Discover 17 Birds With Beautiful Multicolor Beaks

Keel-billed Toucan - Ramphastos sulfuratus, large colorful toucan from Costa Rica forest with very colored beak.
© David Havel/Shutterstock.com

Written by Deniz Martinez

Published: December 5, 2023

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The bird world is full of amazing beaks with a wonderful diversity of not just form and function, but also color! Check out this collection of some of nature’s most beautiful multicolor bird beaks.

1. Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)

Bateleur Eagle standing at waterhole in Kgalagadi transfrontier park, South Africa ; Specie Terathopius ecaudatus family of Accipitridae

Bateleurs are eagles native to Africa and southwestern Arabia.

©Prabodha D Herath/Shutterstock.com

The bateleur’s tricolored beak is black at the tip, golden yellow in the middle, and scarlet at the base. The base matches the large scarlet cere above it.

2. Black-and-Red Broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos)

Black and Red Broadbillcommon braodbill can found at malaysia forest. this photo taken at Sepilok, Sandakan, sabah.

Black-and-red broadbills are native to Southeast Asia.

©Mohd Askwhat/Shutterstock.com

While there are several species of blue-beaked broadbills, the black-and-red broadbill has the most colorful bill of them all. The vivid turquoise beak is splashed with some orange-yellow and just a touch of green.

3. Capped Heron (Pilherodius pileatus)

Pilherodius pileatus Capped Heron
Capped herons are native to northern South America.

The capped heron’s turquoise facial skin leads into a long pointed beak tinted with pretty shades of blue, purple, and gray.

4. Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

Eurasian Spoonbill

Eurasian spoonbills have a patchy but wide distribution across Afro-Eurasia.

©Nuno Candido, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

All spoonbills boast delightful ladle-shaped beaks, of course. However, the Eurasian spoonbill jazzes things up with a black and slate zebra patterned beak and a tip that looks like it was dipped in a can of golden yellow paint!

5. Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)

Flamingos are native to parts of both the Americas and Afro-Eurasia.

©Antoine Taveneaux, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Like a few other bird taxa that follow, all flamingos make this list collectively for their famously fabulous multicolored beaks. Bill colors found in this family include various shades of pink, yellow, peach, white, and black. Representing the family of six species here is the unfairly named lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor). This underappreciated species features a beak that can display unique rich hues of deep purple, in addition to highlights of scarlet and pink and a black tip.

6. Hornbills (Bucerotidae)

Portrait of a Rhinoceros hornbill

Hornbills are native to areas of Africa, Asia, and Melanesia;

rhinoceros

hornbills are native to Southeast Asia.

©nexusby/Shutterstock.com

Once again, an entire family of birds makes this list, as incredible multicolored beaks are a common feature of hornbills. Unlike toucans, however, for which they are sometimes confused, hornbills accessorize their beaks with matching casques on top! Furthermore, hornbill beaks and casques get their bright highlights not from pigments in the beak itself, but rather from preening oils. Representing the family of 60 species here is the rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), whose white and black bill is cosmetically colored with shades of red, orange, and yellow.

7. King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)

A king eider bird floating on top of the water.

The king eider breeds across the Arctic and overwinters in sub-Arctic waters.

©Nikki Gensert/Shutterstock.com

The male king eider sports a scarlet bill that may simply be white-tipped or may transition to a purplish band with a paler tip. Either way, a bright yellow frontal lobe outlined in black tops it off.

8. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Closeup and Detail of Mute Swan Head and Beak with Beads of Water

Mute swans are native to Eurasia.

©fatamorgana-999/Shutterstock.com

All swans have lovely beaks, but the mute swan has the best of the bunch. Its porcelain-like bill is glazed with a combination of reddish-orange and dull pink ringed with bold black.

9. Pallas’s Gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus)

Pallas’s gulls, also known as great black-headed gulls, are native to parts of Afro-Eurasia.

The Pallas’s gull has a multicolored beak banded in shades of red, orange, yellow, and black.

10. Puffins (Fratercula spp.)

Close up/detailed portrait view of head of Arctic or Atlantic Puffin bird with orange beak. White background. Latrabjarg cliff, Westfjords, Iceland

Puffins are native to the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans.

©Dajahof/Shutterstock.com

There are three species of puffins, and they all have large triangular beaks that become brightly colored and decorated with fleshy gape rosettes during the breeding season. Each species has its own unique take on the basic red-orange-yellow bill color scheme. Representing the family here is the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), whose breeding season beak is painted coral and blue-gray with highlights of paler blue-gray and yellow, topped off with a bright yellow rosette. Meanwhile, the tufted puffin (Fratercula cirrhata) displays a mostly orange bill with dull green plates and a red rosette, while the horned puffin (Fratercula corniculata) sports a beak that is yellow and red with a yellow or orange rosette.

11. Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus)

Lakeland Florida Purple gallinule. Found on Lake Hollingsworth. Beautiful colors. Bright blue, green, red.

Purple gallinules are resident species of the Neotropical Americas but also visit the Southeastern U.S. during the breeding season.

©Nathanial O’Connell/Shutterstock.com

The purple gallinule accessorizes its colorful plumage with a brightly colored beak. It has a yellow tip and a red base topped off with a powder-blue frontal plate.

12. Red-Footed Booby (Sula sula)

Portrait of Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) on Genovesa island, Galapagos National Park, Ecuador

Red-footed boobies are native to tropical oceans worldwide.

©Don Mammoser/Shutterstock.com

While the blue-footed booby is well-known for its unusually colored feet, its cousin the red-footed booby is the one with the more colorful beak. This beak brightens up during the breeding season, displaying pearlescent hues of pale blues and greens. It is complimented with patches of bright blue, pink, and black skin in the areas surrounding the base.

13. Rosy-Billed Pochard (Netta peposaca)

A close up of a Rosybill Pochard diving Duck with piercing red eyes

Rosy-billed pochards are native to southern South America.

©Anthony King Nature/Shutterstock.com

The rosy-billed pochard gets its name from the male’s rose-pink beak, accentuated with a crimson knob at the base and a black nail at the tip.

14. Saddle-Billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis)

Saddle-billed Stork

Saddle-billed storks are native to Africa.

©Michael Potter11/Shutterstock.com

The saddle-billed stork gets its name from the yellow “saddle” (a fleshy lappet) that tops off its stunning red and black beak.

15. Silver Teal (Spatula versicolor)

Anas versicolor

Silver teals are native to southern South America.

©Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK / CC BY 2.0 – Original / License

While there are several species of beautiful blue-billed ducks, the male silver teal earns a place on this list with its powder-blue bill accentuated with a black stripe and a patch of bright yellow.

16. Toucans (Ramphastidae)

Portrait of the beautiful coloured Keel billed toucan, ramphastos sulfuratus

Toucans are native to the Neotropical Americas.

©Frank Cornelissen/iStock via Getty Images

There are 43 species in the toucan family, variously called toucans, toucanets, and aracaris — and they all have super-sized, multicolored beaks! Representing the family here is the keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), whose beak is exceptionally colorful even by toucan standards.

17. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) on the Azores. Possible wild vagrant from North-America.

Wood ducks are native to North America.

©Agami Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com

Last but certainly not least, the male wood duck boasts not only some of the most colorful plumage in the duck world but one of the most colorful beaks as well. Its bill is an eye-catching mix of scarlet, yellow, white, and black.

Summary of Discover 17 Birds With Beautiful Multicolor Beaks

NameWhere FoundBeak Colors
1. Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)Africa & SW Arabiablack, golden yellow, scarlet
2. Black-and-Red Broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos)SE Asiaturquoise, orange-yellow, green
3. Capped Heron (Pilherodius pileatus)N South Americablues, purple, gray
4. Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)Afro-Eurasiablack & slate zebra pattern, golden yellow
5. Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)Americas, Afro-Eurasia6 species; colors include shades of pink, purple, yellow, white, black
6. Hornbills (Bucerotidae)Africa, Asia, Melanesia60 species; common colors include red, orange, yellow, cream, white, black
7. King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)Arctic (breeding); Sub-Arctic (nonbreeding)scarlet, white or purplish, yellow, black (male)
8. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)Eurasiareddish-orange, dull pink, black
9. Pallas’s Gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus)Afro-Asiared, orange, yellow, black
10. Puffins (Fratercula spp.)N Atlantic, N Pacificpearlescent pale blues & greens, with patches of bright blue, pink, & black skin around base
11. Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus)SE U.S. (breeding); Neotropical Americas (year-round)yellow, red, powder-blue frontal plate
12. Red-Footed Booby (Sula sula)tropical oceans worldwidepearlescent pale blues & greens, with patches of bright blue, pink, & black skin around base
13. Rosy-Billed Pochard (Netta peposaca)S South Americarose-pink, crimson, black (male)
14. Saddle-Billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis)Africared, black, yellow
15. Silver Teal (Spatula versicolor)S South Americapowder-blue, yellow, black (male)
16. Toucans (Ramphastidae)Neotropical Americas43 species with various colors; keel-billed toucan has rainbow-colored beak
17. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)North Americascarlet, yellow, white, black (male)
SOURCES: Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of the World, The Complete Birds of the World: Every Species Illustrated


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About the Author

Deniz Martinez is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on biogeography, ornithology, and mammalogy. Deniz has been researching, teaching, and writing about animals for over 10 years and holds both an MS degree from American Public University earned in 2016 and an MA degree from Lindenwood University earned in 2022. A resident of Pennsylvania, Deniz also runs Art History Animalia, a website and associated social media dedicated to investigating intersections of natural history with art & visual culture history via exploring animal iconography.

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