strange birds Strange Birds

55 Strange Birds: Beyond Ordinary Plumage

Birds are a diverse and fascinating group of animals, with over 10,000 species found worldwide. While many birds are known for their beauty and melodious songs, there are some that stand out for their downright strange and peculiar characteristics. In this article, we will explore some of the most unusual and strange birds in the world.

01. Black Skimmer

black skimmer Strange Birds

The Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) is a distinctive bird with a unique feeding technique. These birds have a long, slender bill that is lower than the upper bill. They use this bill to skim the surface of the water as they fly, catching small fish and other prey items. The Black Skimmer is also known for its distinctive black and white plumage, making it easily recognizable.

02. Booted Racket-tail

booted racket tail Strange Birds

The Booted Racket-tail (Ocreatus underwoodii) is a striking bird with a long, deeply forked tail that resembles a racket. This species is found in the Andean cloud forests of South America, where it feeds on nectar from flowers. The male of the species has a distinctive set of feather tufts on his legs, giving the bird its name.

03. Brown-winged Kingfisher

brown winged kingfisher Strange Birds

The Brown-winged Kingfisher (Pelargopsis amauropterus) is a medium-sized bird found in the mangrove forests of Southeast Asia. These birds have a distinctive bright blue head and a chestnut-colored body. The Brown-winged Kingfisher feeds primarily on fish, which it catches by diving into the water from a perch.

04. Blue-footed Booby

blue footed booby Strange Birds

The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) is a seabird found on the Pacific coast of South America. These birds are known for their distinctive bright blue feet, which they use to attract mates during courtship displays. The Blue-footed Booby feeds primarily on fish, which it catches by diving into the water from great heights.

05. Capuchinbird

capuchinbird Strange Birds

The Capuchinbird (Perissocephalus tricolor) is a bird found in the Amazon rainforest of South America. These birds are known for their distinctive and incredibly loud calls, which can be heard up to 1 km away. The Capuchinbird has a unique courtship display, in which the male bird inflates a brightly colored throat sac and produces a loud, booming call.

06. Red Crossbill

red crossbill Strange Birds

The Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) is a small, colorful bird that is found in North America, Europe, and Asia. The most distinctive feature of this bird is its bill, which is crossed at the tips, allowing it to pry open conifer cones to access the seeds inside. The size and shape of the bill vary among different populations, allowing them to specialize in different types of conifers.

07. Frigatebird

frigatebird Strange Birds

Frigatebirds (Fregata) are a family of seabirds that are found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world’s oceans. These birds have a large wingspan, which allows them to soar for hours without flapping their wings. They are known for super fast speed and their impressive aerial displays, including their ability to catch food in mid-air. Male frigatebirds also have a distinctive red throat pouch that they inflate during courtship displays.

08. King Eider

king eider Strange Birds

The King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) is a large sea duck that breeds in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. These stunning birds have a striking appearance, with a mix of white, black, and blue-gray feathers, and a distinctive oval-shaped bill. During the breeding season, male King Eiders have a bright orange bill and a green nape patch that they use in courtship displays.

09. Southern Ground Hornbill

southern ground hornbill Strange Birds

The Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) is a large, terrestrial bird found in southern Africa. These birds have a striking appearance, with a bare red or blue face and a long, curved bill. Southern Ground Hornbills are known for their loud, booming calls and for their unique hunting strategy. They work in groups to hunt small mammals, reptiles, and birds, using their powerful bills to break through tough hides and shells.

10. Resplendent Quetzal

resplendent quetzal Strange Birds

The Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) is a colorful bird found in the cloud forests of Central America. These beautiful birds have a bright green body, a red breast, and a long, iridescent tail that can reach up to three feet in length. The Resplendent Quetzal is considered a symbol of freedom and was revered by the ancient Maya and Aztec civilizations.

11. Red Bird-of-Paradise

bird of paradise Strange Birds

The Red Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) is a stunning bird found in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea. The male has bright red feathers, a black head, and a pair of long, iridescent tail feathers that it uses during courtship displays. The female is more muted in color, with brown feathers and a reddish-brown head. The Red Bird-of-Paradise is known for its elaborate courtship displays, where males dance and perform acrobatics to attract females.

12. Ruff

ruff Strange Birds

The Ruff (Calidris pugnax) is a medium-sized wading bird found in wetlands and marshes throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. During breeding season, male Ruffs develop large, ruffled feathers on their necks, which they use to attract females and deter rivals. These feathers come in a variety of colors, including black, brown, and white, and can change depending on the bird’s mood.

13. Inca Tern

inca tern Strange Birds

The Inca Tern (Larosterna inca) is a seabird found along the Pacific coast of South America. These birds have a distinctive appearance, with a bright red beak and feet, a gray body, and a wispy, white mustache. Inca Terns are known for their elaborate courtship displays, where they perform acrobatic flights and vocalize with a variety of calls and songs.

14. Shoebill

shoebill 1 Strange Birds

The Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) is a large, prehistoric-looking bird found in the swamps of central and eastern Africa. These birds have a unique appearance, with a large, hooked bill, shaggy feathers, and a blue-gray body. Shoebills are ambush predators, standing still for long periods of time to wait for prey to come within range of their bill.

15. Roseate Spoonbill

roseate spoonbill Strange Birds

The Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) is a large wading bird found in the wetlands and mangroves of the Americas. These birds have a distinctive appearance, with a pink body, a spoon-shaped bill, and long, black legs. The Roseate Spoonbill uses its bill to sift through the mud and water, searching for small fish and crustaceans to eat.

16. Anhinga

anhinga Strange Birds

The Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) is a large, sleek bird found in the swamps and wetlands of the Americas. Also known as the “snakebird,” the Anhinga has a long, slender neck and sharp bill, which it uses to hunt fish and other small prey. Anhingas are unique in that they are one of the few bird species that lack waterproof feathers, which allows them to dive and swim underwater for extended periods of time.

17. Greater Sage-Grouse

greater sage grouse Strange Birds

The Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a large, ground-dwelling bird found in the sagebrush steppe of western North America. During breeding season, male Sage-Grouse perform elaborate displays, including inflating their chest feathers and producing a series of popping sounds with their wings. The females are much more subdued in appearance, with brownish-gray feathers that blend in with the surrounding vegetation.

18. Scarlet Ibis

scarlet ibis Strange Birds

The Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) is a stunning bird found in the wetlands of Central and South America. These birds have bright red feathers, which are the result of a diet rich in carotenoid pigments. Scarlet Ibis are social birds, often seen roosting in large groups in trees or on the ground.

19. Blue-tailed Bee-eater

blue tailed bee eater Strange Birds

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) is a colorful bird found in the forests and grasslands of Asia. These birds have bright green feathers on their back, a blue tail, and a distinctive black mask around their eyes. As their name suggests, these stunning birds feed primarily on bees and other flying insects, which they catch in mid-air.

20. Flamingo

american flamingo Strange Birds

The flamingo is one of the most recognizable birds, thanks to its vibrant pink feathers and long, spindly legs. But did you know that these colorful birds get their signature pink hue from their diet of shrimp and other small aquatic creatures? These pretty birds are also known for their distinctive feeding behavior, where they tilt their head upside down and use their beaks to filter food from the water.

21. Asian Paradise-Flycatcher

asian paradise flycatcher Strange Birds

The Asian Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi) is a beautiful bird found in the forests of Asia. The males have long, elegant tails that can extend up to 10 inches (25 cm) in length. During breeding season, males will perform elaborate displays to attract females, including spreading their tails wide and flitting through the air.

22. Atlantic Puffin

atlantic puffin Strange Birds

The Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) is a small, colorful seabird found in the North Atlantic. These beautiful birds have a distinctive appearance, with a large, brightly colored beak and black and white feathers. Puffins are excellent swimmers and can dive to depths of up to 200 feet (60 meters) to catch fish.

23. Indian Peafowl

indian peafowl Strange Birds

The Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) is a stunning bird found in the Indian subcontinent. The males have brightly colored feathers with iridescent hues of blue, green, and gold, and an impressive fan-shaped tail that can be nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length. Peafowl are often associated with Indian culture and are revered for their beauty.

24. North Island Brown Kiwi

north island brown kiwi Strange Birds

The North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) is a flightless bird native to New Zealand. These birds are unique in that they have nostrils located at the tip of their long, narrow beak, which they use to probe the ground for insects and other small prey. Kiwis are also known for their distinctive call, which sounds like a high-pitched whistle.

25. Chestnut-eared Aracari

chestnut eared aracari Strange Birds

The Chestnut-eared Aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis) is a colorful bird found in the forests of South America. These birds have a striking appearance, with bright orange feathers on their face, chestnut-brown feathers on their back, and a black and yellow beak. Aracaris feed on a variety of fruits and insects, and they are important seed dispersers in their ecosystems.

26. Ostrich

ostrich Strange Birds

The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the largest bird in the world, reaching up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) in height and weighing up to 320 pounds (145 kg). These birds are flightless and have long, powerful legs that allow them to run at speeds of up to 56 miles per hour (90 km/h). These funny looking creatures are also known for their distinctive feathers and large eyes.

27. Greater Rhea

rhea Strange Birds

The Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) is a large, flightless bird found in South America. These birds are similar in appearance to ostriches, with long legs and a long neck. However, they are much smaller, reaching up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) in height. Rheas are social animals and can form large flocks of up to 100 individuals.

28. King Penguin

king penguin Strange Birds

The King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is a large, distinctive penguin species found in the Southern Hemisphere. These majestic birds have a unique appearance, with bright orange patches on their necks and a black-and-white coloration on their backs. King Penguins are also known for their elaborate courtship rituals, which involve bowing, trumpeting, and preening.

29. Humboldt Penguin

The Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) is a small, adorable penguin species found in the coastal areas of South America. These penguins have a distinctive black-and-white coloration with a thin, black band around their necks. They are also known for their loud vocalizations, which they use to communicate with their mates and other penguins.

Royal Flycatcher

royal flycatcher Strange Birds

The Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus) is a small bird found in the forests of Central and South America. These birds have a unique feature – a bright orange crest on their head that they can raise and lower at will. The crest is used for display during courtship, and it also helps the birds communicate with each other.

30. Hornbills

hornbills Strange Birds

Hornbills are a family of tropical and subtropical birds known for their distinctive bill shapes, which range from simple and straight to incredibly elaborate with casques and knobs. The bills of some species can be almost as long as the bird’s body. The Hornbill family includes approximately 60 species and is found in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

Eurasian Eagle-Owl

eurasian eagle owl Strange Birds

The Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) is one of the world’s largest owls, with a wingspan of up to 6 feet (1.8 meters). These birds are nocturnal predators that hunt rodents, birds, and other small animals. They have distinctive ear tufts on their heads, which are not actually ears but serve as camouflage and communication signals.

31. Palm Cockatoo

palm cockatoo Strange Birds

The Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) is a large, black parrot found in the tropical rainforests of New Guinea and northern Australia. These birds have a unique feature – a large, fleshy black beak that they use for cracking nuts and other hard objects. They are also known for their drumming behavior, where they use a stick to tap on a hollow tree branch as part of their courtship display.

32. Brown Pelican

brown pelican Strange Birds

The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is a coastal bird found in the Americas. These birds have a unique feeding strategy – they dive headfirst into the water from heights of up to 60 feet (18 meters) to catch fish. They have a distinctive pouch under their bill that they use to store and carry fish back to their young.

33. Eurasian Hoopoe

eurasian hoopoe Strange Birds

The Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) is a small, colorful bird found in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. These birds have a distinctive crest on their head and a long, thin beak that they use for probing insects in the ground. They are also known for their courtship display, where they raise and fan their crest while making a distinct “hoop-hoop-hoop” call. 

34. Wattled Jacana

wattled jacana Strange Birds

The Wattled Jacana (Jacana jacana) is a peculiar bird found in wetland areas of the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. This bird is known for its long toes and specialized feet that enable it to walk on floating vegetation. It has distinctive bright yellow facial wattles, which are fleshy flaps of skin that dangle from the sides of its head.

35. Marabou Stork

marabou stork Strange Birds

The Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) is a large and somewhat intimidating bird found in parts of Africa and Asia. These ugly birds have a wingspan that can reach up to 10 feet (3 meters) and a bare head and neck covered in wrinkled, pinkish skin. They have a unique feeding strategy, often scavenging for carrion and even stealing food from other predators.

36. Tawny Frogmouth

tawny frogmouth Strange Birds

The Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is a nocturnal bird native to Australia. Despite its owl-like appearance, the Tawny Frogmouth is not an owl but belongs to a distinct family. It has excellent camouflage, blending seamlessly with tree bark, and feeds primarily on insects. Its name comes from its wide, frog-like mouth.

37. Sword-billed Hummingbird

sword billed hummingbird Strange Birds

The Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) is a remarkable species found in the high-elevation regions of the Andes Mountains in South America. What sets it apart is its extraordinarily long bill, which can exceed the length of its own body. This adaptation allows it to feed on nectar from flowers with long corollas that other hummingbirds cannot access easily.

38. Sunbittern

sunbittern 1 Strange Birds

The Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) is a stunning bird native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. It is named for the vibrant patterns on its wings, which resemble the sun when the bird spreads its wings during courtship or territorial displays. Sunbitterns are known for their unique and intricate wing movements during these displays.

39. Toco Toucan

toco toucan Strange Birds

The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) is a large and colorful bird found in South America. This bird is known for its distinctive, oversized bill, which can reach up to 7.5 inches (19 cm) long. While it may seem cumbersome, the bill is actually quite lightweight due to its hollow structure. Toco Toucans use their bills to reach fruit and insects that are out of reach of other birds.

40. Secretary Bird

secretary bird Strange Birds

The Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a striking bird of prey found in the grasslands of Africa. It is named for its long, elegant feathers that resemble quills, giving it the appearance of a secretary with a quill pen behind the ear. Secretary Birds are known for their distinctive hunting strategy – they walk through the grass, kicking up prey with their powerful legs and then striking with their sharp talons.

41. Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

cock of the rock Strange Birds

The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus) is a brightly colored bird found in the Andean cloud forests of South America. This bird is known for its distinctive, fan-shaped crest and brilliant orange feathers. Males perform elaborate courtship displays to attract females, including loud calls, head-bobbing, and wing-flapping.

42. White-headed Vulture

white headed vulture Strange Birds

The White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis) is a large and unusual vulture found in sub-Saharan Africa. This bird is known for its bald, pink head, and neck, which are thought to be adaptations for scavenging on carrion without getting feathers soiled. Unlike other vultures that locate carrion by sight or smell, White-headed Vultures use their keen hearing to locate prey.

43. Temminck’s Tragopan

temmincks tragopan Strange Birds

The Temminck’s Tragopan (Tragopan temminckii) is a stunning pheasant found in the forests of South Asia. This bird is known for its bright red, blue, and white plumage, as well as its fleshy horns that protrude from its head during breeding season. Males also produce a distinctive call that sounds like a muffled drumbeat.

44. Wild Turkey

wild turkey Strange Birds

The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is a large game bird native to North America. It is known for its impressive plumage, including long, iridescent feathers and a bare, reddish-blue head adorned with fleshy wattles and a prominent snood. During courtship displays, males fan out their tail feathers and puff up their bodies to attract females.

45. Vulturine Guineafowl

vulturine guineafowl Strange Birds

The Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum) is a unique and striking bird found in parts of East Africa. It has a distinctive appearance with a bare, blue face, long neck feathers that resemble a cape, and a spiky crest on its head. The Vulturine Guineafowl is a social bird often seen in groups known as “confusions.”

46. Luzon Bleeding-heart Pigeon

luzon bleeding heart pigeon Strange Birds

The Luzon Bleeding-heart Pigeon (Gallicolumba luzonica) is a bird species endemic to the Philippines. It gets its name from the distinctive bright red patch on its breast, resembling a bleeding wound. This unique feature sets it apart from other pigeons and doves. Sadly, habitat loss and hunting have made this species critically endangered.

47. Brown Eared-Pheasant

brown eared pheasant Strange Birds

The Brown Eared-Pheasant (Crossoptilon mantchuricum) is a large, pheasant-like bird native to the mountainous regions of East Asia. It has a striking appearance with a mix of brown, black, and white feathers. The name “eared” comes from the long feathers that extend from the sides of its head, resembling long ear tufts.

48. Bulwer’s Pheasant

bulwers pheasant Strange Birds

Bulwer’s Pheasant (Lophura bulweri) is a medium-sized pheasant found in the mountains of Borneo. It has a unique appearance with a vibrant blue face and bright red facial wattles. The male has a long, black tail with intricate patterns and is known for its elaborate courtship display, including fanning its tail and strutting to attract a mate.

49. Southern Screamer

southern screamer Strange Birds

The Southern Screamer (Chauna torquata) is a large, goose-like bird found in wetlands and grasslands of South America. Known for its loud, piercing calls, this bird has a unique feature – a long, spiky crest on its head. It also has sharp spurs on its wings, which it uses for defense. Despite its name, the Southern Screamer has a somewhat melodic call rather than a scream.

50. Southern Cassowary

southern cassowary Strange Birds

The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is a large flightless bird native to the tropical rainforests of New Guinea and northeastern Australia. It is renowned for its striking appearance, with a helmet-like casque on its head, vivid blue skin on its neck, and a dense black plumage. It possesses strong legs with sharp claws that it can use as formidable weapons when threatened.

51. Sacred Ibis

sacred ibis Strange Birds

The Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) is a wading bird found in various parts of Africa, including the Nile region. It is considered sacred in ancient Egyptian mythology and often depicted in their artwork. This bird has a long, curved bill and is predominantly white with black feathers on its wings. It is known for its distinctive feeding behavior, probing the mud with its bill to find small prey such as insects and crustaceans.

52. Macaws

macaw Strange Birds

Macaws are a group of brilliantly colored parrots native to the rainforests of Central and South America. They are known for their vibrant plumage, which includes various combinations of red, blue, green, and yellow. Macaws are highly intelligent and social birds, often seen in large flocks. Their strong beaks are adapted for cracking nuts and seeds, and they have impressive vocalizations.

53. Helmeted Guineafowl

helmeted guineafowl Strange Birds

The Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) is a large, terrestrial bird found in sub-Saharan Africa. It is known for its unique appearance, with a featherless head and neck covered in bumpy, dark blue skin. The name “helmeted” comes from the bony casque on its head. These birds are highly gregarious and are often seen in large groups known as “confusions.”

54. Golden Pheasant

golden pheasant Strange Birds

The Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) is a brilliantly colored bird native to the forests of China and parts of Asia. The male Golden Pheasant is particularly striking, with its vibrant plumage of golden-yellow, red, and orange, along with a long, sweeping tail. It is often considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world. The female has more subdued brown plumage for camouflage.

Final Thought

These are just a few examples of the wonderful and strange birds that can be found in the world. Each species has its own unique adaptations and behaviors that make it stand out from the rest of the avian world. By studying and appreciating these strange birds, we can gain a greater appreciation for the incredible diversity of life on our planet.