Which birds have the most beautiful colors?
And why exactly are birds so colorful?
Today you’ll meet 10 of the most beautiful and colorful birds in the world!
Table of Contents
10 Most Colorful Birds
1. Mandarin Duck
- Latin name: Aix galericulata
- Habitat: East Asia, Britain
- Length: 16-19 inches (41-49 cm)
- Wingspan: 26-30 inches (65-75 cm)
- Weight: 0.94-1.5 pounds (0.42-0.68 kg)
- Diet: worms, mollusks, small fish, insects, and water plants.
- Its Unique Color: Golden body with purple breast and two vertical white bars.
This extremely beautiful bird is one of the two species of the genus Aix. It’s close relative, the second member of the genus, is the North American Wood Duck.
Although it originated from East Asia (China, Korea and Japan), it has been bred in Europe (Especially in Great Britain and Berlin), Russia and the USA for its prized beauty.
Colorfully clothed, Mandarin Ducks appear in attractively-patterned red, white, orange and purple colors.
The males are usually more colorful and beautiful than their female counterparts and quite distinguishable.
However, they will look similar to the females during their molting season (occurring after the mating season) when they will shed their old, weak feathers to produce new ones.
Regarded in its native countries as a symbol of love, fidelity, conjugal bliss; male and female Mandarin Ducks live monogamous lives.
They prefer nesting in forest trees; close to rivers, lakes, and marshes.
Making 9-12 eggs in April or May, females target tree cavities for laying and incubating them.
The lovely males ensure protection for the females and her eggs prior to hatching.
On hatching, the mother wheedles her ducklings out of the tree cavities for a journey to the nearby water where they will have their first bath.
2. Crimson Rosella
- Latin name: Platycercus elegans
- Habitat: Eastern and South-Eastern Australia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island.
- Length: 10-14 inches (25-36 cm)
- Wingspan: 44-53 cm
- Weight: 0.26 pounds (119 g)
- Diet: seeds, nuts, insects, buds, and fruits.
- Its Unique Color: Crimson head and body (blue cheeks and tail, predominantly red body)
Crimson rosella is one of the most poached birds in the world due to its great beauty and intelligence.
This is not a Parrot you will pass unnoticed in wet forests and woodlands, where it loves to shelter.
You will find it roosting on tree branches at night or hear it chit-chatting while flocking with friends.
Usually, it has blue cheek, black wings with blue margins, blue tail, and a predominantly red body. Other than the males being larger and their beaks being wider, you may not be able to differentiate them from the females.
They fly in small peer groups to feed and, being monogamous, they also fly in mating pairs during breeding seasons.
Between September and February, the mating pair will prepare a nest, a meter deep in a tree cavity, chosen by the female where she will lay its 3-8 clutch of eggs.
Being very protective, the mating pair will mark the tree and prevent other rosellas from coming to it. Males take up this defensive role while the females incubate the eggs.
The newly born stay with the parents for a few weeks before parting with them to flock with other Juveniles.
3. Keel-billed Toucan
- Latin name: Ramphastos sulfuratus
- Habitat: Southern Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia.
- Length: 17-22 inches (42-55 cm)
- Wingspan: 43-60 inches (109-152 cm)
- Weight: 4.7-8.8 pounds (2.1-4 kg)
- Diet: fruits, insects, insect eggs, nestlings, and lizards
- Its Unique Color: Multi-colored bill
The colorful hollow bone that serves as its bill is predominantly green with a red tip and a splash of orange and blue at the sides.
It’s up to about one-third of its total length and constitutes a unique feature that makes the bird beautiful.
Black feathers with red-tipped tail, blue feet, and yellow throat make up the rest of its colorful body.
Keel-billed Toucans are the typical social animals, you can see them flying in groups during the day in rainforests or cramped in holes in trees (with beaks and tails curled under their bodies to create enough space) at night while they sleep.
These holes are usually full of their food remnants, contributing to the space problem. You can see them playing with fruits or dueling with their bills.
Also monogamous, with well-organized family setting, the female lay 1-4 eggs. The mating pair take turns incubating the eggs for 15-20 days and in feeding the new chicks until their bills are well-developed.
The chicks fly off the nest about 9 weeks after hatching.
4. Scarlet Macaw
- Latin name: Ara macao
- Habitat: Central and South America
- Length: 33 inches (84 cm)
- Weight: 2.2 pounds (1 kg)
- Diet: berries, nuts, seeds, and insects, snails, bugs and larvae.
- Its Unique Color: Scarlet red head and body with multi-colored wings.
The national bird of Honduras, Scarlet Macaw, comes with several colors, but the plumage is predominantly scarlet.
Light blue, dark blue, yellow, and dark red feathers can be easily pointed out in most, while some can add green to the wings.
Surrounding the eye and on top of the bill are white skins, and the beauty spread into the eyes (dark eyes and light yellow eyes for juveniles and adults respectively).
They can be heard making squeaky, squawky and honky sounds to call their counterparts during separation in rainforests, wet woodlands, savannas and riverine areas they like inhabiting.
These parrots are also capable of mimicking human speech and many are living in captivity for this reason.
They reach sexual maturity after their fifth birthday; and a scarlet macaw will spend its entire life with a single partner.
Females lay 2-3 eggs per breeding season in a tree cavity, incubates them for five weeks, and the new chicks fledge from the nest after 90 days of hatching.
It becomes independent after its first birthday.
5. Spangled Cotinga
- Latin name: Cotinga cayana
- Habitat: South American rainforest
- Length: 7-8 inches (20-21 cm)
- Weight: 2-2.5 ounces (55-75 g)
- Diet: small fruits, insects.
- Its Unique Color: Turquoise body with purple throat
Spangled Cotinga is the beauty of the Amazon rainforest in South America.
It continues to attract countless number of bird watchers from every part of the world to its native home: the Amazon Basin.
Males and female Cotingas are easily distinguishable.
The males wear bright turquoise-blue coloration in most parts of its body.
They have black wings with blue feathers embed into them, wine-red throats, and predominantly black tails.
The females are less colorful, they are brownish-gray overall, with darker wings.
Although they’re believed to feed on insects, their favorite meals are fruits.
A female Cotinga lays 1-4 eggs and has to single-handedly take-care of its offspring, while its male has already found another mate.
6. Paradise Tanager
- Latin name: Tangara chilensis
- Habitat: Amazon Basin of South America
- Length: 5.5 inches (14 cm)
- Wingspan: 7-10 ft
- Weight: 63-74 ounces (18-21 g)
- Diet: insects
- Its Unique Color: light-green head and sky-blue chest.
Paradise Tanager is a rare-beauty, but very common in the Northern and Southern Amazon Basin in South America.
The color combination on its body make it the toast of many people in its native land and beyond.
Its light-green head makes its dark-colored eyes very conspicuous and its black beak visible. Its chest is sky blue, while its plumage is black.
Depending on the species you come across, its rump could be yellow with red margins or totally red.
Both males and females are if the same appearance.
The female lays 2-4 eggs in a nest a treetop, and it can do so three times in a breeding season.
This songbird is blessed with a sonorous voice that resounds in the tropical and subtropical forests of Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador and Bolivia; as it forages insects within the canopies.
7. Lady Gouldian Finch
- Latin name: Erythrura gouldiae
- Habitat: Northwestern Australia
- Length: 5 inches (130 mm)
- Wingspan: 14 cm
- Weight: 0.42 ounces (11.9 g)
- Diet: seeds (especially of Sorghum and Spinifex grass)
- Its Unique Color: Well-defined multiple colors including green, red, yellow, and purple.
Lady Finch features green, black, yellow, purple, and red colors in well-defined patterns. While the male Lady Finch is brighter than its female counterpart, they’re both still very beautiful.
They both have the same color pattern, but each color appear paler or darker in the female.
These seed eaters eat up to 35% of their body weight every.
You may see them flocking in their thousands outside their breeding season, feeding on Sorghum seeds and Spinifex grass seeds.
They breed very early in the dry season and they lay their eggs, usually in a clutch of 4-8 eggs in nests built in tree holes.
Both parents take care of the eggs and the young ones, until they become independent 40 days after their birth.
Scientists have asserted that some Gouldian Finches have the ability to choose the sex of their offspring by choosing partners according to their head colors (red or black).
While high mortality rate is associated with chicks born of parents with different head colors, Gouldian finches have learnt to overproduce males in such instances to tip the scale in their favor.
8. Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise
- Latin name: Diphyllodes respublica
- Habitat: Indonesia
- Length: 6.3 inches
- Wingspan: 7.62 cm
- Weight: 1.8 to 2.2 ounces (52 to 67 g)
- Diet: insects, arthropods and fruits.
- Its Unique Color: Blue bare skin on crown that is brightly visible at night.
Adult Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise is uniquely visible in open field at night due to its bright blue crown of bare skin, bounded and double-crossed by black feathers.
Shining silver tail, scarlet wings, yellow neck, light green beak, and blue feet make up this bird of uncommon beauty.
The males are predominantly black and red, while the females are mostly brownish.
Loves to shelter in hilly forests, Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise feeds on small invertebrates and fruits. It is classified as a Near-threatened species due to habitat loss and exploitation.
The male Bird-of-Paradise is an interestingly seductive bird, known for first clearing an area of its habitat for a robust concert of songs and dances, in an attempt to seduce its mate. A method that is known to work.
9. Nicobar Pigeon
- Latin name: Caloenas nicobarica
- Habitat: Nicobar Islands
- Length: 40 cm
- Wingspan: 48 cm
- Weight: 600 g
- Diet: seeds, fruits and bugs.
- Its Unique Color: iridescent plumage and white tail, especially when seen in a twilight.
This highly vocal bird is classified as Near-threatened and its flocks, breeds and forages from the Nicobar Islands of India to Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Nicobar Pigeons are monogamous and the females lay a bluish egg at each breeding period.
Although a Pigeon, its gorgeous look definitely take it out of the league of its peers.
Its most fascinating feature lies in its iridescent feature.
So how colorful you see it depends on which angle you’re seeing it from.
When fully formed, it is huge and has short, white tail; strong, red bill; grey head that ends in brownish-green neck; and the rest of its body is metallic green splashed with yellow.
Females are a bit smaller than their male counterparts and the iridescent feature is reduced to the minimum in chicks.
10. Rainbow Lorikeet
- Latin name: Trichoglossus moluccanus
- Habitat: Northern and Eastern Australia
- Length: 10-12 inches (25-30 cm)
- Wingspan: 45 cm
- Weight: 2.6-5.5 ounces (75-157 g)
- Diet: seeds, succulent plants, pollen, nectar, fruit, and insects
- Its Unique Color: Rainbow-colored plumage
With the number of Parrots in this list, we must have realized that Parrots are beautiful.
Moreover, the name of this one in particular rings a bell about how colorful it will be.
Well, it lives up to the expectations that follow its “rainbow” name.
Shining blue head with distinct red eyes; bright orange beak (black in juveniles) with yellowish tip; green wings; orange chest; blue underparts; grey legs; and shiny silver tail; define the surface area of this bird.
Males are not easily distinguishable from females, as they look pretty much alike.
Rainbow lorikeets may fly in flocks or in mating pairs; feeding on pollen, nectar, and fruits. These beds are as friendly as they are gorgeous, wild Lorikeets can even be handfed by humans.
Rainbow lorikeets are monogamous, a female lays 1-3 eggs and carries out the incubation and business of caring for the juveniles herself.
11. Blue Crowned Pigeon
- Latin name: Goura Cristata
- Habitat: Lowland forests of New Guinea
- Length: 75 cm
- Wingspan: 80 cm
- Weight: 2400 g
- Diet: Fruit, seeds, snails
- Its Unique Color: Blue crests on the head, deep blue mask on the face
Blue-crowned pigeons, also called Wester crowned pigeons, are well-known for their prominent blue crests on their heads and have a unique deep blue mask around their eyes. These birds are quite large in size, and the male pigeons are usually a bit bigger than the female ones.
12. Red-Necked Tanager
- Latin name: Tangara cyanocephala
- Habitat: Moist lowland in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina
- Length: 13 cm
- Wingspan: N/A
- Weight: N/A
- Diet: Insects and Berries
- Its Unique Color: Green body with black back, orange wings, red neck, and vibrant blue head
The red-necked tanager is a very pretty bird with a lot of vibrant colors. It has yellow-orange wings, a bright green body with black back feathers, and a dark blue head.
Also, as its name describes, it has a red neck. This bird is widely known for its high-pitched sip chirping. It resides in tropical forests of Eastern South America countries.
13. Blue/Azure Kingfisher
- Latin name: Ceyx Azureus
- Habitat: Northern and Eastern Tasmania and Australia
- Length: 17-19 cm
- Wingspan: N/A
- Weight: 35 g
- Diet: Fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs
- Its Unique Color: Mostly vibrant deep blue feathers and a yellow-orange chest.
Azure Kingfishers are small to medium-sized birds, and they are from Alcedinidae, which is the subfamily of river kingfishers. They have a vibrant deep blue feather coat, and their feather structure is actually responsible for their color.
Although they are found mostly in Northern and Eastern Tasmania and Australia, they can be seen in most parts of the world.
14. Curl-Crested Aracari
- Latin name: Pteroglossus beauharnaesii
- Habitat: South-western part of the Amazon Basin, around the Easter section of Amazon River, and the Eastern part of the Xingu River
- Length: 40-45 cm
- Wingspan: N/A
- Weight: 190-280 g
- Diet: Fruit, eggs, and nestlings
- Its Unique Color: Bright red back, deep green wings, multi-colored beak
The curl-crested aracari is one of the most interesting-looking birds on this list. The black feathers look a lot like plastic because they are shiny. Their large beak with several different colors makes them look even more unique.
15. Northern Cardinal
- Latin name: Cardinalis Cardinalis
- Habitat: Eastern United States, Southern Canada, and South Americ
- Length: 21-23.5 cm
- Wingspan: 25-31 cm
- Weight: 45 g
- Diet: Weed, seeds, fruits, and grains
- Its Unique Color: Bright Crimson color with a black face
Living in both North and South America, this vibrant crimson bird is truly beautiful. It is a songbird, so they chirp beautiful notes as they fly around. Their wings have some black feathers and a black mask around their face. Female Northern Cardinal birds have slightly different wings with brown and gray hues.
16. Yellow-Collared Lovebird
- Latin name: Agapornis personatus
- Habitat: Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi
- Length: 14.5cm
- Wingspan: N/A
- Weight: 50 g
- Diet: Small seeds, hemp, sunflowers
- Its Unique Color: Black head with yellow collars, green bodies, and bright red beaks.
The yellow-collared lovebird also goes by several other names such as eye ring lovebird, masked lovebird, etc. This species has a unique appearance with a yellow collar, black head, deep green lower portion, and a red beak. Because of their white ring around the eyes, they are also called eye ring lovebirds.
17. Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
- Latin name: Rupicola Pervianus
- Habitat: Forests of Andes, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela
- Length: 32 cm
- Wingspan: 60-65 cm
- Weight: 265 g
- Diet: Fruits
- Its Unique Color: Greyish wings, pitch black underparts, and contrasting vibrant red head and upper parts.
This bird is called the ‘cock’ of the rock because, during early times, the male bird reminded people of cocks. There are quite a few differences between the males and females of this species. Male birds tend to have more vibrant feathers and a larger disk crest.
18. Purple Gallinule
- Latin name: Porphyrio martinicus
- Habitat: United States, Central America, the Caribbean, and some coasts of Mexico.
- Length: 26-37 cm
- Wingspan: 50-61 cm
- Weight: 141-305 g
- Diet: Seeds, plants, insects, frogs, etc.
- Its Unique Color: Smooth blueish purple head and body that have tints of green in the wings and red in the bill with a yellow tip.
With a blueish-purple feather coat, the purple gallinule is one of the prettiest birds on the list. The way they show hues of green under the sun makes them look even more appealing.
These birds have yellow feet and a pale blue forehead which makes them even more unique. The purple gallinule can swim like ducks and have some chicken-like characteristics.
19. Lilac-breasted Roller
- Latin name: Coracias Caudatus
- Habitat: Sub-Saharan Africa, Arabian Peninsula
- Length: 36-38 cm
- Wingspan: 50-58 cm
- Weight: 104 g
- Diet: Arthropods, small vertebrates, and small birds
- Its Unique Color: Beautifully defined lilac throat, olive feathers on the head, purple wings.
The lilac-breasted roller looks like a bird out of a sci-fi movie because of the mix of beautiful colors it has on its coat. From the name, you can tell that the throat is lilac; it has an olive head, purple wings, brownish hues on the back, and a tail streamer with black feathers.
20. Splendid Fairy Wren
- Latin name: Malurus Splendens
- Habitat: Australia
- Length: 14 cm
- Wingspan: 30 – 35 cm
- Weight: 7.5 – 11.5 g
- Diet: Arthropods
- Its Unique Color: Completely blue feathers with some black definition
The Splendid Fairy Wren is quite a tiny bird and lives in woods throughout Australia, mostly in Western Australia. The beaks and the legs can be anything from black to brown.
21. Crowned Woodnymph
- Latin name: Thalurania colombica
- Habitat: Guatemala to Northern Peru and Belize
- Length: 10.2 cm
- Wingspan: N/A
- Weight: 4.5 g
- Diet: Nectar from different flowers
- Its Unique Color: Violet crown, glimmering green feathers from throat to lower back, and dark blue tail.
Crowned Woodnymph is a kind of hummingbird, and they are very tiny and barely weigh anything. These birds are very cute, with a green throat and a violet crown that extends to the wings. The colors of the female crowned woodnymphs’ feathers tend to be a bit paler.
22. Painted Bunting
- Latin name: Passerina ciris
- Habitat: North America
- Length: 12-14 cm
- Wingspan: 21-23 cm
- Weight: 13-19 g
- Diet: Grass seeds, small invertebrates
- Its Unique Color: Multi-colored body with light green back, blue head, red breasts, and underparts.
There is no other bird like the Painted Bunting. It is truly a work of art with its multi-colored feather coat that contains yellow, green, blue, red, and black. It also has a red ring around its eyes, making it look even more distinct. Female painted buntings can be told apart from males because they have brighter green feathers.
23. Indian Peafowl
- Latin name: Pavo criastus
- Habitat: Indian subcontinent
- Length: 195-225 cm
- Wingspan: 1.4-1.6 m
- Weight: 4-6 kg
- Diet: Small mammals, some insects, reptiles, seeds, and fruits.
- Its Unique Color: Charming blue feathers on its body and iridescent green and teal colors in the huge fan.
Native to India, the peafowl is one of the most dazzling creatures in nature. They play a large role in Indian culture and are a symbol of beauty. You may be more familiar with the term peacock, which is what male peafowls are called.
When they spread their large fan, they present eye-shaped patterns with iridescent colors. Female peafowls, peahens, are slightly smaller and are not as brightly colored.
24. Red-Bearded Bee Eater
- Latin name: Nyctornis amictus
- Habitat: Indo-Malayan subregion of Southeast Asia
- Length: 27-31 cm
- Wingspan: N/A
- Weight: 61-92 g
- Diet: bees, wasps, and hornets
- Its Unique Color: Full green body with a well-defined red face
As suggested by its name, the Red-bearded Bee Eater feeds on bees amongst other insects. This bird dwells mostly in thick forests in the Indo-Malayan subregions of Southeast Asia. They have a greyish beak, a long green tail just like the rest of its body, and tipped wings.
25. The Respledent Quetzal
- Latin name: Pharomachrus mocinno
- Habitat: High-altitude rainforest from Southern Mexico to Western Panama
- Length: 36-40 cm
- Wingspan: 40 cm
- Weight: 210 g
- Diet: Fruits and insects
- Its Unique Color: Vibrant green body with red underparts
Residing in wet rainforests and mountainous regions from Sothern Mexico to Western Panama, the Resplendent Quetzal has green feathers for most of its body and some red feathers on the lower section. The hues of the green feather can shift between green and blue throughout the day.
26. Golden Pheasant
- Latin name: Chrysolophus pictus
- Habitat: Western China
- Length: 90-105 cm
- Wingspan: 70 cm
- Weight: 550 g
- Diet: Berries, seeds, leaves, flowers, grubs
- Its Unique Color: Bright golden-yellow crest with streaks of red and burnt orange cape
The Golden Pheasant is a bird that is native to Western China and dwells in dense gloomy forests during the day. Male Golden Pheasants are colorful with their golden crest, burnt orange wings, and long dark tail. On the other hand, the female counterparts are not at all colorful and have brown feathers all over their body.
27. Scarlet-Chested Parakeet
- Latin name: Neophema Splendida
- Habitat: Southern Central, and Southwestern parts of Australia
- Length: 19-21 cm
- Wingspan: N/A
- Weight: 39 g
- Diet: Grass seeds, succulent plants
- Its Unique Color: Saturated scarlet chest, vivid yellow underparts, and green tail
There are two different appearances of this bird, depending on the gender. Male scarlet-chested parrots have more vibrant scarlet feathers on their chest when compared to their female counterparts.
An interesting fact about this species is that it can survive for a while without drinking water because they get it from eating succulent plants.
28. Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise
- Latin name: Cicinnurus respublica
- Habitat: Highland and lowland rainforests of Batanta and Walgeo Islands, Eastern Indonesia
- Length: 16 cm
- Wingspan: 7.5 cm
- Weight: 52-60 g
- Diet: Fruits and small insects
- Its Unique Color: Unique red and black body with deep blue feet, gleaming yellow neck, and purple wings.
Only the male bird shows all these beautiful different colors, while the female is much duller looking with a brown body and pinkish blue head. The crown of male Wilson’s bird-of-the-paradise actually is exposed skin and has a few streaks of black feathers.
- Latin name: Phoenicopteridae
- Habitat: Everywhere besides Antarctica
- Length: 1.21-1.52 m
- Wingspan: 91-121 cm
- Weight: 2.5-3.5 kg
- Diet: Aquatic plants, algae, fish
- Its Unique Color: Bright Pink Plumage
Flamingos are iconic birds for their pretty unique pink plumage. Interestingly, this color comes from all the algae and fish pigments that they consume. You may also have seen that these birds stand on one leg.
30. Indian Pitta
- Latin name: Pitta Brachyura
- Habitat: Indian Subcontinent
- Length: 18-20 cm
- Wingspan: N/A
- Weight: 47-66 g
- Diet: Small invertebrates
- Its Unique Color: Green upperparts with a blue tail and red lower belly
This bird mostly hops on the grounds with its short, strong legs. It has very sweet two-note and three-note whistles. The Indian Pitta is found mostly around Himalayan foothills extending from Northern Pakistan to Nepal.
What are some of the most colorful bird species?
Mandarin Duck, Crimson Rosella, Scarlet Macaw, Keel-billed Toucan, Paradise Tanager, Spangled Cotinga, Lady Gouldian Finch, Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise, Nicobar Pigeon, and Rainbow Lorikeet are some of the most colorful bird species you can find around the world.
What makes bird’s feathers colorful?
The colors you see on birds come from one of three mechanisms.
One, it may be imparted by pigments of the bird plumage.
Two, it may result from the refraction of light due to the structure of the feathers at a particular time. And lastly, it can be as a result of the interaction between the first two mechanisms.
For instance, you may see a green color if a bird’s plumage reflects a blue light with its yellow-pigmented feathers, as seen in Parrots.
See Also: The Ultimate Guide To Birds Of New York
Why are birds brightly colored?
It is true that we enjoy the aesthetic appeals of beautifully colored birds and we might be tempted to assume that those colors were meant for our pleasure.
However, birds were adorned with those gorgeous colors for their own exclusive use and benefits.
There are basically two reasons why birds have colors.
For one, birds ward off competitors (through intimidation) and attract their mates using their beautiful colors.
For another, they protect themselves and their mates from predators through camouflage mechanisms or distraction.