From the well-known scarlet macaw and richly pink flamingo to the lesser-known but equally pretty lilac-breasted roller, birds are the best and brightest of Planet Earth's animals, and there are too many beautiful types to count on two hands. Usually, the males are the lookers, tasked with attracting a mate and continuing the species, but sometimes the ladies get their share of beauty too.
This secretive songbird possesses exceptional beauty and is found in the Southeast United States. It's sometimes referred to as the 'Nonpareil,' which means unrivaled, and a spotting can draw crowds from hours away. Mature male painted buntings have blue heads, greenbacks with flecks of yellow, and reddish bellies and rumps—a bucket-list bird among Audubon societies and avian enthusiasts.
Arguably, the world's most impressive bird, the peacock's tail is a chick magnet with shimmery feathers covered in crystal-like structures and a cool color palette that's inspired countless fashionable creations. The peacock's train with dozens of hidden 'eyes' fans open to dazzle and delight peahens during courtship. In the sunlight, the plumage looks iridescent and complex. This train starts growing when peacocks are three years old, and they shed it annually after mating season. You'll only start noticing a difference in appearance between males and females when they're six months old.
Kellogg's Froot Loops fans will be somewhat familiar with the keel-billed toucan. This bird has a multicolored beak with hints of blue, green, orange, and red—its bill is a striking contrast to its inky black body and yellow breast. These features account for alternative monikers, including the sulfur-breasted toucan and the rainbow-billed toucan.
Both male and female Gouldian finches are stunning with their color blocking and purple, yellow, green, red, and blue hues. This social bird is from the grasslands of northwestern Australia, and they tend to have black heads in non-captive settings. Offspring from finches with different-colored heads face a higher mortality rate. A popular pet, Gouldian finches, don't like being handled but will do well with some buddies and wow visitors when in small groups. The demand since the 19th century led to this bird becoming endangered in the wild in 1992.
Not to be confused with the strelitzia flower, the Wilson's bird of paradise is an actual bird with a blue crown. The distinctive color on its head is actually its skin. Males have yellow on the inside of their mouths, red and yellow pigmented color on their bodies, and blue tail feathers that spiral towards the end. Featured on Planet Earth II, this bird's courtship ritual involves the male clearing up space on the forest floor to best showcase its compelling bottle green chest comprising structural color like the peacock.
The glorious fiery-throated hummingbird found in Panama and Costa Rica is like a vibrant painting come to life. One of the tiniest birds in the world, it has a slim black bill and similarly colored feet, a pair of restrained bookends to a spectacular throat that glows with subtle hints of every color. This bird is a loner, so you won't see it with a crew, although that would be a sight for sore eyes.
This little bird could very well be described as being drop-dead gorgeous. It has a coral dagger bill and the most exquisite plumage with splashes of pink on its crown, a dark blue back, a white chin, and a deep yellow underside. There's a distinct dark spot on its forehead.
Quite unusual for a duck, this waterbird from the Far East nests in trees and is now quite common in Western Europe. The males have plumage adorned with orange 'sails' on their backs and hints of white, black, burgundy, teal, and blue. They have streaked orange cheeks and red bills with white tips.
Also known as the amethyst starling or the plum-colored starling, thanks to its intensely purple plumage that changes slightly with the light, the male violet-backed starling will take your breath away. The rest of its body is a snowy white. This monogamous bird hails from sub-Saharan Africa and migrates north within the continent during winter.
Have you ever heard the Rolling Stones song 'She's a Rainbow' with the lyrics 'colors in the air, oh everywhere, she comes in colors?' It's apt for the rainbow lorikeet, which is a flying bundle of different shades, but the males have a fantastic grab bag of primary and secondary colors too. The rainbow lory is a medium-sized parrot with a blue head, bright red bill, red eyes, and grey legs.
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