The World's 11 Most Beautiful Birds

Updated on June 24, 2019
Laurie Bennett profile image

Laurie is an animal lover who enjoys observing, researching, and writing about both pets and wildlife.

These 11 birds are some of the most visually spectacular in the world.
These 11 birds are some of the most visually spectacular in the world. | Source

Who's Got the Prettiest Plumage?

There are so many visually remarkable species of birds on our planet that it would take forever to list them all! That being said, the following 11 birds are some of the most colorful and visually striking avian head-turners around. Whether to blend in with their surroundings or attract a suitable mate, the birds listed here have all evolved to be bright and beautiful.

The World's 11 Most Beautiful Birds

  1. Quetzal
  2. Mandarin Duck
  3. Green-Headed Tanager
  4. Bluejay
  5. Victoria Crowned Pigeon
  6. Nicobar Pigeon
  7. Painted Bunting
  8. Lesser Bird-of-Paradise
  9. Long-Tailed Widowbird
  10. Red-Crested Turaco
  11. Golden Pheasant

Quetzals display beautiful reds and greens in their iridescent plumage.
Quetzals display beautiful reds and greens in their iridescent plumage. | Source

1. Quetzal

Habitat

These shiny-tailed trogons inhabit forests, woodlands, and humid highlands. They can be found in the southernmost U.S., Mexico, and parts of South America.

Size

Most adult quetzals are over 13 inches in length.

Diet

Quetzals feed primarily on fruit, berries, and insects but may occasionally supplement their diet with the odd small reptile or amphibian.

Fun Fact

Quetzals' toes exhibit heterodactyl arrangement—their first and second toes point backward while their third and fourth point forward! This helps them balance while gripping branches.

Mandarin ducks' remarkable coloration is accented by the stark divisions between the different areas of their bodies.
Mandarin ducks' remarkable coloration is accented by the stark divisions between the different areas of their bodies. | Source

2. Mandarin Duck

Habitat

These colorfully crested beauties exist in Japan and the easternmost portions of Russia and China. They prefer to remain near rivers and lakes—particularly those bordered by shrubs and forests.

Size

Mandarin ducks are usually between 16 and 19 inches in length.

Diet

These darling ducks feed on plants, seeds, insects, freshwater mollusks, and small fish.

Fun Fact

After mating, males moult and grow "eclipse plumage." This causes them to lose much of their color and closely resemble their female counterparts for most of the summer season.

Green-headed tanagers' plumage appears almost fluorescent, featuring a range of blue-greens, sea foams, and turquoises.
Green-headed tanagers' plumage appears almost fluorescent, featuring a range of blue-greens, sea foams, and turquoises. | Source

3. Green-Headed Tanager

Habitat

These tiny tanagers roam the humid canopies of forests in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

Size

Tanagers are tiny! Most reach between 5 and 6 inches in length.

Diet

While fruits and insects make up a large portion of their diet, green-headed tanagers also feed on small insects like ants and caterpillars.

Fun Fact

These birds tend to hang out in flocks of up to 20 individuals. Sometimes several species of tanager may intermingle in the same flock.

Bluejays are among the most recognizable of America's corvids.
Bluejays are among the most recognizable of America's corvids. | Source

4. Bluejay

Habitat

These classic corvids can be observed in the central and eastern U.S. as well as eastern Canada and Newfoundland.

Size

Adult Bluejays are usually between 9 and 12 inches in length.

Diet

Bluejays may feed on insects and other arthropods, soft fruits, nuts, seeds, and the occasional small lizard or frog.

Fun Fact

These bright-minded birds have been observed hiding food for later consumption and have even been known to move hidden food to prevent it from being discovered by other nearby jays.

The Victoria crowned pigeon's bright blue feathers and tiara-like crest render it far more regal than its city-dwelling cousin, the rock dove.
The Victoria crowned pigeon's bright blue feathers and tiara-like crest render it far more regal than its city-dwelling cousin, the rock dove. | Source

5. Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Habitat

This regal-sounding pigeon is native to the low swamps and plains of northern New Guinea.

Size

Averaging 29 to 30 inches long, this is the largest extant pigeon species in the world!

Diet

These colorful pigeons feed primarily on fallen fruit but may also consume seeds and the occasional insect or other arthropod.

Fun Fact

This ornately decorated species was named in honor of the late Queen Victoria of Great Britain. Its delicate, white-tipped crests have been said to resemble a crown or tiara.

The feathers of the Nicobar pigeon display a play of color reminiscent of ammolite, an iridescent gem found in the Canadian Rockies.
The feathers of the Nicobar pigeon display a play of color reminiscent of ammolite, an iridescent gem found in the Canadian Rockies. | Source

6. Nicobar Pigeon

Habitat

Named for one of the islands they inhabit, Nicobar pigeons can be observed in India, the Solomons, Palau, and on Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Size

While they don't quite measure up to the Victoria Crowned pigeon, members of this species may reach an impressive 15 to 17 inches in length.

Diet

The Nicobar pigeon consumes a variety of seeds, fruits, buds, and grains and possesses a "gizzard stone" to help grind up the harder-to-swallow elements of their diet.

Fun Fact

Research conducted at Oxford University determined that the Nicobar is the closest living relative of the notoriously extinct dodo bird.

The bright primary colors that comprise the painted bunting's plumage make it a desirable guest at backyard bird-feeders in the southern U.S.
The bright primary colors that comprise the painted bunting's plumage make it a desirable guest at backyard bird-feeders in the southern U.S. | Source

7. Painted Bunting

Habitat

These migratory birds summer in the southeastern U.S. and winter in parts of Florida, Mexico, and Central America.

Size

These petite relatives of the cardinal generally don't exceed 5.5 inches in length.

Diet

Generally, buntings consume a variety of grass seeds while hopping across the ground. During breeding season, however, they expand their diet to include spiders and other small arthropods.

Fun Fact

While known for their eye-catching colors in adulthood, male buntings are actually nearly indistinguishable from their plainer female counterparts during their first year of life.

The lesser bird-of-paradise is beautiful all over, but many point to its shimmering, emerald throat as the highlight of its feathering.
The lesser bird-of-paradise is beautiful all over, but many point to its shimmering, emerald throat as the highlight of its feathering. | Source

8. Lesser Bird-of-Paradise

Habitat

This bushy-tailed bird inhabits forested areas in northern New Guinea, as well as the islands of Yapen and Misool.

Size

Adult lesser birds-of-paradise may reach up to 12 or 13 inches in length.

Diet

Insects and fruit comprise the bulk of this medium-sized species' diet.

Fun Fact

Male birds-of-paradise are polygamous and tend to perform leks. These are mating rituals in which large groups of males gather in the same area to perform competitive visual displays in hopes of attracting sexual partners.

The long-tailed widowbird lives up to its morbid namesake—it is clad almost entirely in glossy, black feathers.
The long-tailed widowbird lives up to its morbid namesake—it is clad almost entirely in glossy, black feathers. | Source

9. Long-Tailed Widowbird

Habitat

This hauntingly beautiful species inhabits multiple isolated zones across the southern portions of Africa. Populations exist in Angola, Botswana, the DRC, and many other countries.

Size

Including their impressive tails, male widowbirds range between 20 and 27 inches in length by adulthood.

Diet

These darkly clad birds spend much of their feeding time foraging for seeds on the ground but occasionally consume insects and arthropods aerially.

Fun Fact

Male widowbirds' long tails are a sexually selected evolutionary trait; females tend to prefer males with the longest tails.

The red-crested turaco sports a punk-rock look with its trademark red mohawk.
The red-crested turaco sports a punk-rock look with its trademark red mohawk. | Source

10. Red-Crested Turaco

Habitat

This mohawked bird is native to western Angola, where it prefers to reside in forested grasslands.

Size

Adult red-crested turacos usually reach 17 to 20 inches in length.

Diet

This species is known for its frugivorous diet. Frugivores are animals that subsist almost exclusively on fruits, roots, shoots, and seeds.

Fun Fact

These tree-dwelling turacos flock in groups of up to 30. When together, their unique calls are often mistaken for those of various monkeys.

Sporting a veritable cornucopia of color, the golden pheasant's plumage is punctuated with a slicked-back, blond "hairdo."
Sporting a veritable cornucopia of color, the golden pheasant's plumage is punctuated with a slicked-back, blond "hairdo." | Source

11. Golden Pheasant

Habitat

Although native to the forested mountains of western China, feral populations of these blond-headed game birds have now been established in a number of locations worldwide, including parts of Europe and North and South America.

Size

Adult male golden pheasants reach 35 to 40 inches in length.

Diet

These boisterous birds generally forage on the ground for grains, leaves, and seeds but may also consume insects and other arthropods on occasion.

Fun Fact

Unlike most of the birds on this list, golden pheasants rarely fly. While they do have the ability to become airborne for short periods of time, they generally prefer to walk or run from place to place.

Honorable Mention: Crimson-Horned Pheasant

© 2017 Laurie Bennett

Which of These Species Do You Think Is the Most Beautiful?

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    • profile image

      Balan Elavathur Balan V 

      4 months ago

      Very Excellent Photos

    • Laurie Bennett profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurie Bennett 

      4 months ago

      For those of you disappointed that I didn't feature the beautiful peacock, I was trying to feature lesser known birds. I've written a second article in which this favorite is featured!

      https://hubpages.com/animals/The-Worlds-Most-Beaut...

    • profile image

      Natureluv 

      4 months ago

      Can't believe you missed out so many beautiful birds like the peacock. Most beautiful bird in the world..

    • profile image

      Andy 

      4 months ago

      El torogoz is a beautiful bird aswell

    • Laurie Bennett profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurie Bennett 

      6 months ago

      Very true! I'll be writing and featuring more for sure. There are many more amazingly beautiful birds to see!

    • Laurie Bennett profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurie Bennett 

      6 months ago

      I was going for lesser known birds. My next article will feature the beautiful peacock!

    • profile image

      jayeshjose 

      6 months ago

      why this list is missing peacock?

    • profile image

      Suyash Ranjan 

      6 months ago

      Earlier,I was too much scared of birds as I had ornithodphobia. But later I started to observe birds around me here in India, then I found them very innocent beings. I also never dared to see their pictures and scroll with my finger tips but today I was reading your fantastic blog. The world is itself very beautiful we need an unmisted eye to see.

    • profile image

      Harsh 

      7 months ago

      I am surprised that you listed them .It's such a difficult task to pick a few .

    • profile image

      OLA 

      8 months ago

      they a very beatiful

    • profile image

      abc123 

      9 months ago

      Clearly you haven't seen a peacock in your life

    • Laurie Bennett profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurie Bennett 

      9 months ago

      Hi guys! Thanks so much for reading and leaving feedback! I'll be sure to write another article and include the beloved peacock. I was mainly focusing on introducing readers to birds they may not have been familiar with

    • profile image

      Me 

      9 months ago

      why is the blue jay on this but not the famous male peacock?

    • profile image

      Annonomus 

      10 months ago

      These are all beautiful birds, can you make another one? Because I would like to find some more Beautiful birds

    • profile image

      Amelia 

      10 months ago

      Those birds are beautiful especially the Victoria crowned pigeon .I love them ! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Glory 

      11 months ago

      Do you mean all these are more beatiful than the peacock

    • profile image

      Biniya 

      15 months ago

      these are awesome never seen such beautiful creatures.

      Specially WidowBird

    • profile image

      James 

      16 months ago

      Whu is there no Lilac Breaster Roller?

    • profile image

      vivek 

      17 months ago

      Peacock in the best most beautiful bird in the world. No doubt.

    • profile image

      Emery 

      20 months ago

      I think peacock is the best because it has been my favorite animals since I was 4

    • Laurie Bennett profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurie Bennett 

      2 years ago

      I definitely agree Terry! So glad you've enjoyed this :)

    • profile image

      Terry 

      2 years ago

      There's absolutely no way I can choose a favorite. They're all so beautiful. Thank you for this article and these gorgeous pictures.

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