10 Birds with the Craziest “Hair”

Written by Patrick Sather
Published: November 19, 2021
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Animals’ appearances are shaped by a number of factors that include biological, environmental, and social pressures. Typically, animals with a drab or muted appearance evolved that way to help them evade detection. Meanwhile, other animals with a more eyecatching or flamboyant appearance evolved to their features to attract a mate or identify with one another. Amongst birds, there exists a number of species with unique adaptations. For example, a peacock’s brightly colored tail helps the mail to attract a mate. Similarly, you can easily find birds that sport unique-looking crowns, crests, or mohawks. These birds with the craziest hair grow do’s that rival anything you’ll see in a fashion magazine. That said, can you name any of these birds with wild hairdos? 

If not, don’t worry, because that’s where we come in. Today, we’ll explore a few of the birds that rock some amazing hairstyles. We’ll also cover where these birds live, what they eat, and a few of their most interesting qualities. So the next time you see one of these birds, take a moment to appreciate their magnificent hair. Here are 10 birds with the craziest hair. 

#10: Golden Pheasant 

Birds with mohawks: Golden Pheasant
The golden pheasant’s scientific name translates to “painted with a golden crest.”

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The golden pheasant is the first entry in our list of birds with the craziest hair, and it’s easy to see why. Also known as the rainbow or Chinese pheasant, this bird with a mohawk rocks one color hairdo. While native to western China, you can find these golden crested pheasants throughout North America, South America, Australia, and parts of Europe. Typically, they prefer dense forest habitats, although you’re most likely to encounter them at a zoo. They average 35 to 51 inches long and sport an extremely long tail. Golden pheasants feature a black and orange-striped cape that they can fan in elegant displays. Their scientific name comes from their golden-yellow mohawk, as Chrysolophus pictus translates to “painted with a golden crest” in Greek and Latin, respectively. Although they forage for grain, invertebrates, and leaves on the ground, they nest in trees. 

#9: Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Birds with the craziest hair: Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
The Andeancock of the rock sports a bright orange crest that makes this bird with crazy hair hard to miss.

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Also known as the tunki by the Quechua people of the Andes, the Andean cock-of-the-rock is the next entry on our birds with the craziest hair list. It ranges throughout the Andean cloud forests of South America and is the national bird of Peru. Generally, these large songbirds measure 13 inches long and can weigh up to 0.66 pounds. Males sport a black belly and tail, black and gray wings, and a bright orange chest, head, and shoulders. However, their most distinguishing feature is their orange disk-shaped crest that juts out from their forehead. Their diet primarily consists of fruit, although they also eat insects and small reptiles, frogs, and mice. During the mating season, males engage in elaborate dances and puff out their feathers to attract females. Upon mating, females will then build a nest under a rocky overhang and incubate the eggs by themselves. 

#8: Demoiselle Crane

Birds with the craziest hair: Demoiselle Crane
Queen Marie Antoinette of France named the demoiselle crane due to its maidenlike appearance.

©iStock.com/Robert Nieznanski

The demoiselle crane may be the world’s smallest crane, but it’s also one of the birds with the craziest hair. Demoiselle cranes range throughout Central Asia as well as parts of North Africa. Their breeding range extends from Turkey in the west to China in the east, and they migrate south to Egypt or the Indian subcontinent during the winter. You can find them in diverse environments including deserts and grasslands, although they typically remain close to water. Typically, they measure 33.5 to 39.5 inches long with a wingspan of 61 to 71 inches. Queen Marie Antoinette gave the cranes the name demoiselle due to their feminine appearance. They sport white wings and a white neck, with a black foreneck that ends in a busy plume. As for their hair, they grow two long strips of white feathers on either side of their head. Demoiselle cranes feature prominently in Indian cultural texts, with beautiful women often compared to these maidenlike birds. 

#7: Polish Chicken

Birds with the craziest hair: Polish Chicken
The Polish chicken is a well-known egg-laying breed and a common show bird due to its crazy hair.

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The Polish or Poland chicken is a domestic chicken breed. Despite its name, the origins of the breed remain unclear. While named after Poland, the breed was standardized in the Netherlands during the 16th century. Prior to then, scientists estimate that the ancestors of the breed originally came from Mongolia. Today, you can find these birds with the craziest hair around the world wherever chickens are raised. Like other chickens, they live on a diet of grains, seeds, insects, and invertebrates. Polish chickens feature white earlobes and a red wattle and comb. Their plumage appears mottled black and white both on their bodies and tails. However, their most distinguishing feature is their large, dome-shaped crest. Today, most people breed Polish chickens as show birds. That said, many enthusiasts also consider them prodigious egg layers. 

#6: Eurasian Hoopoe

hoopoe feeding a baby bird
The Eurasian hoopoe sports a crazy tall mohawk despite its small frame.

©iStock.com/JMrocek

When it comes to birds with the craziest hair, few have a greater claim than the Eurasian hoopoe. You can find these birds with mohawks in open grasslands throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa. While most populations migrate during the winter, some remain in their breeding habitat year-round. Eurasian hoopoes forage on clear ground but build their nests in the openings of trees, cliffs, or buildings. Their diet consists mainly of insects, but they will also eat small amphibians and reptiles when present. They emit a distinctive whooping call, which is partially where they get their name. Most specimens measure 9.8 to 12.6 inches long with a wingspan of 17 to 19 inches. As for their plumage, they possess black and white striped wings and fawn breasts and faces. In addition, they feature large black-edged mohawks that they extend during courtship rituals or when fighting. 

#5: Mandarin Duck

mandarin duck reflected in calm water
The beautiful colors of the mandarin duck appear on the male during mating season. During the off-season, the male duck loses these colors.

©Christian Musat/Shutterstock.com

Few birds with the craziest hair know how to experiment with colors as much as the mandarin duck. Along with the closely related wood duck, the mandarin duck is the only other member of the genus Aix. These colorful waterfowl range throughout East Asia including Russia, Korea, China, and Japan. Known for their shy nature, mandarin ducks usually live in dense forests near lakes and rivers or marshes. While they perch in trees at night, they feed on the ground, where they mostly eat seeds, grains, and plants. However, they also eat insects, frogs, mollusks, and small fish and snakes. Although the females appear rather muted, the males sport brightly colored plumage. They feature a red bill, face, and whiskers, a purple breast, reddish sides, orange backs, and white bellies. Both males and females grow crests, with the male’s crest transitioning from green to reddish-purple, while the female’s looks grayish.    

#4: Hoatzin

Hoatzin
The Hoatzin not only features crazy hair but also emits an incredibly foul odor.

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Also known as the reptile bird, stinkbird, or skunk bird, the hoatzin is the only extant member of the family Opisthocomidae. In Greek, this family name translates to “long hair behind,” which refers to their unique hairdo. These birds with crazy hair live in the tropical swamps and mangroves of South America. As folivores, hoatzins eat only leaves, fruits, and flowers, and rely on bacterial fermentation to break down their food. Due to this process, they smell rather foul, hence their nickname, stinkbird. Hoatzins look a lot like colorful pheasants, and most measure around 26 inches long. They feature a small head on a long neck and do not grow feathers on their blue face. Their eyes are dark red, and they sport a brown tail, white breast, dark brown back, and rufous underwings. Finally, they grow a spiky, rufous clump of hairs on the top of their head. 

#3: Crested Duck

Crested ducks
Crested ducks develop a genetic mutation that causes a deformity of the skull that gives them their name.

©iStock.com/passion4nature

The Crested duck is a domestic duck breed and another one of the birds with the craziest hair in the Anatidae family. Originally hailing from Southeast Asia, the Crested duck became a standard breed in Europe during the 17th century. Their diet includes a variety of plants, grasses, and seeds, as well as insects and invertebrates. On average, they measure between 6 to 7 pounds. Most Crested ducks feature white or off-white plumage, but any color variation is possible. They sport a long neck and full body, and most feature a yellow or off-yellow flat bill. Unlike other birds on this list, the Crested duck’s crazy hair is caused by a genetic mutation and is not natural. The genetic mutation causes a deformity of the skull, which causes a large, domed cap on the top of the duck’s skull.  

#2: Himalayan Monal

Birds with the craziest hair: Himalayan Monal
The Himalayan monal gets its appearance and proximity to the Himalayan mountains.

©iStock.com/Michel VIARD

Also known as the Impeyan monal, the Himalayan monal is a type of pheasant in the family Phasianidae. The term monal originates from India, whereas it is also known as the danphe or danfe in Nepal. Himalayan monals are native to the forests and grasslands surrounding the Himalayan mountains. In particular, you can find them in the highlands of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, and India. Their diet consists mainly of plants, which they dig up using their feet, as well as insects and invertebrates. Typically, Himalayan monals measure around 28 inches long and weigh up to 5.25 pounds. The males sport brightly-colored, metallic plumage. Their coloration ranges from blue on the wings and back, light green on the shoulders, red on the neck, and green on the head. As for their crazy hair, male Himalayan monals feature a crest of thin, metallic green feathers on top of their head. 

 #1: Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Birds with mohawks: Victoria Crowned Pigeon
The Victoria crowned pigeons forage in packs in the forests of New Guinea.

©iStock.com/pigphoto

When most people think of birds with mohawks they don’t think of pigeons, but that would be a gross oversight. Case in point, the Victoria crowned pigeon, a member of the pigeon and dove family Columbidae. Named after Queen Victoria of England, these striking birds live only in the swampy forests of New Guinea. Known for their gregariousness, they forage in packs for foods including fruits, seeds, worms, and insects. Typically, they measure 29 to 30 inches long and can weigh up to 7.7 pounds. The plumage on their back is a rich blue-gray color, while their chests appear maroon. Meanwhile, they sport a beautiful blue-feathered crest that looks akin to the feathers on a peacock’s tail. Continued habitat loss and hunting have led the IUCN to list the Victoria crowned pigeon as a Near Threatened species. 

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The Featured Image

victoria crowned pigeon standing on steps
The Victoria crowned pigeon is, of course, named after Queen Victoria.
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