25 Most Colorful Birds In The World!

Colorful Birds

Colorful birds: Among terrestrial animals, birds are probably the most colorful[A] in terms of physical appearance. As expected, the spectacular display of various colors and patterns shown by different bird species is very important because birds themselves can recognize colors.

Characteristics of Colors in Birds

In terms of physical appearance, most bird exhibit sexual dimorphism, a trait wherein males are highly distinguishable from females. Males seem to be more colourful and more dazzling than females for one apparent reason: to attract females during mating.

Colorful Feathers

Collectively speaking, bird feathers are referred to as the plumage. In particular, the plumage color in birds are formed in two different processes:

A) On one hand, colorful feathers are brought about by various pigments produced by birds. Such pigments are melanin, carotenoid, and porphyrin. The pigment melanin produces colors that range from pale yellow to reddish-brown up to the darkest black. The pigment carotenoid is what produces the colors ranging from bright yellow to orangish-yellow. For instance, the interaction of the pigments melanin and carotenoid produces an olive-green color. Lastly, the pigment porphyrin produces a variety of colors such as brown, bright red, pink, and green.

B) On the other hand, bird feather colors are produced by the structure of the feathers themselves. Meaning, instead of the pigments, colors are made when light gets refracted by the proteins found in the feathers. Apparently, three structural feathers exist namely:

  • Iridescent Feathers: Iridescent feathers can change their color at different viewing angles.
  • Non-iridescent Feathers: Non-iridescent feathers can change from blue to brown depending on the light conditions.
  • Ultraviolet Feathers: Ultraviolet feathers can reflect light found within the ultraviolet range.

Henceforth, listed below are the 25 most beautiful birds of the world in the Class Aves (birds) of the Animal Kingdom with Phylum as Chordata.

You can see the IUCN red list categories[B] for each of these colorful birds listed below which represents the vulnerability of the species at the present time. This ranges from Extinct to Least Concern.

List of Colorful Birds

Here we go! Welcome to the world of colorful birds!

1. Red-necked Tanager

Red-necked Tanager
Source: Wikimedia
Order Family Genus Species
Passeriformes Thraupidae Tangara Tangara cyanocephala

Least ConcernEndemic[1] to Eastern South America, the red necked tanager appears to be very bright with its yellow-orange wings, bright red chin, deep blue crown and lower neck, and a brilliant green underneath.

  • These birds are known to reside in the canopy of forests and are characterized by their sharp “sip” sounding voices.
  • Generally, the red-necked Tanager molts (sheds its feathers) once in a year.

2. Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck

Order Family Genus Species
Anseriformes Anatidae Aix Aix galericulata

Least ConcernRegarded as the world’s most beautiful duck[2], this native from China (hence the name) and Japan, this duck displays a wide array of colors such as blue, green, copper and silver.

  • While both genders of the duck have crest, this structure is more prominent on males, probably because this is mainly used to attract during mating.
  • In addition to that, males appear to be golden in appearance.

3. Blue Crowned Pigeon

Blue Crowned Pigeon

Order Family Genus Species
Columbiformes Columbidae Goura Goura cristata

VulnerableAlso known as the Western crowned pigeon[3], the blue crowned pigeon is characterized by having large blue crests in the head, and deep blue feathers around the eyes.

  • Western crowned pigeons are very large pigeons and in fact considered as one of the “fairest” members of the Family Columbidae (Pigeons).
  • Generally, like most birds in the animal kingdom, male blue crowned pigeons are larger as compared to their female counterparts.
  • These birds are native to Papua New Guinea and they tend to be dispersed in the rains-forests of the islands.

4. Blue/Azure Kingfisher

Azure Kingfisher

Order Family Genus Species
Coraciiformes Alcedinidae Ceyx Ceyx azureus

Least ConcernKnown to be great fish hunters[4] from the riverside and sometimes above the water surface, blue kingfishers are small to medium size birds which have very colorful appearance.

  • The feathers of kingfishers are mostly bright blue/azure (hence the name) in color.
  • Unlike most birds, the feather color of kingfishers is caused by the structure of the feathers themselves. Such causes the scattering of blue light and is then reflected in our eyes, making them appear blue.
  • The distribution pattern of kingfishers is cosmopolitan. Meaning, they occur throughout the world, even in either temperate or tropical regions.

5. Paradise Tanager

Paradise Tanager
Source: Wikimedia
Order Family Genus Species
Passeriformes Thraupidae Tangara Tangara chilensis

Least ConcernClassy, neotropical, and colorful[5], the Paradise Tanager is really living up to its name. This bird, widely distributed in the tropical forests of the Amazon in South America, is small yet very colorful with its bright apple green head, yellow or red rump (depending on species), and a blue abdomen.

  • Aside from its appearance, the paradise tanager is a songbird, meaning, it can make various musical sounds that are pleasant to the ears.
  • One disclaimer though, this bird is not found in Chile, despite its species name T. chilensis.

6. Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Order Family Genus Species
Passeriformes Cotingidae Rupicola Rupicola peruvianus

Least ConcernConsidered the national bird of Peru[6], this small to medium sized bird made it to the list of most colorful birds.

  • Male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock birds are more colorful with their bright red head, breast, throat, and shoulders. They have grey wings, an overall black underparts, and a very prominent disk crests over their bill.
  • On the other hand, the female birds are orange to brown in color and have smaller crests.
  • This bird is usually found in the warm regions and usually reside riverbanks and forest streams.

7. Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

Order Family Genus Species
Gruiformes Rallidae Porphyrio Porphyrio martinicus

Least ConcernThe Purple Gallinule[7] is considered as one of the most beautiful birds primarily because of its plumage that displays a variety of colors.

  • Overall, this bird has a purple head, throat, and underparts, a green back,a blue forehead, and a red beak with yellow tip.
  • Added to this uniqueness is its legs which are yellow in color.
  • Interestingly, these birds swim like ducks but can step on floating leaves like chickens.
  • Basically, this species of bird is widely distributed in the humid and tropical regions of the United States.

8. Yellow-collared Lovebird

Yellow-collared Lovebird

Order Family Genus Species
Psittaciformes Psittaculidae Agapornis Agapornis personatus

Least ConcernAlso known as Masked lovebirds, yellow collared lovebirds[8] are small birds which are generally green in appearance (although upper parts are darker). In addition to that, they have black-colored heads and white eyerings, and very bright red beaks.

  • As their name suggests, they have yellow collar which is extended to the nape of the neck.
  • Interestingly enough, the males and females of this species look identical in appearance.
  • These birds are endemic to Tanzania but were already brought to other countries like Kenya and Burundi.

9. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Order Family Genus Species
Passeriformes Cardinalidae Cardinalis Cardinalis cardinalis

Least ConcernEndemic to both North and South America, the Northern Cardinalis bird[9] is a songbird characterized by striking red and black face mask which extends up to the upper chest.

  • Females of this bird type are shown to be brown to grayish with some tints of red in their wings.
  • Male Northern Cardinals have more defined face masks.
  • At an early age, the colors of both males and females are identical to the adult females. But when fall comes, they tend to shed their old feathers and grow out new ones.
  • The name of this bird (both scientific and common name) comes from the “cardinals” of the Roman Catholic Church who usually are wearing red caps and robes.

10. Curl-crested Aracari

Curl-crested Aracari
Source: Wikimedia
Order Family Genus Species
Piciformes Ramphastidae Pteroglossus Pteroglossus beauharnaesii

Least ConcernComing from the Family Ramphastidae (Toucans), this bird is considered as one of the most colorful yet strangest looking bird[10] in the world. This bird is characterized by having yellow underparts, red back, dark green wings, and a very colorful beak.

  • This bird has an unusual head feathers that can be likened to shiny black plastics.
  • This bird is endemic only to the lowland forests of Western Brazil, Northern Bolivia, and Southern Amazon.

11. Spangled Cotinga

11-spangled-cotinga

Order Family Genus Species
Passeriformes Cotingidae Cotinga Cotinga cayana

Least ConcernThe Spangled Cotinga is a type of bird that frequently resides in the canopy of the Amazonian forests.

  • Like any other bird species, male Spangled Cotingas[11] are very brightly colored–they are turquoise in appearance with tints black in their back and wings, and a bright purple neck.
  • On the other hand, females are duller in color with an overall brown to grayish body with prominent purple throat.
  • Interestingly, the Spangled Cotinga bird lacks true vocalization. Meaning, it can only emit a “whistling” kind of sound as it flaps its wings when flying.

12. Toco Toucan

Toco Toucan

Order Family Genus Species
Piciformes Ramphastidae Ramphastos Ramphastos toco

Least ConcernCharacterized by its very prominent multicolored beak[12], the Toco Toucan is the largest among all toucans. Aside from that, it is very recognizable due to its extremely black body, white throat, and blue eye rings.

  • Aside from its physical appearance, the toucan bird makes an amazing creature because it can somehow regulate its overall body temperature by merely altering the blood flow in their beak.
  • The Toco Toucan is endemic to South America and inhabit the savannas, tropical forests, and the shrubland.

13. Gouldian Finch

13-gouldian-finch

Order Family Genus Species
Passeriformes Estrilididae Erythrura Erythrura gouldidae

Nearly ThreatenedAlso known as the Rainbow finch, the Gouldian Finch is typically found in the savanna woodlands of Northern and Western Australia.

  • Like any birds, the male Gouldian Finch is extremely recognizable[13] from its female counterpart. Basically, males appear more brightly colored and have more intricate color marks and patterns.
  • Both genders have green, black, yellow, and red markings. However, the chests of the males are purple while that of the females are lilac.

14. Red-bearded Bee Eater

Red-bearded Bee Eater

Order Family Genus Species
Coraciiformes Meropidae Nyctyornis Nyctyornis amictus

Least ConcernAs its name suggests, the Red Bearded Bee Eater is a bee eater type of bird that resides in the dense forests of the Indo-Malayan regions of South East Asia[14].

  • This bird has an overall green color and a prominent red color in its face up to its throat (hence its name).
  • In addition to that, they are characterized by having long tail feathers and curved break, and very pointed wings.

15. Lilac-breasted Roller

Lilac-breasted Roller

Order Family Genus Species
Coraciiformes Coraciidae Coracias Coracias caudatus

Least ConcernA member of the bird Family Coraciidae (Rollers), the Lilac-breasted Rollers are widely distributed in the Eastern and Southern Africa.

  • Generally, this bird has a rich lilac color for its breast, pale green head, violet wings (shoulders, flight feathers, and rump), pale greenish blue coverts, blue underparts, brown back and scapulars, and black tail feathers.
  • The lilac-breasted roller, like any other rollers, are famous for their courtship flight[15].

16. Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosella

Order Family Genus Species
Psittaciformes Psittaculidae Platycercus Platycercus elegans

Least ConcernAs its name suggests, the Crimson Rosella[16] is highly characterized by its crimson body. Apart from that, the back and wing feathers are black but with some tints of red. Its flight feathers have an alternate pale to dark blue patches.

  • Most Crimson Rosella reside in the wet forests of Northern Queensland and in South Australia.

17. Splendid Fairy Wren

Splendid Fairy Wren

Order Family Genus Species
Passeriformes Maluridae Malurus Malurus splendens

Least ConcernThe Splendid Fairy Wren is known to inhabit in the semi-arid to arid woodlands and shrublands of Australia[17].

  • The feathers of the male Fairy wren is dominantly blue (cobalt blue to violet blue) in color. Its beak and legs are black and brown to gray respectively.
  • On the other hand, the female Fairy wren is paler in color with an overall brown color and white underparts. However, females have a distinguishable reddish tan line which extends from the beak up to the eyes.

18. Crowned Woodnymph

Crowned Woodnymph

Order Family Genus Species
Apodiformes Trochilidae Thalurania Thalurania colombica

Least ConcernThe Crowned wood nymphs are members of the genus Thalurania which is composed of hummingbirds. These types of hummingbirds generally reside in the Eastern Panama up to the Southern Ecuador[18].

  • As its name suggests, the violet crowned woodnymph is the only woodnymph that has a glittering green crown.
  • Male Crowned Wood Nymphs are characterized by having green neck and a blue breast and abdomen.
  • On the other hand, the female type of this bird is paler in color with a gray colored neck and a dark green to gray abdomen.

19. Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Order Family Genus Species
Passeriformes Cardinalidae Passerina Passerina ciris

Nearly ThreatenedThe Painted Bunting bird is a member of the bird Family Cardinalidae which is endemic to North America[19].

  • The male Painted Bunting has the French name, nonpareil which means “without equal”, thus referring to its extremely fascinating appearance. Basically, the male plumage display a wide variety of colors such as blue, green. Red, and yellow.
  • The female type of this bird is distinguishable due to its very prominent bright green color.

20. Indian Peafowl

Indian Peafowl

Order Family Genus Species
Galliformes Phasianidae Pavo Pavo cristatus

Least ConcernAs its name implies, the Indian peafowl can be found in India, Sri Lanka, in other countries of South Asia[20].

  • The Indian Peafowl is a member of the group called pheasants wherein the males are referred to as the peacocks whereas females are peahens. Collectively, they are called the peafowls.
  • Like any other birds which display a sexually dimorphic trait, peacocks have a dazzling fan (up to 5 feet) of feathers of brilliant colors that grows from its back. Aside from that, males have a somewhat head crest and green throat feathers. As the brilliant, shimmering patterns of peacock feathers are iconic to see, some cultures treat them as sacred artifacts for prosperity.
  • The vividly colored male peacock woos the female by spreading a spectacular fan of iridescent feathers with big glowing eyes. If the female is sufficiently impressed, she may allow him to mate.
  • On the other hand,peahens are duller in color with only an overall brown body with white abdomen.

21. Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

Order Family Genus Species
Psittaciformes Psittacidae Ara Ara macao

Least ConcernMacaws are considered as the largest species of colorful parrots in the world. For instance, scarlet macaws are widely distributed in the rainforests of Mexico, and Central and Southern America[21].

  • Generally, the scarlet macaw, aside from its overall red color, display a wide mix of green, yellow, and blue feathers.
  • Aside from that, macaws are considered as one of the most intelligent birds as they spend a lot of time in using various tools and playing with objects.

22. The Resplendent Quetzal

The Resplendent Quetzal

Order Family Genus Species
Trogoniformes Trogonidae Pharomachrus Pharomachrus mocinno

Nearly ThreatenedA member of the Trogan bird family, this bird resides in the mountainous regions of Central America[22].

  • Generally, the scarlet macaw, aside from its overall red color, display a wide mix of green, yellow, and blue feathers.
  • Aside from that, macaws are considered as one of the most intelligent birds as they spend a lot of time in using various tools and playing with objects.

23. Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet

OrderFamilyGenusSpecies

Least ConcernOften seen in flocks, this bird is very distinguishable due to its feathers that ranges from green, blue, orange, and yellow[23].

  • Aside from that, its most striking feature is its beak which is bright red in color.
  • Both sexes of this bird are identical in physical appearance.
  • A lorikeet’s tongue has a brush like tip for gathering nectar, fruits and insects.
  • Lorikeets are communal birds – they gather in the evening time as a group to spend the night.
  • Basically, Rainbow Lorikeets are distributed in the coastal regions of Northern and Eastern Australia.

24. Golden Peasant

Golden Pheasant

Order Family Genus Species
Psittacifornmes Psittaculidae Trichoglossus Trichoglossus moluccanus

Least ConcernAlso known as the Chinese Pheasant, the Golden Pheasant is a very timid bird that usually resides in the dark forests at day and only comes out during the night[24].

  • Exhibiting sexually dimorphic traits, the male Golden Pheasants are distinguishable because of its golden crest. Aside from that, it has a bright red abdomen, dark colored wings, and a long patterned brown tail.
  • On the other hand, the female Golden Pheasant is less colorful in appearance with an overall brown body and pale yellow legs. The female bird is also thinner and more slender.
  • As its name suggests, the Golden Pheasant can be found in the forests of central and western parts of China.

25. Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise

Wilson's Bird of Paradise

Order Family Genus Species
Passeriformes Paradisaeidae Cicinnurus Cicinnurus respublica

Nearly ThreatenedLast but definitely not the least is the Bird-of-Paradise, which is not to be confused with the Birds of Paradise plant. Most Bird-of-Paradise birds are distributed in Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Eastern Indonesia[25].

  • The male type of this bird is shown to exhibit a wide variety of colors: a prominent turquoise crown, yellow cape, red back, and a green breast and tail feathers.
  • Interestingly though, the crowns of the males are not feathers but actually bare skin. Criss-crossed by black lines of feathers.
  • Females are duller in appearance with lilac-blue head, reddish upper body, and brown wings. Also, females lack tail feathers.

While these colorful birds are absolutely spectacular, some of them becoming endangered even in their native habitats. Due to their colorful and unique plumage, they have become a target for many hunters in the forest. Another major threat to these birds is the loss of habitats due to the deforestation and the environment in general.

References

[A]: “Color of Birds.” Color of Birds. Accessed November 14, 2016. Stanford University.
[B]: “Support the.” Categories and Criteria. Accessed November 16, 2016. IUCN Red List.
[1]: “Red-necked Tanager (Tangara Cyanocephala) – Neotropical Birds.” Overview -. Accessed November 14, 2016. Cornell University.
[2]: “Living with Birds 21 Facts on Mandarin Duck Tweetapedia.” 21 Facts on Mandarin Duck. Accessed November 14, 2016. Living with Birds.
[3]: “Pigeon, Blue Crowned – Safari West.” Safari West. Accessed November 14, 2016. Safari West.
[4]: “Kingfisher.” The RSPB. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/k/kingfisher/index.aspx.
[5]: “Paradise Tanager (Tangara Chilensis) – Neotropical Birds.” Overview -. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=610796.
[6]: “Andean Cock-of-the-rock – Rupicola Peruvianus.” New Hampshire Public Television. Accessed November 14, 2016. NHP TV.
[7]: “Purple Gallinule.” , Identification, All About Birds. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Purple_Gallinule.
[8]: User, Super. “Yellow-collared Lovebird (Personata).” Yellow-collared Lovebird (Personata). Accessed November 14, 2016. http://breedingbird.com/index.php/en/birds/lovebirds-agaporniden/yellow-collared-lovebird-personata.
[9]: “Northern Cardinal.” , Identification, All About Birds. Accessed November 14, 2016. All About Birds.
[10]: “Curl-crested Aracari (Pteroglossus Beauharnaesii) – Neotropical Birds.” Overview -. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=301656.
[11]: “Spangled Cotinga (Cotinga Cayana) – Neotropical Birds.” Overview -. Accessed November 14, 2016. Cornell University.
[12]: @animalfactguide. “Toco Toucan Facts for Kids.” Animal Fact Guide. Accessed November 14, 2016. Animal Fact Guide.
[13]: “Gouldian Finch Personality, Food & Care – Pet Birds by Lafeber Co.” Lafeber Co Pet Birds. Accessed November 14, 2016. Lafeber.
[14]: “Red-Bearded Bee-Eater: The Animal Files.” Red-Bearded Bee-Eater: The Animal Files. Accessed November 14, 2016. Animal Files.
[15]: “Lilac Breasted Roller.” Kruger National Park. Accessed November 14, 2016. Kruger Park.
[16]: “Crimson Rosella.” Welcome to Birds in Backyards. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Platycercus-elegans.
[17]: “Splendid Fairy-wren.” Welcome to Birds in Backyards. Accessed November 14, 2016. Birds in Backyard.
[18]: “Crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania Colombica) – Neotropical Birds.” Overview -. Accessed November 14, 2016. Cornell University – Neotropical Birds
[19]: “Painted Bunting.” , Life History, All About Birds. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/painted_bunting/lifehistory!
[20]: “Indian Peafowl Videos, Photos and Facts.” ARKive. Accessed November 14, 2016. Arkive.
[21]: “Scarlet Macaw.” Rainforest Alliance. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/species/macaw.
[22]: “TED Case Studies.” The Resplendent Quetzal. Accessed November 14, 2016. TED Studies.
[23]: “Rainbow Lorikeet.” Welcome to Birds in Backyards. Accessed November 14, 2016. http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Trichoglossus-haematodus.
[24]: “Golden Pheasants or Chinese Pheasants, Aka Red Golden Pheasant.” Keeping and Breeding Golden Pheasants or Chinese Pheasants. Accessed November 14, 2016. https://www.beautyofbirds.com/goldenpheasantsbreeding.html.
[25]: “Bird of Paradise.” Home. Accessed November 14, 2016. San Diego Zoo.
Cite this article as: "25 Most Colorful Birds In The World!," in Bio Explorer, November 16, 2016, https://www.bioexplorer.net/colorful-birds.html/.
25 Most Colorful Birds In The World!
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