Birds are one of the most diverse groups of animals on the planet! There are over 10,000 species of birds in existence, and they are one of the few species that inhabit every continent. From the brightly colored songbirds to the expertly camouflaged birds of prey, here’s a look at 10 of the most unique birds in the world!
10. Strawberry Finch
The red avadavat, more commonly known as the strawberry finch, is native to tropical regions of Asia. Known for its bright red coloring and white dots, this whimsical little bird resembles a strawberry, thus its nickname!
Strawberry finches live in tropical rainforests and flat plains with tall grasses. They are commonly seen in small flocks or paired off during the mating season. They eat primarily seeds but will also consume insects. Although they have been victims of the exotic pet trade in the past, today, the strawberry finch population is strong and does not face many threats.
9. Harpy Eagle
One of the largest and most powerful of all eagle subspecies, harpy eagles are fierce predators. They have a wingspan of up to 6.5 feet and talons as long as a grizzly bear! While most other eagles are known to hunt rodents or fish, harpies take down much larger prey, including monkeys, sloths, and even small deer.
Harpy eagles can be found throughout forested areas from Mexico to Argentina, but their populations are dwindling. Poaching and deforestation have led to the harpy eagle becoming a threatened species. In Central America, harpies are listed as critically endangered, and conservation efforts have been initiated to preserve the species.
8. Rufous-Crested Coquette
A rare species of hummingbird, the rufous-crested coquette is found only in small mountainside regions of Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia. Weighing in at less than 3 grams, the rufous-crested coquette is quite tiny! When seen from afar buzzing around flowers, it’s hard to discern these hummingbirds from some larger insects.
While rufous-crested coquettes are considered rare birds, their population levels throughout their small ranges are reportedly healthy. Since these hummingbirds feed on low-lying plants in more open areas, they haven’t been as affected by deforestation as other bird species that share the same range.
7. Lady Amherst’s Pheasant
Like a painting that came to life, Lady Amherst’s pheasant is an extraordinary sight with an impressive display of brightly colored plumage in bold patterns. Lady Amherst’s pheasants are found in high-altitude woodland habitats of Southeast Asia, where they forage for insects, bamboo shoots, and wild fruits.
A small feral population of Lady Amherst’s pheasants also exists in the United Kingdom, introduced as ornamental garden pheasants in the 19th century. While there is no specific habitat listed for them there, they have been occasionally spotted in forests throughout England and Scotland. While these rare birds are indeed hard to find, they are not considered endangered or threatened as their native range is relatively small.
6. Keel-Billed Toucan
While the toucan family in general is a stunning group of birds, the keel-billed toucan is one of the most striking and colorful species. With a vivid rainbow-colored beak, bright yellow chest, and bright blue feet, these unique birds are an impressive sight when seen flying through their native tropical forests.
Keel-billed toucans are found in several countries along the southern end of North America, Central America, and South America. They are widely associated with ecotourism in the Costa Rican rainforest, and they are Belize’s national bird. Keel-billed toucans are very social and playful birds and can often be seen in flocks, playing with one another, and throwing fruit.
While not currently considered threatened, the keel-billed toucan population has been in decline in recent years. In the future, they may face threats from climate change, deforestation, and poaching. Something conservationists are keeping a watchful eye on!
5. South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher
At first glance of a South Philippine dwarf kingfisher, you may think this stout little bird stumbled right out of a paint bucket! Rest assured, the colorful plumage on this unique bird was very much designed by nature.
Native to a small area of the Philippines, the population of these unique birds is quite tiny, and they are considered vulnerable to habitat loss in their native forests. Spotting one is considered a rare treat as these birds are pretty elusive. When they are seen, it’s often by streams where they feed on small invertebrates like crabs and worms.
4. Tawny Frogmouth
Blending seamlessly with their environment high up in the trees, tawny frogmouths are experts at camouflage and excellent hunters! They’ll often lie in wait, perfectly still, until the opportune moment to grab one of their favorite snacks, spiders! They also feed on a variety of other insects and the occasional small rodent.
Tawny frogmouths are found throughout a variety of forested wilderness in Australia and Tasmania. Although they have a robust population, these unique birds are rare to spot. Concealed high up in the trees by their mottled feathers, tawny frogmouths are only spotted when they are on the move. When they are seen, they are often mistaken for owls. Tawny frogmouths take being inconspicuous to a whole new level!
3. Golden Pheasant
The golden pheasant, also sometimes referred to as the rainbow pheasant for its multicolored plumage, is one of the most unique birds. With a display of bright reds, golds, blues, and oranges, these birds are unmistakable to spot in their native forests of western China.
These sizable birds spend most of their time foraging the forest floor for berries and seeds. They are only known to fly in short bursts, often very clumsily with their heavy bodies. Happening upon a golden pheasant in China is seen as a sign of good luck.
2. Victoria Crowned Pigeon
A pigeon of seemingly noble stature, the Victoria crowned pigeonis known for its royal blue coloring and ornamental lace-like crown of feathers. These beautiful birds are found mainly in the lowland forests of New Guinea and some parts of Indonesia.
Victoria crowned pigeons are mostly ground dwellers but do roost in trees when they are not foraging for berries and seeds. They are the rarest of all crowned pigeon species and face habitat loss from logging. Sadly, they are also hunted for their rare feathers. While not listed as endangered yet, the species is considered near-threatened due to a shrinking population size.
1. Secretary Bird
Found roaming the grasslands and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa, the secretary bird is one of the most unique-looking birds in the world! Standing at over 4 feet tall, secretary birds have the longest legs of any bird of prey. They use their exceptional height to stalk tall grasses for prey which includes everything from small mammals to other birds and even snakes. They’ve even earned the nickname “snake stomper” for the ruthless way they take down these reptiles with their legs.
The secretary bird has been protected in Africa since 1968. It is known to be respected by locals, especially farmers for the free pest control these birds provide. Historically, farmers even kept secretary birds as pets to protect their crops from rodents and snakes. Secretary birds are a prime example of humans and wildlife cohabitating without conflict.