Top 10 Cool Types of Birds

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  • The colorful toucan has a bill that can reach up to 9 inches. That is super long considering the bird is only 25.5 inches tall!
  • The hummingbird is just over 2 inches long, and some will flap their wings 80 times per second. This bird must eat every 15 minutes to keep up with its high metabolism.
  • The peacock is most impressive with its ostentatious display of bluish-green tail feathers, which the male will proudly display to attract females.

What is a cool bird? Surely, a bird’s coolness is in the eye of the beholder. Cool types of birds can be beautiful birds or merely pretty birds. They can even be ugly birds or uncommon birds. They can also be the weirdest birds.

Some people think that vultures are the coolest birds of prey for the way they soar high and effortlessly on thermals, for their patience and for the way they clean up messes without complaint. Other people find vultures thoroughly repulsive.

Even bald eagles may not be the coolest birds of pretty to some. They steal from other birds and they scavenge. On the other hand, they’re bald eagles, they’re big, they’re beautiful, and they do have cool courtship rituals. And so on. In this blog, coolness is determined largely by looks and behavior. Here’s a list of 10 of the coolest types of cool birds, in the author’s opinion.

Cool Types of Birds
Loggerhead shrikes do not impale their prey on twigs like other shrikes, but instead grab and shake their prey to death.

©Philip Rathner/Shutterstock.com

Shrikes are pretty birds, though not showy, with black and white pr brown and gray plumage. The scientific name for the genus the shrike belongs to is Lanius, which is Latin for “butcher.” Actually, this bird should be on the coolest birds of prey list, but it isn’t because it’s not a large bird, at between 7 and 10 inches long, and it doesn’t have talons.

So what does it do? It makes up for its size and lack of talons by impaling its prey on thorns, twigs, and even barbed wire and devouring it at its leisure. This is a smart move because some of the insects the bird eats are toxic and caching them this way allows the toxins to fade. The loggerhead shrike doesn’t wait to impale its dinner but just grabs it by the head and shakes it to death. Unfortunately, or fortunately, if you are an insect or small vertebrate, the loggerhead is becoming one of our uncommon birds due most likely to habitat loss and pollution. Its conservation status is near threatened.

Cool Types of Birds
The keel-billed toucan is popular due in part to its large, colorful beak.

©iStock.com/tzooka

This South American bird enters the list of cool types of birds because of its ridiculously large, sunset-colored bill. This bill makes it a hit with both bird watchers and visitors to zoos. In contrast with that bill, the bird has a velvety black body with a white throat and chest. The bill can be as long as 9 inches on a bird that’s about 25.5 inches long.

For the longest time, scientists didn’t know why the toucan’s bill was as big as it was. Some assumed it was there to crack seeds or nuts, but it’s been discovered that the bill allows the bird to cool off in its tropical forest home. Whatever the bill is for, it makes the toucan very cool.

To learn more about the toucan, go here.

Cool Types of Birds
The red-capped manakin will do the moonwalk to attract a mate.

©Vaclav Sebek/Shutterstock.com

Though they are small and pretty birds, red-capped manakins found in the tropical forests of Central America south to Peru and Ecuador have delightfully strange and elaborate courtship rituals. These rituals make them one of the coolest as well as the weirdest birds. Specifically, the red-capped manakin does the moonwalk to attract a mate. Though the female is mostly olive green, the male’s head and nape are brilliant red. Its chin, thighs, and the lining of its wings are yellow. It has a stubby tail. When it courts a female it hops on a branch, flicks its wings, and moonwalks along the length of the branch.

Runner ups for the coolest and craziest courtship dance include such pretty birds as is the six-plumed bird-of-paradise, and the Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise.

Read more about dancing animals here.

Cool Types of Birds
One cool thing about the shoebill stork is that it eats lungfish.

©iStock.com/Michel VIARD

One of the weirdest birds in the world, the shoebill stork still ranks among the cool types of birds. Yes, it is ugly, with a bill that looks like a wooden Dutch clog, but this large bird is cool for a couple of reasons. It is unfailingly polite. If a person bows to it, it bows back. It also makes a sound like a machine gun firing, which is very cool. This shoebill stork, also called the whale head, can grow to be 5 feet tall and have an 8-foot wingspan. It lives in the papyrus swamps of east Africa. Another cool thing about the shoebill stork is that it eats lungfish, which are fish that can breathe air because they have lungs. Another cool animal!

Check out this article about the shoebill stork.

Cool Types of Birds
Lyrebird are notable for their superb ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their environment.

©John Carnemolla/Shutterstock.com

This Australian bird may not be the flashiest bird color-wise, as it is all shades of brown. What makes it one of the types of cool birds is the male’s long tail, shaped like the ancient Greek instrument that gives the bird its name, and its ability to mimic anything. This includes car engines, chainsaws, clocks, and other birds. Indeed, there’s a video of a lyrebird mimicking a kookaburra so perfectly that the kookaburra answers back. Of course, the lyrebird’s talent for mimicry is one way to attract females. Female lyrebirds are also fair mimics, but they’re nowhere near as good as the males.

For more information about the lyrebird, read this.

Cool Types of Birds
Hummingbirds must eat every 15 minutes to fuel their active lives.

©iStock.com/yhelfman

How can hummingbirds not be counted among the types of cool birds? They are small, and indeed the smallest bird in the world is the bee hummingbird at a little over 2 inches long. They range from merely pretty birds to breathtakingly beautiful birds with jewel-like plumage and long tails that end in feathery rackets. Some can flap their wings at 80 flaps a second and produce that distinctive humming sound that resembles a large, angry wasp. But it’s only the hummingbird!

The coolest thing about the hummingbird is their aerodynamics. They can hover, they can fly through rain, they can fly from side to side and backward. They can somersault and go straight up like a helicopter and spiral. The male Anna’s hummingbird does a courtship dive so vigorously that it creates 10g of force, and in some males, the long tails produce a trilling that announces their presence to potential mates and foes.

Despite their crazy metabolisms, the highest of any warm-blooded animal, hummingbirds can live as long as 12 years. To fuel their active lives, they must eat every 15 minutes and will consume half their bodyweight! Hummingbirds thrive on nectar, visiting up to 2,000 flowers and feeders per day, and small insects.

Go here for more facts about hummingbirds.

Cool Types of Birds
The peregrine is the fastest animal in the world.

©iStock.com/DawnKey

One of the coolest birds of prey, this falcon can achieve speeds of over 200 miles per hour as they dive-bomb toward prey, which is often smaller birds such as pigeons. This makes the peregrine the fastest animal on Earth. It’s a bit larger than a crow at 13 to 23 inches long with a 29 to 47-inch wingspan, and females are bigger than males. There are 19 subspecies found all over the world save Antarctica.

The peregrine falcon is not above city living and builds its nest on the ledges of skyscrapers and bridge towers. It mates for life and enhances its coolness with acrobatic courtship rituals. Many peregrine families have their own webcams, which is incredibly cool.

Read this article for more information on peregrine falcons.

Cool Types of Birds
Hyacinth macaws are among parrots known for their unusual, bright colorations.

©Vaclav Matous/Shutterstock.com

Parrots, parakeets, parrotlets, conures, lories, lorikeets, and cockatoos are cool for many reasons. One reason is their often flashy coloration. Some, like the rainbow lorikeet and the eastern rosella, both of Australia, look like an artist picked up a palette of paints and went a little crazy. Parrots are also cool because some can imitate human speech, and indeed, some biologists say that species like the African gray parrot can understand human speech. Some parrots can live a century or more. What other bird lives that long?

Special mention goes to the kakapo, for it is among the world’s most uncommon birds as well as the coolest. It is a ground-dwelling parrot found only in New Zealand. A large bird for a parrot, it decided long ago to give up flying because it had no predators. This was a cool move until humans arrived and brought non-native carnivores.

Go here to learn more about parrots and here to learn about the kakapo.

Cool Types of Birds
The flamingo’s coolness is due in part to it being a vibrant pink.

©Roxane 134/Shutterstock.com

Found on the coasts and in shallow bodies of water in South America, Africa, Asia and southwest Europe, the flamingo is cool because it is one of our weirdest birds, and it is pink. Its weirdness and pinkness make it beloved. It has hotels and casinos named after it. Alice of Alice in Wonderland tried to play croquet with one. Its plastic effigies adorn the lawns of the tasteless. To eat, this 3-foot tall bird sticks its head in the water and sieves aquatic life through its boomerang-shaped bill, upside down. It feeds its young with milk and stands on one ridiculously long and thin leg to sleep. How cool is the flamingo?

Read here to learn more about the flamingo.

Cool Types of Birds
Peacocks are famous for their unique and very cool feathers.

©iStock.com/Robert Way

One of the most ostentatiously beautiful of beautiful birds, the peacock is the epitome of cool. When the male opens his train and flashes those beautiful iridescent eyespots at a peahen he doesn’t care who else notices, not even a predator that would kill and eat him. He can even fly with those feathers trailing behind him like a banner. He perches on a tree branch and surveys his world like a king. And of course, he has that unmistakable scream.

There are three species of the peacock: the green in southeast Asia, the Indian on the Indian subcontinent, and the Congo peacock, which is only found in the Congo Basin. The Indian peacock has a neck of deep, iridescent blue, the green peacock is mostly a glittery green while the Congo peacock has a bare neck and a tail with 14 black feathers.

To learn more about the peacock, go here.

Here’s a recap of our top 10 birds that we think are super cool for different reasons:

Rank Bird
1 Peacock
2 Flamingo
3 Psittacines
4 Peregrine Falcon
5 Hummingbirds
6 Lyrebird
7 Shoebill Stork
8 Red-Capped Manakin
9 Common Toucan
10 Shrike

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/RamonCarretero

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