Compiling a list of the world’s most stunning birds
SpotNomineeRatingRanking the most beautiful birds in the worldFirstPeacock5.0SecondQuetzal (quetzal)4.9ThirdBird of paradise4.8FourthBlue Jay4.7FifthBeijing duck4.6SixthFlamingo4.5SeventhLong-tailed Turaco4.4EighthCoronation crane4.3NinthHyacinth macaw4.2TenthAstrapia4.1EleventhSleep4.0TwelfthPigeons with talons3.9
Starting with a beautiful bird that was cherished by royalty and aristocrats for thousands of years, the peacock has been a stunning symbol of beauty. This member of the phasianidae family has been a companion to humans for over 3000 years, capturing our hearts with its magnificence.
The most notable feature of the peacock is its tail. With an impressive length of up to 160 cm, this ornamental display is adorned with striking green feathers with distinctive ‘eyes.’ Male peacocks use their eye-catching tails during mating dances to attract females and ward off rival males.
Apart from their tails, peacocks boast vibrant sapphire necks and chests, black and white patterned wings, and a crest on their heads with contrasting colors. However, these vivid colors are exclusive to males. The females have duller colors, with grey-brown feathers and no upper tail. They only share the characteristic crest with the males, albeit in a brown shade.
Peacocks are somewhat domesticated, making them a common sight in zoos worldwide. It’s even possible to keep these magnificent birds at home if you have a large enough enclosure and sufficient funds.
Another gorgeous bird that deserves recognition is the Quetzal, which boasts a rating of 4.9.
The Quetzal, also known as Kwezal, is a magnificent bird that symbolizes freedom. Its beauty is not the only thing that makes it exceptional – it needs ample space to live and cannot survive in captivity. The ancient Maya revered the Quetzal as the embodiment of the god of air, and in modern Guatemala, it is the state symbol and represents freedom. This brightly colored bird has a red belly and chest, emerald green wings with black feathers, and a unique crest on its head. Its tail is the most impressive part, with two long green feathers that grow during flight, reaching up to 35 cm long. Unfortunately, the Quetzal is a rare bird listed in the Red Book due to European conquerors mercilessly destroying them for their feathers, which were highly desired by European aristocrats. Today, various international and Guatemalan organizations protect the Quetzal. It does not breed or live in captivity, so to admire its beauty, one must venture into the jungles of South America. Overall, the Quetzal is truly a bird of paradise, with a rating of 4.8.
Selecting a particular bird of paradise from the 45 species was no easy task as each one is uniquely stunning and intriguing. These birds are mostly found in New Guinea and are known for their vibrant and colorful plumage, which is particularly evident during their mating dance. The Lophorina superba, for instance, appears to be an ordinary black-colored bird at first sight. However, during its mating ritual, it opens its iridescent blue breast, which appears to flicker and shine due to its exceptional feather structure and muscles.
Another fascinating bird of paradise species is the blue-headed variety, which displays a rainbow of colors on its fur. Its back is bright red, chest green, wings brown, neck yellow, while its head and legs are blue. The tail feathers of this bird are particularly noteworthy; they are long, curved, and spiral-shaped. Similarly, Princess Stephanie’s bird of paradise boasts a long, glossy black tail with a brilliant blue feather collar.
Sadly, many bird of paradise species have been victims of poaching and deforestation, which has led to their inclusion in the Red Book and international protection status. As a result, these birds are rarely seen in zoos. Despite this, they remain some of the most captivating and beautiful creatures in the animal kingdom.
Rating of this article: 4.7 out of 5.
The blue jay is a bird known for its stunning and varied shades of blue, which range from cerulean to sapphire and nearly black. Its feathers are predominantly blue, with only white stripes on its wings and a deep sapphire “rim” around its neck. The bird also boasts a dark green beak, commonly referred to as the “royal beak.” Despite being a fairly large bird, with a length of up to 30 cm and a wingspan of up to 42 cm, blue jays are quite light, weighing no more than 100 grams. This is because they are airborne, and migrate to southern territories during the cold weather. While blue jays can be found in North America, they are not commonly seen in other parts of the world, except in zoos. In contrast, there is a common jay found in other regions that bears a resemblance to its American counterpart, with bright blue stripes on its wings.
The Mandarin duck is undeniably one of the most stunning ducks you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Its vibrant and varied colors are sure to catch the attention of bird enthusiasts everywhere. One unique feature of this bird is the shape of its wing feathers, which curve upward at the tips to create a distinctive cloak-like collar.
Male Mandarin ducks are primarily adorned in dark and light-colored feather coats, making them quite striking to behold during the spring and summer breeding season. As autumn approaches, their feathers turn brown. These ducks are known for forming lifelong bonds with their partners and raising chicks together, earning them a special place in Chinese culture as symbols of loyalty and enduring love.
While Mandarin ducklings can be found in mountain rivers across Eurasia, they have also been successfully bred in zoos and parks for many years. Overall, this beautiful bird is truly one of nature’s wonders and deserves all the admiration it gets.
On a separate note, this content mentions a “Flamingo” rating of 4.5, which seems unrelated to the topic of Mandarin ducks and requires further context to understand its meaning.
Flamingos are widely recognized for their bright pink feathers and love to hang out in groups. It’s fascinating to watch them fly and feed, especially when they take over an entire lake shoreline or darken the sky as they soar in flocks. However, not all flamingos sport the same pink shade as there are white, coral, and red-colored ones too. Interestingly, their feather color depends on their diet, which is rich in pigments from small crustaceans they consume. This explains why zoos add a range of coloring products, such as grated carrots and pureed sweet peppers, to the flamingos’ water.
Flamingos are remarkably resilient and can thrive in harsh environments where other birds can’t survive. These birds usually build colonies near saline and alkaline lakes, in both hot and cold climates. Their feet’s thick skin protects them from the harmful effects of these solutions.
One of the most exciting aspects of flamingos is that they feed their chicks with bird milk, which is quite different from mammalian milk and has nothing to do with the popular candy brand. The bird milk is produced by specific glands and contains one-quarter of the parents’ blood.
Flamingos are found all over the world, but the majority live in Africa, Asia, and South America, and some even inhabit Azerbaijan. Additionally, many zoos house flamingos, allowing visitors to observe these fascinating creatures up close.
In contrast to flamingos, Long-tailed Turacos are known for their strikingly beautiful green and red feathers. As a bird enthusiast, I would rate them 4.4 out of 5 for their stunning appearance and unique features.
The little-known long-tailed turaco, also called Livingston’s banana-eater, is a remarkable bird found in the forests of southern Africa. Its stunning appearance warrants inclusion in any list of beautiful birds. The bird boasts shades of green ranging from light green on its head to emerald green on its wings, and a completely black tail. Additionally, the bird has striking features such as white and black arrows on its eyes with a red rim, a carrot orange beak, and a green crest on its head with white feather ends that blend in. All of these features make it seem like the bird has visited a professional stylist and makeup artist. It is worth noting that this bird feeds on various fruits and vegetables, with a particular fondness for bananas, which are unfortunately a pest. In the “off-season”, the bird may switch to insects. This bird is not commonly found in zoos because it requires a warm climate and doesn’t breed well in captivity. To catch a glimpse of this stunning bird, one must travel to Africa. With its impressive appearance and unique diet, the long-tailed turaco deserves a rating of 4.3.
The crowned crane is a stunning bird that boasts a predominantly black body with occasional white markings. It has a gold crown-like crest on its head and red accents that add to its beauty. This magnificent bird derives its name from this unique feature. Crowned cranes are fond of warm climates and open waters, which is why they can be found in North and East Africa, as well as some Asian countries. They mostly inhabit lakes and swamps, but have recently taken to growing rice as well. Unlike other crane species, whooping cranes thrive in trees and prefer nesting in mountain hollows.
Crowned cranes are not fearful of humans and are often found settling near human habitation. They even build nests on roofs like storks. Unfortunately, the crowned crane is classified as a vulnerable species and is listed in the International Red Book. As a result, they are protected in zoos, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries. The good news is that these birds breed well in captivity and are not stressed around humans. This makes it possible for people to enjoy seeing them in zoos.
On a different note, the Hyacinth macaw has a rating of 4.2, but its characteristics are not described in this context.
The hyacinth macaw is the largest parrot species, with a potential length of one meter and a weight of up to one and a half kilograms. Despite having short wings, which limits its speed and distance, this bird is highly active and often noisy in flight. It is an omnivore with a strong beak that can easily crack nuts, fruits, berries, and mollusk shells. The hyacinth macaw lives in flocks, like other macaws, and can be a nuisance to farmers by destroying their crops. Its most noticeable physical features are its cobalt-blue feathers, with only a few black feathers on its wings, and yellow stripes around its beak and eyes, which are actually patches of skin. Unfortunately, humans have hunted and destroyed the hyacinth macaw due to its size, aggressiveness, and destructiveness, leading it to become a protected species listed in the International Red Book. However, it adapts well to captivity and can be found in zoos worldwide. Additionally, this parrot holds the record for longevity, with reports of birds living up to 50-90 years old, although the maximum recorded age is 39 years.
The Astrapia bird is a unique member of the bird of paradise family known for its remarkable tail. While it is medium-sized, measuring up to 30 cm long, males have white tail feathers that can stretch up to a meter in length, earning the Astrapia a prominent position in bird rankings. The bird’s overall color is rather dull, even in males, with an olive green hue and bronze accents. However, like other birds of paradise, their feathers have a reflective structure that creates a shimmering effect in sunlight. The male’s tail features two long white feathers with black “eyes” at the end, which are soft and flutter during flight, forming a train-like pattern when falling out after flight. The Astrapia is native to New Guinea, found exclusively in alpine forests, and classified as a rare bird protected by international organizations, included in the Red Book.
The Hoopoe bird is a stunning resident of central and southern Russia, though it can also be found in other nations. Its striking features include bright orange plumage with white and black stripes on its wings. The bird’s head has an orange crest with a black and white border, adding to its magnetism. Apart from its appearance, the Hoopoe’s behavior is also intriguing, with the bird using contrasting colors for mating rituals and scaring rivals. The Hoopoe chooses to settle in forests, forest plantations, and groves, while possessing a unique coccygeal gland that secretes a strong-smelling substance, used by males to mark their territory and ward off predators. It’s relatively easy to find a Hoopoe nest by smell, despite the bird being quite shy. If you fail to locate it in the wild, you can usually find it in zoos and poultry houses, as it quickly adapts to captivity.
The Nicobar, more commonly known as the clawed pigeon, is a stunning species of bird that has recently been discovered. Although little is known about this elusive creature, it is far from your typical city pigeon. Its body is adorned with long, pliable feathers that shimmer in a range of colors from blue to red, green to yellow. The most distinctive feature of the clawed pigeon is the long hair-like feathers on its neck, which give the appearance of a mane or a head of hair. Due to the ever-changing colors and shades of these feathers, the birds appear almost surreal.
Living mainly in remote jungles on deserted islands, clawed pigeons are notoriously secretive. They prefer to live on land, only taking flight to escape danger by perching in trees. While they can survive in captivity, they breed very slowly, making them difficult to reproduce and maintain in zoos or nurseries. Consequently, international organizations have established protections for clawed pigeons to prevent their population from dwindling due to capture for breeding purposes.