Skip to Content

Can you name a very colorful birds?

Can you name a very colorful birds?

Birds come in a stunning array of colors and patterns. Their bright plumes serve many purposes, from camouflage to attracting mates. Some species sport extravagant feathers covering most of their body, while others may have just a touch of color on an otherwise ordinary appearance. When it comes to naming the most colorful birds, there are many spectacular candidates spanning habitats around the globe.

Tropical Birds

The tropical regions of Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania are home to some of the most vibrantly colored birds. Warm climates allow birds to evolve bright plumage without the energy costs of keeping warm. Rainforests and other tropical ecosystems also teem with fruit bearing plants, resulting in birds with pigments acquired through their carbohydrate-rich diets.


Parrots are undoubtedly some of the most remarkably colored birds. Their rainbow hues serve as camouflage among the bright flowers and fruits of their forest homes. Some examples include:

  • Scarlet macaws have deep red, yellow, and blue plumage. Their long tail feathers can reach up to 3 feet.
  • Blue-and-yellow macaws live up to their name with various shades of blue contrasting with bright yellow.
  • The green-winged macaw has red, yellow, blue, and green feathers.
  • Hyacinth macaws are the largest parrot species, with deep cobalt blue plumage and bright yellow eye rings.


Native to New Guinea, birds-of-paradise are aptly named for their fantastical plumes used in mating displays. Dramatic feathers sprout from their heads, wings, and tail in shapes resembling fans, ribbons, and even parachutes. Examples include:

  • The twelve-wired bird-of-paradise has numerous thin yellow brow feathers that stand erect like wires.
  • The magnificent bird-of-paradise has a purple breast shield and iridescent green throat feathers.
  • The King bird-of-paradise has bright red plumage and two long, curled tail feathers.
  • The ribbon-tailed astrapia has two ridiculously long tail feathers reaching up to 3 feet long.


Known for their giant colorful bills, toucans are found throughout the neotropics. While the bills are used for feeding and temperature regulation, their brightness also plays a role in social signaling and mate selection. Some examples include:

  • The toco toucan has a black body with a bright orange-yellow bill.
  • The keel-billed toucan has a green, red, and orange bill and a bright yellow bib under its chin.
  • The red-breasted toucan has a maroon colored body and a rainbow-billed of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

North American Birds

While the tropics have the most colorful birds overall, North America is home to many vividly colored species as well. Here are some of the most dramatic:

Painted Bunting

This gorgeous passerine has plumage with every color of the rainbow. The male has a blue head, green back, scarlet red underparts, and a purple chest band. Females are more camouflaged with green and yellow tones. They breed in the southern US and winter in southern Florida, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Male vermilion flycatchers are covered in vivid red plumage accented with brown wings and a black tail. Females have more subdued brown and pale orange plumage. They breed in the desert southwest and southern plains, migrating south to Mexico during winter.

Scarlet Tanager

This aptly named songbird inhabits deciduous forests in the eastern US. Males are completely red with black wings and tail, while females are yellow with olive-colored wings and back. They winter in South America.

Northern Flicker

Northern flickers are large woodpeckers with colorful black, brown and white spotting, as well as a bright red crescent on the nape. Males also have a black mustache stripe. They range across forests in the US and Canada.

American Goldfinch

In summer, the male American goldfinch sports bright lemon yellow plumage with black wings and white markings. Females are more dull brownish-yellow. They breed across North America and winter in the southern US and Mexico.

European Birds

The birds of Europe may be less flamboyant overall compared to tropical species, but several colorful standouts still shine, particularly amongst the songbirds. Here are some of the brightest:


These slender birds get their name from their diet of bees, wasps, and other flying insects. Plumages varies among the different species, but many are brilliant shades of green, yellow, red, and blue. They are found throughout Europe, Asia and into Africa.


Like their bee-eater cousins, kingfishers swoop from perches to catch fish and aquatic invertebrates. Their stunning plumage often incorporates shades of turquoise, cobalt, and orange. Examples include the common kingfisher and the pied kingfisher.

European Roller

Named for their impressive rolling courtship flights, the European roller has dazzling blue plumage with black, brown, and white markings, plus chestnut undertail feathers. They breed across Europe and western Asia and winter in Africa.


This unusual looking bird has cinnamon colored plumage boldly contrasting with black and white wings and a tall feather crest. Another striking feature is their long bill, useful for probing into the ground for insects. They are found across Europe, Asia and into northern Africa.

Birds of the Arctic

The barren tundra may seem devoid of color, but some birds have evolved vibrant plumages against the stark white backdrop. Bright feathers provide visual signals important for territory defense and mating in an environment with few visual barriers.

Atlantic Puffin

Both sexes of this stocky seabird have black heads and backs, white underparts, and brightly colored bills that are red, orange, yellow or blue. They nest in colonies on sea cliffs and coastal islands in the north Atlantic and north Pacific oceans.

Harlequin Duck

This small sea duck has brightly colored plumage in shades of blue, purple, chestnut, and white arranged in bold patterns. Males also have ornamental tail plumes. They inhabit rocky coastlines and fast moving streams in eastern Asia, Greenland, Iceland, and northwestern North America.

Long-tailed Duck

The male long-tailed duck has black and white plumage with a pinkish brown breast and extremely long grey tail feathers. Females are mottled brown. They breed in Arctic regions of Eurasia and North America and winter south along coastlines.


These stocky relatives of puffins have black heads, white underparts, and boldly patterned black and white wings. Their thick bills are black in summer and orange-red during breeding season. They nest on rocky cliffs across the northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

Birds of Oceania

The tropical islands of the Pacific are inhabited by many birds with exotic and colorful plumage. Australia and New Zealand broke off from the supercontinent Gondwana early on, allowing unique species to evolve in isolation.


Male bowerbirds have elaborate courtship rituals in which they build stick structures called bowers and decorate them with colorful objects to impress females. They have attractive plumage as well, often in more subdued yet sophisticated tones of green, blue, yellow, grey, and brown.


In addition to their New Guinea relatives, Australia and nearby islands have several endemic birds-of-paradise species, such as the Victoria’s riflebird and the paradise riflebird. Males have striking iridescent blue-green body plumage and elaborate head feathers used in mating displays.

King Parrot

This large parrot inhabits forests in eastern Australia and islands including New Guinea and Indonesia. Their red head and breast contrasts with green wings and back, blue tail feathers, and a turquoise belly.

Superb Fairy-wren

While females have unremarkable brown plumage, male superb fairy-wrens have striking blue and black feathers with bright blue ear tufts. These tiny songbirds are common in grasslands, forests and wetlands across Australia and on New Guinea.

Bird Species Location Colors
Scarlet Macaw Central and South America Red, yellow, blue
Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise New Guinea Yellow, brown
Keel-billed Toucan Central and South America Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black
Painted Bunting North America Red, green, yellow, blue, purple
Hoopoe Europe, Asia, Africa Cinnamon, black, white
Atlantic Puffin North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans Black, white, orange, yellow, red, blue
Victoria’s Riflebird Australia, New Guinea Blue, green
Superb Fairy-wren Australia Blue, black


Birds exhibit an incredible diversity of colorful plumage spanning the full spectrum of the rainbow. Tropical regions harbor many of the most flamboyantly colored species, but vivid birds can be found on every continent and habitat. Color plays an essential role in camouflage, mate selection, territory defense, and other aspects of avian life. Next time you see a colorful bird, take a moment to appreciate the complex factors that produced its stunning hues.