106 beautiful species of birds in French from owls to ostriches

Elinor Zucchet

I don’t know about you, but I always have trouble with things like plants, fish and birds… even in the languages I speak fluently! It’s not just about learning a language, but also about knowing the subtleties of the fauna and flora.

Even if you’re not an ornithologist, it can be useful to learn birds in French. Imagine that you’re visiting the Parc naturel de Camargue in France, or the Parc National de Plaisance in Québec. You spot a very rare bird and want to share your enthusiasm with other visitors… but you can’t find your words!

If you’re just speechless because of so much beauty, no problem. If it’s a vocabulary issue though, you might want to keep reading!

How to say “bird” in French

You probably want to fly directly to the different birds, but first things first. In French, “bird” is “oiseau”. Plural form, “oiseaux”. Not the easiest word to pronounce, but this video should help.

Very common birds in French

Now, let’s learn all the birds (or almost!) in French. We have divided them by category, from pigeon in French to owl in French. As a rule of thumb, just add “s” at the end to get the plural form, with a few exceptions (for example: émeu, émeux - cardinal, cardinaux - vanneau, vannaux). Ready for take off?

EnglishBird name (singular)IPA pronunciation
PigeonPigeonpiʒɛõ
SparrowMoineaumwano
DoveColombekɔlõbə
HummingbirdColibrikɔlibɾi
ChickenPoulepulə
PeacockPaonpaõ
RobinRouge-gorgeɾuʒə-gɔɾʒə
SeagullMouettemwɛtə
WoodpeckerPivertpivɛɾ
ChickadeeMésange charbonnièremezɑ̃ʒə ʃaɾbɔnjɛɾə
KingfisherMartin-pêcheurmaɾtɛ̃-pɛʃœɾ
MagpieMagpiemagpjə
RavenCorbeaukɔɾbo
BlackbirdMerle noirmɛɾlə nwaɾ
FlycatcherMoucherollemuʃəɾɔlə
JayGeaiʒɛe
CrowCorneillekɔɾnɛjə
NuthatchSittellesitɛlə
PelicanPélicanpelikɑ̃
SwallowHirondelleiɾõdɛlə
SwanCygnesiɲə
NightingaleRossignolɾɔsiɲɔl
PartridgePerdrixpɛɾdɾiks
CuckooCoucoukuku
FinchPinsonpɛ̃sõ
SkylarkAlouette des champsalwɛtəde ʃɑ̃
CanaryCanarikanaɾi
StarlingÉtourneau sansonnetetuɾno sɑ̃sɔne
CardinalCardinalkaɾdinal
PheasantFaisanfəzɑ̃

Migratory birds in French

Migratory birds are some of the most fascinating animals. Some of them, like the Arctic Tern, can travel up to 56 000 miles per year, from pole to pole. As travel lovers, we can only say “chapeau”!

Puffins in French and birds in French.

EnglishBird name (singular)IPA pronunciation
AlbatrossAlbatrosalbatɾo
DuckCanardkanaɾ
GooseOiewaə
PuffinMacareuxmakaɾø
StorkCigognesigɔɲə
HeronHéroneɾõ
TernSternestɛɾnə
WarblerFauvettefovɛtə
WrenTroglodyte mignontɾɔglɔditə miɲõ
GoldfinchChardonneret élégantʃaɾdɔnəɾɛt‿ elegɑ̃
BulbulBulbulbylbyl
MynahMynahmina
TealSarcelle d'hiversaɾsɛlə divεɾ

Wild / Exotic birds in French

Do you need a pinch of exotism in your life? Get ready for a wild and colorful feather explosion!

Toucan's are wild exotic birds in French.

EnglishBird name (singular)IPA pronunciation
FlamingoFlamant roseflamɑ̃ ɾozə
EagleAigleɛglə
ParrotPerroquetpɛrɔke
BudgiePerruchepɛryʃə
ToucanToucantukɑ̃
CockatooCacatoèskakatoe
CraneGruegɾɥə
HawkRapaceɾapasə
FalconFauconfokõ
OwlHibou, chouetteibu, ʃwɛtə
VultureVautourvotuɾ
ParakeetPerruchepɛryʃə
GrouseGélinotteʒelinɔtə
QuailCaillekajə
BoobyFoufu
CormorantCormorankɔɾmɔɾɑ̃
PetrelPétrelpetɾɛl
Frigate birdFrégatefɾegatə
SandpiperBécasseau variablebekaso vaɾjablə
IbisIbisibi
HornbillCalaokalao
WagtailBergeronnettebɛɾʒəɾɔnɛtə
MacawArasaɾa
KookaburraKookaburrakoɔkabyra
LorikeetLoriotlɔɾjo
PardalotePassereaupasəɾo
GrasswrenMalure des herbesmalyɾəde ɛɾbə
KakaKakakaka
KakapoKakapokakapo
KeaKeakɛa
RheaNandounɑ̃du
HamerkopOmbrette africaineõbɾɛt afɾikɛnə
KetzalKetzalkɛtzal
Bird of paradiseOiseau de paradiswazo də paɾadi
HoopoeHuppe fasciéeypə fassjeə
Guinea fowlPintadepɛ̃tadə
WidowbirdVeuve-noirevœvə-nwaɾə
GaditanoBoulant d’Espagnebulɑ̃ dɛspaɲə
BuntingBruantbɾɥɑ̃
GrosbeakGros-becgɾo-bɛk
TanagerTangaratɑ̃gaɾa
Indian rollerRollier indienɾɔlje ɛ̃djɛ̃
GonolekGonolekgɔnɔlɛk
BullfinchBouvreuilbuvɾœj
OrioleLoriotlɔɾjo
TuracoTuracotyɾako
MotmotMotmotmɔtmo
AgapornisAgapornisagapɔɾni
BudgerigarPerruchepɛryʃə
WeaverTisserandtisəɾɑ̃
CondorCondorkõdɔɾ
RedshankChevalier guignetteʃəvalje giɲɛtə
LapwingVanneauvano

Flightless birds in French

These birds will never get a chance to see the world. It’s sad when somebody “te coupe les ailes”. (French expression meaning “Restrain someone’s freedom”, literally “clip someone’s wings”). But you know, they might enjoy their sedentary life. After all, we don’t all suffer from wanderlust!

Cassowary's are flightless birds in French.

EnglishBird name (singular)IPA pronunciation
EmuÉmeuemø
PenguinPingouinpɛ̃gwɛ̃
TurkeyDindedɛ̃də
OstrichAutrucheotɾyʃə
KiwiKiwikiwi
WekaWekawəka
KakapoKakapokakapo
TakaheTakahetakaə
CassowaryCasoarkazoaɾ

Bird songs in French

L’aigle noir, Barbara

A classic, full of dramatism and emotion. A great way to learn how to say eagle in French!

Ouvrez la cage aux oiseaux, Pierre Perret

A delightful ode to freedom for adults and kids.

Fais comme l’oiseau, Michel Fugain

A song rooted in the 70s, to promote freedom and a simple life.

Alouette, gentille alouette

A classic nursery song for French children about a skylark.

Funny bird-related sayings, quotes, phrases

French people love expressions (I’m no exception!). We have compiled a list of useful and funny French sayings involving birds.

ExpressionLiteral translationMeaning
Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid. Little by little the bird makes its nest.To do something at one’s own pace, slowly but surely
Un froid de canardA duck’s coldVery cold
Une bécasseA woodcockA stupid woman
Faire l’autrucheTo do the ostrichTo refuse to see reality
Une vieille chouetteAn old owlAn old, mean lady
Une poule mouilléeA wet chickenA wimp
Une cervelle d’oiseauA bird’s brainSomebody who is forgetful
À vol d’oiseauAt bird’s flightIn a straight line
Donner des noms d’oiseauGive birds’ namesInsult
Manger comme un oiseauEat like a birdEat very little
Oiseau rareRare birdSomebody who doesn’t show up very often, hard to find
Une hirondelle ne fait pas le printempsA swallow doesn’t make the springA piece of evidence doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen
Gai comme un pinsonHappy like a finchCheery, happy
Prise de bec A beak gripA dispute
Voler dans les plumes (de quelqu’un)Fly in someone’s feathersLook for trouble, bother
Un oiseau de nuitA night birdA night owl

Just for laughs: Parrots speaking French

You really have no excuse not to learn birds in French. Even parrots speak French! You don’t believe us?

Now that you know all the birds in French, it’s time to leave the nest and visit a francophone country! You’ll feel like a duck in the water in no time with our online French lessons. And if you plan to visit a zoo or natural preserve during your stay, you might want to learn other animals in French.

Otherwise, keep your language journey progressing further with free vocabulary lessons on our French blog.

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