25 Incredible Exotic Birds That Will Blow Your Mind

Posted by , Updated on May 23, 2024

Bird species within the animal kingdom have consistently captivated humanity in many ways. Many people have had the chance to watch video clips of rare birds from the comfort of their homes. However, truly appreciating the mesmerizing charm of each bird goes beyond merely watching them on a TV screen.

Several exotic birds might surprise you with their appearance and personality traits, not to mention their rarity in the wild and captivity, like the Andean condor, Australian King Parrot, hyacinth macaw, and Imperial Amazon. With so many unique birds on the planet, it can be hard to pick just 25!

Here are the 25 incredible exotic birds that will blow your mind!


Royal Flycatcher

Royal flycatcherSource: scientificamerican.com: arkive.org

Known for it’s striking crest, the royal flycatcher is a remarkable little bird. Males have a vivid scarlet crest, while females have a yellow crest that is ornately decorated with black and steel blue tips. The flycatcher will display these crests in courtship rituals and also during aggressive encounters.


The Lear's Macaw

The Lear's MacawSource: scientificamerican.com; abcbirds.org

Also known as the indigo macaw, this large, all-blue Brazilian parrot has a life-span that can exceed 50 years. Unfortunately, it’s on the endangered species list with a population of only 1,300 adults. Habitat loss, hunting, and the pet trade are to blame for the birds endangerment. Luckily, conservation groups have been having success in protecting the birds and increasing their population.


Malabar Pied Hornbill

Malabar Pied HornbillSource: scientificamerican.com, indianbirds.thedynamicnature.com

Distributed through India and Sri Lanka, the Malabar pied hornbill is easily recognizable thanks to it’s rather large and odd looking horn. Tribal people in India believed that hanging a skull from this bird’s horn would make them wealthy. Though the population of these incredible birds has not been quantified, it’s believed that they are a “near threatened” species.


Green Aracari

Green-Aracari.Image: Shutterstock.com

The green aracari is the smallest of toucans family and weighs between 110 and 160 grams with a body length of 30 to 40 cm. These toucans live in the rainforest of Central and South America.

Breeding occurs from February to June, with females laying two to four eggs that hatch after a 16-19-day incubation period. The green aracari prefers to nest in the crowns of tall trees near streams or forest clearings where prey can be found in abundance, so the adults can hunt to feed their young.

Green aracaris eat insects and other invertebrates, fruit and seeds, and sometimes berries and nectar. It’s one of the only toucans that can be found outside of its habitat, making it popular with aviculturists all over the world.


The Southern Cassowary

CassowaryImage: Shutterstock.com

The Southern Cassowary, also known as the Australian cassowary is the largest member of the cassowary family and the third heaviest bird on earth. The Southern Cassowary is a blue-faced black bird with a long neck that lives in New Guinea and Australia. The height of this animal is usually 1.5 to 1.8 meters. A female’s weight averages 58.5 kilograms, while a male’s weight is more commonly between 29 and 34 kilograms.


Curl-Crested Aracari

Curl-Crested AracariSource: smithsonianmag.com; adventuresintoucanland.com; aviary.org; post-gazette.com

It’s Toucan Sam! Fruit Loops anyone? On a serious note, the Curl-crested Aracari is a stunningly beautiful (and yet so bizarre) species of toucans that is among the largest in the aracari family. Its name comes from its unusual crest, which has black, short, glossy, curly feathers. Surprisingly, this bird is not endangered, but its natural habitat has been threatened by mining.


Australian King Parrot

Australian King ParrotSource: shutterstock.com

The Australian King Parrot lives in eastern Australia and can be found in humid and heavily forested upland regions. They feed primarily on fruits and seeds and are 43 cm in length. The coloration of the male is different from that of the female as the male has a red head, breast, and lower undersides whereas the females have a green body and head.


Related Article: 25 Funny Australian Slang Phrases From The Land Down Under


The Kingfishers

KingfisherSource: smithsonianmag.com

These birds use their long bills to catch fish, fly them to their perch, and beat them senseless. Seriously. Then they eat the fish head first. Aside from their aggressive eating mannerism, you can find these beautiful birds in almost any waterside habitat such as on the edge of small streams and ponds, large rivers and lakes, and even rocky coastlines.


The African Crowned Crane

swan2Source: livescience.com

The African Crowned Crane is an elegant bird that is distinguished by its gray body and white wings. Its feathers vary between white, brown, and gold and its head is crowned with narrow golden feathers with a face that has striking white cheek patches. This bird can be found in the marshes of the African savanna, just south of the Sahara.


Related Article: 25 Stunning African National Parks You Need To Visit


The Hoopoe

The HoopoeSource: livescience.com: fromthegrapevine.com

The national bird of Israel, the Hoopoe is found throughout Africa and Eurasia. This bird is notable for its distinctive crown and it’s unique “oop” call from which it gets its name.


The Harpy Eagle

Harpy EagleSource: Shutterstock.com

The Harpy Eagle, also known as the American Harpy, is one of the largest birds of prey. It lives in the rainforest and tropical forest regions of Central and South America. The upper side of the eagle is covered with slate black feathers and its head is a pale grey color. Females can weigh up to 22 pounds whereas males are much smaller and weigh between 8.8 and 13.2 pounds on average.

The Harpy Eagle’s wingspan can reach up to six and a half feet! Also, the harpy eagle has one of the most powerful talons in all birds of prey. These huge talons are used for hunting monkeys, sloths, and snakes.


The Andean Condor

Andean CondorImage: Shutterstock,com

The Andean Condor is the largest flying bird in the world. It has a wingspan of over 10 feet and can weigh up to 33 pounds. This bird lives in the high mountains of South America and is one of the rarest birds in the world. They have a black body with a ruff of white feathers around the base of their neck and white patches on their wings.

The males have a wattle on their neck and females are smaller than the males. They are classified as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because of threats such as power lines, poisoning from eating animals, poaching, habitat destruction, and electrocution on power lines or contact with wire fences.


Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Victoria Crowned PigeonImage: Shutterstock.com

The Victoria Crowned Pigeon is a member of the Columbidae family and is also known as the Imperial-crowned Pigeon. Their name is inspired by the British monarch Queen Victoria. They are found in southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia.

The birds have an iridescent sheen on their head and neck feathers, which gives them an emerald appearance when seen in sunlight or at a certain angle. This phenomenon only occurs in females and it can be seen by looking down at the bird from behind while it’s feeding. They travel in pairs or small parties in search of food, which includes berries and fruit seeds. They are often found living in lowland rainforest habitats and nest in the hollows of trees.


The Quetzal

The QuetzalSource: discovery.com; a-zanimals.com

Found in the mountains of Central America, the quetzal is a beautiful bird with males that show off bright metallic green bodies and a deep red chest, coupled with a distinctively long twin tail that can grow up to 3.3 feet (1 meter) in length. The Quetzal was once considered a sacred animal by the Aztec and the Maya and was even referred to as “The Rare Jewel Bird of the World.”


Related Article: 25 Unbelievable Facts About The Aztecs That Might Surprise You


D'Arnaud's Barbet

D'Arnaud's BarbetSource: smithsonianmag.com; beautyofbirds.com

The D’Arnaud’s Barbet is one of 42 species of barbet, all of which are found in sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike other birds who would prefer to create their nests on trees, the D’Arnaud’s Barbet nests in vertical tunnels two to three feet (.6 to .9 meters) into the ground.


The Northern Cardinal

Cardinal2Source: smithsonianmag.com; allaboutbirds.org

Since they stay bright red all year and don’t migrate, the Northern Cardinal makes for an amazing sight against a backdrop of snow (if you happen to live in an area that snows). Though fairly common, these birds are a bird watcher’s delight. FYI, they seem to particularly enjoy sunseeds, so if you want to see them in your backyard, put some sunseeds in your bird feeder.


Red-Bearded Bee-Eater

red bearded bee eaterSource: smithsonianmag.com; thainationalparks.com

As you’ve probably guessed by its name, the Red-bearded Bee-eater eats bees. However, this bird also eats other insects such as wasps and hornets. It’s mainly found in the Indo-Malayan subregion of South-east Asia and can be distinguished by its bright red chest and its long decurved beak.


The Golden Pheasant

The Golden PheasantSource: discovery.com

Also known as the ‘Chinese Pheasant,’ the golden pheasant is native to western China. However, feral populations can be found in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The male and female look completely different. Males can be identified by their striking colors. They have a gold crest with red extending from the top of their heads down to their necks. They also have dark-colored wings and a long barred tail. Their upper backs are green, and they have bright yellow eyes with small black pupils. The female, on the other hand, is not so brightly colored. Most of her plumage is pale and brown.


Lilac-Breasted Roller

Lilac-Breasted RollerSource: discovery.com; thespruce.com

The national bird of both Kenya and Botswana, the Lilac-breasted rollers are known for their dazzling array of colors which include white, purple, blue, turquoise, green, black, and tan. These birds perform an impressive courtship flight with numerous dives and rolls (hence the name).


Inca Tern

Inca TernSource: discovery.com

These Peruvian wonders have mustaches! And not just the males; females do, too. This comical looking species is found only near the cold waters of the Humboldt Current where they nest in groups of several thousand.


Splendid Fairywren

Splendid FairywrenSource: scientificamerican.com; theguardian.com

The Splendid Fairwren is probably one of the most peculiar Australian birds when it comes to its reproduction. Sexually dichromatic, the male wren normally looks similar to the female with pale brown upperparts and a long blue tail. But when the male is trying to breed, he displays dramatic blue plumage.


The Rainbow Lorikeet

The Rainbow LorikeetSource: scientificamerican.com; birdlife.org

The Rainbow Lorikeet can be found throughout the rainforests of Australia and Papua New Guinea. They can also be found in the city of Perth….which is a problem. Rainbow lorikeets in Perth are aggressive around nesting hollows. They prevent native birds such as the Australian Ringnecks from nesting, to the point of even dragging their nestlings and dropping them onto the ground.


Long-Tailed Widowbird

Long-Tailed WidowbirdSource: scientificamerican.com: biodiversityexplorer.org; h2g2.com

Currently, there are three isolated populations of the long-tailed Widowbird. One is located in Kenya, another from Angola to Zambia, and the other in southern Africa. Named by Dutch naturalist Pieter Boddaert in 1783, the name comes from the bird’s black plumage (which only occurs during mating season). Speaking of mating season, female widowbirds are attracted to the males’ long tails, which can reach lengths of over 16 inches (15 cm) long!


Horned Sungem

Horned SungemSource: planetofbirds.com

Mainly found in central and eastern Brazil, the horned sungem is a beautiful hummingbird that inhabits woodlands, grasslands, and gallery forests. This little hummingbird measures about 9 to 11 cm (3.254 to 4.33 inches) which is about the size of a folded wallet (length). Packed within this tiny frame, the horned sungem displays a striking color combination of greens, yellows, black, white, and blues.


Wilson's Bird-of-Paradise

Wilson's Bird-of-ParadiseSource: BBC.com

Probably the most unique bird on our list, the Wilson’s bird of paradise has a dizzying array of beautiful colors. At least the male does. The females are a dull shade of brown. But the males use these colors in an elaborate dance in order to impress the female. For her part, the female will sit on a branch above the male to watch and critique the show. By the way, that patch of turquoise on this male’s head is actual skin…not feathers.

If you enjoyed learning about these exotic birds, you might also enjoy:  25 of the rarest birds you might have never seen.

Photos: 25. Combination of Hector BottaiOnychorhynchus swainsoni – Atlantic Royal Flycatcher 02CC BY-SA 3.0 and Shutterstock image, 24. CharlesjsharpHyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) in flightCC BY-SA 4.0, 22-21. Shutterstock, 20. Shutterstock, 19. Andrea LawardiParadisaea apoda -Bali Bird Park-6CC BY 2.0, 18 – 16. Shutterstock, 15. -13. Shutterstock  12-9. Shutterstock, 8. pixabay (public domain), 7-5. Shutterstock, 4. Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/), Rainbow Lorikeet RWDCC BY-SA 3.0, 3-2. Shutterstock 1. SerhanoksayWilson’s Bird of Paradise BestCC BY-SA 3.0

Photo: 13. Shutterstock, Victoria Crowned Pigeon, CC BY-SA 3.0, 14. Shutterstock, The Andean Condor, CC BY-SA 3.0, 19. shutterstock.com, Australian King Parrot, CC BY-SA 3.0, 21. Shutterstock, The Southern Cassowary, CC BY-SA 2.0, 22. Shutterstock, Green Aracari , CC BY-SA 3.0