Which birds have the most beautiful colors?
And why exactly are birds so colourful?
Today you’ll meet 10 of the most beautiful and colorful birds in the world!
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.
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.