- Among many beautiful birds, the colorful plumage is reserved for male birds.
- Being beautiful helps male birds compete with each other for female birds’ attention during mating season.
- All bird plumage is beautiful in its own way. Many feather patterns are intricate and have specific evolutionary reasons for existing.
There are so many beautiful birds on this planet that a list of 100, much less 10 couldn’t do justice to all of them. That being said, the criteria for beautiful birds for this blog had to be rather strict. First, the bird has to have good proportions. The exotic red feathers of the scarlet ibis are lovely, but the bird has that overlong curved beak that makes it a bit too weird for the list. The flamingo is also too funny-looking. Other birds with strange-looking or outsized beaks, with notable wattles, oversized feet, disproportionately long legs, and casques also don’t make the list.
Feathers do not have to be very colorful, but they must not give the appearance of having a rough texture or untidiness. The smoother-looking the feathers are the better, which rules out a bird such as South America’s guira cuckoo. There must be no large bare patches on the head and neck or a notable crop, which rules out most vultures. With that in mind, here are the 10 most beautiful birds in the world.
#10: Birds of Paradise
These birds belong to the Paradisaeidae family and are mostly found in Oceania. Not all of them are spectacular in their beauty. Some look suspiciously like crows, and the colorful plumage is largely restricted to the males. Yet, when people think of some of the most beautiful birds in the world these are often on the list. Among the most beautiful birds in the world are:
Also called Shaw Mayer’s astrapia, the beauty of this bird rests not in its ridiculously long white tail feathers, but in the jewel-like blue-green of its head and throat and the rich, crushed velvet blackness of the rest of its body. The two curving white tail feathers that give the bird its name ends in a black dart. The female is not as showy but she’s not exactly drab, with a blue iridescence on her head and her own set of long, brown, and white tail feathers.
Blue bird of Paradise
A Blue Bird-of-Paradise in Enga Province of Papua New Guinea. The Blue Bird of Paradise is regarded by ornithologists as one of the loveliest of all birds.
©gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K / CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License
The male blue bird of paradise has a black head with a white beak and white rings around its eyes. It has a “cape” and tail of deep turquoise and a black oval outlined in red in the middle of his chest. The tail also bears long wires that end with white spatulas. He has flank plumes that are orange on top and light blue lined with dark red below. This 12 inch-long bird would be gorgeous if it just perched on a branch and did nothing, but his courtship ritual turns him into something completely awe-inspiring. He hangs upside down, fans out his plumes, and expands and contracts the oval in his chest while he makes a buzzing noise. Both hens and humans can’t help but be impressed.
Among the most beautiful birds of paradise, the beauty of Lawes’s parotia is almost too much of a muchness, but as the blue bird looks, it’s there to attract the ladies and intimidate his rivals. This bird has a stubby tail and wide wings, and the male is deeply black but has a white crest on its forehead and purple iridescence on its throat. There’s also a glittering breast shield whose color ranges from that of a high-quality emerald to a citrine, depending on how the light hits it. Three wires end in little spatulas above each eye, and when the bird goes into his courtship dance he raises his flank feathers in a way that resembles a skirt.
Go here to learn more about birds of paradise.
#9: Flame Bowerbird
© – License
This 10-inch long bird of the New Guinea rainforest comes by its name honestly, for it resembles a torchlight. Its head down to its neck plumes and shoulders is brilliant red-orange, cooling down to orange then bright flame yellow on its back and wings. The tail and wings are tipped with black. Like other bowerbirds, it builds a structure, or bower made out of sticks and decorates it with all kinds of bright and shiny objects such as stones, shells, bits of glass, and even lost coins and jewelry. The bowerbird’s eyes are also golden, and he can expand and contract his pupils during his courtship dance, which is crazy.
The three species of the peacock, Pavo cristatus, Pavo muticus, and Afropavo congensis inevitably make the list of the most beautiful birds in the world. With its long train and spectacular coloration, the beauty of the peacock is on the border of sublime and ridiculous. It’s no wonder that the peacock is a symbol of overweening arrogance. But this exotic beauty is for a purpose and comes with a price. The male uses his train to impress the females. It takes a lot of provender to keep those feathers in tip-top shape, and the male is, to say the least, easy for a predator to spot.
#7: Mute Swan
With its pure white feathers contrasting with an orange bill, black mask, and long white neck, the mute swan is the epitome of avian beauty and grace. Found on large bodies of fresh water in temperate zones, the swan is the heaviest of the swimming birds, and though other swimming birds such as ducks and geese aren’t necessarily ugly, the swan’s beauty seems a miracle. It is also elegant in flight, with the largest birds having a 10-foot wingspan.
They are notable for being monogamous, and pairs stay together even when they’re not breeding. The male also helps build the nest and incubate the eggs, which is unusual for geese and ducks. However, it’s best to enjoy the swan’s looks at a distance, for it can be bad-tempered. Few things are more graceful than a swan swimming with its wings raised and its neck is drawn back. But beware, this is a threat pose. It means the bird is annoyed and ready to rumble.
#6: Purple Honeycreeper
Found in the Caribbean and South America, the purple honeycreeper does have a bill that’s too long and curved, but its plumage, a startling shade of amethyst, puts it on the list of the most beautiful birds in the world. It’s a little bird, only about 4.5 inches long, but the male has those purple feathers with black wings, belly, and tail, all contrasting beautifully with bright yellow legs. The bill allows the bird to sip nectar, especially from bromeliad flowers.
#5: Turquoise Parrot
©Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock.com
Found in eastern Australia, the sexes of this small parrot are sort of similar, though the female is paler. The male is mostly green with a yellow belly and it’s the amazing, clear turquoise blue of his face and wings that place him on the list of the most beautiful birds in the world. Not only are his wings blue, but they also have red patches on the shoulders.
For more information about parrots, go here.
#4: Victoria Crowned Pigeon
The Victoria crowned pigeon is singular. Found in New Guinea, it is a terrestrial pigeon that lives on the ground. Named for Queen Victoria, it is notable for its “crown” a crest with violet-blue, white-tipped fan-shaped feathers. The bird has a purplish-maroon breast, and it has a bar of pale blue feathers on its deeper blue wings. Even the legs, which are unusually scaly are attractive. The blue and purplish feathers of the bird contrast wonderfully with its ruby-red eyes. Unfortunately, this large pigeon’s conservation status is near threatened.
Go here to learn more about pigeons.
#3: Scarlet Tanager
Not all beautiful birds have to be exotic. The scarlet tanager is found in the United States east of the Mississippi and winters down in northwestern South America. Though its scientific name is Piranga olivacea, with olivacea meaning “olive green” the male of this common bird is an intense scarlet with deeply black wings. The red is especially vibrant during the breeding season and may even outdo the red of its cousin the cardinal. It is the female who is olive green. Scarlet tanagers adore oranges, by the way. To attract one, impale an orange half on a tree limb.
#2: Gouldian Finch
If a child was given a box of crayons and an outline of a bird, they would probably create something as colorful as the Gouldian finch, one of the most beautiful birds in the world. The male has a red and black face capped with turquoise blue and olive green, an olive green back, a purple breast, a yellow belly, and a turquoise blue rump. The female of this species is also brightly colored, though her breast is more mauve than purple. But this is but one of many color mutations, for the bird was bred in captivity before the Australian government banned its export. One weird thing is that the open mouths of the chicks seem to sport beads that glow in the dark. Scientists don’t quite know their purpose.
#1: Blue-gray Tanager
This little songbird is blue. It is blue like no other bird is blue. Even the mountain bluebird is not as blue as this bird. Its shades of blue range from Alice blue on the head to cerulean on the breast to purplish-blue and sapphire blue on the wings. The wings may be tipped with midnight blue. Found from Mexico to the Amazon to Trinidad and Tobago, this beautiful, noisy bird is as fearless as it is blue. It flourishes near human habitation and secondary forests.
Honorable Mentions: Other Beautiful Birds
How delightful to appreciate the beauty of birds! We looked at 10 stunning lookers, but there are an infinite number of birds that could be considered gorgeous. Below are a few others worth mentioning:
Puffins are peculiarly gorgeous seabirds.
Some may consider the puffin to be more of a “cute” bird, but the marvelous uniqueness of this sea bird, native to coastal areas and the oceans of the Northeastern United States moving up into Greenland, the Brittany Coast of France, Iceland, Great Britain, and Northern Russia. They sport a tux look–white breasts with black side and back feathers–while having exotic orange beaks with an inner black area outlined in yellow.
Behold the gorgeous, multi-colored lilac-breasted roller.
This eye-catching bird’s feathers come in beautiful hues, sporting a lilac breast, a turquoise abdomen, a green or blue head, and a brown back. It’s native to eastern and southern Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula.
The toucan is one of the most gorgeous tropical birds on the planet.
Though its beak is twice as big as its body, the tropical toucan does not look gangly or silly. In fact, it stands out as one of the most beautiful and distinct birds of paradise. It’s a favorite in the marketing world, with colorful characters like Toucan Sam to celebrate it. Toucans are found in southern Mexico, Central America, and South America down to northern Argentina.
Summary Of The 10 Most Beautiful Birds
|Mexico to the Amazon to Trinidad and Tobago
|United States and South America
|Victoria Crowned Pigeon
|Caribbean and South America
|Large bodies of fresh water in temperate zones
|India and Sri Lanka (in the wild)
|India and Sri Lanka (in the wild)
|New Guinea Rainforest
|Birds of Paradise
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/joe hidalgo photgography
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