The Big List of 61 Blue Birds

Written by Deniz Martinez
Published: November 16, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


The world is full of blue-feathered birds. However, all those beautiful blues seen in bird feathers are not biological pigments, but rather structural colors that are purely a trick of optics. Similar to how the sky and ocean can also look blue to us, these birds’ feathers refract light in just the right way to appear blue to our eyes. In fact, blue feather pigments simply don’t exist in the bird world, so every “blue” bird you see uses this same trick of structural color to fool your eyes! You can test this for yourself by backlighting a single blue feather, which breaks up the light magic and reveals the feather’s true pigments, gray to black melanins:

This video clip from BioBush explains blue structural color and shows how a backlit “blue” feather loses its blue appearance.

Although there are hundreds and hundreds of bird species with at least some of these amazing structural blue feathers, there are far fewer in which one or both sexes appear blue all over from head to tail. While some of the birds on this list may have a tiny bit of black, gray, and/or white feathers in the mix, they still have a predominantly blue appearance that sets them apart from other mostly blue birds with more distinct patches of non-blue feathers. See images of some of the bluest blue jewels of the bird world below, then check out the full list at the end!

(Note: black birds with just a bluish iridescence are not included on this list. However, iridescence is a form of structural color as well!)

43,612 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

Azure-Shouldered Tanager Thraupis cyanoptera

The azure-shouldered tanager gets its name from the small but bright azure-blue spot on its upper wing.

©Jairmoreirafotografia / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The Azure-shouldered tanager is native to the Atlantic Forest region of southeastern Brazil. Both the male and female are a beautiful mix of turquoise and powdery blue hues.

Blackish-Blue Seedeater Amaurospiza moesta

Like many of the birds on this list, only the male blackish-blue seedeater has blue plumage, while the female is brown.

©Hector Bottai / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The blackish-blue seedeater is native to the Atlantic Forest region in South America. The male’s feathers are a dark slate-blue.

Blue Bunting Cyanocompsa parellina

Blue Bunting in West Mexico/ Male Blue Bunting (Cyanocompsa parellina) near the community of Ixtlahuahuey, south of Puerto Vallarta in the State of Jalisco, Mexico.

The male blue bunting has brighter blue patches on its head, cheek, shoulder, and rump.

©drferry/Shutterstock.com

The blue bunting is native to woodlands and thickets of Mexico and Central America. The male’s plumage is a mix of sky-blue, deep blue, blackish-blue, and ultramarine feathers.

Blue Coua Coua caerulea

Even the blue coua’s bare skin around the eyes is blue!

©Olaf Oliviero Riemer / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

The blue coua is endemic to Madagascar. Both the male and female are a lovely dark blue hue with a violet sheen on the wings and tail.

Blue Finch Rhopospina caerulescens

The blue finch’s rich blue plumage contrasts nicely with its bright yellow beak.

©Hector Bottai / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The blue finch is native to open savanna, grassland, and cerrado in parts of Brazil and Bolivia. The male’s plumage is a deep cobalt-blue to indigo-blue.

Blue-Gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus

Blue-gray tanager (Thraupis episcopus) is a medium-sized South American songbird. Wildlife and birdwatching in Costa Rica.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the blue-gray-tanager is nicknamed “blue jean.”

©Artush/Shutterstock.com

The blue-gray tanager is distributed across Mexico, Central America, northern South America, and Trinidad and Tobago. Both the male and female are a mix of gray-blue, powder-blue, and sky-blue feathers, although the female is slightly duller.

Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius

The Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) is a species of chat. This thrush-like Old World flycatcher was formerly placed in the family Turdidae, she stands on the rock, Thailand.

The blue rock thrush is the official national bird of Malta.

©non15/Shutterstock.com

The blue rock-thrush is widely distributed across areas of North Africa and southern Eurasia. The male’s feathers are a deep blue with spangling.

Blue Whistling-Thrush Myophonus caeruleus

Purplish-blue bird, Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus), yellow bill, standing on a branch

Depending on the subspecies, blue whistling-thrushes have either black or yellow bills.

©Panu Ruangjan/Shutterstock.com

The blue whistling-thrush is native to forests across portions of Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China. China. Both the male and female have blackish-blue to deep blue plumage with metallic violet-blue and silvery spots, although the female is duller.

Deep-Blue Flowerpiercer Diglossa glauca

Blue tanager with yellow eye, Sumaco, Ecuador. Deep-blue Flowerpiercer, Diglossa glauca, feeding fruits on the tree. Golden-eyed Flowerpiercer in the nature habitat. Bird sitting on the green leaves.

The deep-blue flowerpiercer is also known as the golden-eyed flowerpiercer.

©Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

The deep-blue flowerpiercer is native to the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains in South America. Both the male and female have blue plumage, but the male is a deeper blue with the female a duller blue.

Dull-Blue Flycatcher Eumyias sordidus

Dull-blue flycatcher endemic resident breeder in the hills of central Sri Lanka

The dull-blue flycatcher is one of several species on this list where both males and females are blue, but the males are brighter overall.

©Kumara Senanayake/Shutterstock.com

The dull-blue Flycatcher is endemic to Sri Lanka. Both the male and female have gray-blue to pale blue plumage with brighter blue highlights, although the female is slightly duller.

Himalayan Shortwing Brachypteryx cruralis

Himalayan Shortwing   (Brachypteryx cruralis) Male  rest on branch in nature.

The male

Himalayan

shortwing also has a thin white eyebrow.

©luck luckyfarm/Shutterstock.com

The Himalayan shortwing is native to montane forests of Southeast Asia. The male’s plumage is a satiny dark blue.

Hyacinth Macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus

A pair of Hyacynth Macaws

The hyacinth macaw is the largest macaw species and one of the largest parrots overall.

©Vaclav Matous/Shutterstock.com

The hyacinth macaw is native to parts of Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay in South America. Both the male and female have the same cobalt-blue tinged with violet-blue plumage. (Those bits of yellow around the eye and beak are not feathers, but rather bare skin, so they still got on this list.)

Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea

Indigo bunting in Florida in spring

This male indigo bunting’s brilliant blue plumage is only for the breeding season; its off-season plumage is a duller patchwork of blue and brown.

©jo Crebbin/Shutterstock.com

The indigo bunting is a migratory species that can be found in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The male’s breeding season plumage is a vibrant blue with a purplish-blue head.

Indigo Macaw Anodorhynchus leari

Lears Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari)

The indigo macaw is also known as Lear’s macaw, named for English author and artist Edward Lear (1812-1888).

©buteo/Shutterstock.com

The indigo macaw is an endangered species endemic to a small region in the interior of northeastern Brazil. Both the male and female have the same all-over metallic blue plumage, with small patches of yellow skin around the eye and beak similar to its close relative, the hyacinth macaw.

Javan Whistling-Thrush Myophonus glaucinus

This Javan whistling-thrush is a stunning sapphire color.

©Lip Kee from Singapore, Republic of Singapore / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

The Javan whistling-thrush is a flycatcher native to montane forests of Java and Bali. Both the male and female are a deep, dark blue, although the female is duller and slightly browner.

Large Niltava Niltava grandis

Large Niltava (Niltava grandis) Large insect catching bird, black mouth and legs, blue body perched on a branch in nature.

The large niltava is the largest of the Asian flycatcher species.

©Anusak Thuwangkawat/Shutterstock.com

The large niltava is native to broadleaf forests in areas of South and Southeast Asia. The male’s plumage is a mix of deep ultramarine, dark blue, and black-blue feathers.

Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides

The mountain bluebird is a medium-sized bird weighing about 30 g with a length from 16–20 cm. They have light underbellies and black eyes. Adult males have thin bills and are bright turquoise-blue.

The mountain bluebird is the official state bird of both Idaho and Nevada.

©MTKhaled mahmud/Shutterstock.com

The mountain bluebird is native to mountainous regions of Western North America The male is bright cerulean to turquoise above, fading to paler blue into whitish-blue below, without any of the orange coloration that other bluebird species have.

Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudatus

The Nilgiri flycatcher (Eumyias albicaudatus) is an Old World flycatcher with a very restricted range in the hills of southern India

The Nilgiri flycatcher is named for India’s Nilgiri Mountains in the Western Ghats.

©Featured photography/Shutterstock.com

The Nilgiri flycatcher is endemic to southwestern India. The male is an all-over deep indigo-blue.

Pale Blue Flycatcher Cyornis unicolor

Pale Blue Flycatcher shot at Hulu Langat Selangor Malaysia

The pale blue flycatcher also has a bright blue eyering.

©Jamil Bin Mat Isa/Shutterstock.com

The pale blue flycatcher is native to forests of Southeast Asia. The male has cobalt blue plumage.

Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus

©Chris / CC BY 2.0 – License

Although many of the pinyon jay’s jay cousins also have lots of blue feathers, only one other species is uniformly blue enough to appear on this list.

The pinyon jay is found in Western North America, where they nest primarily in pinyon-juniper woodlands. Both the male and female are dull grayish-blue with deeper blue on the head, although this head color is a bit duller in the female.

Royal Sunangel Heliangelus regalis

There are two subspecies of royal sunangel recognized.

©thibaudaronson / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The royal sunangelEcuadorive to Ecuador and Peru. It is the only hummingbird species with males that are almost entirely blue. Their plumage is primarily deep metallic blue, with areas of indigo to violet and iridescence that vary by subspecies.

Satin Bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus violaceus

The male satin bowerbird is not only blue but also likes to collect blue things to decorate its bower and impress potential female mates!

©Imogen Warren/ via Getty Images

The satin bowerbird is endemic to forests of eastern Australia. The male has an all-over deep, shiny, indigo-blue sheen.

Small Niltava Niltava macgrigoriae

The small niltava has shiny blue forehead and neck patches.

©Dibyendu Ash / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

The small niltava is native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. The male is a beautiful deep sapphire blue with some bright blue and purplish-blue highlights and paler blue underparts.

Spix’s Macaw Cyanopsitta spixii

The Spix's macaw is a macaw native to Brazil. The bird is a medium-size parrot. The IUCN regard the Spix's macaw as probably extinct in the wild. Its last known stronghold in the wild was in Brazil.

Spix’s macaw is also known as the little blue macaw.

©Danny Ye/Shutterstock.com

The Spix’s macaw is endemic to Brazil, although it is currently believed extinct in the wild. However, a small population exists in captivity, and there are plans to one day re-establish a wild population. Both the male and female have the same plumage, including a pale bluish-gray head and grayish-blue to violet-blue body.

Taiwan Whistling-Thrush Myophonus insularis

The Taiwan whistling thrush (Myophonus insularis), also known as the Formosan whistling thrush, is a species of bird in the family Muscicapidae. It is endemic to Taiwan.

The Taiwan whistling-thrush is also known as the Formosan whistling thrush.

©brucelin/Shutterstock.com

The Taiwan whistling-thrush is endemic to Taiwan. Both the male and female have deep dark blue to blackish-blue plumage highlighted with royal blue spangling.

Tenerife Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea

The Tenerife blue chaffinch also has a steel-blue beak.

©Bartkauz at German Wikipedia / CC0 – License

The Tenerife blue chaffinch is endemic to the Canary Islands. The male is a deep slate-blue to grayish-blue.

Tit-Like Dacnis Xenodacnis parina

Blue colored bird Tit-Like Dacnis (Xeno Dacnis marina), male, perched on the branch in Cajas National Park, Andes mountains, Azuay province near Cuenca, Ecuador

The tit-like dacnis has a dark gray to black bill, legs, and feet.

©ireneuke/Shutterstock.com

The tit-like dacnis is native to the Andes region of Ecuador and Peru. The male’s plumage is deep blue.

Turquoise Flycatcher Eumyias panayensis

There are seven subspecies of turquoise flycatchers, each with slight variations in plumage.

©Manakin/ via Getty Images

The turquoise flycatcher is native to Indonesia and the Philippines. Both the male and female are predominantly turquoise, although the female is a bit duller.

Ultramarine Grosbeak Cyanoloxia brissonii

Cyanoloxia brissonii - Ultramarine Grosbeak

The male ultramarine grosbeak has bright blue forehead, eyebrow, cheek, and shoulder patches.

©Geraldo Morais/Shutterstock.com

The ultramarine grosbeak is found in two disjunct populations in South America. The male is a dark ultramarine with bright blue highlights on its head.

Unicolored Jay Aphelocoma unicolor

Unicolored Jay (Aphelocoma unicolor) perched on a branch in a cloud forest in Guatemala. It is a cooperative breeder.

Although many jays have blue plumage, only the pinyon jay and unicolored jay are an all-over blue.

©Agami Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com

The unicolored jay is native to evergreen forests in Mexico and Central America. Both the male and female have the same rich indigo-blue color.

Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus

The verditer flycatcher gets its name from verditer blue, a synthetically produced azurite pigment.

©Mprasannak / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The verditer flycatcher is native to South and Southeast Asia. Both the male and female are a verditer-blue, although the female is a little duller and greyer.

White-tailed Robin Myiomela leucura

As its name suggests, the white-tailed robin does have a tiny bit of white on its tail, but it’s still blue enough for this list!

©PanuRuangjan/ via Getty Images

The white-tailed robin is native to forests in areas of South and Southeast Asia. The male is dark black-blue with a shiny blue forehead and shoulder patches.

The Full List of 61 Blue Birds

SpeciesWhere FoundBlue Plumage Description
1. Amazonian Grosbeak Cyanoloxia rothschildiiN South Americamale is dark blue with bright blue highlights on head
2. Azure Roller Eurystomus azureusNorth Malukuboth sexes are dark glossy ink-blue
3. Azure-Shouldered Tanager Thraupis cyanopteraBrazilboth sexes are a mix of turquoise and powdery blue
4. Blackish-Blue Seedeater Amaurospiza moestaArgentina, Brazil, Paraguaymale is dark slate-blue
5. Blue-Black Grosbeak Cyanoloxia cyanoidesS Mexico, Central America, N South Americamale is dark blackish-blue with brighter blue highlights on head 
6. Blue Bunting Cyanocompsa parellinaMexico & Central Americamale is a mix of sky-blue, deep blue, blackish-blue, and ultramarine
7. Blue Coua Coua caeruleaMadagascarboth sexes are dark blue with violet sheen on wings and tail
8. Blue Cuckooshrike Cyanograucalus azureusWest & Central Africamale is brilliant glossy blue; female duller and greener blue
9. Blue Finch Rhopospina caerulescensBrazil and Boliviamale is deep cobalt-blue to indigo-blue
10. Blue-Fronted Robin Cinclidium frontaleS & SE Asiamale is deep indigo-blue with shiny blue forehead and shoulder
11. Blue-Gray Tanager Thraupis episcopusMexico, Central America, N South America, Trinidad and Tobagomale is a mix of gray-blue, powder-blue, and sky-blue; female slightly duller
12. Blue Mockingbird Melanotis caerulescensMexicoboth sexes are deep blue
13. Blue Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone cyanescensPalawanmale is grayish-blue
14. Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitariusAfro-Eurasiamale is spangled deep blue
15. Blue Seedeater Amaurospiza concolorMexico & Central Americamale is slate-blue
16. Blue Whistling-Thrush Myophonus caeruleusCentral Asia, S Asia, SE Asia. Chinaboth sexes blackish-blue to dull deep blue with metallic violet-blue and silvery spots; female duller
17. Bluish Flowerpiercer Diglossa caerulescenBolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuelamale is a mix of dull blue and gray-blue
18. Bornean Shortwing Brachypteryx erythrogynaBorneomale is dark indigo-blue
19. Carrizal Seedeater Amaurospiza carrizalensisVenezuelamale is dark glossy slate-blue
20. Celestial Monarch Hypothymis coelestisPhilippinesmale is a mix of bright cerulean-blue, cobalt-blue, and pale blue; female with duller blues
21. Cerulean Cuckooshrike Coracina temminckiiSulawesiboth sexes are grayish-blue tinged with cobalt-blue
22. Cerulean Flycatcher Eutrichomyias rowleyiSangir Islandboth sexes are cerulean-blue
23. Chinese Shortwing Brachypteryx sinensisChinamale is dark slate-blue above and pale gray-blue below
24. Deep-Blue Flowerpiercer Diglossa glaucaBrazil, Paraguay, Uruguaymale is deep blue, female duller blue
25. Dull-Blue Flycatcher Eumyias sordidusSri Lankaboth sexes with gray-blue to pale blue plumage with brighter blue highlights; female slightly duller
26. Ecuadorian Seedeater Amaurospiza aequatorialisColumbia, Ecuador, Perumale is dusky-blue
27. Glaucous-Blue Grosbeak Cyanoloxia glaucocaeruleaArgentina, Brazil, Uruguaymale is deep sky-blue
28. Glaucous Macaw Anodorhynchus glaucusBrazil, Paraguay, Uruguayboth sexes are glaucous-blue
29. Great Shortwing (Heinrichia calligyna)Sulawesimale is dark blue
30. Himalayan Shortwing Brachypteryx cruralisSE Asiamale is dark blue
31. Hyacinth Macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinusBrazil, Bolivia, Paraguayboth sexes are cobalt-blue tinged with violet-blue
32. Indigo Bunting Passerina cyaneaNorth America, Central America, Caribbeanmale in breeding plumage is vibrant blue with purplish-blue head
34. Indigo Flowerpiercer Diglossa indigoticaColumbia & Ecuadorboth sexes are vivid indigo-blue
35. Indigo Macaw Anodorhynchus leariBrazilboth sexes are metallic blue
36. Javan Blue Robin (Myiomela diana)Javamale is indigo-blue
37. Javan Shortwing (Brachypteryx montana)Javamale is dark grayish blue
38. Javan Whistling-Thrush Myophonus glaucinusJava & Baliboth sexes are deep dark blue; female slightly duller
39. Large Niltava Niltava grandisPhilippinesmale is mix of deep ultramarine, dark blue, and black-blue
40. Malayan Whistling-Thrush Myophonus robinsoniMalay Peninsulamale is black-blue with metallic purplish-blue forehead-band, shoulder patch, and spangling on front; female is duller with less spangling
41. Mindanao Blue-Fantail Rhipidura superciliarisPhilippinesboth sexes are a mix of silvery cobalt-blue, indigo-blue, grayish-blue, dull blue
42. Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoidesW North Americamale is bright cerulean to turquoise above, fading to paler blue into whitish-blue below
43. Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudatusIndiamale is deep indigo-blue
44. Nuthatch-Vanga Hypositta corallirostrisMadagascarmale is dark grayish-blue
45. Pale-Blue Monarch Hypothymis puellaIndonesiamale a mix of pale azure-blue, grayish-blue, pale blue
46. Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalusW North Americaboth sexes are dull grayish-blue with deeper blue on head (duller in females)
47. Satin Bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus violaceusE Australiamale has deep shiny indigo-blue sheen
48. Small Niltava Niltava macgrigoriaeS & SE Asiamale is a deep sapphire-blue with some bright blue and purplish-blue highlights and paler blue underparts
49. Spix’s Macaw Cyanopsitta spixiiBrazilboth sexes with pale bluish-gray head and grayish-blue to violet-blue body
50. Sumatran Blue Robin (Myiomela sumatrana)Sumatramale is dark indigo-blue
51. Sumatran Shortwing Brachypteryx saturataSumatraboth sexes deep dark grayish blue; female duller
52. Taiwan Whistling-Thrush Myophonus insularisTaiwanmale is dark grayish-blue
53. Tenerife Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydeaCanary Islandsmale is a deep slate-blue to grayish-blue
54. Tit-Like Dacnis Xenodacnis parinaEcuador & Perumale is deep blue
55. Turquoise Flycatcher Eumyias panayensisIndonesia, Philippinesboth sexes are predominantly turquoise; female duller
56. Ultramarine Grosbeak Cyanoloxia brissoniiSouth Americamale is dark ultramarine with bright blue highlights on head
57. Unicolored Jay Aphelocoma unicolorMexico & Central Americaboth sexes are rich indigo-blue
58. Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinusS & SE Asiaboth sexes are verditer-blue; female is slightly duller/grayer
59. Visayan Blue-Fantail Rhipidura samarensisPhilippinesboth sexes are a mix of blues including silvery cobalt-blue, dull dark blue, grayish-blue, and dark indigo-blue
60. White-tailed Flycatcher Leucoptilon concretumS & SE Asiamale a mix of cobalt-blue and dark gray-blue with bright blue head cap
61. White-tailed Robin Myiomela leucuraS & SE Asiamale is dark black-blue with shiny blue forehead and shoulder patches
Sources: Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of the World, Wikipedia

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Agami Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com


Share on:
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.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.