Need a dash of color in your life? You need only turn to our feathered friends, as the most beautiful birds in the world offer a dazzling array of shapes, colors, and patterns for you to feast your eyes upon. Come with us on a virtual birdwatching session as we appreciate these 10 beautiful birds (in no particular order)!
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With over 10,000 species of birds worldwide, many of them exceptionally beautiful, it’s an uphill task naming the most beautiful birds. We know that coming up with a countdown of the most beautiful birds can be an excessively subjective affair given our different individual preferences.
Nonetheless, we’ve compiled this list of ten of the most stunning avian creatures that exude mind-boggling beauty. Let’s take a look.
10 Most Beautiful Birds in the World
In this list, we’ve included birds with some of the most striking colors, intricate patterns, cute plumages, magnificent shimmers, curious beaks, and much more.
I promise you this will be fly.
1. Bohemian Waxwing
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The bohemian waxwing is medium-sized bird with a signature crested head and distinctive black mask. They’re mostly greyish brown with cinnamon-hued under-tail plumage and yellow-tipped tails. The red-colored feather edges beautify this passerine.
The bohemian is one of the three waxwing species that exists. The other two are the cedar waxwing and the Japanese waxwing. The bohemian is larger than the cedar, and more rare than either of the other two. And in our opinion, it is definitely the prettiest bird of the waxwing family.
Bohemian waxwings can be found in North America where they live in boreal forests nesting on tree branches, where small insects and fruits make up their diets. They are migratory birds that move in massive flocks into the northwest of the United States during winter.
2. Hyacinth Macaw
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Also known as the “blue macaw” due to their impressive azure blue plumage that’s splendidly matched with a yellow band around the eyes. The hyacinth macaw is the largest flying parrot species, measuring a remarkable 40 inches in length.
The wingspan spreads out to four feet, making for a truly majestic specimen regardless of its gorgeous coloring. Apart from the stunning cobalt blue feathers, you can identify the hyacinth macaw by its arched black bill and charming long tail.
Natively inhabiting the Amazon particularly the savannah grasslands of Brazil, this most beautiful of birds, unfortunately, continues to dwindle in population. They’re currently just about 5,000 of these birds inhabiting the wild, thanks to hunting and a rapidly shrinking habitat.
With training, they can make fine pets. Since they’re affectionate birds that love to play, give them adequate space and they’ll be at home. But beware that in groups they can be super-noisy, and are still capable of taking a powerful bite out of you despite proper training and care.
Unlike other parrots in the macaw family, they’re not prolific imitators of speech.
3. Wood Duck
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Wood ducks stand out as one of the prettiest water birds the world over. They’re mostly found along streams and swampy marshes all across the United States and Canada.
The male wood ducks are more stunning than their female counterparts. Males have a metallic green head and crest with tints of purple attractively sprinkled. Their necks are decorated with beautiful tapering white stripes.
Wood duck plumage is an intriguing mix of black and blue patterns and also plays the double role of attracting females when breeding. A white underbelly and a crimson-colored chest area complete the beauty of a male wood duck.
The female wood duck isn’t as stunning and features a brownish head with the belly being whitish. The chest area is splattered with white coloration.
Woefully ill-equipped to burrow out their own holes for nesting, you’ll often find these unique birds making their abode within manmade structures. They make for a thrilling but easy target for budding birdwatchers!
4. Keel-billed Toucan
What will strike you first about the Keel-billed toucan is its phenomenal bill, measuring up to a staggering 7 inches! The giant multicolored bill has also earned the keel-billed toucan another name, the “rainbow-billed toucan”, with a fusion of red, green, and yellow pigmentation.
The size of the bill can be fairly deceptive as to its weight. Although it seems heavy, it’s light and hollow. They use these colorful beaks to lure females particularly in the breeding season and also for self-defense.
These beautiful birds have plumage that’s predominantly black, with brilliant yellow feathers in the neck and breast area. Their face is an intricate blend of green and yellow. The bright red under feathers in the tail region completes its distinctive but elegant look.
Birdwatchers looking for these birds should head to the tropical and subtropical rainforests of South and Central America. Venezuela, Colombia, and southern Mexico are the ideal places to spot the keel-billed toucan. The birds can also be more easily sighted at dawn and dusk when they’re most active.
The keel-billed toucan has heavy wings making it a poor flyer. They manage short distances, often hopping from tree-branch to tree-branch within the forest. As they are social birds, you’ll see them moving in small flocks of between six and twelve birds. These groups may at times swell up to thirty birds.
They mostly inhabit holes that occur naturally in the wild or those dug out on trees by woodpeckers. They make loud frog-like calls. Their diet ranges from insects, fruit trees, lizards, to eggs.
5. Blue Jay
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Blue jays offer beauty with brains, as they are considered amongst the most intelligent birds in the world. It’s easy to spot them by their distinctive “jay jay” sounding calls. Blue jays have a colorful plumage that consists of a clever combination of blue, black, and white.
Being intelligent birds, they can mimic the call of other birds. For instance, they can imitate the sounds of hawks to trick other birds. In captivity as pets, they’ve been noted to imitate human speech and even the sounds of other pets. They can be cunning to the extent of stealing the nestlings and eggs of other birds.
They inhabit woodlands across most parts of North America particularly eastern and central North America.
Although blue jays naturally live in small groups, they can swarm into massive flocks in their hundreds when they migrate to the south during winter.
Puzzling enough, scientists still don’t fully understand the migratory behavior of blue jays. Some do not migrate during winter, choosing instead to remain in their natural habitats. Moreover, researchers have also noted that there are no blue jays that consistently migrate every year.
6. Atlantic Puffin
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The Atlantic puffin is an unusual mix of features that adds up to one of the most striking seabirds. The coloring of their plumage is reminiscent of the ever-endearing penguin, yet their distinctive bills have earned them the nickname of the “sea parrot”.
Atlantic puffins possess water-repellant feathers and are excellent swimmers on the surface and beneath. They flap their wings to propel themselves underwater or on the surface. They’re superb divers who reach depths of 160 feet. Unlike the penguin, though, they’re excellent flyers, and can achieve speeds over 50 miles per hour.
Bird watchers looking for these beautiful birds can find them over the coast of eastern Canada and northern USA.
Atlantic puffins breed in nests they build along the coast during summer and spring. The breeding occurs on the isles of the Atlantic Ocean where the female lays only a single egg that hatches within one and a half months.
Thereafter, they nourish the chicks with small fish that they catch and transfer in their massive beaks. Amazingly, they can manage up to 30 fish in one go; hakes, sand eels, and capelines are the staple food for Atlantic puffins.
The peacock is famous the world over for its outrageously tantalizing spread of tail feathers. It has long gained admiration among royalty and aristocracy, finding export to every corner of the world as well as its place as the national bird of India.
What makes the peacock particularly stunning is its famous plume train made up of one hundred and fifty splendidly colored feathers. Then there’s an array of cute “peacock eye spots” that are exhibited when these feathers are on a glorious display.
Peacocks are known for some of the most glamorous mating displays in the entire animal kingdom. The males court the females (peahens) in a romantic dance as he shakes his stunning feathers in a majestic show accompanied by a rustling noise. When the mating cycle ends, the male leaves having lost his ornamental feathers. But they grow back in a matter of months
The tail length and number of eyespots vary from one peacock to another. Peahens prefer a mate flaunting a longer tail and more eyespots on the tail. The tail radiates a colorful display that changes depending on the angle at which it’s illuminated.
Peafowls come in three main species: the Indian, Congo, and green fowl. The Indian species is the most common peacock globally.
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Do you know there are more fake flamingoes in the world than real ones? Humans love them because they’re some of the most beautiful birds in the world. Arguably, they also have the bragging rights for being the most recognizable birds in the world.
Their breathtaking pink plumage makes them strikingly gorgeous. Flamingos are wading birds and come in six different species that are difficult to distinguish. These tropical birds are found on all the continents, except for Antarctica.
They inhabit South and Central America, the Middle East, India, the Rift Valley Lakes of Africa, Australia, and more places. The flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas.
Flamingos are water birds that thrive around lakes and lagoons where they catch fish, brine shrimp, planktons, blue-green algae, and larvae in the mud. Flamingoes are born white or grey but eventually turn pink or red from the pigments in the algae that they feed on. Their plumage color depends on the diet with a brighter plumage reflecting a better diet.
Interestingly, flamingoes are monogamous mating with one partner. They live in large flocks, and a large colony of flamingos is referred to as a flamboyance. A flamingo can measure up to 50 inches in length and weigh up to 7.7 lbs.
9. Golden Pheasant
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If a beauty pageant for birds was organized, the golden pheasant would be a top contender, and would likely win. The brilliant red and golden-yellow plumage that it’s famed for makes it one of the most beautiful birds in the world by most standards.
As is common with the other pheasants, the males are more flamboyant than females with stronger eye-catching plumage colors. The males have distinct crimson flanks and breasts while females adorn a subdued brown plumage. For golden pheasants, the tail makes up about two-thirds of the bird’s length.
The golden pheasant drapes a golden wattle and a green upper back that make up this jewel of the Asian wilderness. Being poor fliers, they’re mostly found on the forest floors, occasionally indulging in brief flying stints. They feed mainly on shrubs, berries, and small insects.
Golden pheasants inhabit the woodlands and mountainous forests in western and central China, where they are regarded as symbols of great honor. They can also be found in parts of New Zealand, North and South America, Australia, and western Europe.
Zoologists have discovered that the plumage of golden pheasants can bleach if it is unshielded from direct sunlight over extended periods of time. Therefore, they retain their vivid colors by staying underneath the shady canopies of the forest.
10. Scarlet Macaw
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Found in the tropical rainforests of South and Central America, the scarlet macaw is one of the most beautiful birds you’ll ever set your eyes on.
They’re recognizable by their distinct red plumage and a complementary cobalt blue back. These iconic birds wear attractive yellow feathers tipped with green on their upper wings. The lower wing is a magical fusion of blue and yellow feathers.
Scarlet macaws use their super strong curved beaks to crack through tough nuts like we chew crackers. The top part of the back is a light tan with a black tip and base, adding to their overall distinctive beauty.
Scarlet macaws live long and enjoy life spans of between 40 and 50 years in the wild. In captivity, they live even longer and can manage a staggering 75 years. At maturity, they can weigh up to 2.2 lbs.
Birdwatchers interested in seeing these magnificent miracles of nature should visit the forests of southern Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Trinidad, and eastern Brazil.
Scarlet macaws are considered among the smartest birds and can learn sounds, words, and can be responsive to human emotions. They can even distinguish patterns, shapes, and colors when well trained. A classic example of beauty with brains.
If you intend to keep one as a pet, be warned; they’re noisy.
Basic Birdwatching Gear to Spot the Most Beautiful Birds
You’re impressed and now you want to go out and do some bird watching, right?
Most of us know that we need binoculars for a productive birding adventure. But there’s more to it. For example, handheld GPS can come in handy while in the wild. You need outdoor gear that will help you maneuver and stay safe.
Here is a valuable gear checklist to go birdwatching like a pro.
To enjoy the beauty of a bird in all its majesty will depend on how clearly you can see the details. That’s where a good set of binoculars comes in. You don’t have to break the bank to get some durable binoculars that are lightweight and waterproof.
I’d recommend Nikon Monarch 7 (8X42). It has an awesome field of view, the image is of high quality and so you get to appreciate nature at its best. That will be superb for a beginner bird watcher.
When you’re out in the fields you need to identify the birds that you’ll be seeing. That’s precisely why you need a field guide.
Some of the most helpful guides include:
- Kaufman’s Field Guide to the Birds of North America
- Sibley Guide to Birds
- Peterson’s Field Guide
- National Geographic Field Guide
Choosing a guide will depend on whether you prefer one with photos or drawings, and the specific zone you’ll be doing your bird-watching.
With advancements in digital technology, it’s becoming easier by the day to access high-class photography gadgets. These gadgets are becoming increasingly convenient to carry, more pocket-friendly, and synchronize effortlessly with your other devices.
A digital camera that’s light to carry and transport can easily capture birds that are flying past you. Then there’s digiscoping where you mount your digital camera on the eyepiece of binoculars or another spotting scope.
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For beginners, Canon Rebel T5i will be a fantastic camera. It’s efficient and inexpensive, gauged against many other cameras.
With a smartphone, you can be a mobile library carrying tonnes of information in your pocket. A good number of field guides named above will also be available as apps. Apps add the audiovisual benefit of adding sounds to your resource so that it’s easier to spot birds by their chirps, shrieks, tweets, and quarks.
The apps can also give you maps to places where you’re likely to get the birds you’re out hunting for. eBird Mobile App is an example of a fine app.
You can lure the birds to your pouch by investing in some bird feeders. When the birds are that close, bring out the binoculars and get a close view of the birds from the comfort of your front yard.
Final Words on the Most Beautiful Birds
We’ve crisscrossed continents and different habitats, from rainforests to lakes, to majestic mountains, to count down the most beautiful birds in the world. And this list is what we came up with.
What do you think? Have you have come across some of the birds on this list? What was most striking about them? Hit our comments section below with birds that are so captivating that they deserve a spot on our list.