanas, or junglefowl in their natural ranges. Useful destinations include:

Costa Rica

Costa Rica hosts jabirus along its rainforest rivers along with four junglefowl and five jacana species like the northern jacana.

The Amazon Basin

The Amazon rainforest provides habitat for jabirus, jacamars like the Paradise jacamar, three jacana species, and the vulnerable Spix’s guan (a junglefowl).


On the islands of Indonesia, you can find the green junglefowl as well as the Javan myna. Neighboring Philippines hosts the Philippine junglefowl.

To identify different j-bird species, focus on attributes like:

  • Size – jabirus reach over four feet tall while juncoes may be just six inches long
  • Bill shape – thick and hooked for cracking nuts (jays) or tapered for picking insects (jacamars)
  • Plumage colors – male jacanas have bright breeding colors while juncoes are usually more muted gray, brown, or black
  • Habitat – whether in rainforest trees or open temperate woodlands
  • Voice – the jeering “jay jay” calls or the soft “tsip tsip” contact calls of juncos

Paying attention to these aspects will help distinguish your jays from your jabirus when adding to your life list.

Conclusion: birds that start with j

The diverse array of birds covered highlights the astonishing breadth of the avian order starting with the letter J. Ranging from tiny Asian songbirds to massive wetland storks, these J birds inhabit ecosystems from steamy rainforests to the suburbs in our backyards.

While most J birds profiled currently have stable populations, continued habitat loss, trade trapping, and climate change pose mounting threats for the future. Several species stand on the brink, with Jerdon’s Courser and Jerdon’s Baza as particular conservation priorities needing stronger safeguards.

By better understanding and advocating for these fascinating species starting with J, we can ensure future generations also stand a chance to appreciate their beauty and behavioral intricacies for decades to come.

FAQs: birds that start with j

Which bird starting with J has the widest global distribution?

The Java Sparrow has been introduced widely across the world from Mauritius to Hawaii, giving it the widest global distribution of the birds starting with J. Native to Java and Bali, escaped cage birds have established feral populations on five continents.

Which J bird has a name that refers to the letter J itself?

The Junco takes its name directly from the letter J, with early Spanish settlers likening these sparrows to little “Juntos” starting with J. The Dark-eyed Junco remains one of the most familiar backyard birds across much of North America.

Which J bird is the most threatened with extinction?

With possibly fewer than 250 adult birds in the wild, Jerdon’s Courser is the most threatened J bird covered. This unobtrusive species that blends into bare patches within scrub forests went unseen for over a century before its rediscovery in 1986.

Do any J birds routinely migrate long distances?

Yes, the Dark-eyed Junco migrates in flocks annually between breeding grounds across Canada and the northern U.S. to wintering areas as far south as Mexico and the Gulf Coast. Other long-distance migrants starting with J include Jack Snipes and Japanese Quails.

What habitats do birds starting with J most commonly occupy?

J birds occupy a wide array of global ecosystems. From Jerdon’s Courser blending into Indian scrublands to Jabirus wading through South American marshes, J birds thrive in habitats ranging from backyards to tropical rainforests.

Which J bird routinely walks on water?

Thanks to exceptionally long toes spreading weight, the aptly named Jacanas or “lily trotters” walk readily across lilypads and floating vegetation while hunting insects and seeds. Wattled Jacanas occurs from Panama through tropical South America.

Do any J birds mimic sounds or have distinctive vocalizations?

Some J birds indeed have remarkable vocal capabilities. The Blue Jay sometimes mimics the screams of predatory hawks. During courtship rituals, male Jack Snipes vibrate specialized outer tail feathers to create a loud humming or bleating sound.

Which J birds have gone through the most pronounced population declines?

Currently considered Critically Endangered, Jerdon’s Courser has undergone the most precipitous decline among the birds starting with J, having gone unseen globally for over a century before rediscovery in 1986. Jerdon’s Baza and Jabiru storks have also declined considerably.

Do any J birds regularly visit bird feeders?

Yes, Juncos and Blue Jays will frequently attend bird feeders to eat small seeds and nuts, especially during winter months. Java Sparrows also readily feed in suburban areas among humans.

Which J bird has the most spectacular or colorful plumage?

Thanks to an iridescent rainbow of coloration, the Rufous-tailed Jacamar stands out as the most vibrantly colored J bird. Ranging from Mexico to Argentina, these gorgeous birds inhabit dense Neotropical rainforests teeming with life.

About the Author: Hudaibia

My name is Hudaibia with the profound passion for our feathered friends. Birds have captivated my heart and mind since childhood. Now I share my avian devotion through my website,