53 Most Colorful Birds in the World

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Whether you like spotting their colorful feathers up in the trees or enjoy waking up to the sound of birdsong, birds are some of the most lovable creatures on the planet. And while even the patterns on backyard sparrows can be captivating, the world is full of birds whose colors seem to defy the laws of nature. Some of them you have to see to believe.

Here’s our list of the most colorful birds in the world:

Gurney's Pitta is critically endangered.
  • Latin name: Hydrornis gurneyi
  • Habitat: Mostly lowland forest in Myanmar
  • Size: Around 8-9 inches long
  • Diet: Insects, worms, and slugs
  • Colorful feature: Males have a patch of yellow on the throat and a “cap” of royal blue feathers on the head. The colors are especially noticeable against the rest of the feathers that are black or dull brown.

This little bird, a relative of Wilson’s bird of paradise, is critically endangered. It’s one of the most sought-after birds by birdwatchers in and around Thailand. For years, it was so rare that it was thought to be extinct.

The azure kingfisher rarely makes any sound at all.
  • Latin name: Ceyx azureus
  • Habitat: Usually found in northern and eastern parts of Australia and Tasmania (as well as surrounding areas). These birds prefer swampy or otherwise very wet areas.
  • Size: Around 7 inches long
  • Diet: Usually small fish, tadpoles, small frogs, and various insects
  • Colorful feature: The back and wings are a deep yet energetic blue. But much like a bluebird, the azure kingfisher also has an orange to buff-colored chest patch.

This smallish bird is one of the most brightly colored members of the kingfisher family. Unlike many birds, the azure kingfisher rarely makes any sound at all. It spends much of its time flying above water, searching for crustaceans, fish, and other small creatures to eat.

The Paradise Tanager is probably one of the most neon-colored birds in the world.
  • Latin name: Tangara chilensis
  • Habitat: Humid tropical and subtropical forests in the northern and western part of the Amazon Basin
  • Size: Usually around 6 inches or less in length
  • Diet: Usually various types of insects and fruit
  • Colorful feature: This bird has a very bright lime green head, while the belly is an intense sky blue. The rump and back are a combination of yellow and red (the exact coloring can change depending on subspecies). This rainbow of colors pops against its otherwise black body.

This amazingly colored little bird looks almost like something from another universe. It’s probably one of the most neon-colored birds in the world. Different subspecies have different color arrangements, but all of them are incredibly bright. Interestingly enough, this is one of the bird species where males and females have almost identical coloring.

  • Latin name: Ara macao
  • Habitat: Humid evergreen forests in and around the Amazon
  • Size: Usually over 30 inches long
  • Diet: Insects, larvae, fruit, seeds, nuts, nectar, and even flowers 
  • Colorful feature: These birds have strikingly bright plumage; their feathers are blue, red, and yellow. Some birds even have a hint of green in their wings.

The scarlet macaw just might be the most famous of the colorful birds on our list. It’s what most people picture when they imagine a parrot. Thanks to their incredible color, they are popular pets for bird enthusiasts. But scarlet macaws aren’t for inexperienced owners; they are very intelligent and need plenty of intellectual stimulation along with careful handling.

In recent years, the wild population of lilac-crowned Amazons has seemed to increase despite habitat loss.
  • Latin name: Amazona finschi
  • Habitat: Along the Pacific coast of Mexico
  • Size: Around 12 inches long
  • Diet: Various types of fruits, nuts, and seeds, as well as flowers
  • Colorful feature: Both sexes are bright green with a patch of lilac-blue feathering on the back of the neck. They also have a deep maroon patch right above the beak.

This unusual little parrot is an endangered species, although it is a popular pet thanks to its small size and somewhat quiet nature. In recent years, the wild population of lilac-crowned Amazons has seemed to increase despite habitat loss, so there’s still hope that the species can rebound from its endangered status.

Green-winged macaws look a lot like scarlet macaws, but they have a green line on the outside of the wings.
  • Latin name: Ara chloropterus
  • Habitat: Lowland forest in northern and central South America
  • Size: Usually 35-37 inches long
  • Diet: Many types of plants, seeds, and nuts. These birds will also eat clay and tree bark.
  • Colorful feature: Most of this bird’s body is bright red. The wings are tipped in blue, and there is a distinctive patch of green feathers on each wing. In some cases, an individual may have a few yellow feathers mixed in.

These beautiful birds are the second-largest macaw species. They also tend to be one of the calmest species. That makes them good pets, but they do require plenty of time with their owners. Green-winged macaws look a lot like scarlet macaws, but they have a green line (as opposed to a yellow line) on the outside of the wings.

The American Goldfinch can be found in many places in the United States.
  • Latin name: Spinus tristis
  • Habitat: Typically open land with plenty of weeds
  • Size: Usually 4-5 inches in length
  • Diet: Mostly different types of seeds, but they do sometimes eat insects
  • Colorful feature: In the summer, males have bright lemon yellow feathering with black wings and tail. They also have a small black patch above the beak.

Many of the colorful birds on our list can be found in the tropics. But this bright little bird can be found in many places in the United States. The male’s bright yellow color is produced from carotenoids found in the plants that goldfinches eat.

But the endangered green peafowl looks different than most captive peafowl.
  • Latin name: Pavo muticus
  • Habitat: Different types of forest in Southeast Asia; sometimes chooses other habitat types as long as they are close to water.
  • Size: Females are around 3-4 feet in length; males are about 6-10 feet in length
  • Diet: Mainly rodents, reptiles, frogs, fruit, and assorted invertebrates
  • Colorful feature: Both males and females have iridescent green feathering on the neck and body. Males have a spectacular fan of iridescent feathers, too.

Not everyone knows that there are different species of peafowl (commonly called “peacocks”). But the endangered green peacock looks different than most captive peafowl. Notably, males and females look very similar, and both are covered with iridescent green feathers. When the male fans his tail, you can see blue patterns that look like eyes.

The blue-throated barbet's magical colors make it a sought-after bird for casual and serious birders alike.
  • Latin name: Psilopogon asiaticus
  • Habitat: Various types of forests (and even cities with sufficient vegetation) throughout Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent
  • Size: About 9 inches long
  • Diet: Fruit, flowers, and various types of insects
  • Colorful feature: These birds are full of high-energy color. Their bodies are mostly green. But their faces can range from turquoise blue to sky blue. There is a red band from the top of the beak to the start of the neck.

The blue-throated barbet’s magical colors make it a sought-after bird for casual and serious birders alike. These birds are fairly common within their range, but they do like to stay concealed in forest canopies. And depending on what part of the bird’s range you stumble upon, you might notice a difference in plumage. Birds in the northwestern portion of the species range have black-feathered “eyebrows.” Across most of the rest of the range, the eyebrows are absent.

The collared kingfisher, also called the white-collared kingfisher, is one of the most striking when it comes to color contrast.
  • Latin name: Todiramphus chloris
  • Habitat: Coastal areas and relatively open land between the Red Sea and Polynesia
  • Size: About 9-10 inches long
  • Diet: Shrimp, crabs, and fish are preferred when available; these birds can also eat insects, smaller mice, reptiles, and amphibians. They occasionally will even eat smaller birds.
  • Colorful feature: This bird’s snowy white underparts and collar contrast beautifully with the deep marine blue of its back.

The kingfisher family is full of unique and colorful birds. The collared kingfisher, also called the white-collared kingfisher, is one of the most striking when it comes to color contrast. Depending on the individual bird in question, the blue body can range from a very deep blue to a lighter greenish-blue.

Hooded pittas tend to spend most of their time on the ground.
  • Latin name: Pitta sordida
  • Habitat: Forests, farms, and plantations in Southeast Asia, especially close to the coast
  • Size: Roughly 6-7.5 inches
  • Diet: Mostly insects and berries
  • Colorful feature: These birds have an interesting combination of colors: their bodies are pale turquoise, their heads are black with a chestnut cap, and their vent feathers are bright red.

These pretty birds tend to spend most of their time on the ground, which might explain why they have almost nonexistent tails. They spend most of their time foraging on the ground. And when it comes time to build their nests, they build those (and raise their young) on the ground as well.

The Curl-Crested Aracari is a type of toucan, although its color pattern sets it apart from more recognizable species.
  • Latin name: Pteroglossus beauharnaesii
  • Habitat: Southwestern part of the Amazon basin
  • Size: Usually 16-18 inches in length
  • Diet: Mostly eats fruit, but will occasionally eat newly-hatched birds of other species
  • Colorful feature: Its body is covered in patches of red, yellow, and deep green, while the beak often has streaks of blue, purple, and orange.

This unusual bird is a type of toucan, although its color pattern sets it apart from more recognizable species like the keel-billed toucan. And if you get up close, you’ll notice a feature you almost never see on any other type of bird; the feathers at the top of the head are curled, making the bird look like it has hair!

At first glance, the black and yellow broadbill looks almost like a stuffed animal in photos.
  • Latin name: Eurylaimus ochromalus
  • Habitat: Subtropical and tropical forests in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Brunei, and Indonesia
  • Size: About 5 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly different types of insects
  • Colorful feature: These small birds have mostly black and yellow backs with a white collar, a yellow belly, and a breast that is off-white to rosy pink. They have broad, pale blue beaks and large yellow eyes.

At first glance, the black and yellow broadbill looks almost like a stuffed animal in photos. But if you get the chance to be near one in the wild, you’ll almost certainly hear its call, a series of high-pitched sounds that some sources describe as being “disproportionately loud.”

The Long-Tailed Broadbill is extremely social and very noisy.
  • Latin name: Psarisomus dalhousiae
  • Habitat: Forested areas throughout the Himalayan Mountains from India to Southeast Asia
  • Size: About 10 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly different types of insects
  • Colorful feature: These bright birds have spring green bodies, long blue tails, and yellow heads. The top of the head is mostly covered with a cap of black feathers.

This very bright bird is extremely social and very noisy. Like some other broadbills, its very bright colors and clean lines make it look almost cartoonish. The black cap extends toward the bird’s cheeks, making it look as though it’s wearing a helmet.

Purple sunbirds are fairly social and will often travel in small groups.
  • Latin name: Cinnyris asiaticus
  • Habitat: Usually gardens and sparsely wooded areas in and near Southeast Asia
  • Size: About 4 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily nectar, although these birds will also eat insects
  • Colorful feature: Males of this species are dark in color. But in good lighting, their blue-black plumage is glossy and incredibly iridescent.

These beautiful birds are fairly social and will often travel in small groups. In some cases, larger groups will unite to chase off larger predators like owls. Notably, while they are very fast in flight, purple sunbirds do not migrate.

The fire-breasted flowerpecker plays an important role in dispersing plant seeds.
  • Latin name: Dicaeum ignipectus
  • Habitat: Forested areas at high elevations across India and Southeast Asia
  • Size: Less than 3 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly fruits
  • Colorful feature: Males have shiny blue-black backs, wings, and heads. They have bright yellow underparts marked with a bright red patch.

This small bird has one of the most dramatic names on the list. And while its fiery colors are truly beautiful to look at, the fire-breasted flowerpecker plays an important role in dispersing plant seeds. In particular, this bird, along with many others in its genus, helps to disperse the seeds of various types of mistletoe.

Golden Pheasants can be found in aviaries around the world.
  • Latin name: Chrysolophus pictus
  • Habitat: It originates from western China, but its popularity as a captive bird has resulted in feral colonies all over the world.
  • Size: Up to 41 inches in length
  • Diet: Mostly various types of vegetation, but sometimes insects as well
  • Colorful feature: Males are extremely bright; they have golden crests and bright red bodies. They also have patches of deep blue, and there are multiple feather color patterns on each bird.

This striking bird can be found in aviaries around the world, and you may sometimes see it as a captive bird. Males have an especially brilliant color, but females tend to be a duller brown in order to camouflage well.

With a name like "crimson sunbird," you know this species is going to be colorful.
  • Latin name: Aethopyga siparaja
  • Habitat: Forests and farmlands in tropical parts of southern Asia
  • Size: About 4 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly nectar; its tubular tongue assists in feeding
  • Colorful feature: Males have a bright red upper body and yellow rump, and their backs and tops of their heads are a deep iridescent maroon. 

With a name like “crimson sunbird,” you know this species is going to be colorful before you even look at a picture. And with the male’s bright red upper body and dark iridescent cap, it’s easy to see why the crimson sunbird is the official bird of Singapore. This bird is built a lot like a hummingbird, and like most hummingbirds, it is able to hover while drinking nectar. However, it tends to prefer to perch while feeding.

The king vulture has a truly fascinating head.
  • Latin name: Sarcoramphus papa
  • Habitat: Tropical lowland forested areas in southern Mexico and northern parts of South America
  • Size: Up to about 32 inches
  • Diet: Various types of animal carcasses
  • Colorful feature: Though the body is a plain whitish grey, the vulture has a multicolored bald head. The exact color pattern varies from bird to bird, but most individuals have heads that are orange, red, yellow, blue, and purple.

Most familiar vultures are decidedly dull in color. But the king vulture has a truly fascinating head; it’s made of multicolored skin and surrounded by a ruff of hair-like feathers. It’s also much larger than most vulture species, so it typically eats before other vultures each time a new carcass is found.

Spangled Cotingas are a bright turquoise in color with deep maroon throats.
  • Latin name: Cotinga cayana
  • Habitat: Usually in the upper canopy of the Amazon rainforest
  • Size: About 8.5 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly fruit, but may occasionally eat insects
  • Colorful feature: Males are a bright turquoise in color with deep maroon throats. Their wings are mostly black.

The males of this species almost look like tiny jewels; their iridescent turquoise feathers are truly a sight to behold. Historically, some rainforest tribes even hunted them for their feathers. 

No list of colorful birds is complete without the rainbow lorikeet.
  • Latin name: Trichoglossus moluccanus
  • Habitat: Rainforests, bushland, and woodlands of eastern Australia
  • Size: Usually 10-12 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily nectar, pollen, and fruit
  • Colorful feature: Both sexes have identical coloring; they have bright blue heads and bellies, with a brilliant orange/yellow chest patch. The back and wings are green.

No list of colorful birds is complete without the rainbow lorikeet. These stunning birds are native to Australia, but they do also make popular pets. They often mate for life, and they tend to travel in pairs as opposed to flying with a flock.

As the name suggests, the great barbet is the largest of the barbets.
  • Latin name: Psilopogon virens
  • Habitat: Forested areas (usually at high elevations) in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia
  • Size: About 14 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly insects and various types of fruit
  • Colorful feature: These striking birds have bodies that are mostly green with some patches of medium brown. Their heads are a dark blue-violet, their vent feathers are red, and they also have large, bright yellow beaks.

As the name suggests, the great barbet is the largest of the barbets. The name “barbet” itself refers to the barb-like feathers surrounding the beak. And though these birds are especially striking, you might have trouble finding one in the wild. They tend to hide from people and aren’t particularly active; they would rather stay in forest canopies.

The tiny, jewel-like shining honeycreeper might not be the best-known tropical bird, but it is certainly a standout.
  • Latin name: Cyanerpes lucidus
  • Habitat: Tropical forest canopies in Central America
  • Size: About 4 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly nectar, berries, and insects
  • Colorful feature: Males are a deep blue with black tail, wings, and throat. Their legs are bright yellow. Females have a more muted, pastel color.

The tiny, jewel-like shining honeycreeper might not be the best-known tropical bird, but it is certainly a standout. Its specialized decurved beak makes feeding on nectar easier. These birds tend to forage and live in pairs or small family groups as opposed to in flocks.

The rose-ringed parakeet is one of the most adaptable parrot species.
  • Latin name: Psittacula krameri
  • Habitat: Thrives in almost any outdoor environment in India; it has a separate native range in northern Africa
  • Size: About 16 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruit, and buds
  • Colorful feature: In the wild, both sexes are bright green. Males have a neck ring of red and black. In females, the neck ring is faint or absent. Both males and females also have bright red-orange beaks. In captivity, several morphs have been developed, including a striking sky-blue one.

The rose-ringed parakeet is one of the most adaptable parrot species. It successfully breeds further north than any other parrot. And even though it’s native to India and Africa, escaped pet birds have formed thriving feral colonies in northern Europe and around the world.

Thanks to the yellow lines above its eyes and its slightly upturned beak, the many-colored rush tyrant is a bird that always looks a little grumpy.
  • Latin name: Tachuris rubrigastra
  • Habitat: Marshy areas around rivers and lakes in southern South America
  • Size: About 4 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly insects and small invertebrates
  • Colorful feature: These birds have bright yellow underparts, and there are also two yellow lines crossing the top of the blue-black head. The bird’s back is green, and its few patches of red are often concealed.

Thanks to the yellow lines above its eyes and its slightly upturned beak, the many-colored rush tyrant is a bird that always looks a little grumpy. It prefers to live in reedy marshes, and its nests are suspended in the air between reeds.

The sun conure, also called the sun parakeet, is endangered in the wild.
  • Latin name: Aratinga solstitialis
  • Habitat: The northeastern part of South America, usually in tropical forests
  • Size: About 12 inches long
  • Diet: Usually nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, but sometimes it will also eat insects
  • Colorful feature: Both males and females are very colorful; they are mostly yellow-orange (like the color of a sunset) with mostly green wings and some dark blue flight feathers.

The sun conure, also called the sun parakeet, is endangered in the wild. But in the pet trade, it’s an especially popular small parrot. Sun conures are intelligent and can learn to do tricks and mimic human speech.

The scaly-breasted lorikeet is one of the lesser-known types.
  • Latin name: Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus
  • Habitat: Wooded areas of eastern Australia
  • Size: About 9 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly pollen and nectar, but they also eat flowers, fruit, and insects
  • Colorful feature: These birds are almost entirely bright green, but they have a pattern of yellow on their chests and bellies that makes them appear scaly. Their beaks are also a bright coral color.

The scaly-breasted lorikeet is one of the lesser-known types. But in the wild, they often form mixed flocks with rainbow lorikeets. Their mostly green plumage with hints of yellow helps them to camouflage almost perfectly in green forests.

The painted parakeet, also called the painted conure, has one of the most unusual color patterns
  • Latin name: Pyrrhura picta
  • Habitat: Forested areas in Panama and northern South America
  • Size: About 9 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily fruit, seeds, other plant matter, and insects
  • Colorful feature: These birds combine several colors and patterns; their throats have a grey laced appearance, while their bodies are primarily green. There’s a patch of iridescent blue on the forehead, and a maroon patch on the belly. Some birds have small patches of bright red and blue on the wings. 

This bird, also called the painted conure, has one of the most unusual color patterns on the list. In terms of taxonomy, it has been challenging for experts to classify. Certain subspecies are very rare, but as a whole, the species is not considered to be vulnerable to extinction.

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock is one of the brightest on the list.
  • Latin name: Rupicola peruvianus
  • Habitat: Mostly in cloud forests in the Andes mountains
  • Size: About 13 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly fruit, although it will eat insects, small mice, and some reptiles and amphibians as well
  • Colorful feature: Males are especially bright; their upper bodies and crests are very bright orange, while their wings, tails, and backs are black.

This unusual bird is one of the brightest on the list. The male birds’ bright plumage helps them to attract mates; the males do not help build nests or raise young. They do, however, perform elaborate courtship displays for breeding females.

The red-necked tanager may not be quite as well known as some family members.
  • Latin name: Tangara cyanocephala
  • Habitat: Tropical and subtropical forests of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina
  • Size: About 5 inches long
  • Diet: Largely fruit, nectar, and insects
  • Colorful feature: Males are especially bright; as the name suggests, the neck is bright red. The head is capped with brilliant blue, and the lower body is grass green. The back is mostly black, but the wings feature some yellow and lime green markings.

Many of the most colorful smaller birds in the world come from the tanager family. The red-necked tanager may not be quite as well known as some of its relatives, but it’s nonetheless one of the brightest tropical birds. Since it has a fairly extensive range, the red-necked tanager can be divided into three separate subspecies.

The musk lorikeet is a close relative of the rainbow lorikeet
  • Latin name: Glossopsitta concinna
  • Habitat: Mostly open and dry woodlands in parts of Australia; the species has recently found success living in urban and suburban areas as well
  • Size: About 9 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly fruit, seeds, and nectar
  • Colorful feature: Both males and females are mostly bright green. They have a bright red forehead and cheeks, a blue patch at the top of the head, and a band of yellow on each wing.

The musk lorikeet is a close relative of the rainbow lorikeet, but it’s not nearly as popular as a pet. Even though the musk lorikeet is smaller, it’s also somewhat aggressive, often during the breeding season. With patience and kindness, though, it is possible to reduce aggression and help the bird trust you.

The golden parakeet, often called the golden conure, is a species considered to be vulnerable to extinction.
  • Latin name: Guaruba guarouba
  • Habitat: Parts of Brazil’s Amazon Basin
  • Size: About 13 inches long
  • Diet: Usually fruits, seeds, flowers, and commercial crops when available
  • Colorful feature: This bird’s plumage is almost entirely a bright, sunny yellow. However, the tips of its wings are a deep medium green.

The golden parakeet, often called the golden conure, is a species considered to be vulnerable to extinction. Although it is illegal to trap and sell the birds, trapping is a major threat to the wild population, as is habitat loss. They are sometimes hunted for their feathers or for food, and farmers consider them to be agricultural pests.

With one look at the emerald tanager, you'll be able to see how this bird got its name.
  • Latin name: Tangara florida
  • Habitat: Mostly lowland forests in tropical or sub-tropical parts of Central and South America.
  • Size: About 5 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly fruit
  • Colorful feature: Both males and females are very colorful; both are an emerald to lime green with a few black markings and flight feathers.

With one look at the emerald tanager, you’ll be able to see how this bird got its name. Its bright green feathers help it to camouflage in tropical forests. On many birds, the green feathers are deeper green on the belly and turn more yellow-green toward the bird’s head.

The dusky lory is sometimes kept as a pet.
  • Latin name: Pseudeos fuscata
  • Habitat: Tropical and subtropical lowland forests in New Guinea and surrounding islands
  • Size: About 10 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly nectar, pollen, fruit, flowers, and seeds
  • Colorful feature: The bird has two color phases. In the orange phase, the body appears banded and mottled with black and orange. In the more uncommon yellow phase, the body is mottled and banded with yellow and black.

This delightful, Halloween-colored bird isn’t one you often see. The dusky lory is sometimes kept as a pet; its friendly and playful personality makes it a great choice if you’re looking for a smaller parrot. You might hear bird enthusiasts affectionately refer to them as “duskies.”

Several sources have spotted escaped plum-headed parakeets in Florida and New York.
  • Latin name: Psittacula cyanocephala
  • Habitat: Mainly forests, open woodlands, and city gardens in India
  • Size: About 12 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly fruit and flowers
  • Colorful feature: Both males and females have a bright green body. Males have a pinkish-purple head with a black neck collar. Females are a little less colorful and typically have blue-grey heads. Both have blue tails.

These remarkably lovely birds are one of the few species on the list that are mainly found in India. Despite their beauty, they are not especially common as pet birds. However, several sources have spotted escaped plum-headed parakeets in Florida and New York.

The massive hyacinth macaw is the largest parrot on Earth (based on length).
  • Latin name: Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus
  • Habitat: Semi-open, wooded areas in South America; the species appears in three small, distinct regions
  • Size: Over 3 feet long
  • Diet: Mostly Brazil nuts, but it does sometimes eat coconuts and fruit
  • Colorful feature: These birds are an incredible cobalt blue, but the bit of bare skin around their eyes and under their beaks is a very bright yellow.

The massive hyacinth macaw is the largest parrot on Earth (based on length). It’s classified as a vulnerable species; the population has been rapidly declining thanks to both habitat loss and trapping. This bird can sometimes be kept as a pet, but it requires a huge amount of space and a specialized enclosure. Its beak is strong enough to destroy most regular parrot cages! Most experts recommend that those bold enough to keep a hyacinth macaw provide a flying space that is at least 50 feet long.

You might think this bird looks like a flamingo at first, but the scarlet ibis is generally deeper and more intense in color.
  • Latin name: Eudocimus ruber
  • Habitat: Wetlands and shorelines in eastern South America and the Caribbean
  • Size: Up to 25 inches long
  • Diet: Mainly shrimp, along with a variety of insects
  • Colorful feature: Though individuals vary in color saturation, most of these birds have an intense orange-red color. Even their legs and bills are often the same color or close. The very tips of their wings are very dark black.

You might think this bird looks like a flamingo at first, but the scarlet ibis is generally deeper and more intense in color. It is closely related to the American white ibis, an all-white bird with pink legs and bill. Where the populations of both species overlap, they sometimes crossbreed and produce hybrid ibises. The hybrids usually either have all dilute orange-pink feathers or are all white with just a few bright feathers.

The painted bunting spends most of its breeding season in parts of the southeastern U.S.
  • Latin name: Passerina ciris
  • Habitat: Usually areas with lots of shrubby vegetation, although it can be found in suburban areas in Central America and the southeastern U.S. as well
  • Size: About 4-5 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly seeds, but they do also eat smaller insects
  • Colorful feature: Mature males have bright blue heads, bright red chests and bellies, and yellow and green patches on the back, giving them a distinctive “painted” appearance.

This bright bird is one of the few species on the list that can be found in the United States. In fact, plenty of sources point to the male painted bunting as North America’s most beautiful bird. The painted bunting spends most of its breeding season in parts of the southeastern U.S., but in the winter, it’s mostly found in Central America and in Florida.

In the wild, Gouldian finches are considered to be a near-threatened species.
  • Latin name: Chloebia gouldiae
  • Habitat: Savannahs, thicket edges, and the edges of mangrove swamps in northern Australia
  • Size: Around 5 inches long
  • Diet: Predominately seeds
  • Colorful feature: Males and females both have clear-lined patches of different colors, although males are usually brighter. Markings are usually blue, red, yellow, green, or purple. In the wild, Gouldian finches have red, black, or yellow heads, but captive-bred birds come in many color variants.

These beautiful little birds look like they’ve been painted. Though they are native to Australia, they have become popular pet birds because they are especially easy to care for and have brighter and more intricate color patterns than many species do. In the wild, Gouldian finches are considered to be a near-threatened species. But in captivity, breeders have developed several different color morphs of these rare and spectacular birds.

The Temminck's Tragopan is a type of pheasant found in parts of Asia.
  • Latin name: Tragopan temminckii
  • Habitat: Usually shrubland and forests in mountainous regions of India, Myanmar, China, and Vietnam
  • Size: Around 25 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly fruit, shoots, berries, and other plant matter; they may occasionally eat insects
  • Colorful feature: Males have blue facial skin as well as an inflatable blue lappet. This contrasts with the chestnut-brown, white-spotted body.

This rare bird is a type of pheasant found in parts of Asia. For courtship purposes, the male can inflate the blue lappet beneath his beak. The lappet expands to reveal a brilliant blue color and red patches along the sides. While inflating the lappet, the male also can erect two blue horns.

The Keel-Billed Toucan is perhaps the brightest in the entire toucan family.
  • Latin name: Ramphastos sulfuratus
  • Habitat: Tropical jungles in Mexico and South America
  • Size: About 20 inches long
  • Diet: Smaller birds, eggs, reptiles, fruits, insects, and seeds
  • Colorful feature: The brilliantly colored bill is mostly light green, but it also has patches of red, orange, and sky blue. The bird’s body is mostly black except for a lemon-yellow patch from the face to the chest.

This stunning bird is perhaps the brightest in the entire toucan family. And while its bill looks heavy, it’s actually very light. It’s made of porous bone covered with the lightweight but durable protein keratin. The many colors of its body and bill are enough to make some people want to keep one as a pet. This is technically possible, but caring for a toucan is a lot different than caring for a cockatiel or similar pet birds. It’s possible to purchase a pet keel-billed toucan, but their prices run into the thousands of dollars.

  • Latin name: Melopsittacus undulatus
  • Habitat: Grasslands, scrub, and woodlands of Australia
  • Size: Around 7 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily seeds
  • Colorful feature: In the wild, budgies have bright green bodies, deep blue tails, and yellow heads with undulating black lines. However, captive birds have been bred in a wide range of colors.

Commonly called “budgies,” these birds are native to Australia, but they have become some of the world’s most popular pet birds, too. Especially when they are hand-raised, budgies can be affectionate pets who can even learn to talk and do tricks. Interestingly enough, there is a variety often called the English budgie; this variety is bred for shows. Exhibition budgies tend to be larger and have proportionally larger heads with fluffy feathering.

Green-Breasted Mango is a type of hummingbird.
  • Latin name: Anthracothorax prevostii
  • Habitat: Tropical lowlands and forest edges in Central America and parts of South America
  • Size: About 4-5 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily nectar and insects
  • Colorful feature: Males have bodies that are mostly a shiny, iridescent green. Their chests are black and blue-green, and their outer tail feathers can range from magenta to deep purple.

“Mango” might seem like a strange name for a bird. But these glimmering, fast-moving birds are a type of hummingbird. Though they usually stay in Central America and further south, they have been known to venture from Mexico to Texas on occasion. And even though females and immature males aren’t quite as bright as adult males, they still have greenish-bronze bodies with a distinctive metallic sheen.

Flame Bowerbird was even the subject of a documentary, Dancers on Fire, that aired on the Smithsonian Channel.
  • Latin name: Sericulus ardens
  • Habitat: Rainforests in New Guinea
  • Size: Up to about 10 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily eats fruit, but may occasionally also eat seeds and insects
  • Colorful feature: The males have a fiery appearance; their heads and shoulders are a bright red-orange that fades to yellow down the body.

This little bird is one of the species that almost doesn’t look real. The feathering on the male looks especially smooth, forming a red-to-yellow fade. The species was even the subject of a documentary, Dancers on Fire, that aired on the Smithsonian Channel.

The Scarlet-Chested Parakeet lives in the desert of Australia.
  • Latin name: Neophema splendida
  • Habitat: Usually dry regions of Australia
  • Size: About 8 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly grass seeds
  • Colorful feature: Males are especially colorful; they have deep blue faces, red chests, and yellow bellies. Most of their back and wings are an energetic green.

Though this bird looks like it comes from the tropics, it actually lives in the desert of Australia. Unlike most birds, it doesn’t need much drinking water; it can get enough water by eating succulent plants.

The Mbuti people of the Congo believe that the turaco has a special spiritual connection and is able to warn people of danger.
  • Latin name: Corythaeola cristata
  • Habitat: Tropical rainforests in Africa
  • Size: Usually around 30 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily leaves, fruit, and flowers
  • Colorful feature: Though this bird’s body is a deep slate blue, it has a band of bright yellow above its red beak. Its belly is yellow to green, and the head is crowned with a black crest.

This intriguing bird is often hunted for food, but it’s inextricably tied with folklore, too. The Mbuti people of the Congo believe that the turaco has a special spiritual connection and is able to warn people of danger.

The red-bearded bee-eater has a fairly efficient way to hunt its prey.
  • Latin name: Nyctyornis amictus
  • Habitat: Typically in clear areas near dense forests in Southeast Asia
  • Size: Up to about 12 inches long
  • Diet: Usually bees, wasps, and hornets
  • Colorful feature: These birds have mostly green bodies with bright red throats. Next to the red throat is a patch of pale lavender, and the eyes are surrounded by a small line of bright blue.

These striking birds are unusual in both looks and behavior. Unlike most bird types, they typically spend time either alone or in pairs. Their nesting habits are a little unusual, as they dig burrows into sandy banks instead of building nests. The red-bearded bee-eater has a fairly efficient way to hunt its prey, too. The bird will find a perch where its body is concealed by foliage. It will then wait for bees, wasps, and similar bugs to fly by. It catches them mid-flight!

The Senegal parrot makes a relatively easygoing pet.
  • Latin name: Poicephalus senegalus
  • Habitat: Lives in much of West Africa; flocks will migrate depending on food availability
  • Size: About 9 inches long
  • Diet: Usually fruit, flowers, and seeds; it will often eat farmed millet or maize
  • Colorful feature: Though both sexes of birds have dark grey heads, they have bright green bodies and a “vest” of sunny orange-yellow feathers.

Though it isn’t talked about quite as much as some species, the Senegal parrot makes a relatively easygoing pet. These birds aren’t quite as noisy as many other parrot species. And though they are a popular pet in some areas, African farmers consider them to be pests; entire flocks will often feed on crops. 

The splendid fairywren brings dazzling color to the arid regions of Australia.
  • Latin name: Malurus splendens
  • Habitat: Forests and scrub of Australia
  • Size: Usually 5-6 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly insects, but they do sometimes eat fruit and seeds
  • Colorful feature: Males of the species are almost entirely a deep blue, although they do have a few black markings. Females are mostly brownish-grey in color.

You might think of most wrens as being a demure brown in color like the Carolina wren. But the splendid fairywren brings dazzling color to the arid regions of Australia. The birds usually live in small groups; they claim a territory (on average, a territory is 11 acres) and stay there all year. They also work together to actively defend their territory.

The Red-Breasted Parakeet is found near Southeast Asia.
  • Latin name: Psittacula alexandri
  • Habitat: Many different habitat types across Southeast Asia
  • Size: Around 14 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly seeds, fruit, nectar, and flowers
  • Colorful feature: Males and female look almost alike. Both have bright green upper bodies with a reddish breast and a blue head with black markings. Males have orange beaks, and females have black beaks.

These lovely and unusual birds look almost as if they’ve been airbrushed. There are several different subspecies, but all are found in or near Southeast Asia. Currently, the species is not endangered, but it is considered to be near threatened.

Females are bright red so they can alert other Eclectus parrots to nesting sites, which are relatively hard to find.
  • Latin name: Eclectus roratus
  • Habitat: Rainforests in Australia and New Guinea
  • Size: Around 14-16 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly fruits, but these birds also eat seeds, nuts, nectar, flowers, and leaf buds
  • Colorful feature: Males are bright green with slight accents of red and bright blue. Females are bright red with a blue back and belly.

In many parrot species, males and females look identical. But the Eclectus is sexually dimorphic. Males are green in order to be able to camouflage as they forage for food. Females are bright red so they can alert other Eclectus parrots to nesting sites, which are relatively hard to find.

The crimson rosella is another of Australia's strikingly beautiful birds.
  • Latin name: Platycercus elegans
  • Habitat: Mostly in various types of forests in Australia
  • Size: About 14 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly seeds, nuts, berries, and nectar of a variety of plants
  • Colorful feature: Both males and females are mostly a bright, fiery red. They have blue wings and tails as well as a blue patch under the beak.

The crimson rosella is another of Australia’s strikingly beautiful birds. They’re primarily a bright royal blue and bright crimson, but the wings have an intriguing scallop pattern, too. Its subspecies include a yellow variant. These birds have pale yellow feathers in place of the red feathers.

Macaws are some of the most spectacularly colored birds on Earth, and the blue-and-yellow macaw is a famous example.
  • Latin name: Ara ararauna
  • Habitat: Forests, savannahs, and woodlands of South America
  • Size: Up to about 34 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly fruits, nuts, vegetables, and seeds
  • Colorful feature: The underside of these birds is bright yellow (sometimes it is an orangish yellow). The upper parts of the body are a brilliant turquoise color, and there is a small green patch right above the beak.

Macaws are some of the most spectacularly colored birds on Earth, and the blue-and-yellow macaw is a famous example. They can be kept as pets, but they still will frequently scream as they do in the wild. If you have one, it’s recommended that you have an enclosure that allows plenty of space for free flight.

No matter where you are in the world, you’re almost certain to see a few of these flying works of art. Keep an eye out in the sky and in the trees the next time you step outside.

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