Planet Earth is blessed with a unique technicolor palette of birdlife that comes in all shapes and sizes. From tiny fluff balls to majestic birds, they swan around with every shade of the rainbow emblazoned on their feathers. Mother Nature is fantastic and did some of her best work when it comes to birds.
Here are a few selected photos of these feathered animals, each of which is strikingly impressive in its own way. Enjoy!
Scientific name: Chalcostigma herrani
Habitat: High-altitude grasslands of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru
IUCN status: Least Concern
This short-billed hummingbird with white tail tips can fool anyone due to its not-so-striking looks at first glance. However, when seen in good light, the humble-looking male’s black throat patch takes no time to burst into beautiful iridescence of bright colors.
Rainbow-bearded Thornbills often undergo hibernation, called torpor, on cold nights to save their body energy. According to American Bird Conservancy, while hibernating, their body temperature, breathing, and heart rate is slowed down drastically.
“By sleeping in this way, hummingbirds can save up to 60 percent of their available energy,” notes the conservancy.
Scientific name: Pharomachrus mocinno
Habitat: From southern Mexico to western Panama
IUCN Red List category: Near Threatened
This crowned beauty is the national bird of Guatemala and appears on the nation’s flag and coat of arms. Such is the admiration for this amazingly colorful bird that the Guatemalans even named their currency the quetzal. Its name is derived from the ancient Aztec language and means upstanding plumed feather bird. And as you can see, that pretty much sums up this beautiful species.
The Resplendent quetzal males grow up to 3-feet-long iridescent green tail feathers during the breeding season that make it difficult to miss seeing them in the rainforest.
The Long Tailed Tit
Scientific name: Aegithalos caudatus japonicus
Habitat: Hokkaido, Japan
IUCN Red List category: Least Concern
This little ball of fluff is a subspecies of long-tailed tit that is only found on Hokkaido, the second-largest island of the Japanese archipelago. They are called “Shima enaga” by the Japanese, who love these little beautiful birds to bits. Typically, these long-tailed tits grow up to around 14 centimeters, but the cutest part is that this length is just half that of their tail!
The Hokkaido subspecies of the long-tailed tits is unique. As juveniles, the Hokkaido tits, like their counterparts in Europe, have distinctive black “eyebrows”; however, they lose these so-called eyebrows as they mature into adulthood. This eyebrow loss leaves them all-white and looking not unlike miniature chubby snowmen.
Their white plumage helps them to blend in to the island’s long winters. Although they are vulnerable to the cold winter weather due to their small size, populations can bounce back as they usually lay between 7 to 10 eggs. Incredibly, long-tailed tits that have failed to breed or that lost their nest to predation will help out birds with chicks by taking turns to fetch insects.
Scientific name: Sagittarius serpentarius
Habitat: Savannas and grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa
IUCN Red List category: Vulnerable
Are you wondering where you may have seen this bird before? It was in the 1971 Disney classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks. In the movie, the Secretary Bird is a much-loved character in the role of right-hand man to King Leonidas.
In real life, though, this terrestrial predator is no pushover either. With its body like that of an eagle and crane legs, it stands at up 1.3 meters (approx. 4.2 feet) in height.
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